How to Use a Nail Gun for a beginner Safely – 7 Simple Steps

You are here because you are either a new nail gun user or want to buy the best nail gun. Either way, you need to know how to use a nail gun safely and drive nails on the target.

Knowing how to use a nail gun makes your job a lot easier than before. It is a useful, convenient, and effective tool for woodworkers, builders, or even DIYers.

You can use a nail gun in any task where a hammer and nails are used. But using a nail gun properly needs proper instruction. Otherwise, you cannot drive nails on the target for sure. Also, you might have injuries from nail gun accidents as well.

Once you know how to use a nailer, it will be easier for you to drive nails where you want, how you want. So here is the instruction for you.

What is a nail gun?

As its name implies, it is a gun that shoots nails into something instead of bullets.

A nail gun is an automated tool that drives nails into surfaces using explosive charge, compressed air, or flammable gases like butane or propane. The most common nail guns are air-compressed nail gun. Actually, it has replaced the use of a hammer in construction as well as the DIY industry in many ways.

A by-trained engineer named Morris Pynoos first designed the nail gun. He designed it for his own project on the airlift flying boat.

In 1950, the first nail gun was introduced in the market to speed up construction work. It was an air compressed nail gun. It could drive 40-60 nails in a minute and hold 400-600 nails in it.

How do nail guns work?

All types of nail guns have the same mechanism. It follows 2 jobs only. One is firing, and another is reloading. For the first job, it has a piston. When you pull the trigger, the piston hammers on a plate mechanism that drives nails into your target, it is similar to the original gun.

And for reloading, it has a magazine mechanism that is filled with nails. All the nails are glued together. When you pull the trigger, the hammer comes down and drives the top nail from the magazine into a surface.

Spring is there at the base, as well. When the hammer cocks, this spring pulls up the next nails for firing. And the same things happen until the magazine is finished.

This is the basis of the nail gun mechanism. The difference is the power source. Different types of nail guns have different power sources, and these operate differently.

How do Pneumatic Nail Guns Work?

Pneumatic nailers are the most popular and most used nailers. It is used for heavy-duty construction work. It uses an air compressor as a power source. The piston gets power from an air compressor. The compressor is attached to the nailer through a hose. The air compressor builds and compresses air pressure.

When you pull the trigger of your nail gun, the air compressor releases the pressure, which drives the piston forward and hammers on the blade mechanism for firing with incredible power. And you know the rest.

How do Combustion Nail Guns Work?

Combustion Nail Guns use flammable gases for power. As the name implies, these guns have a combustion chamber above the siding piston. There are gas cartridges that deliver fuel into its chamber. A small spark plug or battery ignite flammable gas and creates a small explosion. This explosion generates forces to drives the piston and nails. Similar to Pneumatic nailers, it is used for heavy-duty work as well.

How do Battery-Operated Nail Guns Work?

Battery-Operated Nail Guns are mostly used for general DIY uses. This is the simplest model, as well. Instead of using combustion or air compressor, it uses a small rotating motor. This motor compresses a spring, and it is released when you pull the trigger. The spring is powerful enough to generate forces to drive nails into the right target. 

How do you use a nail gun step by step?

Now you know how a nail gun works. As a result, it will be easy for you to use a nail gun. Here are the steps that you should follow.

What you need

  • Nail gun
  • Nail strip
  • Safety glasses
  • Wood scraps

Put your safety glass

Safety is always first. You should wear safety glasses before you start anything. When you will do stuff like loading or firing, a nail or splinters might come flying toward your eyes.

You never know what is going to happen in your life. Always take necessary safety. If you don’t have any, check it from amazon and pick it up before using a nail gun.

How to load a nail gun

The first step to using a nail gun is knowing how to load a nail gun. So take the best nail gun for your job and then load it up. Nails have two styles; coil style and strip style. And two styles need different methods to load. Here is a detailed guide on How to load a nail gun.

Load your coil nailers

  • First of all, turn off your nailer
  • Be sure you have chosen the right gauges and lengths nail. Otherwise, the coil might get jammed, and you will be in trouble.
  • You will find a latch that keeps the coil nails secure. Unlatch it.
  • Remove the rubber band from nails, do not remove nails from the coil.
  • Place the coil of nails in the right position in the right direction.
  • Check the manual and feed your coil’s first end into the discharge chamber.
  • Now latch your compartment, and you are done.

Load your strip nailers

  • Turn it off
  • Read the manual and acquire the right type of strip nails for your gun. Not all strips are suitable for your nail gun.
  • In the magazine notch, position all the nails and nail them up in the right direction.
  • Rotate your nailer upside down and now push the spring button. It will place all strips in the right position. However, check again.
  • You will listen to a click sound if everything is ok. If not, check again. And if you listen that click, congratulation. You are done loading your strip nail gun.

