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For decades pros have driven large nails in tight spaces with the venerable pneumatic palm nailer. Of course, they’re driving lots of nails, so they don’t mind lugging an air compressor and dragging hose around with ’em. A while back we reviewed a couple of products that ditch the cord for mini-Li-ion power: Craftsman’s Hammerhead and Ryobi’s similar product. Our verdict: They’re handy, but a little funky-shaped.

Milwaukee’s new cordless palm nailer gets it right. It’s simply the same kind of electric nail-driving tool, but shaped like the palm nailer you love.

Of course, Milwaukee’s pumped up the mechanism a bit for both performance and durability. They claim it’ll drive a 16D 3-1/2″ nail in under two seconds (a hell of a lot quicker than either of the two nailers mentioned above), and you can expect to drive around 100 such nails on a single M12 battery charge. A magnetic collet holds 6D to 16D framing nails in place so you can drive ’em one-handed. The Milwaukee features an all-metal gear housing, so it should last a while, too.

We saw these at an early press preview a while back, and while we could probably post a bunch of boring test data, we can sum it all up in this: It drives nails. Quickly. And it’s loud, as you’d expect from something that smacks 2.2 ft/lbs of force into nails faster than you ever could with a hammer.

Expect to pay around $150 for the kit form (with battery and charger) or around $100 for the bare tool (if you’ve already got some M12 gear kickin’ around).

M12 Palm Nailer [Milwaukee]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


15 Responses to Old Form + Cut Cord = M12 Palm Nailer

  1. stuckupinatree says:

    you guys who write these reviews know that the majority of power tools that wear the craftsman badge are made by TTI, parent company of Ryobi, Rigid, and Milwaukee right?

    of course you are going to see things coming out in all three colors and brands at some point in time, in some different configuration, and some different overmolds.

  2. Chuck Cage says:

    @stuckupinatree: Craftsman hires quite a few companies to manufacture various products — so many in fact that “so and so makes all of Craftsman’s whatever” almost never ends up being correct.

    That said, we’ve seen all three of these. The Craftsman and Ryobi are indeed quite similar. The Milwaukee, however, is significantly different. Though they address the same problem, I’d definitely consider them different tools.

  3. Dave says:

    Now this is exactly the form factor I have been waiting for. I tried the Ryobi version and did not like the strain it puts on your wrists. I got really used to the old form factor but as the article hints, lugging around a compressor for a few uses isn’t really practical for home users.

  4. Michael says:

    TTI does not own Ridid:

    It has been my experience that Milwaukee is currently managed as a high quality professional tool manufacturer. The tools I own seem to be cut from an entirely different mold than its Ryobi counterparts.
    I wish I could say the same for Dewalt who’s Black & Decker counterpart far too often resembles its high priced brother.
    Bosch is another company who uses american, european and asian manufacturing with excellent results. They keep the Bosch name of a much higher quality than their home owner grade Skil line. This seems to be regardless of where each tool is made.

  5. Michael says:

    It looks like I stand partially corrected. Although according to wikipedia Ridgid is not owned by TTI it looks like AEG (which is owned by TTI) is the outsourced manufacture for much of Ridgid’s product line.

  6. fred says:

    With mergers and acquisitions in the tool world you can expect to see even more sorting out of brands as conglomerates try to differentiate products, conversely consolidate lines and appeal to old brand loyaties.

    The Ridgid name – once was the domain of the Ridge Tool Co – maker of pipe wrenches and plumbing tools. When Emerson acquired Ridge the brand name remained on pipe tools – with Emerson being the OEM for many Craftsman stationary tools like table saws. Reportedly – when Emerson lost their contract with Sears – they shopped around for another outlet and hit on Home Depot. Either at that time or slightly before, I think the Ridgid name started appearing on power tools. Home Depot now seems to maket other tools – with different OEMs – under the Ridgid banner – like shovels that seem to be made by Ames. Sometimes the UPC or EAN barcodes are an indicator of the OEM.

    Bosch – as noted seems to have long ago decided that after acquiring full line Skil – that the Skil name (perhaps with the exception of 77 worm gear saws) will be their homeowner brand, Dremel their hobbyist brand and who knows what’s in store for RotoZip. Other Bosch brands – like Vermont American seem to have also been sorted out.

    Over at now Stanley acquired Black & Decker – the once proud Porter Cable line of woodworking tools – seems to be having an identity crisis. Gone are the world class sanders and planers – and the brand is now on a low-end drill press being sold at Lowes.
    Meanwhile the Dewalt (famous for their RAS) line is being marketed to the pros – while the once full line Black & Decker brand (can you say super sawcat?) is now really low end stuff. I expect to see more combining and absorbing of lines – e.g. Emglo and DeVilbiss – but the Delta brand (which had started to appear on cheap junk) may be coming back with the introduction of the new Unisaw.

  7. stuckupinatree says:

    I said the majority of them are from the TTI plants. Not all, the majority.

    This thing uses the same technology as the Craftsman and the Ryobi, just different packaging and overmolds. Not much different in this thing than the other two, just shape and a couple more metal pieces.

  8. dreamcatcher says:

    Good breakdown of tool manufacturers, Fred. Laying it out there makes it painfully obvious that we really don’t have many options amongst tool makers. It’s quite a short list anymore.

    Stanley, TTI, Emerson, Bosch, not to mention Alltrade, B3, Fein, Festool, Harbor Freight, Hitachi Koki, Mafell, Makita, Metabo, Positech.

    It’s almost as limited as the auto industry. The only question is who’s gonna eat who next?

    Personally I hope Bosch eats Fein and Festool soon while Stanley might as well buy up and make tools for HF. TTI and Emerson can fight for the rest.

    Interestingly I found this list of Sears’ contractors while doing some research: (http://professional-power-tool-guide.com/manufacturers/craftsman-power-tool-company/sears-and-craftsman-source-product-code/)


  9. paul says:

    I am a metal and auto tool guy and also an engineer but I wont claim to be a know it all when it comes to wood projects; but… why the heck would anyone need this tool? Just use a darn screw. Other than for finish nails, which this took isn’t made for anyhow there is just not many places I’d prefer a nail over a screw. You can easily remove screws, they hold tighter, and a drill is going to fit anywhere this thing will fit.

  10. paul says:

    I’d like to add one more thing. Yes screws cost more for a pro using that palm nailer and putting in a ton of nails, but for a homeowner who is operating this tool with the limited life of a battery the difference is screw vs nail cost is probably VERY insignificant.

  11. dreamcatcher says:


    I have a pneumatic palm nailer that I mainly use for installing joist hangers other metal connectors that require specific nails that can’t be shot from a framing gun. It has also gotten into some tight spaces that a standard nail gun or even a hammer couldn’t – such as a narrow joist or stud bay. I could see one of these (at least the Milwaukee offering) being really good for an electrician hanging nail on boxes all day or for a plumber hanging J-brackets in a crawl space.

    Oh, and some pneumatic versions offer changeable heads for trim nails, chiseling, and I’ve even seen a splice plate installation head once.

    Lots of uses in the trades.


  12. Spunky says:

    Do impact drivers like this result in pains in hands, wrists, arms, etc?

  13. Carl says:

    Try eBay and you may find one for under $100.

  14. john says:

    Might be a little tricky with the Nailer at first but most people will get the hang of it and Try Other marketplace may find Cheap Price

  15. Carl A says:

    Thanks for the eye-opening article Chuck! I’m still in the old-school using an air compressor to power my nailer. If I find a DeWalt product that’s similar to the Milwaukee I’m getting it as I have a load of their batteries kicking around.

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