There’s a lot of (somewhat) interesting lore about the invention of the framing nailer, but one thing is certain: for the last 65 years or so, it has allowed wood-framed buildings to rise quicker and framers’ thumbs to last longer. Today framing nailers are powered by lithium-ion batteries, compressed gas cells, or more commonly by pneumatic force generated by an air compressor. Frankly there’s not usually a huge amount of variability in framing nailer design and function, but there are slight differences in weight, balance, and operation that would make you choose one over another. The DeWalt DWF83PT 30-degree Paper Tape Collated Framing Nailer was designed to major in those slight differences and I was happy to test it out and see the results.
I’ve been in just about every phase of construction over the past 35 years with the majority of that time spent in carpentry, so I can tell pretty quickly if a tool will be easy or hard to use all day. New materials and components have made tools noticeably lighter and the DeWalt framer is no exception. It is quite light and that’s really what’s most important to me in a nail gun. It’s great that the tool can make framing 8 to 10 times faster than hammer-driven nails, but if you can’t hold the thing up all day, day after day, then it’s really of no use.
The weight of the tool also contributes to the total fatigue of the work environment. In the Florida summer heat, holding up materials like especially heavy headers or working on scaffolding where extra caution is warranted, the last thing I want to do is reach down and pick up a heavy nailer. So let’s get down to business on the jobsite – and always be sure to wear eye protection.
Features Worth Noting
Just because there isn’t a lot of difference in most framing nailers doesn’t mean there aren’t things to talk about. Several must-have features are on this model and there are a couple things you may find on other nailers this leaves off.
First of all, you’ll notice this is a 30-degree framer, not a 21-degree like many are used to using. While there’s nothing wrong with the angle or performance it offers, you’ll likely find fewer choices at your local hardware store when it comes to nails.
The belt hook is absolutely a must-have on any framing nailer. You don’t have the luxury of working at ground level all the time and you need both hands to help you climb safely. DeWalt’s belt hook is sturdy and swivels around the base so you can easily hook it right or left handed. It’s wide enough to hook on 2x material as well.
Access through the top is tool-free in the case of a jam and the depth of drive is adjusted with a typical thumb wheel.
DeWalt has followed suit with most modern nailers and switching between bump and sequential firing modes is tool-free.
One of the few features you may have gotten used to but won’t find is an adjustable exhaust vent. By leaving that off, it ensures the entire back of the nailer is metal construction with no plastic to break if it drops.
Over the several weeks I used the DeWalt DWF83PT framing nailer, I really appreciated the comfortable, light, and well-balanced design. Even with a full clip or half a clip it’s not head-heavy or tail-heavy.
The nailer loads easily through the top (back side of the magazine if you’re holding it upright) of the magazine rather than the base. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to loading, but coming in this way is pretty intuitive.
All the operations are really smooth. The depth gauge was easy to set and mode selection is simple without having to take the trigger off. It didn’t jam or misfire at all during my testing. You can really work with it all day and that’s important considering how much work we had to do.
DeWalt has designed some recoil reduction into this model. It really didn’t stand out to me as being better or worse than my normal nailers. However, when you take into account the weight reduction, you’d expect greater recoil but that wasn’t the case.
Part of the excellent performance we experienced is good design and part of this is proper maintenance. I recommend checking the tool before each use to be sure it will operate properly. Oil the gun as recommended by the manufacturer – this could be as often each day or twice a day depending on usage. One of the biggest mistakes people make with this class of tool is the failure to oil it. They’ll eventually blow the seals out of the heads which is an unnecessary inconvenience and expense. Also be sure to use the framer at DeWalt’s recommended pressure of 70 – 120 PSI.
Never attempt to drive a nail into anything but wood. Nailers are not meant to drive through hurricane clips or any other type of metal.
The Bottom Line
If you go to your construction trailer and look at all the framing nailers to choose from, you’ll want to grab this DeWalt – the overall performance of the gun makes you want to use it. The weight really makes it stand out among its peers and I haven’t been disappointed by any of the features.
There’s nothing I disliked about this framer. Because I know that there’s little variability in framing nailers, the weight is really the differentiator for me. I would certainly recommend this to other professionals. At right around $240, it’s right there with the other framers in its class. You’ll be able to work quickly and your body will thank you.
DeWalt DWF83PT 30-Degree Framing Nailer Features
- Industrial grade design for high speed and high volume framing applications
- Lightweight with enhanced ergonomics and balance for comfrot and control
- Recoil dampening engine system to minimize recoil
- Tool-free features: depth-of-drive adjustment for precise setting of fasteners and selectable trigger for bump or sequential actuation mode
- Adjustable rafter hook
DeWalt DWF83PT 30-Degree Framing Nailer Specifications
- Model: DeWalt DWF83PT
- Power Source: Compressed air
- Fastener Type: 30-degree paper tape
- Fastener Length: 2″ to 3-1/4″
- Fastener Diameter: 0.113″ – 0.131″
- Magazine Capacity: 75
- Operating Pressure: 70 – 120 PSI
- Firing Modes: Bump and Sequential, tool-free adjustment
- Weight: 8.1 pounds
- Warranty: 7 years
- Price: $235.99