Although oilless nail guns that do not require oil are becoming more popular, there are still plenty of nailers requiring oil on the market today. Choosing which type of nail gun that is right for you may mean selecting the right type of oil as well.
Oil for Pneumatic Nail Guns
Pneumatic nail guns need oil for the same reason that most mechanical devices need lubrication. This is to minimize the friction between moving parts which keeps the device operating for a long time. Oil is a common substance used in all types of devices ranging from small nail guns up to large vehicles that acts as a lubricant.
For nail guns, the oil ensures that the tool itself will function properly. Oil does three important functions.
- Works as Lubricant
- Acts as coolant
- Prevent Rust
As a lubricant, it reduces the friction between moving parts and valves which ensures smooth functioning and the wear-out happens at a much slower rate.
Plus, it will stay cooler and avoid damages to O-rings, and seals, so that it can be used for longer periods.
This means that you should only use lubricating oil that is specifically designed for pneumatic tools such as nail guns, impact wrenches, etc.
Best Oil for Nail Guns
For pneumatic nail guns, add one or two drops of low viscosity air tools lubrication oil into the air inlet of the tool. This type of oil is specially formulated with anti-wear additives and has a kinematic viscosity between 20 to 50 cSt at 104°F (40°C). Use a good quality oil such as the Marvel Mystery oil or the Bostitch PREMOIL-4OZ which has a viscosity of 46.
You will want to avoid oils that are not designed for pneumatic tools because they may contain ingredients that might damage the O-rings and seals. In some cases, the wrong oil may cause a combustion effect which may damage your pneumatic tool and perhaps cause injury to you along with it depending on the size and strength of the combustion.
Nail Gun Oil Substitute
If you need to oil the nail gun, but do not have the recommended oil on hand, there are substitutes that may be used in such circumstances. The following are the most common substitutes available, but you should check with the manufacturer to ensure that they can be used in your nail gun.
Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF)
The ATF is similar to hydraulic fluid and offers much of the same benefits. Because they work so well in transmissions, the same circumstances apply when used in nail guns. One caveat is to ensure that the ATF you use does not have detergents which may corrode the nail gun.
Hydraulic Oil with Low Viscosity
This is an excellent substitute for air tools oil especially if the environment you are working in is cold. Hydraulic oil stays viscous and works quite well at most temperatures, making it a great substitute when needed.
This is another choice because it works well in different temperatures. Plus, it does not contain the elements found in traditional motor oil which may damage your nail gun.
Can I Use 3-in-1 Oil in My Nail Gun?
The answer is yes, you can use 3-in-1 oil for your nail gun. This assumes it is a lightweight, non-detergent oil that is designed for use with devices such as nail guns. You’ll want to stay away from oils that have silicone in them because the exhaust may affect the coating of the parts.
WD40 is not an oil designed for use with pneumatic tools. While it is handy for many situations, it is not designed to replace the proper lubrication designed for nail guns. This means that you should avoid using WD40 and all aerosol lubricants for your nail gun.
It may sound counterintuitive at first, but mineral oil does work well in air tools such as nail guns. This is especially true if the mineral oil contains anti-gumming and anti-foaming properties that keep the parts running smoothly together without any build-up of gunk. Petroleum oils tend to leave behind a sticky substance that can destroy a nail gun. But mineral oil does work quite well. Be sure to check the manual of your nail gun to ensure that mineral oil can be used.
In addition, you should also avoid using transmission fluid or motor oil in your pneumatic device. This will not provide the needed elements to properly lubricate the nail gun and keep the parts sound. Use only the lubricating oil that is recommended for your nail gun to keep it running smoothly.
How to Oil a Nail Gun?
Oiling a nail gun is a relatively simple process.
The first step is to ensure that the nail gun is off before you add any oil. That means disconnecting the air hose or removing the battery in case of a cordless nailer and removing the nails from the magazine. This is a must-follow safety procedure and will also allow the full amount of oil added to reach all the parts. Next, add the oil to the instructed area on the nail gun. This is normally a port that allows the oil to seep inside and lubricate all the parts.
On a pneumatic nailer, add a drop or two of oil into the air inlet and connect the air pipe back. Once the compressed air goes inside, it will spread the oil inside the nailer.
On a battery-operated cordless nail gun, usually oiling is done at the nail guide assembly. Release the latch to open the nail jam clearing door and add a couple of drops of oil in there. Check the instructions to see if other parts can be lubricated directly by the oil.
One area that you do not want to oil is the magazine of the nail gun. All this does is attract dirt, dust, and debris which makes operating the nail gun even harder. Too much dirt build-up will cause the magazine to jam. Instead, just wipe it clean with a dry cloth and be sure that no particles get inside.
Add only one or two drops of oil during each lubrication. If you over lubricate, the nailer will start spraying oil along with the nails. This could be a real problem when using finish nailers to install trims, crown molding, and baseboards.
One tip is that if you are using an air compressor, drain it out at the end of each day. This will keep condensation from forming inside the compressor. The air from the compressor will transfer to the nail gun and bring moisture with it. This means that your nail gun may become corroded from the inside without you knowing about it. So, drain the air compressor after each use.
How often should you lubricate a nail gun?
The general rule is that you should oil the nail gun before you start to work. This is especially true if the nail gun has not been used in a while. It is because the oil will sit in one place and slide off some of the parts.
This means that if you are picking up the nail gun for the first time in longer than a day or two, you should add a little oil to ensure that everything moving inside is covered.
If you are going to use the nail gun for most of the day, then it is advisable to oil it before you begin and then after lunch. This is because the heat generated by using the nail gun for hours will cause the oil inside to thin. By adding more oil after lunch, you ensure that the nail gun is properly lubricated for the entire day.