Campbell Hausfeld 2-1/2" Finish Nailer Review Hothttp://www.tool-rank.com/media/listing/photos/thumbnail/300x300s/4b/93/96/501_ch-finish-nailer-1330676624.jpg
Back in May, I wrote about Campbell Hausfeld's new line of Pneumatic Nailers. Their goal was to produce a nail gun for your average Joe that could give results of a seasoned pro. To do this, they have added some interesting features to their model CHN70699 finish nailer which are not found in other nail guns. These features include: a built in laser, warning lights/sounds and even a stud finder. The CHN70699 can fire nails ranging in size from 1" up to 2-1/2" and uses standard angled 15 gauge finish nails. The operating pressure range is between 70 and 120 psi. I have found that running at around 100 psi works for most nail guns.
The packaging is the first thing we see when purchasing a new tool (unless we buy online), so it should look good, right? Such is not the case with the CHN70699. The packaging looks like something you would find in a toy store, with a (see inside) window and an extra details flap. Not the best first impression, but we can look past that.
Once we get the packaging open, we get the first look at the finish nailer and everything the kit includes. The kit comes with a nice storage bag with plenty of room for the nail gun and a place for extra nails. I do like the stack-ability of hard cases, but the soft cases are starting to grow on me. Also included was a swivel air fitting, and a single strip of 2-1/2" nails. I am always pleased when air fittings are included; after all, you don't buy tools with the plug missing off the cord. I was a bit disappointed by the small amount of nails included. They would hardly be enough to finish a small install of millwork. At first I didn't think that the batteries were included, and of course the first things I wanted to test out were the laser and stud finder. After a bit of searching, I found the batteries hiding in one the pockets of the bag. Batteries are actually included.
With all of the added features, the question becomes... Do they work? The short answer is yes. The stud finder does a good job at finding studs and it lets you know with some beeps. It could locate studs through drywall without any problems. Is this a feature that is really needed in a nail gun? No, but when installing crown or tall base, it is always a good idea to attach to wood. As a pro, I just tap the wall and listen for the change in sound, but this is something average Joe might not be very good at. The problem I had with the stud finder was the location of the on/off button. It was not in an easy location to push with the trigger finger and almost required two hands.
The laser pointer seemed more like a gimmick to me. I guess if you are a complete noob when it comes to nailing, the laser will tell where the nail is going to come out. I found the laser to be a bit off to the left and found it hard to see the dot with the no-mar foot in the way. The laser turns on automatically when the safety is depressed and can be turned off at the main switch, so you can choose to use it or not.
The CHN70699 has some features that I think are the most useful out of the rest. Low indicator warning lights and anti dry fire. The warning lights will let you know when you are getting low on nails. You may not think the lights are very useful, but when you are up on a ladder installing some crown, you don't want to run out of nails when you are half way through. The same goes for anti dry fire. This feature will prevent the gun from firing when it is out of nails. On most nails guns, I have found the anti dry fire to kick in with a few nails still in the gun. The CHN70699 is the first I have seen that kicks in when the gun is actually empty. Good job on that Campbell Hausfeld.
I had no problem shooting 2-1/2" nails through a few layers of wood. The only misfire that occurred was because I had the compressor set to 40 psi. Oops. I was surprised at the sound of the gun; it seems rather quite for a finish nailer. Quieter is always good. The CHN70699 offers both single shot and bump fire modes, but 90% of the time you should be using single shot. You will be less likely to shoot yourself in single shot mode, and less likely to ruin your work. The only time I ever use bump fire is for installing crown backing. The size and weight seem to be on par with most other finish nailers and it fit pretty well in my hands. The added stud finder and laser do add a bit of bulk to the front of the tool, but that was to be expected
When you look past the packaging and all the gadgets and the weird warning pull (see photo), you still have a solid finish nail gun. Will is last? I will have to wait and see, but it should be able to handle your average DIYers home projects. The price seems to be a bit high at $150 for a DIY gun, when you can get professional guns for only a few dollars more. I would like to see the price in the $100 range.