The nails your favourite nail gun will be using are not individual nails which you feed into the gun. They will be collated (held together) in a long strip of either plastic (e.g. the Hitachi NT65MA2) or paper (e.g. Paslode Framing Nailer) and then fed into the magazine.
There has been a move in recent times to move from plastic mountings to paper ones as they are seen to offer some distinct benefits.
Benefits of paper collated nails
1) Less Risk Of Injury – parts of the plastic carriers are designed to shear off when the nail is fired and will inevitably be thrown out of the nailer to avoid blockages. Therefore bits of plastic can potentially fly off into your eyes and cause injury.
2) Less Jamming , More Working – With no plastic to be sheared there is no more jamming caused by plastic which is not brittle enough to shear off correctly and gets stuck in the nailer.
3) Less Debris To Clean Up – Again, no more plastic flying out means less mess to clean up. The paper is pushed into the hole with the nail which means no debris on your jobsite. Which makes you more productive. Which means you earn more (or work less).
4) More robust – plastic collations are intentionally designed to be brittle so that they will shear off easily and not jam the nailer. This has the unintended consequence of making them prone to breaking when dropped accidently from a high place (something all pros have done at one time or another)
But There Are Some Cons Too
1) Vunerable To Wet Weather: Paper collated nails can become damaged in wet weather if the paper is not waterproofed properly
2) Cost: The nails are more expensive than the plastic collated ones (this can be made up by productivity gains and less wastage but is definitely something to consider)
As you can see there are pros and cons to both plastic and paper collation systems. I will always use the paper collation because I think the safety and performance results are worth paying a little extra for. I also like the way I get a better finish because I have no plastic to get caught under the nail head when it’s being driven in.
I hope this has helped you make an informed decision about which kind of nails to buy and what to look out for when you are choosing your next nail gun.
Please leave a comment in the box below if you have a strong preference – are you a plastic or paper fan?