We’ve been talking about the Senco Fusion for eons now, mainly because we think it’s pretty revolutionary technology in the cordless nailer universe. First there were the Senco Fusion pre-release demos, then the Fusion release date rumors, then our hands-on review of the first Senco Fusion Nailer to hit the market, the F-15. If we mention much more about Fusion on HomeFixated, we run the risk of solving global energy needs. In case you didn’t read any of our earlier Senco Fusion coverage, the Fusion is cordless nailer technology that uses a closed loop compressed Nitrogen system. No flywheel to wait for, no fuel cartridge fumes or expense, and of course, no air compressor or hose to deal with. Best of all, Senco not only sent us an F-18 for this review, they’re also sponsoring this month’s (September, 2011) Free Stuff Giveaway with a Free Senco Fusion F-18 for one lucky Home Fixated winner!
Let’s dive right into the Fusion F-18! Back when we reviewed the F-15, we were not ecstatic about the case. In fact, ours sustained some damage which we attributed to internal plastic that wasn’t particularly heavy duty (and probably some over-“enthusiastic” UPS or FedEx guys during shipping). Senco opted to go with a soft sided case this time around, and I’m afraid we’re still not wowed by the case. It’s a little to0 big to describe as a man-purse, but a little to soft to describe as a serious heavy-duty case either. On the plus side, the case comes with a shoulder strap, a bunch of exterior pockets for nails, candy bars, that iPhone 5 you picked up at a bar in San Francisco, and more. The bag has a heavy zipper that got stuck a couple times when we first started using it (maybe it needed a break-in period). I just don’t see this bag giving serious impact protection for guys on the job. If you’re DIY’er or use the Fusion in a shop, the soft bag should work out fine. If you’re a contractor, I might suggest not flinging the F-18 and it’s case into your truck bed. Velcro straps and interior pockets help keep the charger, batteries and the F-18 in place, but we could still imagine them knocking around against each other despite the restraints.
The included manual has the usual array of about 10 pages of safety tips. When it comes to shooting metal projectiles, you never can be too safe. So make sure you wear eye protection and read up on all those tips, one of them might save you from an unpleasant trip to the ER with awkward explanations of how you wound up with a nail through your hand. For those of you that are so incredibly pro and knowledgeable as to not need a full manual, Senco also included a handy quick tips guide to get you started with the basics on the tool. Since you’re reading this, you probably won’t need the quick start guide either.
Once you’re locked and loaded with a fresh battery (they don’t come fully charged from the factory), you’ll want to make note of the three settings on the tool. They are easy to miss on the small power/mode switch. It’s either in the off mode which means the tool will not operate (duh), or there’s the contact actuation “bump mode”, and finally the sequential mode where you put the tool against the workpiece and pull the trigger each time. The tool operates very swiftly in bump mode. I’m old fashioned and slow to aim (and I want to avoid those awkward ER visits too), so I tend to stick with the sequential fire mode. As with the F-15 Fusion we reviewed there is a depth of drive adjustment for setting the proper nail depth. There’s quite a bit of drive adjustment which can come in handy if you’re working on a wide variety of woods. We still think the icons for depth of drive could be a little simpler and more clear.
Thanks to a dry fire lock-out, you won’t be dinging up your wood with hammer-pin holes and no nails. The lock-out is said to engage when there are between zero and five nails left in the magazine. In my case I found the F-18 would lock-out as soon as the very last nail was fired. There’s also a time-out if the safety is depressed or the trigger is pulled for more than 3 seconds (don’t worry, you don’t have to sit in the “timeout corner” for this). The tool will reset by simply releasing the trigger and the safety. If you do happen to have a nail jam (we didn’t encounter any in our testing), you’ll want to make sure that you remove the battery and the fasteners from the tool for hopefully obvious reasons. An easy clear latch makes removing a jam, you guessed it: easy.
Like its F-15 counterpart, the F-18 has a small LED light that’s recessed into the nose-piece area. Very useful for those of you that like to do their nailing in the dark, ninja style. Or, the LED is also handy for nailing in a dark corner or inside a cabinet. There’s also a reload window so that you can see when you’re about to run out of ammo. The F-18 can accept 18 gauge 5/8″ to 2-1/8″ nails. There’s also a removable and adjustable belt hook that’s swappable to either side. I was happy to see that the F-18 stands up nicely on its battery, something the Fusion F-15 didn’t do quite as naturally. For some projects, just standing the tool up is easier than a belt hook.
The Senco F-18’s safety is a black metal piece extending from where the actual nail comes out. Since you can see where the nail comes out, it’s fairly easy to see where you’re aiming. The safety can be a little confusing at first glance though, so just make sure that you realize the nails come out not where the safety touches the wood, but a little bit back from that point. It doesn’t take much pressure on the safety to engage the tool, which is helpful if you’re driving nails at a slight angle. However, you really have to be almost straight on with pressure on the tool and not have much of an angle in order for the nails to sink flush or below flush. The Senco Fusion F-18 seems to have plenty of power. I drove 2 inch nails and 1 inch brads through some scrap White Oak with no problems.
You can check out all the nitty-gritty details, view competing product comparisons and even watch a sweet video on the Fusion mechanism by visiting the Senco Fusion site. If you’re ready to go hose-less, you can pick up the F-18 for $389 from our sponsor Tyler Tool: