Review: Porter Cable Compressor & Brad Nailer
|There it sat.
It arrived at 9:00am. The UPS guy usually shows up mid-afternoon....why
so early today? At first, resistance was not difficult. I just tried
not to think about it.
But the PC was not about to loose this battle. I could hear it calling me...tempting...teasing.
My concentration waivered, but I managed to remain productive for most of the morning.
Things got much more difficult after lunch, when some coworkers arrived
at the office after an off-site morning meeting. I could hear them
talking about it down the hall. I suspect they were fondling the box,
One particularly helpful coworker pointed out that I would be very
disappointed if I got home and found that the combo pack did not come
with any brads. He recommended that I open up the box and check.
Another coworker seemed downright suprised when I argued that the boss would definitely NOT consider ANY part of the spare desk to be scrap wood. And, yes, the people in the office below would probably complain about the noise of the compressor.
Well, I made it through the day with the box unopened. Minutes before
leaving the office, I opened the box to find that it does include 1000
brads. Good...one less stop to delay arrival in the workshop :)
Once there, the evaulation can begin!
|As you read this review, please keep in mind that I have no prior
experience with air-driven nail guns or air compressors. My view of
nail guns is colored by two things:
- watching Norm Abrams shoot brads on every piece he builds
- the electric brad-nailer shown at the right...which will barely sink a 1/2" brad in pine (don't bother with oak)
This is the kit being reviewed.
I recently came into possesion of this tool set compliments of The Spalted Board
. Visit the site to find out how you can win!
Porter Cable CFBN 125A 18 GA. Brad Nailer and 2HP, 6 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor Combo Pack
Setup is pretty straigthforward and well described in the manual. The
compressor requires a 15-minute break-in period - which provides plenty
of time to thoroughly read the manual for both the compressor and the
nailer. A good idea if, like me, you have never owned or used either of
these machines. The break-in requirement is labeled in at least 3
places...including the power cord. Hard for anyone to miss.
|However, even before the break-in could begin, I ran into my biggest
complaint with this tool...the power switch is very poorly labeled (see
the picture below). Porter Cable, if you are listening, would a label
be so expensive?
The switch is labeled with stamped lettering on the housing, which has since been painted over. Can you tell what it says?
Believe it or not, it's even harder to read without the glare of the camera flash.
After the break-in (which is best suffered with hearing protection),
it's time to hook everything up. It is here that my second complaint
arises. There are absolutely no instructions on how to hookup the hose
and two quick-release adapters. That is fine if you have ever used a
compressor before. But not for a beginner...and I would assume that
many purchasers of a combination nail gun and compressor package will
be first-time users. Granted, it's not that hard to figure out...but
what about this roll of white plastic tape (teflon tape)? Having done
some plumbing work, I'll assume it is meant to seal the threads on the
fittings...but how much? Once around? Twice? A few words of instruction
here would have made me feel much better.
Ok, now on to the good stuff!
With a hose attached to the compressor and the nail gun, I closed the
relief valve and turned the compressor back on. While the tank is
filling, I need to adjust the pressure regulator to the correct
pressure for the gun. It is rated for 70-120psi, so I will split the
difference: 95. The regulator is adjusted by turning the black knob
under the right pressure guage. There are two guages - one for
the tank pressure and one for the pressure coming out of the regulator
(the pressure to the tool).
|Here's the nailer.
Besides the convenient carry case, it included 1 1/4" brads
(1000), oil and two allen wrenches. The manual makes no mention of what
the wrenches should be used for...but most of the gun is assembled with
matching bolts...so I guess they are for dissassembly.
The instructions recommend oiling the gun with each use if you don't
have an automatic oiler installed on the line. The recommendation is
2-3 drops of oil in the air hose connection prior to use.
Note the red trigger. There is also a black trigger available from PC
that allows one to hold the trigger and touch end of the gun serves to
the workpiece to fire a nail. I guess this would be for rapid use. This
rapid-fire trigger is available at no extra cost.
The gun has a couple of adjustments to note:
The brads are very easily loaded into the gun - flipping a lever at the
back of the gun releases a slide that opens the side of the gun. Slip
in some brads and slide the side back into position. Everything is now
ready. I grab some oak scraps, position the gun and pull the trigger.
Bang! Woohoo that is fun!
- The air discharge is on
the top of the gun and can be adjusted 360°.
- The drive-depth
adjustment is under the trigger (as noted by the red arrow on the picture).
The brads that came with the gun are 1 1/4". The gun can handle brads
up to 2" in length. There is no problem driving all 1 1/4" of the brad
into oak. In fact, when adjusted for maximum depth, the brads are
driven about 1/16" below the surface. When adjusted for mininmum depth,
it leaves the brad protruding about 1/8" above the surface.
Since the compressor is rather loud, I was curious how often it would
run when I'm in the shop. After letting the compressor fill the tank to
its 150psi capacity, I nailed a board continuously until the compressor
cycled again. In 2 tests, I averaged 45 nails between compressor
cycles. Incidentally, this experiment made me much more comfortable
with the feel of the gun - I recommend all beginners try a similar
This kit is a great way to get started with air tools. The gun seems to
have pleny of power for small assembly and finish-nailing tasks. It
includes everything needed to get started (the gun comes in it's own
case to keep it safe and clean). I'm sure it will become an integral
part of my workshop. I can already think of a half-dozen other tasks
that will be easier with compressed air available.