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If you’re new to pneumatic tools, you might assume that these tools are going to separate you from a bunch of your hard-earned green — but that’s not necessarily so. The 18-gauge Central Pneumatic is a fine example of an honest, hard-working nailer, and at $20, it won’t murder your budget.

Is this going to become a treasured family heirloom?  No.  But as long as you treat it with reasonable care, it’ll get the job done long enough for you to save up for a better rig a year down the road. In the meantime, for less than the cost of renting one, you can continue on your woodworking way.

Central Pneumatic Nailer [Harbor Freight]


38 Responses to Cheap-Ass Tools: Central Pneumatic

  1. GAC says:

    Ahem! You might want to clarify the references to Chicago Pneumatic. This is a Central Pneumatic product. Big difference in price and quality.

  2. Sean O'Hara says:

    Nice Catch, GAC! You are, of course, correct and yes there is a large difference between the two.

  3. Jim German says:

    I’ve got a $20 CP brad nailer from HF and its been extremely useful. Makes quick work of putting up molding. It’s not the best, but for how infrequently I use it it works great, and makes life alot easier than using a hammer and nail punch.

    I’ve also got a $60 Campbell Hausfield reconditioned framing nailer on the way, hopefully it will work just as well.

  4. Robert H says:

    I picked up one of these $20 brad nailers, and the safety interlock didn’t work: it would fire whenever you pulled the trigger, whether or not the nose was pressed against something. Now, an air nailer has a lot in common with a firearm, and I decided to spend the bucks for a higher quality nailer. Usually I love inexpensive tools from Harbor Freight, but not in this case…

  5. psylux says:

    I have this.

    If you are the sort who enjoys firing off 5 or 6 brads, only to have the 7th one jam up so that you must completely disassemble the gun to pull out the corkscrewed fastener with needlenose pliers, then get on board this misery train.

    Suck it up, drop $100 on a Bostich and save hours of your life.

  6. Norton155 says:

    I have had this brad nailer for about a year now. The only time it jammed on me was when I used the cheapo brads from Harbor Freight. Threw those away and ended up buying some Porter Cable brads from Home Depot. It has been working jam free since. The name brad nails cost a small percentage more, but seems like it is worth it. Even using it as infrequently as I do, I’ve definately gotten the $16 that I paid out of it.

  7. Steve Thompson says:

    I’ve had mixed results with HF pneumatics. I have a 1/4″ crown stapler that blows the doors off of my Craftsman 18ga. nailer/stapler (piece o’ crap in my opinion – sold it at a fraction just to get rid of it). I had a HF 18ga. nailer (may have been this one) that is now quite at home in a landfill somewhere. Wasn’t even worth the gas to return it. Replaced it with a Senco and I’m happy now.

    The good thing is that the HF tools are cheap enough that you don’t feel too bad when they suck. +1 on Norton’s opinion of HF’s brads however. The PC ones from the big box are a little more expensive, but a lot less frustrating.

  8. rick says:

    I have the 2 in one stapler and nailer (18 ga) from harbor freight. I have used it a LOT, few thousand staples (used them for shingles on my shed’s roof (nails would have been better, but this was cheap) and lots of brads for trin and whatnot. It is GREAT. The only time it has jammed (3 times) is when i let the air pressure drop to 40-45psi, so thats my fault. Its wonderful! amazed i put up trim without one before! 100% reccomended

  9. Ted says:

    I’ve got the same nailer as rick, and it’s worked great for everything I’ve needed it for. Never jammed once and worked perfectly right out of the box. I’ll never go back to hammering in finish nails again!

  10. Chaim says:

    I have this. It’s never jammed either on the HF nails or on Porter Cable. I feel like I got a steal, it’s just as good as pro versions I’ve used!

  11. Fred says:

    Does anyone use these HF pneumatics in multiple quantities in on the job production use so that you know how they perform as a group?

    As an example, I have 7 Grex (6 are P635’s) pinners – and I’ve heard few complaints from the troops.
    Similarly we have standardized on Makita AN611 coil siding nailers (6), Hitachi NT65MA2 finnish nailers (12) etc. On all of these – we eased into buying them as replacements for other tools – but now know how they perform as a group and what idiosyncracies exist for each of them.

