The right time

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The right tool for the right job is an old maxim. But unless you use all the tools at once on the same job, how do you know which is the right one?

Normally, you make an educated judgment based on previous experience. Say you have a screw, and it's really, really tiny for something like a jewelry box hinge. You know instinctively not to use the power driver with the same bit you use to ram home drywall screws. Likewise, if you want to cut off some 2x4s you reach for a circular saw and not a dovetail saw. But some tools are so similar that unless you compare them one-to-one you might instinctively grab the wrong one.

I'm working on an article on pneumatic nailers for a magazine with a DIY readership, sort of an introduction to what they are and what to consider before buying one. For the photography I've got one of each in the shop, and I'm taking photos of each doing what they're best equipped to do – a headless pinner, brad nailer, finish nailer, framing nailer and a narrow-crown stapler.

There's some crossover among them. You might use small brads instead of pins for a particular task. Likewise, there's a lot of similarity between a large brad and a small finish nail. And if you're making something like utility shelves for garage storage where appearance doesn't matter, you might use a 15-gauge finish nailer interchangeably with the framer.

I've used all five of these tools before, but as I've been playing around with these fasteners, using all five nearly side-by-side, I've gotten an incredible feel for exactly how each works when compared to the others. This isn't exactly a huge revelation here, and the point of this blog isn't an earth-shaking one.

But if you ever get a chance to do a similar comparison – whether with power tools like these nailers, or maybe even a full set of screwdrivers – don't neglect doing so. You may be surprised at what you learn.

Till next time,

A.J.

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