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The Ridgid R213BNA kit even includes safety glasses, along with the very useful brad nailer.
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Ridgid R213BNA Oil-free Brad Nailer

Compact power for the shop or job site

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

Initial Impressions

Ridgid's' new R213BNA brad nailer is surprisingly small for the 5/8" to 2 1/8" range of fasteners it handles. However, don't let the size fool you. This is a full-featured brad nailer that looks well made and sports innovative features that make using it a pleasure.

The R213BNA kit includes a nice carry case, the brad nailer, 1,000 1 ¼"-long 18 GA brads, a pair of safety glasses, instruction manual, fastener guide and a parts list with an exploded diagram of the tool.

Oil-Free Motor

The oil-free motor is strong, consistent and quiet.
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Machined into a magnesium housing, the R213BNA motor is oil-free, eliminating that preparation step from each day's use. An automatic, internal piston catch insures that each shot starts at the top of the cylinder to deliver consistent, full-power strokes each time the trigger is pulled. This can be especially important when used with compressors that go through sizeable pressure changes between running cycles.

The R213BNA operates on 70 to 120 PSI line pressure and uses a modest 0.04 ft of air per shot, making it compatible with virtually any shop or job site compressor.

Air In and Out

The air inlet swivels to keep the hose in check. The exhaust can be aimed anywhere around the handle as can the belt hook.
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A nice feature of the R213BNA is the swivel air inlet that accepts the common ¼" female quick connect hose ends. The inlet is not only free to rotate, eliminating wrapped-up hoses, but swivels approximately 15-degrees in any direction to let the hose hang more naturally. This may sound like a small thing but has an impact on how the gun feels in use.

A maintenance free filter is housed within the air inlet to keep junk entering the air system and compromising performance.

A user-friendly feature is the baffled air exhaust located at the end of the handle rather than on top of the motor. The exhaust is contained in a ring that can be aimed anywhere in a 360-degree circle that best suits the operator or environment.

Multi-Function Trigger

The trigger can be converted from Single Sequential to Contact Actuation mode.
The depth control dial below the trigger is effective and easy to use.
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The R213BNA trigger comes in Single Sequential mode, meaning the safety plunger tip must be compressed against the wood before the trigger is pulled for each shot. Most woodworkers will use this setting but for the professional, the trigger can be converted to Contact Actuation, or "bump fire" mode. In the Contact Actuation, the operator holds the trigger back and bumps the safety tip on the work to fire brads. One brad is fired each time the safety nose is bumped.

To change from the Single Sequential to Contact Actuation mode, a cross bar in the trigger must be depressed, rotated and then reseated. This eliminates the possibility of the trigger changing modes accidentally.

Caution: If you are not familiar with using an air nailer in sequential mode or if other persons may use the R213BNA, leave it in the Singe Sequential mode. Contact Actuation can be dangerous or surprise those unfamiliar with it or that may not be aware of this capability.

Depth Control

The depth control is effective and makes corrections with just a few clicks of the dial.
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A dial located below the trigger controls the depth to which brads are driven. This is a useful feature as sometimes we want brads sunk below the surface so the holes can be filled before finishing. Other times, particularly with thin material, leaving the brad flush with the surface enhances gripping power. Also, changing material density can require adjusting the depth.

The depth control has easy-to-read graphics that eliminate guessing which way to turn the dial for the setting you want.

Grip

The gripping handle of the R213BNA features a rubber over mold that makes the gun comfortable to use and very controllable. The rubber is formulated to absorb shock but also enhances the feeling of security because of its non-slip surface.

The jam clearing door is effective though a little stiff opening. We never needed it through our testing.
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The R213BNA is configured so that the balance is very neutral and the trigger easily reached by most hand sizes.

Jam Clearing

For the rare occasion when a brad jams in the driving path, a tool-free door is provided that swings open, exposing most of the nail channel. If the errant fastener does not fall out on it's own, opening the door provides easy access for a needle-nose pliers.

Magazine

The magazine holds 105 nails and does not need altering when changing nail lengths.
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The side-loading nail magazine holds a maximum of 105 brads and features dual re-load indicators that warn you are running out of nails regardless of their length. Also, changing nail sizes requires no changes to the magazine.

The magazine is opened and closed using a push-button lock at the rear. The magazine follower lock is easy to use but positive, preventing it from opening accidentally when bumped.

In the Shop

With overall dimensions of 9 5/8" by 9 ¾", the 2.4 lb R213BNA is definitely user friendly. Driving brads accurately in small areas is easy and the low weight combined with good balance produces surprisingly little fatigue when large numbers of brads need to be driven.

The R213BNA is light, small but has plenty of power for the woodworking shop or pro job site.
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Opening jam-clearing mechanism was a little hard at first but should become easier with a little use. A “little use” is the most we expect though as throughout testing, the gun never jammed so we never had to actually extract a nail.

Driving power remained constant throughout the normal pressure variations between compressor runs even with line pressure set at the minimum 70 PSI at the compressor outlet.

Brad depth also remained consistent and responded well to changes made at the control dial. Expected variances in depth when moving from hard to soft woods are predictable and easily corrected with the depth control.

Impressions

The Ridgid R213BNA is a nice brad nailer that makes driving nails accurately an easy task. The light weight and small size make it easy to use in smaller projects but the 2 1/8" maximum nail capacity give it the power to handle larger jobs as well.

With a street price of $119.00 (10-7-2005) the Ridgid R213BNA is a good value for the home wood shop or job site professional.

Ridgid air nailers are available at the Home Depot store near you or on line at www.homedepot.com.

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