When a job requires working in tight spaces around existing walls, a hand nailer can become a remodeler's best friend. “I've been personally involved with remodeling a house, and you don't always have the convenience of working in wide open spaces,” says Drew Sundholm, product manager for Grip-Rite. “The need for hand nailers comes into play more often in remodeling than in new construction, and I think that's why the tools are doing so well when we present them to remodelers.”

Photo: Grip-Rite

Unlike bulky framing nailers, pneumatic hand nailers fit in the palm of the hand so users can drive nails into tight spaces in and around existing framing. They're also handy for driving in nail heads that have been left sticking out.

Sundholm says Grip-Rite's GRTMP16 6d Mini Air Nailer was a hit at a remodeling trade show in early 2007. The tool weighs just 1 pound, making it smaller and 66% lighter than its big brother.

“Everyone should have a hand nailer,” agrees Jeff Matthews, Senco product manager. The company has the A20 Hand Nailer/Metal Connector, and will soon offer a mini version. Matthews says the new tool will be half the size of the original but will deliver almost as much power. Being pneumatic, that power comes from an air compressor, and Matthews calls hand nailers “air hungry.” He says a 2.5-to-4-gallon framing compressor will let them operate properly.

“Positive-placement” hand nailers like these drive one bulk nail at a time. As such, you won't use them for an entire framing project. Still, Matthews and Sundholm agree that, with a price of less than $100, a hand nailer is a valuable tool. “You may not use it every day,” Sundholm says, “but there will be one tight corner on a job where you just can't swing a hammer to finish the installation. That's when you'll turn to your hand nailer and it'll really pay for itself.”