Almost universally, a professional framer will choose a gun when there’s serious work to be done. A few old-school crews still use hammers, but when the heavy lifting’s about to begin, the guys in the know reach for a rig like this Duo-Fast 20-degree DF350S strip nailer. We got our hands on one to see what it was all about.
Many people ask, “What difference does the rake or degree make in a nailer’s performance?” The answer is, very little. The angle of a nailer is determined almost exclusively by the shape and packaging of the nail. In this case, the DF350S takes round-head paper or plastic strip loads which, when bound together, require a 20-degree rake in relation to the action mechanism.
To give you an idea of how big a full-sized framer can be, we placed the Duo-Fast next to our shop’s 18-gauge finish nailer. As you can see, it’s not tiny. The measurements are a full 21”x5”x13”, and empty it weighs in at around eight pounds.
We started to look the nailer over and found the magazine and related features to be very well-thought-out. The top-loading magazine holds two 30-round strips of 20-degree paper-collated nails, for a grand total of 60 rounds before you have to reload.
You load it like any other nailer — pull back the slide to let the nails pass down the channel — but the Duo-Fast features a sweet catch-lever on the back of the magazine that holds the slide until you’re ready to go. When it’s loaded, just smack the back end of the gun, and the slide runs forward. The top of the slide also sports a little hook that pins the head of the last nail to the channel; we like that extra bit of assurance that everything’s solid and where it’s supposed to be.
We loaded up and took the DF350S out back to tackle some much-needed fence repair. The nailer made our little repair job a laughably simple task. A few quick pulls of the trigger, and the gun sent the 3-1/2” nails home in the blink of an eye. After that was handled, we ran 10 strips through the gun, just to see if we could make it jam with funny angles or quick fires — but it performed flawlessly.
The testing portion was done, but as we boxed the Duo-Fast back up we noticed that the safety mechanism fed into the trigger in such a way that it looked like you could hold it and pop the trigger without actually pressing it to lumber. Purely in the interest of scientific curiosity, we wondered what would happen if we held the safety back and fired.
Let me first say that, just because a couple of yahoos decided to do this, it is in no way a good idea or recommended by anyone –- ever. However, were you to try it, your results might look somewhat similar to the above pictures. It took nine tries, but we did manage to sink the tip of a 3-1/2” nail into chipboard at a distance of around 13 feet. There was much high-fiving and fist-bumping.
All clowning-around aside, the DF350S is a serious nailer, and it makes short work of difficult, time-consuming projects. Though the weekend hobbyist might never need something so obviously hardcore, anyone who does a fair amount of framing or roofing will. The flexibility and outright power of the DF350S will attract guys who make their living with a nailer. It’s very easy to operate, and loading is simple — which is probably why professionals use them.
Street pricing for the DF350S is around $300. You can already find it in places where the building code requires round-head nails, i.e., select coastal areas, Florida, and Texas.
DF350S Framing Nailer [Duo-Fast]