In the framing nailer universe, there are a lot of iconic brands to choose from. Bostitch, Senco, Paslode, and Hitachi, among others, all offer a variety of great nailers. As our illustrious leader Marc recently predicted, though, they’ll likely be running and gunning (which, as Marc and our attorneys pointed out, is very dangerous and NOT recommended by HF!) to match the abilities and performance of the new DeWalt DCN692M1, an example of which recently arrived at HomeFixated Global HQ for our evaluation. DeWalt’s new offering combines brushless technology with an extended run battery, resulting in a full-size framing nailer that might result in a nice long vacation for your compressor.
The DeWalt DCN692M1 Framing Nailer By The Numbers
The DeWalt DCN692M1 comes in a roomy, rugged black case, along with a fast charger, 20V Max XR Premium 4.0 Ah Lithium Ion battery, and a no-mar tip, in case you want to keep your 2X4’s looking pretty. We have a video overview of the tool coming up in a moment, but first the official rundown from DeWalt:
• Brushless motor and engine design provides enough power to drive 3½” nails
• Sequential operating mode allows for precision placement, and bump operating mode provides the user with production speed
• Dual Speed optimizes motor speed for different nail lengths
• Easy access to the nosepiece for the removal of jammed nails
• Trigger Lock-Off allows trigger to be disabled when tool is not in use
• Top Cap is impact resistant and easy to remove for troubleshooting
• Accepts 30-34 degree paper tape nails, either Clipped Head or Offset Full Round Head
• The magazine capacity is 55 nails, and the tool can handle nails from 2”—3½” and .113—.131 gauge
• Indicator lights warn the user of a low-battery or stall, with a stall release lever that allows the user to reset the driver blade caused by a stall or jammed nail
• Drives up to 700 nails per charge on a fully-charged 20V MAX Li-Ion 4.0 Ah battery pack
Here is our fearless leader Marc’s look at the state of cordless nailgun technology, along with a video tour of the DeWalt DCN692M1:
DCN692M1 – Out Of The Box
My first impression on taking the DeWalt DCN692M1 framing nailer out of the case was that this is a beefy, substantial tool. This is pretty much a necessity for a tool that takes the pounding a framing nailer gets subjected to. It weighs in at about 9 pounds; that’s not light, but it’s not much heavier than my Bostitch N79WW pneumatic framing nailer. And I don’t have to schlep around a hose.
The DeWalt DCN692M1 has great ergonomics. The overmold grip is comfortable to hold, and the tool is very nicely balanced. There is a built-in rafter hook (which could also be used as a belt hook – just bring a sturdy belt), which can be adjusted to either side, or tucked away at the base of the grip area. When it’s stowed away there, it blocks the speed control, but that’s not something that gets adjusted much anyway.
The magazine on the DeWalt DCN692M1 will hold 55 nails. This has an upside, in that the magazine is much shorter than on most framing nailers, making it easy to get between standard framing. The downside? You’ll be feeding it more frequently. Not a huge deal, as it can be reloaded in just a few seconds, but if you’re doing production work, it does slow you down. The loading process is a little different than many other nailers, too, where you just drop a new clip of nails in the back, then rack the follower around behind it. On the DeWalt DCN692M1, you pull back the follower, and it locks in place. You then feed a strip of nails in, and push the follower back into place. No biggie; I got used to it quickly.
There are two ways to adjust how much oomph the DeWalt DCN692M1 nail gun produces. The first is the speed control, which is a switch near the front of the tool. Setting 1 is for nails from 2—3”, and setting 2 is for nails over 3”, and for more rigorous applications, aka harder wood. DeWalt cautions that using speed 2 for shorter nails can cause more wear on the tool.
The second adjustment is the depth-of-drive adjuster. This is a barrel knob about 3” up from the tip. The adjustment is simple: just rotate the adjuster toward the “shallow nail” or “deep nail” icon shown on the nose of the tool, to get the nail sunk flush, or to the depth you want.
On the top of the DeWalt DCN692M1 is a stall release lever. If the nailer is being run at its maximum settings, and isn’t able to fully seat a nail, it may get jammed in the nosepiece. Flipping this lever should release the nail, and reset the driver blade. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to follow the jam clearing procedure (explained below), which only takes a minute.
One other feature that’s nice to have on a tool that’s potentially always “hot” is the trigger lock. This is just a side-to-side push button that locks the trigger (hence the name). It’s probably not a bad idea to get in the habit of locking the trigger any time the tool will be set down for a while or transported. An accidental discharge isn’t likely, but if some freak accident (or moron) discharges a 3½” nail into you, I’m guessing it won’t be the high point of your day.
A Quieter, Gentler Bathroom Do-Over
In the past couple of weeks, I put the DeWalt DCN692M1 to the test on two bathroom remodels. Actually, “remodel” is not a great description of these projects; “total gut job and rebuild” is way more accurate. The first one didn’t start out that way; it was supposed to be just a long-overdue fixture and vanity replacement. As is often the case after getting underway, though, one thing leads to another, and the job, and the tab, ends up being bigger than expected. In this case, the culprit was hidden rot, along with some substandard framing, in the walls and subfloor.
In addition to the rot, the floors and walls were nowhere near square, plumb or level. The technical term for this condition is “character,” and most older homes – and quite a few newer ones – have no shortage of it. The walls aren’t quite as critical, but it’s a good idea to get the bathroom floor as level as possible. This helps the toilet and shower drain properly, makes your flooring installation easier, and helps prevent you from tipping over when you walk on it.
