finish-nailer-comparison

A finish nailer is a great tool to have in your workshop.  It’s great for small projects, installing moulding, wall planking and more. After using both types of finish nailers for many projects, I wanted to break down the pros and cons of each.
Compressor_finish_nailer_combo_kitI was able to score this Campbell-Hausfeld nailer and compressor combo around Father’s Day at Lowe’s for $69! (Normal MSRP is $99.) I’ve used the compressor-powered nailer for many years on an assortment of DIY projects (like my Art & Craft Studio scrap wood wall.)  I haven’t had any problems with it. It’s reliable, lightweight and can fire a variety of length finish nails and U-staples. For the value, you can’t go wrong. The cons of the Campbell Hausfeld are mostly related to the compressor. It is very loud when the air tank is recharging. It’s a little bulky to store and haul around. You are limited to the length of your air hose and a power source. And you must empty the tank and maintain it periodically.

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Ryobi-nail-strike

In all the ways that the Campbell-Hausfeld fails, the Ryobi Air Strike excels. It doesn’t take up as much room to store. No compressor needed because it is essentially built into the tool. As long as the battery is charged you are ready to fire nails on a moment’s notice. The light helps illuminate in dark working areas. You aren’t tethered to an air hose or compressor. This allows you the freedom to wander anywhere with the nail gun. And it is quiet (with the exception of the bang when firing the nail.)

The downsides are it doesn’t shoot U-staples. The gun itself is heavier to hold because of the battery and size of the gun. If you lose charge in the battery you have to wait a while for it to charge. Finally, the price is slightly higher than the MSRP of the Campbell-Hausfeld at $129.

Update: I’ve had a few occasions where my Ryobi Air Strike has quit firing. Usually I can get it working again by unlatching the front of the gun and checking it for jams or reloading with new nails. Recently at a DIY conference, I learned that I’m not the only person who has had this problem. So far the nail gun still works, hopefully it will continue to do so.

2nd Update: After another winter of the Ryobi Air Strike refusing to fire after every other nail, I’ve finally decided to pitch it. I’m in the process of testing a Porter-Cable 18 gauge 20 volt brad nailer and a DeWalt 16 gauge Angled Finish Nailer.

I hope this comparison helps you select your own finish nail gun.

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Want to learn how to use a finish nailer? Check out my tool tutorial videos and more!

 

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Xtend + Climb Telescoping Ladder Review | Pretty Handy Girl

A few months ago I got an email asking me if I wanted to test an Xtend + Climb telescoping ladder. I said I’d be happy to try it, but I couldn’t promise I’d blog about it. I try lots of products, but only the ones I love get mentioned on the blog. The litmus test is if I would recommend it to a close friend. If I would, then I share it with you (because y’all are like friends I just haven’t met yet.)

Xtend + Climb Telescoping Ladder Review | Pretty Handy Girl

The 760P Xtend + Climb ladder arrived in a compact box. When it arrived, I doubted that it really contained a 14.5ft ladder. But, sure enough inside was the telescoping ladder. Over the course of three months, I truly gave it a work out. I used it to clean the gutters and… Read more

 

Wheee, it’s another episode of Tool Tutorial Friday! Do y’all miss TTF? I do too, but this handy gal only has so many tools in her toolbox. I added a new one a few weeks ago, a soldering iron.

When I was in college, I took a stained glass elective (one of the benefits of going to art school.) I really enjoyed the course, but once the semester was over I didn’t pick up a soldering iron again. That was 20 years ago. Just this month, someone in our neighborhood posted online that they were selling a soldering iron. I immediately jumped on the chance. But, this time I didn’t have stained glass in mind, I had these DIY farmhouse lights on the brain!

