Tools & Equipment

Nail Gun vs. Hammer: What’s the Difference?

Nail Gun vs. Hammer

Nail guns and hammers make life easier for woodworkers and other professionals as they come in handy for everything from framing houses to DIY projects. However, not everyone understands these two tools well enough. Our side-by-side comparison of the two tools below should make things clear and help you decide what you need for your project.

Overall Findings

Nail Gun

Hammer

  • Electric or pneumatic powered for superior drive force
  • Nail depth setting not consistently accurate
  • Lots of parts mean more maintenance required
  • One-handed use
  • Portability depends on actual size & type
  • Prices start at around $30
  • Drive force largely depends on the user
  • More accurate depth setting
  • Hardly ever requires any maintenance
  • Usage requires both hands
  • Super easy to pack & carry
  • Prices start at $50

Nail Gun

  • Electric or pneumatic powered for superior drive force
  • Nail depth setting not consistently accurate
  • Lots of parts mean more maintenance required
  • One-handed use
  • Portability depends on actual size & type
  • Prices start at around $30

Hammer

  • Drive force largely depends on the user
  • More accurate depth setting
  • Hardly ever requires any maintenance
  • Usage requires both hands
  • Super easy to pack & carry
  • Prices start at $50

Nail Gun vs. Hammer

1. Application: Both are Flexible in Different Ways

Many contractors and woodworkers will often have one favorite hammer they always bring to any job, whether they are framing a house or working on a DIY project. Provided you have a good quality hammer; it will be highly flexible, allowing you to handle almost any projects requiring you to drive in nails.

However, hammers are more ideal for simple tasks that do not require you to drive in a lot of nails unlike the nail guns that can handle heavy-duty applications.

On the other hand, nail guns are also quite flexible but in a different way. These guns come in a variety of types to handle various projects. The main types are framing, flooring, roofing, siding, and finish nailers. All this means there is a nail gun for any project that entails using nails to join two wood pieces.

2. Driving Force: Nail Guns Deliver Superior Driving Force

Nail guns are typically pneumatic or electric. But, regardless of the power source, these nailers provide way much more driving force than hammers, and all you need to do is push a button or trigger.

With a nail gun, you can go through large nailing projects fast and with ease. Besides the higher driving force, they also get the job done at a fraction of the time you would use when nailing the fasteners with a traditional harmer.

While experienced woodworkers and contractors also seem to drive nails super-fast with hammers, this tool still does not provide a lot of drive power. The user generates the force, and so it is highly dependent on their physicality and skills.

3. Nail Depth Accuracy: Very Accurate Nail Depth when Using a Hammer

While a hammer might not generate as much driving force as a nailer, it seems to make up for this by providing highly accurate nail depth settings. Since the user is in more control of everything from the driving force to drive angle when using a hammer, it is easier to determine the preferred nail depth.

Many nail guns allow you to choose then drive depth, and for others, it depends on the size of fasteners you are using. However, with these power tools, the nails are guided through the workforce with a similar amount of force, making it hard to maintain the desired nail depth.

4. Ease of Use and Maintenance: Nail Guns are Easier to Handle

Nail guns are generally much easier to use than hammers. With these tools, driving in nails is all about placing the nose where you want the fastener to go and then pushing the trigger. You do not have to lift and hammer down on the nail several times to sink it in.

When it comes to maintenance, hammers hardly ever require any at all. Wiping the hammer after use so you can store it is perhaps all you will ever have to do. However, for nail guns, there are movable internal parts that require regular cleaning, maintenance, and sometimes even replacement.

5. Portability: You can Carry a Hammer to Anywhere

One of the most significant advantages a hammer has over nail guns is it is highly portable. A typical hammer is lightweight and easy to pack for transportation. What's more, it does not require any external power source.

On the other hand, nail guns are pretty heavier, even though there are many compact models out there. Those that come with a carry case are more portable, but the need for an external power source is often very restrictive.

6. Cost: Hammers are Super Affordable

Prices for the most basic or budget models start at around $35, while standard ones cost at least $100, and the more advanced ones can cost up to $500 or even more.

On the other hand, prices for hammers start at around $5. Regardless of the model you choose or how heavy-duty the hammer is, the price hardly ever goes past $50.

Conclusion

Whether you are a regular DIYer, a seasoned woodworker, or a professional contractor, the nail gun and hammer are two tools you should have in your arsenal. While they do pretty much the same job, they come in handy in different situations.

With that said, if you are looking for something for occasional use when doing projects entailing just fastening a few nails, a hammer should be enough.

However, if you do a lot of nailing, such as when framing or roofing houses, a nail gun is more appropriate but make sure you choose a type that suits your specific jobs.

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