Good starter setup for brad/finish nailing?

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Forum topic by altendky posted 02-22-2015 02:20 AM 1613 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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169 posts in 2409 days

02-22-2015 02:20 AM

Topic tags/keywords: compressor nailer

I am considering purchasing an air compressor and a brad and finish nailer for replacing some bathroom trim and then continued general woodworking use. After reading around, the California Air Tools 1610A seems like a good option. Light weight and quiet despite being an oil-free pump. The 3000 hour life will likely last me decades so I am not as concerned about that (compared with oil lubed life’s closer to 10,000 hour I think). A basic calculation off the RIDGID brad nailer yields ~1.5CFM even at a 2 second cycle time (I doubt I would keep that up for long). That’s less than the rating of 2.35CFM @ 90psi. My concern with this choice lies with the 70-120psi operating pressure of the RIDGID nailers and the 120psi max for the 1610A. My gut tells me that if I want the full power of the tool I should have a compressor that turns on above the max operating pressure of the tool rather than shutting off at that pressure (certainly with a regulator in the middle to maintain the steady 120psi to the tool). But, I have little practical experience. Is that silly thinking or should I be looking at higher pressure compressors? I know I won’t be able to air-sweep or run sanders, etc off this compressor.

Second question is about the selection of the nailers. I sort of default to RIDGID because of the LSA (and at least a few posts from people that have liked them) but I also like buying at Costco and they have a NuMax 3 piece/4 function set on sale for $100 (back to regular $140 after Sunday)... roughly 1/3 or less the price of the RIDGID. Normally I would just write it off as cheap but the NuMax seem to have good reviews and it is Costco with their guarantee. Would you care to share any opinions? The RIDGID provides a 15ga rather than 16ga finish nailer and down to 3/4” length vs 1”, RIDGID is 5/8”-1-3/8” vs 1/2”-1” for the pinner, and RIDGID is 5/8”-2-1/8” vs 3/8”-2” for the brad nailer. Should I save a few hundred and give NuMax a shot? Or perhaps neither is actually a good choice?

Thanks for taking the time to read this far and for any helpful comments you share.


19 replies so far

View Tugboater78's profile


2757 posts in 2391 days

#1 posted 02-22-2015 02:25 AM

Not surr how good a deal it really was but this past black friday i bought from the blue borg a bostitch pancake compressor and 3 guns (18g pin, 16g nailer, stapler) so far so good. About $160 i think.

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View Kelly's profile


2125 posts in 3143 days

#2 posted 02-22-2015 02:52 AM

I had two of the Ridgid units, returned them and went to a Makita.

The first Ridgid hummed, rather than started, so I packed it up, did the hour back to town thing, swapped for another, got back and had the same problem. Called it quits for the day, then went and got a Makita and it’s been fine for five years now.

I also have a Porter Cable pancake with a couple gallon tank for running just the brad and pin nailers. It works fine, as long as you aren’t shooting production. It will even run my PC framing nailer, if you count between shots, but it REALLY labors feeding my siding nailer.

No matter what you get, you can always set a second tank up in your shop, plug into it and run off it for longer runs between recharges.

If you left your auxiliary tank portable, it could give the same performance on the job site.

Regardless what you get, change the oil and drain the tank for life anywhere near the claims.

View altendky's profile


169 posts in 2409 days

#3 posted 02-22-2015 07:13 PM

Bad luck with those RIDGIDs, at least my home depot is a bit closer if I ever have to go through that. My other thought was to get the portable (but not really carry-able) Makita MAC5200 to have the higher power pump and oil lube so it would last forever in my hands (with appropriate care, of course). It could still be moved around but would have the power of a full-size 120v pump and could match their performance with a large fixed tank if I ever needed it. 20db louder gives me pause, though I do have some ear muffs…

View exelectrician's profile


2328 posts in 2626 days

#4 posted 02-22-2015 07:41 PM

I switched to a cordless Senco 41 15Ga nailer, so far I am delighted.
No Compressor to lug upstairs, and possibly scar the walls and floor in the process and altho it is a couple of pounds heavier in the hand, is perfect for me doing a couple of perfectly placed nails here and there. Yeah, I got mine at a pawn shop, I paid $65.00 !! Cleaned it up, put a few drops of oil where it matters, charged up the two batteries and I am one happy camper.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View lizardhead's profile


652 posts in 3041 days

#5 posted 02-22-2015 07:48 PM

Senco is a good one I use porter cable. Stay away from anything Ridgid in my opinion, I have used them to save money, but wound up buying another anyway, resulting in paying twice. Not a good idea.

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View altendky's profile


169 posts in 2409 days

#6 posted 02-22-2015 08:45 PM

I generally try to avoid making too many decisions based on saving a little money on the purchase, so I fully agree with you on that point. I also get fed up with trying to reconcile all the different experiences people have with various brands. I’ll spend hours and days trying to analyze these decisions when I should be putting the tools to use and I really need to work on that. That’s where I end up paying attention to locally available warranties (Costco, RIDGID, Kobalt, Craftsman) when the tools also seem to be reasonable quality. Responses here are obviously negative towards RIDGID…

Hmm, the Porter Cable is cheaper than the RIDGID so the ‘saving money’ option is actually the other way in that comparison.