As promised, here is the tutorial on how to solder. Read more

Pallet upcycling is all the rage today. But, if you’ve ever tried to actually remove wood planks from a pallet, you know that it is not an easy task. The nails that are used are typically spiral nails and are designed to really grip that wood. And if that’s not enough, they usually shoot 4-5 nails per joint. Sheesh, you’d think they were building a foundation for a 10 ton elephant. Okay, actually it is the foundation that has to hold tons of product as it is lifted by a fork lift. Which explains why harvesting pallet wood can be a labor intensive task.

I figured you’d appreciate it if I shared with you the quickest and easiest way I’ve found to salvage this beautifully rustic pallet wood. Read more

There is a joke on our street that Pretty Handsome Guy isn’t allowed to touch my power tools. Okay, it isn’t really a joke, it’s a fact. He knows he is not allowed to use them without me around (smart guy.) 😉

Before the Woman’s Day shoot I decided at the last minute that I wanted a sign that really labelled the workshop as a “Woman’s” workshop. In an instant I had a creative spark and came up with this question, “Are You Woman Enough to Handle My Power Tools?”  Then I called my good friend Leen the Graphics Queen and asked her to make a wall decal for me. (Did you know she can create custom wall vinyl for you too?! And you don’t even have to be a close friend! But, I’m sure she’d be your friend immediately if you met her because she’s a sweetheart like that.)

Once the vinyl arrived, I set about creating a fancy and feminine sign with some scrap plywood. Here’s how to create your own custom wooden sign. Read more

Today we’ll be learning about the Dremel TRIO! This smaller power tool fits comfortably in your hand. The tool is a cross between a  jigsaw, router, and regular dremel. It has a rotating bit that cuts into drywall, wood, plastic, steel and alumimum (with the appropriate bit). With a quick change to a sanding bit, the TRIO can be used as a sander for smoothing fine details and edges. Finally, the TRIO is a router, but only with the small routing bits that come separately. In my opinion, the TRIO is good for small projects that don’t use hard or thick woods. Anything larger than 1/8″ and it is very difficult to control the tool. (Disclosure: I have not tried the TRIO with the hardwood and sheet metal bit sold separately, but I haven’t used it to cut hard woods.)

The Dremel Trio Rotary Tool can be purchased on Amazon (affiliate links.)

The TRIO comes with a cutting bit (I call it a scroll bit) and a sanding mandrel with three grit sanding drums (60, 120 and 240 grit). Plus, a wrench for loosening and tightening the collet.


A regular baseplate and a compact foot baseplate are also included.

Below is the anatomy of the TRIO to help familiarize you with the tool.

There is a speed adjustment on the handle of the tool. Typically you would leave it on 10 – 12 for cutting wood. A lower speed may be necessary when cutting plastic to avoid melting the material.

One of the nice features is that it can be use in a horizontal grip like a jigsaw. Or, simply press the button on both sides to …

raise the handle and use it with a vertical grip.

Changing bits is fairly simple but requires two hands (my photo is not 100% accurate). One finger pushes the button on the front of the TRIO to lock the collet. The other hand uses the wrench to loosen the collet.

Remove the bit. Insert the new bit and tighten the collet. (First by hand and then with the wrench.)

The TRIO does not come with router bits, but a Dremel 5-piece Specialty Router Bit Kit can be purchased for about $40 from Amazon (affiliate link.) There is also a tile cutting bit, piloted point cutting bit, and a hardwood and sheet metal bit (all available for separate purchase.)

Be forewarned that you CANNOT use bits for a regular dremel in the TRIO. The shafts are different sizes.

And here for your viewing pleasure is a video tutorial for using the Dremel TRIO:

 

How to Use a Caulk Gun

You know the old saying, “No question is a dumb question.” Well, I have to say that about this tutorial, “No tutorial is a dumb tutorial.”

I realize that a caulk gun isn’t a big scary power tool, and yet I still think learning how to use a caulk gun is a very valuable skill for any handy person.

