How to Adjust Depth on Nail Guns

Joe White

Nail guns are extremely efficient labor-saving devices, exchanging the stressful and exhausting swinging of a hammer for the press of a button. To be as efficient as possible in your construction or home projects, it is essential to adjust the depth on your nail gun properly.

The proper adjustment depends on many variables and can be a process of trial and error, but a good understanding of the devices and strategies can make a delicate job much easier.

  1. Examine the depth of the surface you are driving the nail into. Naturally, you will not want to drive a nail all the way through a wall or post so that it sticks out the other side. On the other hand, you must drive the nail deep enough to be secure.

  2. Check the width of the surface you are using. A narrower post, such as a one-inch wall joist, is more likely to split than a wider joist or a wall surface. With pieces smaller than a 2X4, use 1-inch depth or less.

  3. Find the depth control on your nail gun, and make the proper adjustments. Nail guns generally use either a slide control or a small dial. Turn or slide the control until it indicates the correct depth.

  4. Match the nail length with the depth you have selected. If you use nails that are too short, you can force the head of the nail into the surface, leading to splitting. If the nails are too long, they may not penetrate fully, leaving the head extended from the surface.

  5. Take the hardness of the surface into account. Some types of wood are harder than others. Particle board is much softer; oak and teak are harder. Test the effectiveness of different settings, and adjust the depth control according to the specific surface you are using.