I decided I wanted to try automating my next construction (a cabin). I bought a Dewalt compressor and went shopping for nailers. It went fine up to the 15 gauge finish nailer. Then I faced a cliff. Not one of the frame nailers felt comfortable. They were all too large, heavy, unwieldy. The designers apparently never meant anyone below average white male American size to need or use frame nailers. The lightest weight one I tried, a Porter Cable FR350, felt *just* barely controllable when empty. I can't imagine it would feel good for long once it recoiled a few dozen times. Whatever I saved on labor would be more than made up in physical therapy bills. I'm sure I couldn't do a full work day with it.
So -- anybody know what Japanese or Italian builders do? They're shorter than the average USA male. Surely they do not tolerate doing everything by hand?
*I will add that it was rather a humiliating trip to Home Depot. My usual clerk is a friendly lady who is patient and outgoing. This guy today was a sexist pig who was antsy to get rid of me. I couldn't even reach some of the tools in the display area, he had to get them for me. He could hardly keep the contempt out of his voice when I had trouble handling them. If I'd bought the compressor there, I'd have returned it. I'd pay full price online rather than tolerate that kind of treatment to save $5 in 3D. At least I wouldn't have to put up with SMIRKING.*
Not knowing anything about these devices, my first reaction was to suggest building a boom type jig, similar to those used in the movie industry for manipulating huge film and video cameras, of course much smaller. Your message prompted me to go out on the net and look at these things. There's a Makita (makita.com>pneumatic) that looks pretty nice, same capacity as the PC that you said was awkward, only weighs 8.4 lbs.
But what struck me is those arms/braces they're mounted on. I take it that you use them by laying the arm on the surface as a brace for the nailing device itself. Boy do they look awkward. How do you use them at the bottom of a piece where various other pieces would interfere?
At any rate, in looking at them I realized that a boom jig was just exactly what I'd want to use, could be built using a ball head from a tripod. Or maybe the construction industry already builds/sells these things.
There has to be a different design approach, IMHO. The way they are ALL built now, it's not safe for most of the Hispanic and Asian men I know. It violates the idea of controlling leverage, among other basic ergonomic principles.
When they solve this problem, they might also make headway on lowering the number of injuries currently caused by these crude tools.
I saw a floor nailer which seemed to hold some promise but in the end, something has to be done about the centroid of mass at the end of an extended arm. There's no safe way to let 8 pounds of metal ram/recoil at 1,000 in-lbs at the end of a lever like that. No wonder these construction guys cost so much to insure, they'll all end up with back trouble or worse.
Part of the problem is physics. The force required to drive a large nail through a 2x4 and into another is pretty big, and as Newton said, "For each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction". At least part of the weight of those nailers is devoted to keeping recoil to a minimum.
I have two suggestions:
1) Look at the Porter-Cable Bammer. It does NOT use air, but rather a battery and a propane cartridge. Basically, it drives nails with small explosions. It is NOT cheap, but I'm pretty sure it is lighter than the air nailers.
2) Look into the nailers that use .22 caliber blanks to drive the nails. Again, because they don't use air, the driver can be much smaller and lighter.
Actually, Handi, I'm thinking the problem is design philosophy, not physics. Powder actuated tools have been around for decades. They're small, light, powerful enough to set nails in concrete. This is all doable. We choose not to do it because we are operating under design assumptions that lead to not being concerned with smaller people using this class of tools.
Meanwhile, I'm going to start looking for European or Asian tools. I can't believe they build at the rates they do with plain hammers.
I built my own house mostly the old-fashioned (read: hard) way, using a hammer and nails. Eventually, I was able to borrow a framing nailer to finish up the job. It was a Stanley Bostitch. Big sonofagun but really not unwieldy, and I'm pretty petite. Nowhere near the size or weight of those lovely finish nailers, though, but it really can't be. Much like a gun, the lighter the weight, the heavier the recoil. I'd recommend combining your methods, if you have the time. There's something very soothing about driving tons of nails by hand. (No, I'm not kidding.) But the air nailer can really save you a lot of time and make awkward jobs much easier. Good luck however you choose to go. You're about to embark on an awesome project.
Oh, and since, you're interested in Asian tools, do yourself and favor and check out a tool catalog company called Japan Woodworker (www.japanwoodworker.com) They have a hammer with an unusual design, a Dogyu, that makes driving those nails much easier. As well as the pulling out of booboos. The guys all laughed at my hammer (it was affectionately known as the "duck hammer" because of its looks) until they tried it. It's very light yet has the driving power of a much heavier hammer due to its design.
Maybe so; but I'd suspect the problem is the force needed to drive the nails. So how else would you suggest driving a nail? I think guns and bullets work in fairly small packages because the bullet itself is explosive. Maybe a nail wrapped in such a package, but then the hole would be too big.
Or maybe a repetitive nailer would do it, so instead of having to drive the nail in one shot, it would have two or three force driving events.
Or maybe forget nails altogether, go for screws, lots of solutions there.
There is such a hammering device, known as a palm nailer. At least one comes with a handle so one doesn't end up with... a numb palm, I guess.
The stroke on it is about 1/4" so it's agonizingly slow. It basically taps a nail into place with air power. At the moment, I'm looking into it, checking how much time penalty it involves.
All I know is that this just STINKS, okay? I'm sure enough to bet dinner at Le Cirque that the way we got these gargantuan ungainly nailers was probably the same way we ended up with US military jet planes that most women (and Asian and Hispanic males as well) did not qualify to be trained to fly because they were too small for the pilot seats and dashboard, etc. Once you have a built in bias, it infects the design process all the way to the root.
I do not have to propose any engineering solution to notice that people who are not male sized were left out of the design program. That is evident.
Alice, thanks for reminding me it's possible with hand tools. I've done it but it's been a while. Thing is, this time I really need to close it in in very short bursts. I can't sit around waiting for hand hammering. I designed it to be done in panels, on a concrete slab. If I must hire a lot more labor than is in the plans right now, it's a problem.
I was also disappointed and downright shocked at being dissed today, I think. *sigh* That whosits at Home Depot annoyed me a LOT. It's been on my mind that many people, even women, might not understand how humilitating today was. Just think back to the last time some old geezer leered at you and declared, "Little girl, don't worry your head about that. Here, I'll do it for you. Go get me some coffee."
I'll heft a Bostitch and see if I can get someone to let me fire one up. A couple of companies are moving toward lighter megnesium tools but in the end, I'm not sure it's enough. Right now, I'm so ticked, it's hard to be calm about it. I'm MAD AS HELL, actually.
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