  12. kif says:

    I have the 18 ga. nailer/stapler, the 2″ 18 ga. nailer, a smaller 18 ga. nailer and a framing nailer (I don’t remember which one). Disappointment has been minimal. The framer only takes clipped head nails, a disadvantage I didn’t learn about after driving a bunch of them. Once I had my hand over the exhaust for the 2″ 18 ga., and the piston broke off the driver. Fortunately, the kit comes with a replacement piston/driver and a set of o-rings for a rebuild.

    I think the truth of the matter here is there is a wide gulf between what I have and what I think most would call quality stuff. Chances are some of the non-Craftsman stuff at Sears, the Campbell/Hausfeld/Husky come off the same (or similar) Chinese line. Hasn’t anyone noticed that 1/2 inch impact wrench, the one with the rubber on the nose and on the back, that is for sale under a bazillion names? Once you source it to China, 80% of it is the same. There are probably plants out there where they are have tons of different brand labels on hand. The only difference with the HF stuff is that it is priced right, when on sale.

  13. Terry says:

    I have this tool and love it. I use it very infrequently (only 3 or four times in the past three years) but it’s worked every time. There’s something so satisfying about the solid Ker-pop! noise a pneumatic nailer makes.

    I am an apartment renter and having a compressor in the garage is overkill. Not to mention that it’s buried behind other stuff and inaccessable. If I were to buy all my tools again I’d probably skip the pneumatics and get the cordless electric nailer. Probably from the Craftsman 19.2volt line that’s served me pretty well.

  14. TL says:

    Quality on the HF stuff is always a crap shoot. For the pneumatics they seem to either give years of trouble-free use (at homeowner usage rates anyway) or they are crap out of the box and will never work right. I’ve had great luck with mine, but I know of others who haven’t.

  15. Chris says:

    I have the brad nailer and used it frequently with no problems or jams. Good for at home and the job i think.

  16. Luis says:

    I have the same nailer/stapler and its been great….I build custom fiberglass boxes and use it as a fabric stapler just have to adjust the psi on the compressor, but works great…..also used it to staple mesh on my wall for rock veneers and let me tell you, it looks great……it feels so good to put your own sweat equity into work….save money, make money and all with a cheap tool.

  17. Rick says:

    PROBLEM CAN ANYONE HELP?? I have ch2lb comp and nailer, for small projests i do works great–until now all of a sudden instead of getting distinct pop when trigger is pulled and nail is inserted, i get no nail and a faint pop. psi up at around 100. Can aqnybody out there give any advise?

  18. Riley says:

    PROBLEM (-_-)…Call me stupid but i cant figure out how to get the staples into the magazine. Either that or it just wont fire staples, because all it does is dry fire and its starting to aggravate me. Any suggestions?

    • Zman says:

      The way you get the staples in thr gun is simple. On the bottom of the magozine there is a clamp or head idk.but its sloped oddly.but it’s there you push it up causing the clamp to be completely virtical with the gun.it should slide down easly(if not just give it a light pull .dont brake it..
      And for the staples ,they are inserted on the black bar .if your having a problem with the staples floating around the clip .spring is messed up

  19. Tom says:

    I must be stupid too…because I can’t figure it out either. All i get is a pop of air and no staple. The staples also slide around in the magazine…i figured there should be something to keep them pressed toward the front of the nailer. Maybe mine is defective?

  20. Tom says:

    I had the misfortune of owining an air compressor by Central Pneumatic. It was made in China, and was the worst, cheapest made piece of pure juck I ever had in my hands.
    All fittings are made from cheap chrome clad pot metal,that simply shatter when you attempt to loosen them. Can’t get
    replacement repair parts, all have to be ordered from China, and are of the same cheap quality as the original parts.
    Don’t waste you hard earned money on this cheap, shabby
    Chinese JUNK.

  21. joet says:

    I’ve got one of these 20 dollar, 18 gauge brad nailers. I’ve put up a lot of trim with this little tool. I don’t ever recall a jam. I do use the name brand brads. A high dollar tool would not have worked any better. Talk about getting your money’s worth!

  22. Handyrev says:

    HF tools are cheap – true; but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are useless. I’ve got 4 different nailers in addition to several “name brand” ones and use them every day. The Central Pneumatic work as well as my Porter Cable, Bostich, or Senco. The thing with these is that you might very well get a “lemon” out of the box; this has happened to me a couple of times but HF is great to take it back and exchange it. And at $20 instead of a hundred or more, I can afford to use one a year and replace it – not a bad tradeoff with the wear and tear I put on them.

