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Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer
Full featured air nailer quality the Bosch way
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 8-16-2009
The good news for the old guard air nailer manufacturers is that Bosch had stayed out of that part of the woodworking market. The bad news is that they were using that time to do their engineering thing before jumping into the air nailer market in typical Bosch fashion - with both feet and lots of quality.
The new line of Bosch air nailers are nicely made overall, come with a full load of user-friendly features enhanced by the Bosch engineers and they are light, trim in size and tough. If that isn't enough, the stout unconditional Bosch guarantee backs them. I think that the "other guys" are in trouble.
Another nice touch is that Bosch doesn't include everything they could think of to make the kit look "bigger" to camouflage a higher price. You get the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer itself, a nice carry case, instruction manual, hex wrenches, two soft tips and a pair of safety glasses. Lots of value and no glitz that I can find.
Comfortable and Size
It would not be unreasonable to expect an air nailer that drives 15 Gauge nails between 1-1/4" - 2-1/2"-long to be a little bulky and heavy. However, in the case of the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer, you would be wrong on both counts. With overall dimensions of 11.75"-long by 3.13"-wide and 10"-tall the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer is surprisingly compact. Thanks to the use of high-end materials, design and manufacturing it also weighs in at an arm-saving 4 lbs!
The combination of the minimal weight and ergonomic design mean the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer is remarkably comfortable to use. It has a nicely sized hand grip with a textured rubber overmold that gives a secure grip and isolation from the impact of driving nails. The handle area is located to give the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer a very good sense of balance which makes using it for long periods of time far less tiring.
Even the air inlet fitting (not supplied) is angled upwards to keep the hose out of the way of the magazine. That hose direction also seems to contribute to the in-balance feel. Along with the angled design of the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer itself, this hose configuration seems to make it easier to use in close quarters as well.
The Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer uses an oil-type air motor that requires just a few drops before use. I know there are those who fear oil-splattered wood but if you add a few drops (as instructed) of air tool oil no such calamity will befall you. Just in case you can't resist over oiling, the exhaust port mounted atop the cylinder can be aimed where your work (or face) isn't.
The Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer has an in-line self-cleaning air filter within the grip that helps keep debris out of the mechanism. This of course increases the life of things like the cylinder/piston assembly as well as the air valve and related o-rings.
Despite the wide range of fastener lengths the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer will drive, it's air requirements are small and decidedly not picky. At 100 psi of line pressure each firing uses air at a rate of 3.1 CFM. (cubic feet per minute) Feed it 60 to 120 psi of clean air and you are good to go.
The Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer comes with a tool-free trigger mode selector that can be set for bump or sequential firing. A switch built into the back of the trigger allows the operator to change between the bump and sequential modes. No tools are required to make the change.
Sequential mode is far more common for woodworking and requires pushing the safety tip against the wood and pulling the trigger to drive each nail. The bump fire mode is more common to construction-type situations and allows holding the trigger back and simply "bumping" the safety tip on the work to shoot each nail. It will continue to fire on each bump as long as the trigger is held back.
The bump mode has some obvious accuracy and safety considerations for the wood shop. It is difficult to place a nail exactly where you want by just bumping the gun against the wood. In addition to the accidental bump/firing by you, think about someone else that might pick up the nail gun and not realize that you left it in the bump-fire mode. I strongly suggest that unless you are familiar with using nail guns in bump mode and have a specific need for that kind of nail-shooting speed, stick with the sequential driving setting.
The Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer has a large capacity magazine that accommodates any of the 1-1/4" - 2-1/2"-long nail lengths it is capable of using without having to be reset or adjusted. The magazine easily accepts full strips of nails with a maximum capacity of 100 nails. Nails are loaded through a slot at the rear of the magazine and a spring-loaded follower is pulled back to engage the end of that nail strip to maintain the needed pressure.
The actual nail driving system is simple but very well made. Each part of the drive system is very cleanly formed and fits like it is supposed to. That attention to detail translates into consistent, dependable nail driving.
The depth adjusting dial is also tool free and actually does allow you to control the depth to which the nails are set. I have seen too many nail gun depth adjusters that do little or nothing to the depth nails are set. In addition to actually working, the depth setting on the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer seems to be far less sensitive to the air pressure being supplied than with other guns I have tried.
Bosch also built in a dry fire lockout that protects the gun itself and your projects. When the nail follower bottoms out, it automatically locks out the firing mechanism. Refill the magazine with nails and the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer is once again ready for use.
In the Shop
The evaluation of the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer went faster than I expected because it does what it is supposed to all of the time. Add a couple drops of oil and supply it with sufficient air pressure and you can focus on driving nails. The Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer just keeps on driving nails where you want, when you want and to the depth you want.
The overall size of the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer is nice, especially when working in smaller areas. The angle of the magazine makes it easy to nail close to vertical obstructions. The balance of this gun feels good in the hand, which is an important point to consider. The lack of problems makes this level of comfort important because you will be using it a lot and fixing it close to never.
The tool-free jam clearing is a nice feature and I am sure it is effective but no matter what kind of wood that I shot nails into, the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer simply never thought about jamming. It is hard to imagine anything working perfectly forever so the jam clearing feature will eventually come in handy - for someone.
If you are in the market for a finish nailer, the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer should go right to the top of your must see list. With a street price of $391.00 (8-16-2009) the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer certainly is not cheap but nothing made this well ever is. With the reasonably anticipated lifespan the cost-per-use of the Bosch FNA-250-15 Angled Finish Nailer will eventually work out to well below dirt cheap. Of course if you enjoy clearing jams and fighting a tool you saved a few bucks on, there are lots of others out there.
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