With the rise of cordless finish nailers, Senco takes a different approach by using a sealed nitrogen cylinder and a lithium-ion battery to keep them powered. Recently we had the chance to try out the Senco FN55AX Fusion F-18 Cordless 18-Gauge Brad Nailer. We found that this nailer packs in a pile of useful features, has plenty of power, and will keep up with pneumatic nailers like the Senco FN55AX 18 gauge finish nailer. More and more we are turning to brad nails for our finishing projects because of their great holding power combined with the very small head size. A smaller head size means less patching and putty when you are done. There is a lot to like with this nailer and it comes in near the top of our list of must-have tools.
Senco FN55AX Fusion F-18 Cordless 18-Gauge Brad Nailer Features
The Senco FN55AX Fusion F-18 Cordless 18-Gauge Brad Nailer, like the Senco F-15 FN65DA cordless 15 gauge finish nailer came packed inside a large black zip up padded tool bag. Inside the bag there is more than ample room for the tool, the charger and the battery. In fact, there are extra pockets inside and outside the bag that makes it handy to store nails and other small parts and tools. The overall body of the nailer is made of what appears to be ABS plastic with black rubber over-mold on the handle area and on just about any part that might come in contact with your sensitive trim materials. On the top of the tool is a red aluminum cylinder. Inside this cylinder is a permanently sealed charge of nitrogen gas – and this is where the “magic” happens. The nitrogen gas actually gives this nailer its pneumatic-like punch to drive the nails. as we mentioned, the gas system is permanently sealed and, by way of the battery power, the nitrogen is continually being compressed and recycled within the cylinder. While this might sound like a perpetual motion machine, the laws of physics still prevail because, over time, there is a slight pressure loss of about 5 psi for every ten to twenty thousand nail shots. Senco’s engineers claim that the cylinder will hold its useful charge for around 100,000 nailing cycles. For the scope of this review, we are going to have to trust Senco on these numbers (we just don’t have that many projects lined up, or that kind of time!) besides, for those of you who are trim carpenters, you know that after 100,000, you’ll have worn out your nail gun anyway and be ready for a new one. And by that point, if you have been doing things right, this nailer should have paid for itself many times over.
Just like any professional quality tool, the Senco FN55AX 18-gauge finish nailer has all the functionality and features that you would expect. On the lower part of the handle is a sliding switch that makes it easy to adjust between single fire, off, and bump-fire modes. Nail depth is also easy to configure by way of an adjustment wheel located on the top front of the tool. There’s even a visual gauge to show its current position. If the magazine ever becomes jammed, there is a release button that opens the business end of the magazine for easy access to the nail channel. The included 18 Volt lithium-ion battery has a built-in LED battery level gauge so that you instantly know how long your tool or power source has before it needs a recharge. Since the nailer only came with one battery, it makes it easy to be able check the status of the battery before you get into a project. also, it takes just 15 minutes until the charger brings the battery up to 80% of its capacity. In about 45 minutes you get a full charge. Last but not least, there is a belt hook located at the base of the handle that can be easily removed or repositioned to either side of the tool to suit any user.
Testing and Use
Given the versatile size and availability of straight 18-gauge brad nails, the Senco FN55AX has endless possibilities in doing light to medium-duty levels of trim work. Plus, the idea of not having to drag around an air compressor, hose and drop cords is huge. We used this nailer to trim out some custom built-in bookcases. We first built the individual bookcase sections in our shop and then transported them to the office where they were to be installed. Once we had everything lined up and secured to the wall, we used the Senco FN55AX to secure the crown trim around the top edges, the ribbed trip between the shelves and the trim around the base. At first glance we thought the nailer looked a little large for being a brad nailer, but after completing this project, we actually found it to be quite balanced. Not once did its size become an issue with installing any of the trim. The tip was easy to see and precise nail placement was not a problem. The built-in LED light also was a welcomed feature that will make nailing in the dark obsolete. The battery life was more than sufficient as we did not need to charge it through the course of an entire day of doing trim work. The power level gauge built into the battery is also a helpful feature that we wish more manufacturers of Lithium-ion powered tools would take note of.
The Senco FN55AX is a wonderful cordless nailer that can totally replace its pneumatic counterparts. After getting a lots of good use in, it’s really easy to recommend this nailer. While it does have a high initial cost, given the long warranty and no need for compressors and hoses, it’s still a compelling choice. If you are on the market for a portable trim brad nailer we would suggest you put this tool towards the top of your list. Professional features, precision nail placement and complete portability… what more do you want?