How to Use a Nail Gun with an Air Compressor

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Nail Gun with an Air Compressor

My DIY enthusiasm made me the handyman of the neighborhood. With no professional help, I learned things the hard way.

Although using a nail gun with an air compressor seems very easy, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. And you are not alone to be afraid of the roar of the compressor.

I am not gonna be making a mountain out of a molehill. So, read everything if you want to learn how to use a nail gun with an air compressor.

Required Tools and Accessories

I am assuming that you are completely new and don’t have any equipment whatsoever. But if you have all the tools like I had from my father, you can skip this section and directly go to the next section, where I describe steps to use your nail gun with the compressor.

Nail gun and compressor

This is very obvious that you need a pneumatic nail gun and a compressor to use them together. Yes, there are other types of nail guns that can be used without air. You can use every type of nail with them.

When it comes to the compressor, I like portable air compressors if you don’t have a fixed one with you. The following metrics should hold for all kinds of nailers-

  • Air volume capacity- 1 to 6 gallons
  • Output rate- 1.5 times the required CFM (cubic feet per minute) of your nail gun
  • Pressure- 1.5 times the required PSI of you nail gun
  • Power generation- 5 horsepower is the most efficient for any nail gun

Here is a chart to make purchasing a particular volume easier-

  Output rate (CFM) Tank volume (Gallons)
Brad nailer 2 2
Finish nailer 2 2-3
Pin nailer 2 2
Upholstery stapler 2 1
Roofing nailer 4 4-6
Framing nailer 4 4-6
Sheathing nailer 4 4-6

Air hose

Whether it is local or from a renowned brand, any quality hose should be reliable to use with nail guns & air tools. However, I suggest the Husky polyurethane air hose.

Coupler and plug

The coupler and plug set from Husky also make the job easier. They are made of aluminum. You also have a quick-connect system to lock the hose in place reliably. It is a universal coupler, which makes things far easier for new guys.

Teflon tape

Take the teflon tape from Cagon. This is easy to use and gives you maximum safety. However, any Teflon tape should do.

How to Use a Nail Gun with an Air Compressor

Using a Nail Gun with an Air Compressor

Follow the steps below to use the nail gun with the air compressor.

  1. Add an adequate amount of Teflon tape to one end of the air hose.
  2. Attach the universal coupler to that end. Use a wrench to attach it securely. This end will go into the nail gun.
  3. Add an adequate amount of Teflon tape on the other end of the hose.
  4. Attach the female plug to this end. This end will go into the compressor.
  5. Turn on your compressor. If there are any valves for the tank, make sure that it is closed properly. This valve is generally behind or under the tank.
  6. Connect the female plug into the coupler of the compressor. Push it in to lock it in place. Do it when the outlet pressure is zero.
  7. Connect the universal coupler to the gun with a push.
  8. Now, you can turn the regulator to increase the outlet pressure. Open the lock of the regulator if there is one. The outlet pressure should never be more than the operating pressure of the pneumatic tool. The tool manufacturer will provide you the operating pressure.
  9. Now you can use the nailer.
  10. Once you are done with the nailer, decrease the outlet pressure to zero and disconnect the hose by retracting the outer layer of the end of the coupler.
  11. Decrease the tank air pressure by releasing the valve.
  12. Lastly, you have to open the drain valve to let all the air out. You can store the compressor now.

Some Information about How the Compressor Works

Now, if you are familiar with this, you can skip the whole part. You can also read the headers and only read the portions that you need.


You should have two gauges in your compressor. One of them will tell you about the pressure in the tank, and the other one is going to tell you the pressure in the outlet. Both of them will be in PSI in America.

The tank’s pressure is the maximum pressure capacity that you can generate, and the pressure in the outlet is the amount you are using with the hose.


The regulator allows you to control the transfer of pressure from the tank to the outlet valve. It helps you to tune the compressor for different equipment.

Safety valve

There is also a safety valve that you can use to decrease the amount of pressure inside the tank. It is also used for emptying the tanks.


Always use newer version of the power tools. They have lot of safety features. You should always wear safety goggles. Wearing gloves might be annoying. So, I break the norm and advise you to wear if you are a beginner.

Empty the air nail guns after use and always treat it like it is loaded. Make sure there is no strip of nails. Always disconnect the backward starting. Hold the hose tightly when you are disconnecting it. Try to use both hands.


I hope I made everything easy. By now, you should know how to use a nail gun with an air compressor. Pretty easy, isn’t it?

If you are still not able to use them properly, you should check your tools, especially the couplers and plugs. Buy the coupler and plug set we recommended.

You can always use cordless electric air compressors and gas-powered models. But they will be expensive.

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