A palm nailer is a magic hammer. Like a nail gun, you hook it up to an air compressor, but unlike a nail gun, it can be held in the palm of one hand. Its appearance doesn’t make its usage obvious, but this air tool pounds in nail after nail without hurting my hand at all. Just place a nail exactly where you want it. Press the opening on the nailer over the nail, and BAP! BAP! BAP! BAP! BAP! — compressed air drives a little hammer head inside the sleeve to gently pound in the nail. It takes about 10+ taps to get a nail all the way in, but in under a second.
I never knew about palm nailers until my brother-in-law clued me in — and he learned from a friend who is a carpenter. They’re perfect for working with precise positioning, like if you are putting together something with the previously-reviewed Simpson Strong-Tie connectors. I specifically bought mine to do the siding on a backyard shed with a fort for my kids. I just wish I’d known about it when I was doing the framing. I used a lot of Strong-tie connectors that required a whole lot of manual wrist-busting hammering of nails, because — unlike the palm nailer — a framing nailer just isn’t accurate enough for the Strong-tie holes.
The palm nailer is a total joy to use. I love my air compressor and air tools (and have three nail guns already), but another plus is the palm nailer works with in any single nail, not just framing nail-gun feed nails. Also, the size of the palm nailer lets you get into places either a framing nailer or a manual hammer simply can’t fit very well. I’ve only used a Bostitch-branded palm nailer that I picked up at Lowe’s. It was like $80, so not what I’d call cheap, but it’s made by a solid manufacturer and it’s readily available online and if you’re walking into a big box hardware store.
A video demo: