What is a Palm Nailer – What Do You Use It For?

what are palm nailers used for

A palm nailer is a pneumatic tool that is used to drive nails into wood.

Palm nailers are typically used by carpenters and other construction workers to speed up the process of nailing boards together.

Unlike regular nail guns, palm nailers are designed to be held in the palm of your hand, which gives them their name.

This makes them much easier to control than a regular nail gun, which can be difficult to handle if you’re not used to it.

Palm Nailer Uses

Palm nailers are most commonly used in construction applications, such as building decks, framing walls, and installing trim.

They can also be used for other projects around the home, such as hanging pictures or building a fence.

Particularly these are useful when you need to work in tight places with less space.

How Do They Work?

Palm nailers come in different sizes and styles, but all work on the same principle.

They use compressed air to drive nails into wood and come in both corded and cordless models.

The corded models are usually more powerful, but the cordless models are more convenient to use.

For driving the nails, the operator holds the palm nailer in one hand and uses the other hand to guide a nail into the head of the tool.

The palm nailer then drives the nail into the wood by hitting the nail on the head several times per second.

The real advantage is you do not need to apply too much pressure as you do with an impact hammer to deliver continuous hammer blows on the nail.

A palm nailer will do it for you, which is great when you’re working on a large project and your arm gets tired from all the hammering.

How to Use a Palm Nailer?

The principle of how the palm nailer works – is similar to most other nail guns.

The one exception is that you connect the palm nailer to an air compressor and let it drive the nail into the material.

The palm nailer can load and drive the nails one at a time. What follows is how to operate the palm nailer.

Step 1- Connect

You will need to connect the palm nailer to a compressor. However, if you have a cordless nailer, then you only need to add the battery.

Remember to put on your safety glasses and other protection before getting started.

Step 2- Grip

It pays to get an anti-shock glove that will help protect your wrist.

Be sure to grip the palm nailer firmly in your hand. Be prepared for the power it delivers when driving nails.

Step 3- Load

Place the head of a single nail into the anvil shaft of the device. There is a magnetic collet inside that will hold the nail in place.

Step 4- Drive the Nail

Now, place the nail and nailer on the spot where you want to drive it into, and then press the trigger.

The small hammer inside the palm nailer will drive the nail into the material.

The hammer runs about 10 to 30 blows per second depending on which type of palm nailer you use. The result is that the nail is fully driven into the material.

Palm Nailer – Pros and Cons

The advantages of the palm nailer start with its shape.

You can easily fit it into your palm and send the nail straight into the material.

A palm nailer is also an inexpensive tool that can be used for a wide range of applications.

When it comes to driving nails, the palm nailer is ergonomically designed so it can be used all day if needed.

However, there are downsides to using the palm nailer as well.

The most obvious is that the palm nailer is primarily designed for precision and not speed.

Since you must load each nail (one at a time) before it can be used, it is not suitable when you need to fasten quickly.

For that, you should use a collated nail gun. Plus, since the palm nailer tends to vibrate, it is also not well suited for delicate jobs.

This also means for times when you need to nail a lot, it is not the most efficient device. You do not use the palm nailer to speed your way through jobs.

Instead, the palm nailer is primarily designed for jobs in tight spaces or when only a few nails need to be driven.

In addition, the palm nailer can be quite loud. So, wearing an anti-shock glove and safety glasses, along with ear protection is important when using this device.

IMO, a framing nail gun works quite well, especially in driving many nails during the day. The palm nailer is for special jobs that the framing nail gun cannot do.

What Type of Nails Does the Palm Nailer Use?

You can drive large-size nails, but it is mostly used for framing nails that range in size from 6D to 16D.

The magnetic collet that holds the nails should tell you the size.


You can use the palm nailer for toenailing.

However, the palm nailer is generally the most efficient compared to a simple hammer. This is because the palm nailer uses less force and is more precise.

The result is that you can hold the workpiece with one hand and use the palm nailer with the other.

For driving flooring nails, the power palm is a popular variant. Using an L-Cleat design, you can drive flooring nails for doors, corners, transition areas, blinds, and top nailing.

The power palm is more powerful compared to a typical palm nailer, which makes it less suitable for delicate jobs. When you need more power, then the power palm is the better choice.

Finishing Nails

The small size of finishing nails makes them unsuitable for use in the palm nailer.

A finish nailer or brad nailer is better suited for finishing nails as they are designed for their smaller size. A palm nailer will tend to bend finishing nails if you manage to load them.

Nail Removal

You can use the palm nailer to remove nails from wood assuming the sharp end is exposed.

Simply cover the sharp end with the nailer and activate the hammer. This will push out the nail, in the same manner, that the palm nailer drives it into the material.

Final Thoughts

Palm nailers are a convenient way to drive nails since they do not require the use of both hands like a traditional hammer.

This allows the operator to have one hand free to hold the piece of wood being nailed. 

Mainly, for professionals working in tight spaces, a palm nailer is a necessary tool and a smart investment.

However, if you only need to use such a tool sparingly, it is more economical to simply rent one for the day rather than make a purchase.

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