How to load a nail gun porter cable

  • Turn it off
  • Point away from the nose of the gun from you
  • Slide finish nails through a t-shaped opening
  • Pull away the magazine pusher and release
  • You are done, now test it by firing

Place your nail gun on wood scrap for practice

Now place your nail gun on a wood scrap. You should point the gun at your target. Remember, it will shoot the nail wherever you point your gun. Also, make sure you are holding the gun firmly.

Push your body towards nail gun

When pointing or placing your nail gun, you have to push your body towards a nail gun. You might know that you are going to face a back kick from the gun. Pushing your body towards the gun will help you handle the kickback. But do not go closer to the gun. Maintain safe distance all the time.

Pull the trigger

Once you feel comfortable, pull the trigger. I do not need to tell you how you can pull the trigger. Make sure you release the trigger as soon as it shoots. Otherwise, it will continue shooting.

Pull away the gun

Now, pull away the gun, and you will see that you have ejected a nail into the wood surface. Try it several times and then go to your work for final nailing.

Turn it off

After practicing or working, turn it off. And make sure you put the gun in a safe place.

How to use a nail gun.

If you want to know about the use of specific nailer such as Paslode, you should check our guide on how to use a paslode nail gun.

Safety tips for nail gun

According to a study of the BMJ journal, every year, a lot of carpenters face injuries due to nail gun accidents. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 37,000 people go to the emergency room because of nail gun injury.

Also, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year, it cost almost $338 million for nail guns’ wounds. Can you imagine?

You cannot prevent accidents for sure, but you can reduce the chance of accidents and damages by following some safety tips. Here are some safety tips for you.


Wear safety gear

Wear all the necessary safety gear you have. As I said, during the firing, loading, and maintenance, anything unexpected can happen. Wear a safety glass to protect your eyes. Wear a mask for face, a protection cover for your ears, a pair of gloves in hand, and a pair of boots for feet. These will save you from any unwanted situation.

Be familiar with the nail gun

As I said, nail guns are simple and easy to use. However, you need to use it properly with great safety. Being familiar with the tools is a way to know about it. So read the manual properly, watch YouTube videos, and, if possible, take help from an expert.

Be aware of your surroundings

Always check the surroundings before firing the gun. It is possible that you fire your gun on a surface and nail breaks through the surface and hits someone on the other side of the surface. Also, you shoot your gun towards an object that will break down. So make sure you have checked all your surroundings.

Hold the gun firmly

As I said, you will face a sidekick when you fire. If you do not hold the gun firmly, it is possible that it will be dropped from your hand or hit with the nails accidentally. Always hold the gun firmly.

Do not point your gun to anybody

We sometimes do it for fun. We point guns to someone to frighten them. It is not a good practice. By any chance, if you fire the gun and a nail hit any person, he or she will have a serious injury for sure. And if it hits any sensitive position of anybody, that will be fatal.

Turn it off when loading or maintenance

When loading or doing maintenance, always turn your nail gun off. Anytime, any accident can happen. Try to unplug it when not using it.

Store it in a safe place

And lastly, store your gun in a safe place. Do not keep it near any children or any explosive things.

If you can follow these tips, I hope you will be safe.

How to use a nail gun with an air compressor

Nail guns are used with air compressors a lot. And it is super easy to use actually.

  • Make sure you have chosen the best air compressor for a nail gun.
  • Turn on your air compressor, now let your air compressor build its pressure on the air storage tank. You should do it as per the recommendation. You will find it in the manual. Generally, it is a maximum of 100PSI.
  • Make sure outlet pressure gauge has 0 PSI.
  • Attach your nail gun with an air compressor with a hose. You should choose the best air hose for a nail gun all the time.
  • Now turn on regulator knob until your outlet pressure gauge has reached the targeted PSI. You will find the recommended PSI in your user manual, as well. You can control the pressure with the regulator.
  • Load your gun. I am sure you know how to load a nail gun by now
  • You are set to go. Now fire your gun to check. Make sure to follow safety tips. If you see nails are going too deep, you can decrease the pressure to 80PSI or lower. And if you see it, it is not going deeper; you can increase it as well.
  • After using, make sure you turn off the compressor and release all the air.


Do you have any more questions? If yes then you can read the FAQ section, you might find your questions here. And if you do not find your question or answer, don’t forget to comment below.

Yes, you can.Can you use a nail gun for decking?

Yes, you can, and it makes the process a lot easier.

Are nail guns easy to use?

Yes, nail guns are easy to use. but make sure you follow the right process mentioned above.

What is needed to use a nail gun?

To use a nail gun, you need
Nail gun
Nail strip
Safety glasses
Wood scraps


Nailing at the target is not easy. But if you know how to use a nail gun, you can be master at driving nails on the target. You need to practice at first. You know, practice makes a man perfect. So if you want to be good at nailing, you should practice.

Once you have known how to use a nailer, you can save a lot of time, effort, and money. So follow my instruction and start using your nail gun like a pro. And always remember to oil your nail gun or maintain properly to get the best service out of it – Best of luck.