How To Use A Palm Nailer (Easy Beginner’s Guide)

How To Use A Palm Nailer

An alternative to nail guns is a palm nailer. A palm nailer is a convenient tool, and at the right hands can be very precise and fast. So now it begs the question- how to use a palm nailer?

Using a palm nailer isn’t too tricky. There are some safety precautions you need to follow beforehand. This article will list some of these safety measures and give you instructions on how to operate a palm nailer.

When to Use a Palm Nailer?

Before we get to the details on how to operate a palm nailer, it will prove helpful if you try to understand what makes a palm nailer useful.

A palm nailer is similar to a nail gun, but they are made much smaller and often fit into a palm, hence the name. This convenience is their main advantage allowing them to be used in tighter or narrower spaces.

Palm nailers are used for similar jobs as most nail guns. While they lack the usual power of most nail guns, they can easily make up for it since they are easier to control. Their compact sizes also translate into them being lighter, so you’d be less tired when using them for long tasks.

To summarise, palm nailers are very helpful for use in narrow or tight spaces. They are usually the top pick for joist hangings and metal connectors.

Safety Measures

Palm nailers are safer to use than most nail guns as they have less power. Even then, it’s still essential that you take some precautions when using this nailer. Necessary safety precautions include:

  • Safety Goggles and Hard Hat

Your eyes are sensitive, and splinters are always dangerous, even if a palm nailer is less powerful. Some durable safety goggles are recommended, and you should always put them on. The same goes for hard hats as they are critical safety measures.

  • Earmuffs

Palm nailers do produce noise. If you’re working for a long time, they can cause ringing in your ears and damage your ears, causing hearing loss. Earmuffs or some heavy-duty headphones can help prevent damage to your ears, so they are necessary if you’re working for an extended period.

  • Protective Shoes

Since an everyday use of palm nailers is in joist hangings, you will often need to outstretch your arm to reach high places. In cases like these, you will want to wear protective shoes to protect your toes. This helps to minimize injuries.

  • Careful Footing

If you’re stretching your arm out to use the palm nailer in a high area, you should be careful of your footing if you’re moving. Be wary of the cord getting in the way if you’re using a corded palm nailer. It is also advised not to move too much when working.


Once you’ve taken the necessary safety precautions, you should then go on to prepare your palm nailer for work. There are two types of palm nailers, and both require a few preparatory steps before you can use them.

1. Cordless Palm Nailers

A battery powers cordless palm nailers. Electricity from the battery is used to power the piston and drive the nail.

So for cordless palm nailers, you need to make sure you have a battery in place and a spare one if you need it. Either an 18V or 24V battery will suffice in most cases.

The other important thing you need to do is load nails into the nailer’s magazine. Cordless palm nailers use common nails of 1.5” to 3.5” length. You have to do the loading process manually by opening the magazine and putting it in the nails.

2. Pneumatic Palm Nailers

Unlike their cordless counterparts, pneumatic palm nailers need to be plugged into an air compressor. They feature a port where the cord can be connected to. Most air compressors will suffice for pneumatic palm nailers.

The nail magazine of pneumatic palm nailers also needs to be loaded by hand. They use similar nails to their cordless counterparts, but some pneumatic palm nailers are more powerful. You can use 6” long nails for specific tasks.

How to Use a Palm Nailer?

Before using any palm nailer, you should read the instruction manual that comes with the package. This guide is more general and doesn’t include specific instructions about individual models.

Reading the instruction manual beforehand will alert you of the special instructions you need to follow for your machine.

The below steps detail the process of using a palm nailer:

1. Start the Nailer

Once the battery has been set, or the cord plugged in, press the start button on your palm nailer. This will cause it to turn on. If your palm nailer has a strap to help hold it, then you can use it to get a firmer grip.

Otherwise, simply hold the palm nailer securely with your hand. When you initially start the palm nailer, there will be some vibration. 

2. Align the Nail

For palm nailers, the sharp end of the nail sticks out from the mouth. Align the nail with the spot you want to drive the nail into.

3. Adjust Your Posture

The key to using a palm nailer lies in maintaining a good posture. For some tasks, you might find yourself crouching or lying down. Make sure you are comfortable and have a solid grip on your palm nailer. This will make the next step easier.

4. Driving in the Nail

Once you’re comfortable and have the palm nailer aligned, apply pressure to the palm nailer using your palm. This will exert force and cause the nail to be shot into the point.

5. Finishing Touches

If the nail isn’t entirely driven into the wood, you can use a hammer to navigate the rest of it if needed. Repeat the steps above to drive another nail.


Learning how to use a palm nailer is relatively easy, as it is made to be very convenient. Make sure you have it adequately loaded and follow the safety precautions.Also, make sure to read the instruction manual before trying to use it thoroughly.

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