For about 20 years, Paslode was the only tool company with a viable gas-powered, hoseless framing nailer, and in that time many contractors have come to recognize the value of such a tool: freedom from compressors, generators, and hoses. Paslode is no longer alone, however. Hitachi, Max USA, and Powers Fasteners have each recently debuted hoseless framers of their own.
The surge of new tools in this category, while not exactly an explosion, will certainly spark some competition among manufacturers. It also presents an opportunity to increase pneumatic tool users' awareness of hoseless possibilities and offer more options and features to those already using hoseless framers.
Although there are minor differences from tool to tool, all hoseless framers on the market use essentially the same method of operation: a fuel cell and rechargeable battery. Fuel cells vary slightly, as do battery options.
“The technology has been out there, it's been proven, and it works very well,” says Christopher Freeman, Hitachi's product manager for cordless gas nailers. “The reason there weren't more [previously] is because Paslode had so many patents on theirs.”
Though hoseless framers do offer freedom from compressors, the fuel cell–plus-battery technology is more complex than pneumatic power and comes with its own set of operational issues. Fuel cells have to be changed relatively frequently (about every 1,200 nails) and batteries need to be recharged (after about 4,000 shots). Firing speeds are also slower than that of pneumatic framers, manufacturers say, and the tools are not designed for bump-firing, only for sequential-firing. Hoseless framers also require different maintenance than pneumatic framers, because of their linear combustion systems.
Brand competition may be based on price, performance, or features, but Lenny Colasuonno, Powers' vice president of sales and marketing, thinks it will come down to the type of fasteners the hoseless framer can fire and the corresponding cost. Some hoseless framers fire clipped-head nails while others use round-head, which are required by building codes in some markets.
Many pros may never get rid of their pneumatic framers—especially high-capacity production framing contractors—but hoseless framers are a good complement to pneumatic tools. “The only reason you wouldn't go from pneumatic to gas would be for flooring or sheathing applications where you have to use a very large amount of nails in a very short amount of time,” says Jacek Romanski, market manager/remodeling for Paslode, because a gas nailer would overheat in such a high-speed application. But a hoseless framer is ideal for remodelers framing home additions and for production crews doing punch-out work, manufacturers say.
And, according to manufacturers, hoseless framers can make certain applications much safer. A recent report by the National Council on Compensation Insurance shows that “cordless” tools can reduce incidences of tripping over cords, which contribute to 20 percent of all workers' compensation claims.
While many contractors understand the conveniences hoseless framers offer, a significant number of pros are still unfamiliar with the tools and will need the benefits—greater maneuverability, no set-up or clean-up time, and convenience—as well as some of the tools' limitations, outlined for them.