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Porter Cable's FN250A 16 GA finish nailer is another very handy tool.
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Porter Cable Model FN250AFinish Nailer

16 GA nails ¾ to 2 ½-inch Duofast/Pasolade compatible nails

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

I have been using an air powered brad nailer in my shop for some time, and found it very useful. I also found it lacking in power and nail length when trying to nail down face frames, pin shelves in dados or other larger jobs. Admittedly, the brad nailer was not designed for these jobs. If I wanted to shoot finish nails in the 2-inch range, I needed another tool. Woe is me!
   The wife and I attended a little woodworking show and I was naturally drawn to the Porter Cable booth where all sorts of cool looking nail guns and other equipment were on display. I began asking questions, was handed a FN250A to inspect and told it was on special. Even the wife realized resistance was futile in the face of such a meeting of need and fiscal opportunity and gave permission to proceed.
   I proudly strolled around the show carrying my new Porter Cable emblazoned carrying case (which comes with this model), noting the envy of several guys who were having less tool-buying luck with their spouses. I was the big kid on the block; until I noticed two show workers helping another guy (an obvious show off) hustle his new lathe out to his truck.
   One of the first things I liked about the FN250A was it's feel. Though it's capacity far exceeds my brad nailers, it's size remains easily manageable. This tool is no lightweight by any means--it's made from real metal--but it is light enough to use extensively without serious arm fatigue. The rubber grip is comfortable and provides a secure grip.    

The safety shoe does not leave marks but stays put on the wood very well.
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Adjusting the depth the nail reaches is easy, and done right at the trigger.
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The exhaust port can be set where ever you want to avoid blowing in your face.
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Nails drop right in the magazine from the top. Changing nail sizes is just as easy.
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Clearing a jam--if you ever get one--is easy and safe with the FN250A because of the front-opening access.
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Bricks of 16 GA nails are available everywhere at a very reasonable cost.
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   Nails are loaded by pulling the nail follower back to it's built in catch, dropping strips (this gun can hold two strips in the magazine) into a slot in the top of the magazine. A spring-loaded follower retains the nails and keeps them pressed forward. Removing the nail clips to change sizes is equally easy.
   This oil-type air gun requires the user to put a few drops of the supplied oil in the air inlet before use. Though some may complain about this added maintenance, it produces a strong, crisp firing action that is appreciated when a 2-inch nail seats cleanly in all hardwood I have secured with it. Though bottle of oil that comes in the kit is small, I bought what appears to contain a lifetime supply locally for under five dollars.
   Another nice feature is the steerable exhaust port. You find yourself in many odd positions when using a nail gun and being able to direct the rush of exhaust away from your direction helps prevent launching sawdust into your eyes.
   I have heard comments from woodworkers complaining about "stiff triggers" on air guns. I find the trigger on this gun to be easily used and predictable. It has an easily operated adjustment feature that lets you determine how deep fasteners are set in woods of varying densities.
   The FN250A is shipped with a "restrictive trigger," meaning you have to press the safety shoe against the work before pulling the trigger to fire a nail. A bottom fire trigger is available free of charge as an accessory. That mechanism allows the operator to hold the trigger in the fire position and fire nails by bumping the safety shoe against the work. This may be the hot setup with framing guns, but for finish work, we need far more accuracy. Unless you have an overwhelming urge to emulate Dirty Harry with a finish nailer, and don't worry about misplaced fasteners, the factory installed trigger works just fine and is more appropriate.
   Clearing jammed fasteners from many nail guns can be an involved process requiring disassembly of at least a portion of the gun. Porter Cable has a better, and much easier idea.
   They engineered a flip-up door into the front of the nail path that allows you full access to jammed fasteners so they can be easily removed with a pliers. No nicks, cuts or foul language. In addition, it can be accomplished in seconds. Just be sure to disconnect the gun from the air supply before doing this or any other maintenance operation.
   So far, this trick jam-clearing feature has been of no use to me as the gun refuses to jam.
   Since Porter Cable designs all of their tools with decades of use in mind there may come a time when you need to rebuild the air motor. Kits and parts for this are available from Porter Cable and can be found in more complete woodworking tool outlets. The process of replacing the necessary parts is easy and can be done by most end users.
   Once again, I have successfully expanded my equipment inventory with a tool that exceeds my expectations. I am getting used to this with Porter Cable products but promise to act surprised when I buy something else from their line.   

If you need a finish nail gun, you owe it to yourself to consider the Porter Cable FN250A. This is a well-designed, solidly manufactured piece of equipment you will have in your shop for the rest of your life. Though the price is actually very reasonable, (around $170 in many places) averaging that expenditure out over forever should get the per-use cost past the most cost-conscious among us.

UPDATE: If you build cabinets or other projects where finish nails might be used, this is the gun for you. Nothing slows it down, or makes it act up. I have not had a single jam or miss-fire. It has plenty of power to set 2-inch finish nails in solid oak, yet is comfortable to handle making control easy. A very good tool!

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