This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. In their quest to free us from compressors and air hoses, DeWalt has come out with a lineup of 20V MAX finish nailers and staplers. In a previous post, we checked out their 16-gauge nailer, the DeWalt DCN660. For more delicate trim, you don’t necessarily need the added holding power of a 16-gauge nail (and the larger nail hole that comes with it). Enter the DeWalt DCN680 18 gauge 20V MAX cordless brad nailer – follow along as we make some tiny holes.
The DeWalt DCN680 18 gauge nailer has most of the features found on the larger DeWalt DCN660. It’s powered by a robust brushless motor, so it makes very efficient use of its little battery. The nailer can shoot brad nails ranging from 5/8” to 2-1/8”, which should cover pretty much any project.
Finally, the DCN680 is very user-friendly: All of the adjustments are tool-free, to keep you banging away at a high rate of speed. Here’s a list of features, followed by a quick video from the folks in Yellow & Black:
• 100% battery powered; eliminates the hassle of using gas, compressor, and hose
• Brushless motor maximizes runtime and durability
• Micro nose improves line of sight and accuracy of nail placement (compared to DEWALT DC608)
• Tool-free depth adjustment for precise countersinking of nails
• Tool-free jam release to quickly and easily clear nail jams
• Multi-functional LED lights help to provide both workspace illumination and tool diagnostics
• Tool-free selectable trigger for sequential or contact actuation modes
• Integrated tool-free stall release lever to quickly reset the driver blade in the event of a stall
• Adjustable belt hook for left or right attachment depending on user preference
• Low nail lockout prevents dry firing and unwanted marks on the work material
The DeWalt DCN680 18 Gauge Brad Nailer – It’s In The Bag
We received the kit version of the DeWalt DCN680 nailer to evaluate, the DCN680D1. Already got some Yellow tools and batteries? The nailer is also available as a bare tool, as the DeWalt DCN680B. Both versions come with a sporty reversible belt hook. The kit version adds a 2.0 Ah 20V MAX battery, a DCB112 charger, and a canvas contractor bag to stow it all.
The DeWalt DCN680 arrives ready to go to work. Drop in a strip of nails, slide the battery on, and get trimming! No compressor to schlep up the stairs, no hose to trip over, no oil dripping on your shoes as you oil your pneumatic nailer, no eardrum-shattering compressor noise disturbing the tranquility of your work space.
The loading process for the nailer is simple. Press the latch on the rear of the magazine, slide the cover back, drop the nails in, close the cover. Since the DeWalt DCN680 can shoot such a wide range of nail sizes, the next step is to adjust the depth of drive. If you shoot a 5/8” brad with the same setting you used on that 2-1/8” brad, it might go a bit deeper than you’d like… Fortunately, adjusting depth of drive is simple, too – rotating the adjustment wheel toward the tip increases the depth, rotating it away gives a more shallow setting. To avoid excessive foul language, it’s always good to fire a couple of test shots in scrap material before tackling the good stuff.
Decisions, Decisions – Precise Placement Or The Need For Speed?
Now that you’re loaded up and ready to go, there’s one more choice to make. The DeWalt DCN680 nailer is able to shoot in either sequential or bump mode. To shoot a nail in sequential mode, depress the nose against the work piece and pull the trigger. Release the trigger, move to the next location, and repeat. To shoot in bump mode, pull and hold the trigger. Every time the tip contacts the work surface, a nail will fire.
Sequential mode is generally used when precise placement of each fastener is important, and also provides the maximum driving force for burying the longest fasteners. Bump mode works best on flat surfaces, with shorter fasteners, and allows much faster nailing. To toggle between the two modes, slide the switch at the base of the handle to the desired position. The single nail icon indicates sequential mode, three nails puts you in rapid-fire mode.
In either mode, make sure the trigger lock is off before starting, or you won’t be firing anything. At the top of the hand grip is a push-through switch. Pushing it through from the left locks the trigger; pushing it through from the right unlocks it. This is a good safety feature for a tool that can launch long slivers of sharp steel at high speed, and is “live” whenever there’s a battery in it…
Kicking Out The Jams On The DeWalt DCN680
Once in a while, you’re likely to get a jam, no matter what nailer you’re using. Clearing any jams you might get while using the DeWalt DCN680 is fast and easy, with no tools required. Just pop off the battery, and open and empty the magazine. Open the jam-clearing latch, lift up the nosepiece door, and remove the bent nail. If the driver blade is in the down position, cycle the stall release lever on the front left side of the motor housing. Now just close everything back up, reload your nails, put the battery back on, and get back to work – break’s over!