  23. C. T. Bounds says:

    I have a 16 gauge Central Pneumatics nailer Model#39092 from HF. Worked OK until last week. All plastic parts inside destroyed. HF doesn’t stock replacement parts. Anybody know where I can get parts that will fit?


    • Gary says:

      I have the Central Pneumatic Contractor Series Framing Nailer 21 Degree Angles/ 10 Gauge Model 04041 and I have the same problem. Went to use it and got nothing but air in the face. Looked all over for a repair kit for it and found that HF does not provide repair kits for any of the equipment they sale. They suggested I buy another one in leu of a repair kit… Nice..

    • Lawrence says:

      Having the same problems with central pneumatic roofing nailer 92917.unable to find repair parts HF can’t help, so it seems as if my nailer is considered the same as a disposable razor.

  24. J. T. Hill says:

    I have the P31317 Brad nailer … has worked great.. but now needs a gasket and would like a schimatic of it… Any help… Thanks…

  25. Bob says:

    Where can I get parts for the Central Pneumatic Floor Nailer.

  26. DanNo says:

    >Bob says:
    >April 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm
    >Where can I get parts for the Central Pneumatic Floor Nailer.

    Bob, check with HF Customer Service. I needed some repairs on a TIG welder I bought and the replacement part came within a week from the manufacturer in Italy.

  27. Al says:

    Bought the 18ga brad nailer for $20 bucks. So far I am very pleased! I had been using a Bostich that seemed to misfire, jam or just wouldn’t shoot every so often. The Central Pneumatic has been trouble free thus far. Trimming an entire house, will make my money back several times over regardless. As several had mentioned before me I think that if you get a lemon it will be right out of the box.

  28. Nichole Guest says:

    I bought the 2 in 1 as well. Using HF brads, it was hit or miss when shooting in hardwoods. Half the nails would only sink about halfway. Also the safety broke immediately and the naiker will pop out brads like a gun pumps out bullets. BUT here’s why I buy at HF – for one, it’s cheap. Two, the warranty! Always invest in the one year warranty. It’s usually around $6-$10. Don’t bother with the 2 year, which is doule. The took usually costs around the same new. HF takes anything back for any reason at all under the warranty. I take stuff back all the time. Just because. So if it breaks, oh well. Grab a new one.

  29. Ira says:

    I have a central pneumatic nailer #42422.

    I need a replacement gasket #A343-25.

    HF Customer Service already said “sorry”.

    Any suggestions?

  30. salvador says:

    looked up parrts for nail gun model 68019 need part # 26 and part number #27 could not find a place to purchase them they site from Harbor fright said you would carrir ithem . air tool is a Central / Pumatic please let me know if you have or know of company that may have parts?

  31. Luther says:

    Bought a 3 and 1 framing gun from harbor freight kept it in the box for a year pulled it out shot 2 nails and the piston driver broke and you can’t get replacement parts a say junk for a nail gun and should be taken out of stores complete rip off

  32. G Santana says:

    central pneumatic are crappy tools. i bought one at harbor freight, which sells nothing but crap tools. i used it to build my fence. second time i went to use it the striker broker. yes, i do properly maintain and lubricate all my pneumatic tools. should’ve known better. next time i’ll spent more to get a better quality tool.

  33. ian says:

    I had one of those “stupid” projects that really needed a special tool (replacing the sisal rope on the cats scratching post). An 18 gauge crown molding stapler was perfect. I looked at the Bostitch and Senco’s but wasn’t about to spend that kind of money for something like this.
    Enter Harbor Freight – I paid $21 for a stapler that worked surprisingly well. One little thing – you really have to make sure that the little safety tab is 100% down or it will not fire. The hell of it is, now, 2 weeks later, Harbor Freight is having a 50% off sale on the sam e thing.

  34. William says:

    I purchased a Central Pneumatic 16 gauge nail gun in 1987 from Harbor Freight and I am just now having my first problem with it. I have built kitchens and several other projects besides the incidental use at home. I think I paid 49.99 for it. You don’t need the more expensive tools unless you are going to use them to death. I would just like to find a parts manual for my gun 32869 so I can replace the worn part and continue using it. Any suggestions?

  35. Jaime says:

    Just bought it. Not working right out of the box. On my way to exchange it. Haven’t bought a tool from HF that worked for a more than a month yet. :/

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