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience.

View Sparks8286's profile


72 posts in 1689 days

#7 posted 02-22-2015 09:13 PM

I picked up this set last fall from Lowe’s.|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1%26page%3D2&facetInfo=

It’s not horrible. I’ve used the brad nailer mostly and the only complaint I have about it is that every once in a while the brads will jam up and I’ll have to take the front cover off to clear them out. I bought a box of the Hitachi brad nails. I’m not sure if the combination of the two is the problem or if it’s an issue with the gun itself. The other 3 nailers seem to work fine so it’s likely an issue with the particular brads I’m using in that nailer.

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem.

View Redoak49's profile


3662 posts in 2188 days

#8 posted 02-22-2015 11:32 PM

I have had good luck with my Porer Cable. I only use them occasionally but have done several trim jobs around the house with no problems.

View BlazerGator's profile


25 posts in 1388 days

#9 posted 02-23-2015 09:12 AM

Hi, Kyle. Believe it or not, I’ve had good luck with the Harbor Freight brad nailer. I have an older purple model, and I haven’t had any jamming issues. I also have a newer brad/staple combo, but I just use it for staples, as the dimple is a bit large when nailing. Of course, HF is not everyone’s cup of tea.

There’s a good chance the pressure issue you mentioned won’t be a concern. Mine lists a range of 60-100 psi, and I haven’t had to go up to the top rating yet. With red oak, I think I had to bump up from my usual 80 psi to 85 or 90. If you’re shooting baseboard, I assume it’s softer than red oak. I’ve never worked with maple or walnut, so maybe I’m missing something there.

The numbers on the compressor you linked look pretty good. Since you also mentioned the MAC5200, its little brother MAC700 gets rave reviews, and it’s priced fairly close to the CA Air Tools model. It might also be worthwhile to see what comparable models are offered by Rolair.

-- Blaze

View DrDirt's profile


4510 posts in 3941 days

#10 posted 02-23-2015 02:20 PM

Not surr how good a deal it really was but this past black friday i bought from the blue borg a bostitch pancake compressor and 3 guns (18g pin, 16g nailer, stapler) so far so good. About $160 i think.

- Tugboater78

DITTO on this – deal is hard to beat.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Richard's profile


1922 posts in 2890 days

#11 posted 02-23-2015 07:21 PM

Hi, Kyle. Believe it or not, I ve had good luck with the Harbor Freight brad nailer. I have an older purple model, and I haven t had any jamming issues. I also have a newer brad/staple combo, but I just use it for staples, as the dimple is a bit large when nailing. Of course, HF is not everyone s cup of tea.
- BlazerGator

I also have a HF 18ga nailer and 23ga pin nailer and they have worked fine for me with a few hundred nails each useing the HF 6 Gal oil less compressor.

View altendky's profile


169 posts in 2409 days

#12 posted 02-24-2015 12:56 PM

In summary:

  • Bostitch
  • Makita
  • Senco
  • Porter Cable
  • Campbell Hausfeld
  • Harbor Freight

Well, you’ve certainly provided a variety of opinions. :] I don’t know exactly what to do with this info but I appreciate the replies.

View Tennessee's profile


2893 posts in 2714 days

#13 posted 02-24-2015 01:20 PM

Here’s another vote for the HF models. Especially their 23 gauge unit, it just performs. I’ve had mine for about five years, and no jams, no miss fires, just a drop of oil every second or third time I use it. I’ve put hundreds of brads, if not thousands, through it.

I also own two Stanley Bostitch units, a 18 Ga. and a 16 ga. Both perform well, but after running my HF 18 ga., I just don’t see the hundred dollar difference.

I’d buy the HF nailers and brad units, and then put that saved money into a really good compressor.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View altendky's profile


169 posts in 2409 days

#14 posted 02-24-2015 05:35 PM

Out of curiousity, which 23ga? There are three. :] The largest part number seems ‘best’. Largest fastener range (by 1/8th inch, but hey, it’s a difference) and largest capacity but there’s a lot more to quality and function than just the numbers.

I have no fixed budget per se so I won’t be skimping (at least not intentionally) on quality. I might get a little compressor because it’s quieter and lighter, but it would be complementary to a larger compressor if I were to get one in the future.

The Harbor Freight seems to be competitive price-wise with the post-sale $140 for the the NuMax set but with them I get the lifetime Costco guarantee. I wouldn’t ask them to replace it 20 years down the road but no questions asked return if they go bad in 5 years is nice insurance.

Since you own Bostitch and Harbor Freight, how would you compare them? What differences do you notice? It kind of seems like these nailers are perhaps old technology and all pretty similar.

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1028 posts in 1774 days

#15 posted 02-24-2015 06:37 PM

most all compressors go to 120 psi. what you need to look at is recovery rate, and capacity.otherwise it will be running all the time and about all it will run is on/off type things “brad nailer, stapler etc.
I have a Campbell Hausfeld and like it.

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