So, let’s get right down to some Caulk Talk.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

A caulk gun is a necessary tool for any homeowner. Sealing gaps in siding, replacing the seal around the tub and shower surround when the old caulk gets dry and brittle is a must. Caulking around the trim around windows and doors will improve your homes energy efficiency and get rid of unsightly gaps. You can also use it for spreading construction adhesive and any other substrate that is sold in tube form. A caulk gun saves your hands from cramping, especially if you have a lot of caulking to do.

A basic caulk gun costs about $10 – $20, but you could buy a power version which run up to $200! Sheesh!

Starting a tube of caulk:

Cut off the tip of your tube by inserting it into the hole at an angle.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Poke the stick attached to the gun into the tube to puncture the seal.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

 Loading a caulk gun:

Pull the hooked rod all the way back. Insert your tube base first. Then tilt the nozzle end into the top of the gun.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Rotate the hook so it is facing up and the teeth are facing down.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Pull the trigger and you’re good to go!

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Be prepared to pull the hook rod back when you finish or the caulk will continue to flow out of the nozzle.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Watch these videos for more details on using a caulk gun (also called a caulking gun) and why it is important to fill any cracks or seams in your siding!

*Thanks to The Real Tim Jones for sharing the secret about how to cut and start your caulk tube! Tim is sooo right, I never knew about this until I saw his video!

And, if you want to find out how to keep your caulk from drying out in between uses, my friend Sandra at Sawdust and Paper Scraps has this tip.

Happy Caulking!

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Today is Friday! And you know what that means…it’s time for another Tool Tutorial Friday! Today I’ll be introducing you to the circular saw.

 

But first, how are you? I don’t know about your week, but I’ve had a busy one. If you follow me on Twitter (I’m not sure why anyone would), you would have been privy to the rainbow of color casts my son has been collecting. He received his 4th cast yesterday. But, who’s counting, right?! Anyway, I learned two things about casts in the process.

  1. Little boy arms will swell to adult proportions post surgery, but will eventually return to normal size…eventually. At that point, a new cast is desired to keep the arm from finding a way to wiggle out.
  2. If you put two brothers in the bathtub and leave the room for one nano-second they will find a way to water log a tightly plastic bagged and saran-wrapped cast that is merely 5 days old!

Mr. Green up there, he only lasted a mere 5 days! You could probably tell by the one signature on it. My mom is trying to convince us to paint white stripes around his current red cast to make it into a candy cane. Hee, hee.

And now let’s plug in some power and start this tutorial!

A circular saw is essentially a portable power saw that can make easy cross cuts like a miter saw. But, it can also rip long boards like a table saw. This little hand held bad boy is a necessity if you are working on an exterior project like a deck or a fence, or anything that is too big to put on the miter saw or table saw work surface. Trimming the varied lengths off newly laid deck boards would be near impossible without a circular saw.

Before I owned either a table or miter saw, this was my power saw. And this baby has cut a lot of wood in its life.

If you are familiar with circular saws, this particular model may look a little bit backwards to you. That is because this is a left-sighted circular saw. I think Porter Cable is one of the few companies (if not the only one) to make one. I am right handed, but for some reason, this saw seemed more comfortable to me. When I was shopping for my circular saw, I spent about an hour or so picking up, holding and imagining using the saw. What I liked about the Porter-Cable is that it had a smaller grip and I was able to span my hand width between the hand hole and the guard lever while cutting.

If you go shopping for a circular saw, spend some time holding them and see what feels most comfortable to you.

Circular saws range in price from as low as $30 up to $300 or more. They come in a variety of  sizes (5 3/4″ – 9″) which refers to the blade size. The most common size people buy is a 7 1/4″.

Before you make any cuts with a circular saw, you must set your depth of cut. If cutting through a board, set the blade about 1/8″ – 1/4″ lower than your lumber. Support your lumber on saw horses or a raised surface (4″ x 4″ posts on the ground work well.) It is imperative that you think through your cut before you actually saw a board. Make sure that your waste end will fall away from the saw after it is cut. Otherwise, the blade will get pinched between the boards and can kickback (see the example in the video.)

