There have been quite a few projects I have worked on where the use of a good finish nailer would have been great – especially one not limited by a cord or a compressor.
Many of the finish nailers I have tried, either cordless or corded have worked well enough but I have always had the feeling that if they drive a nail well then the ‘wind-up’ before the nail hammer struck was too long. Or if the reaction to the trigger was quick, then the nail driving was unconvincing. It is therefore so good to use a cordless machine that not only drives the nail instantly once the trigger is pressed, but also done with the ‘clunk’ of authority that tells you that the nail is well and truly driven home. This Hitachi will convince its users that it is completely up to the job and I am sure that it will gain many satisfied users. Certainly, if reaction to this tool in the US so far is reflected in the UK, then Hitachi UK will have to work hard to keep up with demand.
Some of the effectiveness of this nailer must be due to the fact that it uses one of the latest Hitachi brushless motors. Generally more efficient, quieter, more powerful and maintenance-free, due to being sealed units, brushless motors have been the other side of the Lithium Ion revolution by allowing Li-Ion battery packs to deliver more runtime etc because of their relative efficiency. So look forward to up to 1500 nails per charge on the compact 3Ah battery packs supplied with the machine, as well smooth operation and less maintenance.
Picking it up straight out of the box the Hitachi follows the design pattern of other nailers with its big top cover and driving head with a handle and nail magazine attached. With a 3 Ah battery it weighs in at 3.3 Kgs so is neither too light nor too heavy. It needs a bit of weight to minimise recoil, but also needs to be light enough to use all day without you becoming fatigued. However, even after a few minutes of handling it is clear that Hitachi has done quite a lot of homework on this design. The operating handle is well designed with good rubber gripping liberally, but sensibly, placed. The handle is small enough to get a good hold on it for either left or right handers, and there are other strategic bumpers of rubber placed over the body so that the tool can be put down safely or even sustain a few bumps without damage.
The nail magazine is largely made of rugged plastic that is both light and strong. Loading it with nails (it will take 16 Gauge straight nails from 25mm to 65mm long) is very simple – simply pull back the
spring-loaded nail feeder, push down the lever to allow the nails to slip by and then release the nail feeder where it applies a delicate pressure to the nail strip to ensure a gentle feed. The nail strips have fifty nails per strip and this nailer will hold a couple of strips – easily enough to be getting on with work without too many interruptions.
Aimed at: Professional second fix carpenters, shopfitters etc
Pros: No trigger lag, powerful enough to drive a 65mm nail,
light and very effective. Try one – amazing!
The business end of the nailer – the all-important hammer pin and nose mechanism – is strongly made in cast metal and plastic. I particularly liked the optional round plastic nose on the end of the firing head. It is mounted on two sprung metal columns that have to be pushed at least 12 to 15mm down onto the work for the trigger to fire – this makes it hard to accidentally fire the nailer.
Secondly, the plastic nose gives you a sort of target to aim at where the nail should go, so it was easy to be more accurate in placing your nails, and it also protected the workpiece from damage. If I used this machine regularly I would be tempted to keep this cap on permanently.
I actually never needed to remove the nose cover for real to unblock a nail stoppage despite using all of the nails that were sent with the test machine (firing nails effortlessly into a fencepost can be quite therapeutic as well as being called research) but when I did it just to check how to do it, the process is simple and involves pushing the lock lever forward which unhooks the nose assembly,
revealing the stuck nail. Setting the depth for nail driving is done via a knurled wheel on the nose – it takes a bit of trial and error depending on timber hardness and nail size but is not difficult to do.
Safety with nailers is very important and the instruction booklet is comprehensive as well as very careful to point out the safety requirements when loading nails or unblocking a nail stoppage for example. You really can’t say you didn’t know. On the back inside of the operating handle is a little display panel that informs the user of several things. First of all, in the middle is the power switch. Once a battery is installed, this is where the tool is turned on or off. Next to this is a battery indicator switch that shows via a couple of LEDs what the state of the battery is – if it blinks at you then it is time to recharge the battery.
Finally, there is a mode switch to select single or continuous firing modes. Continuous mode is great – just push the machine into the workpiece and it fires – it makes for very fast work.
An extra layer of safety is added by the addition of another on/off switch on the handle. This is deeply recessed to avoid being switched accidentally and it does mean that careful users will always show that they are ready to use the machine intentionally and it helps keep little fingers from fiddling and unintentionally firing the nail gun.
Another feature on the body is a reversible hook for hanging the machine on a handy rafter or whatever. The hook itself can be folded away so that it does not catch. Packed with features as it is, the Hitachi NT1865DBSL cordless nailer will, in my view, be purchased for one thing only – its sheer performance. With an instant response to the trigger and proper nail driving power it’s a gutsy tool that will deliver again and again.