The floor took a lot of shimming and sistering of joist material to level it out. Some of the work was done while balancing on the joists, and some from down in the dank, dark basement. It was all a lot simpler using the DeWalt DCN692M1 than it would have been tripping over a hose, or breathing fumes in a fairly tight space. (The bathroom is in the middle of the house, with no windows and no exhaust fan – another instance of character we rectified).
We used the DeWalt DCN692M1 to nail 2X material to the joists, and to fir out the walls so we could reroute some water supply lines inside the walls. Previously, some of the lines had come up through an unheated section of the basement, and they froze pretty much every winter. This place has WAY more than its share of character! The nailer did a great job getting everything attached. I used it in bump mode on the walls, and once it spooled up (which takes about a second), I was able to get the 2X4 material up as fast as I could move the nailer.
I had similar work to do with the floor in the other remodel. The section of the house with the bathroom is probably at least 150 years old. The floor joists are logs, about 10” in diameter, and some still have bark on them. They’re sturdy, but have sagged over the years, and unfortunately not all at the same rate. This makes trying to level them in two directions a bit of a challenge, but hey, anybody can do the easy stuff!
I ended up running 2X4’s perpendicular to the joists, laid on the flat side. To get everything level, I ended up having to cut notches out of my new wood in some areas, and in others, I used shims, in some places almost 2” thick. Talk about character! I used the DeWalt DCN692M1, shooting 3¼” nails, to make most of the attachments. I used the nailer in sequential mode to get everything fixed in the proper position, then in bump mode to, in technical terms, nail the crap out of it.
Using sequential mode is a bit different than with a pneumatic nailer. With my Bostitch, as with most pneumatic nailers, you press the tip into the material you’re nailing, pull the trigger, and BOOM – instant nailing gratification! With the DeWalt DCN692M1, you press the tip into the material, and then wait about a second before pulling the trigger, while the nailer “spools up.” The sound it makes is a bit like a cordless, hand-held vacuum cleaner, but not too many of them can shoot a 3½” nail.
In bump mode, you pull the trigger, the little motor spools up, and you can go bumping and nailing along to your heart’s content. I shot a bunch of extra nails into some 2X4’s to try out the high-speed nailing capabilities, and the DeWalt DCN692M1 had no trouble keeping up.
I had no jams, but there were a couple of spots where the nail heads didn’t get countersunk. This is likely because these joists are pretty tough old wood. If there HAD been a nail jam, it would have been relatively quick and easy to clear. I tried the jam-clearing procedure, which is basically to unload the magazine, lock the trigger, undo two hex bolts and swing the magazine away, clear the jam, swing the magazine back into place and tighten the two bolts, and reload the nails. The entire process took less than a minute. A great design touch is on-board storage of the Allen wrench, which locks firmly in place on the back side of the magazine. It’s out of the way until you need it, then it’s right there – no rummaging around in the case, where it may or may not have been put away after the LAST jam.
The walls on the second project were really a mess, and the bathroom was pretty small. I ended up tearing them all out and re-framing the room, with a larger footprint. I tried out the DeWalt DCN692M1 on the newly framed walls, and had no issues with nail penetration on the new, softer wood. The shorter nail magazine makes it easy to get between studs, and the aggressive nosepiece gives a good hold for toenailing.
On the first job, I fired roughly 200 nails, using the nail gun intermittently. At the end of the day, I still had 3 out of 3 bars left on the battery. I recharged the battery anyhow, and on the second job I used about another 200 nails, including a bunch of extras I fired, after which I again had 3 bars. This is likely the benefit of combining the brushless technology with a high-capacity battery. The brushless technology allows you to get better run time out of the 4.0Ah Lithium-Ion battery, and at the same time provides you with a more powerful, more durable tool.
Is Less Enough For You?
So should you ditch your compressor or your gas cartridges? The DeWalt DCN692M1 sure seems like it’s ready for prime time. It’s well-designed, ruggedly constructed, and it functions well. The advantages over a pneumatic tool are obvious – it’s much easier to move around and get your work done when you’re not dragging a tangled hose along behind. This is a huge benefit when you’re clambering around on a roof, or balancing on a 2nd-story top plate, nailing off rafter tails. And having one less compressor going will likely make your jobsite downright tranquil and serene. Or perhaps not. The advantages over the gas-fired nailers are also obvious—reduced cost on expendables, and reduced gassy emissions (except maybe after the taco truck stops by during your lunch break).
The drawbacks? The 55-nail magazine capacity may be annoying to some users. If you’re nailing down subfloors on a big project, or working in a production shop, you’ll be doing a lot of reloading. Then there’s the battery – it lasts a good long while, but when it goes, you’re done for the next 30 minutes while it recharges. For remodeling contractors or medium-duty users, you’ll very likely get through the day on a single charge, or at least until lunchtime, when you can top it off. For framers or other power users, who will be using the DeWalt DCN692M1 all day, one battery may not be enough. It would be helpful to have two batteries with the kit; since there’s only one, getting extra batteries is good insurance against downtime. Home Depot has a two pack currently priced around $118.
DeWalt makes their own brand of nails for the DCN692M1, but they’re not yet widely available. Nails from other brands, including Hitachi, B&C Eagle, Paslode and others are available; just make sure to get a 30-34 degree nail.
Where to Buy
The DeWalt DCN692M1 is covered by a limited three year warranty. It also comes with a one year service contract, during which DeWalt will maintain the tool and replace worn parts caused by normal use for free, with the exception of the return springs, driver blades and bumpers. The battery comes with three years of free service. The DeWalt DCN692M1 is currently priced around $499 at Home Depot. The bare tool is also available as the for around $390.