The DeWalt DCN680 is equipped with two LED lights in the base. In addition to providing a bit of illumination for your nailing fun, they can enlighten you as to what’s wrong – or about to go wrong. In the event of the jam we just described, the right LED will flash continuously. Hopefully, this will stop you from slamming the tip into the work piece repeatedly while muttering unhappy adjectives. When the battery is getting ready to take a nap, the left LED will flash four times, then shut off. This gives you a chance to grab a fresh battery before you climb up to install that crown molding at the peak of the 24’ cathedral ceiling.
One other feature worth mentioning is the dry fire lockout. When the DeWalt DCN680 gets down to its last few nails, the tool will be locked out, and won’t actuate until more nails are loaded. This is a great feature to have on a finish gun; without it, the nailer will continue to fire without fasteners. Every time it does, you get an impression where the tip of the driver blade penetrated your work piece. And not a good impression. The lack of a dry fire lockout was pretty much our only quibble with the 16 gauge DeWalt nailer, and we’re very happy to see it included on the 18 gauge version.
The DeWalt DCN680 Does A Little Trimming
I tried out the DeWalt DCN680 on a couple of small jobs. The first was installing some interior door stop molding. The second was installing weatherstripping attached to wood molding to an exterior door frame. I used the nailer in sequential mode, with 1-1/4” brads. The nailer was easy to control, and the small tip made it easy to see exactly where the nail was going to go.
This is the kind of job this nailer excels at. For smaller jobs, the ability to be able to grab the nailer, drop in some nails, and get it done, makes it a lot less likely they’ll get put off indefinitely. Not that I’m saying that’s what may have happened in this case… For someone doing punch list work, or a trim carpenter going from room to room on a project, the portability of the DeWalt DCN680 is a huge asset.
Naturally, having a nailer that can fire in bump mode is pointless if you don’t give it a workout every so often. I set up a little test area, with a piece of trim and some 2x material, and loaded up with 1-3/4” nails. I banged and bumped along at a high rate of speed – much faster than you’d ever do in the real world. I filled and emptied the DeWalt DCN680 three times, and had no jams or other issues. Every nail was sub-flush, and the dry-fire lockout feature kicked in each time with about ten nails left in the magazine.
Final Musings On The DeWalt DCN680 18 Gauge Brad Nailer
Overall, I think DeWalt nailed it with the design of the DeWalt DCN680. I tried it with fasteners up to 2” long, and it had plenty of power to sink them sub-flush. The tool-free jam clearing, depth adjustment, and stall release let you spend more time working (and that’s a good thing – right?!) and less time searching for tools to fix the problem. The nailer can accommodate any length of fastener you’re likely to need, and they’re readily available at the Home Depot and online. The ability to switch to bump mode means you can zoom along installing baseboard or shoe molding – or just have fun seeing how fast you can empty the magazine.
I like DeWalt’s attention to detail on the DCN680. It’s very handy to have an information plate on the side of the magazine, stating the type of fastener required, as well as the nail lengths the tool can use. This is a boon to anyone with multiple nailers to feed and care for. They even include a couple of extra tips, which store right on board.
During my testing, I fired over 300 brads. Using the included 2.0 Ah battery, I still had two out of three bars of juice left at the end. According to a DeWalt rep, the DeWalt DCN680 will shoot up to 850 nails per charge. The tool will operate using any DeWalt 20V MAX battery, so if you don’t mind a little added weight, strap on a 4.0 Ah or larger battery, and you’ll (almost) never have to stop. In any case, the included charger is totally silent, a nice feature if you’re charging the battery at home, on the kitchen counter, perhaps. Not that I would ever do that.
Any quibbles I have with the DeWalt DCN680 nailer are minor. It’s a tad heavy, but that’s the nature of the beast; the power to sink 2-1/8” nails has to come from somewhere. And it’s a helluva lot lighter than a compressor and 50’ of hose! The window to see the remaining nails is pretty tiny, although the dry fire lockout feature makes that not as critical. My only other complaint is that I would have liked to see the kit come with a plastic case, like the one that comes with the DCN660. The contractor bag is plenty sturdy, but a hard plastic case makes me feel warmer and fuzzier.
The DeWalt DCN680 brad nailer would make a great addition to the tool collection of any trim carpenter, remodeler, woodworker or serious DIYer. It’s a versatile, well-built tool with a lot of useful features, and it should hold up well. The folks at DeWalt must think so, too; the nailer is backed by a three-year limited warranty, including a year of free service, and the battery is covered for two years. The kit is also covered by the Home Depot’s 90-day money-back guarantee, which gives you a no-risk opportunity to see how fast YOU can make a bunch of tiny holes! You can find the DeWalt DCN680D1 kit for around $299 from our sponsor the Home Depot:
Or tool only:
I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with Home Fixated in sponsored content. As a part of the sponsorship, Home Fixated is receiving compensation for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are our own words. This post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.