You can also change the bevel angle of your cut by adjusting the base of the saw after loosening the bevel adjustment knob.

As with any other power tool. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your power tool. Read the manual and only use a power tool when you are alert and not distracted.

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic circular saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a circular saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

 

Welcome back to another Tool Tutorial Friday! I hope you enjoyed some time off last week. Today I want to share with you a power tool that can cut long straight lines and it can cut curved lines with ease. This tool is also my “go to” tool when I need to cut plexiglass. I’m introducing you to a band saw.

Although the band saw is big and may seem intimidating, it actually isn’t very scary. The blade is usually a mere 1/4″ wide and the cutting action is not super loud and it doesn’t usually throw wood back at you. So, cutting with this power saw really gives you a lot of control and can help eliminate the intimidation factor.

The band saw I have it old, but it still gets the job done. If you were to buy a new band saw, the mechanics are basically the same and not much has changed over the years. The size of the band saw (usually 9″, 10″, 12″ or 14″) refers to the distance between the blade and the neck or side column of the saw. Prices for a new band saw vary from about $125 – $600. I would definitely recommend buying a band saw used unless you are running a business that puts out tons of wood projects. Also, make sure that your band saw comes with a detachable rip fence or you will need to purchase one to fit your saw. This is important for making straight cuts.

A band saw has a circular one piece band shaped blade. The blade rotates around the two wheels at a high speed and allows for precise cuts.

There are several blades available for a bandsaw. In addition you could buy a sanding band for sanding intricate cuts. Band saw blades have a TPI (teeth per inch) number. In general, the more teeth per inch the tighter the cuts and more intricate details it can handle. However, that blade will flex more and cannot cut harder stock wood as efficiently. For straight cuts and thicker stock, a lower TPI number is desired. For a more detailed explanation of band saw parts and blades, check out WoodworkingHistory.com’s bandsaw syllabus.

The ONLY saw that I know of that will make more precise cuts than a band saw is a scroll saw. And when I talk precise, I mean making doll furniture type precise. A band saw is used for ripping, cross cutting, curved cuts, circles, you name it! So, why would you need anything else if this saw does it all? Well, sometimes speed is a factor, the band saw is not super fast when ripping a piece of plywood. Plus, you are limited by the width of your bandsaw. You have to work with a board that will fit in between the blade and the neck of the saw (this is specific inch size of your saw.)

Personally, I prefer using the band saw for smaller projects and cutting plexiglass, thin metal, or intricate shapes. It is a staple for anyone who wants to cut letters out of wood! When making intricate cuts, you will need to plan your cutting paths. In other words, you can’t put your wood in and cut around like you would scissors in a piece of paper. Here is an example of what I’m talking about:

To cut the letter “T” out of a piece of wood, you’ll likely have to make several cuts into the wood, making your cuts meet at tight angles or corners.

Before making any cut using a band saw, you need to make sure that your guide is set for the proper depth. You want the guide to ride just above your board. There should be approximately a 1/16″ space between the wood and the guide so the board doesn’t get pinched between the guide and the work table. On my band saw the adjustment is made by loosening a screw at the back of the machine, raising the guide, and re-tightening the screw.

My band saw also has a work table tilt lever for making bevel cuts. Honestly I’ve only used this feature once, but it is nice to have. Simply turn the lever to loosen the bolt holding the table in place. Then tilt the table to the desired angle and re-tighten the bolt.


That’s basically it for setting up the band saw. Before cutting be sure to wear safety glasses. Ear protection is a good idea, but I’ve been known to skip it since this saw doesn’t bust my ear drums as much as some of my other power tools.

As I’ve said before, keep in mind your safety is in your own hands:

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic band saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a band saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

And here is the video tutorial:

Okay, time once again to let me know what you think about this tutorial; ask any questions; or simply beg to win. When you do so, you will be entered to win this cutie!

Don’t let her pink attire fool you. This lovely lady packs a punch that will knock out any “boy’s” hammer! So limber up those fingers and leave me a note. Your comment will automatically enter you into the 13 oz. Tomboy Tools magnetic hammer giveaway. Good luck!

Sharing with these link parties:

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Welcome back to another Tool Tutorial Friday. I have a secret to tell you, this is one of the two power tools I own that I fear the most (the other is my router.) However, everytime I use my table saw I get a little more comfortable. Regardless, I will always keep that “healthy fear” so I won’t forget to use caution when using this power tool.

If you are just getting used to power tools, I would use a jigsaw or miter saw before tackling this big bad boy! That being said, I believe in all of you and know you can use a table saw, so let’s get to it!

A table saw is a great tool for ripping long pieces of wood. Unlike the miter saw which is limited to a certain width stock, the table saw can handle long sheets of 4′ x 8′ plywood.

Explanation of a cross cut vs. a rip cut:

  • Rip – ripping a board is cutting with the grain along the length of a board. This is usually done with a table saw, but can be done with a circular saw and a straight edge.
  • Cross cut – a type of cut that is perpendicular to the grain or along the width of your board. Cross cuts are usually made with a miter saw or circular saw, but can also be made with a hand saw. (I’ve been known to make this cut using my band saw before I had either a miter or table saw.)

We bought our table saw when we laid the wood floors in our living room. I knew that we’d probably have to rip a board or two once we reached the end. Well, wouldn’t you know that our living room ended up being the perfect size for all full width boards. I kept the table saw anyway knowing that I’d use it (and I have used it a fair amount.)

Table saws come in either a stationary or a portable style. I prefer the portability of my table saw. I can roll it out into the driveway (to keep the sawdust outside.) And, because the stand is built-in, I can fold it up on its side, roll it back into the garage and store it away when not in use.

Table saws cost anywhere from $120 up to $1,000 or more. The Ryobi 10 inch table saw with transportable stand that I use costs $300 at Home Depot.

I highly recommend wearing ear protection, safety googles and a dust mask when using a table saw. Hooking your table saw up to shop vac will greatly reduce the amount of saw dust that is discharged (and it spits out a lot of sawdust!)

Two common dangers of using a table saw are kickback (the board being thrown back toward the user) and hand injuries from forcing material through or feeding the wood with the hand too close to the saw. Kickback will happen if the wood is pinched too tight between the rip fence and the blade. When making a cross cut with a table saw, DO NOT use the rip fence! This can cause kickback to occur.

Table Saw Features:

Safety features are super important on a table saw. A blade cover is essential to keep hands away from the blade. And for that reason a table saw should never be used without the guard in place. For even more protection from hand injuries, there is a table saw that is manufactured under the name Stop Saw, that retracts in a split second if it detects flesh against the blade.

Behind the blade on my table saw are anti-kickback pawls. This is a close up view of this safety mechanism. They are basically teeth that will dig into the wood should the blade start to “kick back” the material toward the user.

 

The rip fence is used to setting the width of a cut and keeping the board straight when making a rip cut. Never use the rip fence when making a cross cut. My saw has a miter fence for making angled miter cuts. I honestly haven’t used that feature yet.

The blade depth adjustment and bevel adjustment knob are one and the same on the Ryobi. To adjust the bevel, push the knob in and then turn it.

The material support and the sawdust chute are located on the back of my table saw.


When using a table saw, be sure to have a clear work area. Set up supports or have someone help you to support large pieces of wood after they exit the saw. Use a push stick to assist when making a narrow cut. Do not wear any loose clothing or jewelry that could catch on the machine. Always use a table saw when you are well fed, alert, and are not in a hurry. This is a serious power tool and requires all your focus to use it.

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic table saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a table saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

If I haven’t scared the sawdust out of you, here is the video tutorial for using a table saw:

I hope I have empowered you to use a table saw at some point. It is a good saw to have in your shop. Especially if you need to lay wood flooring, install beadboard wainscoting and many other projects that require you to rip a board.