Let's All Try To Avoid Shooting Ourselves With Nail Guns

Nail gun injuries are on the rise and its not professionals that are shooting themselves—it’s regular consumers just like you.

This Old House has a grisly gallery of x-rays from nail gun accidents as well as some helpful tips for, you know, not seriously injuring yourself with a nail gun. The combination of the images and the tips… very effective. Ow, ow, ow, ow…

The first tip will sound familiar to those of you who know anything about real gun safety:

Take your finger off the trigger immediately after you’ve driven in a fastener. And never carry the nail gun with your finger cocked to shoot.

This is good advice.

Don’t Get Nailed [This Old House]
(Photo:This Old House)


Edit Your Comment

  1. motoraway says:

    Looks like I will avoiding that nail gun fight next time a friend needs help roofing…..

  2. Trai_Dep says:

    Well, since the gov’t took away Lawn Darts, how else are we supposed to entertain ourselves for the whole summer?

  3. Ideapimp says:

    I’ve got a question: Why did they take an Xray? Was there some question as to what was lodged in his hand?

  4. JayXJ says:

    Why would someone treat a nail gun any differently than a firearm? It’s nearly as dangerous at close range.

  5. Trai_Dep says:

    Motor: I think it’s still okay to do the nail gun fight thing so long as the participants promise to run really fast.

  6. thepounder says:

    I own a nice Porter Cable framing nailer & honestly you’d have to put much effort into bypassing its safety… unless, of course, you stumble over the hose, press it into the arm of your friend and accidentally squeeze the trigger.
    Accidents will always happen but there’s an old Army saying about the “5% Rule”, wherein you must be at least 5% smarter than the piece of equipment you’re using… or it may cripple you. I miss my old Lawn Darts.

    I dig the X-ray — hope he keeps a copy of it for great storytelling once he’s healed.

  7. WindowSeat says:

    I managed to nail myself to a wall tacking down sheathing on some townhouses I was working on, luckily it was in the muscle between the thumb and index finger. I had to cut the nail head off with a bolt cutter and slide my hand off the nail. Good times. Did I mention I was working on a 25 foot ladder? The bolt cutters are a good thing to have in this situation.

  8. timmus says:

    I built a small house from scratch and spent many hours with a nailer. They’re pretty safe but the big thing you have to watch out for is carrying it around pistol-grip style, as if it hits a surface and bumps in the guard, then the gun would probably discharge. Get in a habit of NEVER carrying it pistol-grip style unless you’re firing a nail, and you have nothing to worry about.

  9. Sudonum says:

    I got in the habit of disconnecting the hose when I have to walk anywhere more than a few steps with it.

  10. Gev says:

    @Ideapimp: The X-Ray is probably done to determine if the nail’s embedded in and if there’s any damage to the bones.

    There was more than just the one film shot (different view angles) but those images weren’t as interesting/dramatic.

  11. AcidReign says:

        We used to use wooden pallets at work, and the palletizer operators had nail guns, to repair the bad pallets that came in. We saw this sort of injury pretty regularly. Five years ago, we switched to plastic pallets, and I hope we NEVER go back to oak!

  12. killavanilla says:

    This is the best advice ever given on the Consumerist.
    Please people. Stop with the shooting of yourselves with the nail guns.
    Not a toy.

  13. iamgibson says:

    @Ideapimp: I would think the Xray was to ensure that the nail did not knick any joints or anything else

  14. bohemian says:

    I was sitting in an ER waiting room one afternoon (gave someone a ride). There was a rather unhappy looking guy with a 2×4 nailed to his hand standing around waiting to be seen.

  15. Jiminy Christmas says:

    Most new nail guns are coming from the factory set for sequential fire rather than bounce fire. That means you can’t hold down the trigger and fire a nail every time you depress the nosepiece. Sequential fire means you have to release the trigger, raise the nosepiece, depress the nosepiece again, and pull the trigger again. It makes it harder, though obviously not impossible, to shoot oneself. The countervailing trend is that compressor/nailer kits have become ridiculously cheap. Last year I bought a Porter Cable kit with compressor, finish nailer, brad nailer & upholstery stapler for about $280.

    Also, I would suspect that a lot of people are getting shot with deflected nails. If you try nailing something at too acute an angle the nail can ricochet right off the wood, and back at you. Likewise, I’ve had nails hit knots or some other foreign object and shoot out the side of the workpiece…where an unthinking person might have their hand.

  16. Craig says:

    Darwin in action.

  17. lestat730 says:

    It’s a good thing no one ever invented the nail gun featured in the game Quake, last thing we need is the average person getting a hold of a fully automatic gas powered nail gun :)

  18. Trai_Dep says:

    Whoa. GAWD I hope a modder reads Consumerist, because that’d be AWEsome! Especially if (heh – that that’d I’d be so e-v-i-l as to DO it (maintaining straight face heroically)) you could nail some poor n00b to the wall.

  19. lestat730 says:

    @trai_dep: LOL, I have to say if I could get my hands on one it would be difficult to resist the urge to irresponsibly blast nails all over the place… of course then I would probably take a few ricochets to the head. However, from articles I’ve read in the past it seems many people have lived without issue for many years with nails lodged in their brain. Any modder’s out there who are up for taking a commission? :)

  20. dbeahn says:

    Just think of the x-ray of Dick Cheney’s friend when he has him over for some home improvements…

  21. darkclawsofchaos says:

    Nail guns are not toys, bebe guns are. They are lighter and they still dish out the hurt at longer distances. Cheaper ammo too. Lesson is not to mess around with nail guns, paintball guns and bebe guns are strong enough

  22. floofy says:

    Good thing I don’t have a nail gun. That would so be my xray if I did. I have almost chopped off appendages just using a hedge trimmer. Good thing it was just the cord I kept chopping up….

  23. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    My uncle shot himself in the eye with one. It was pretty hinky at the time. Blehh. Anyways he has a cataract on that eye now but at least some of his vision in that eye is back. But still…damn!

  24. Musician78 says:

    I don’t have a nailgun, not have I ever used one… and I really shouldn’t say this, due to the fact that it violates all rules of karma, but…. how????

  25. Skiffer says:

    Same story every summer with the increase in home improvement projects…

  26. n8srq says:

    Nail guns can come with either a sequential trigger or a single fire trigger. I purchased a finish nailer that had a sequential trigger which I felt was unnecessary for finish nailing. Paslode, the manufacturer, send me a single fire trigger for free and it was easy to install. Great service on their part.

  27. cnc1019 says:

    All of this can be blamed on home improvement shows making it look so easy and the relative cheapness of nail guns compared to the 90s. I’ve been using coil nail guns to help replace shingles since I was 11 and have yet to see any accidents happen with these things because the people respected the tools and what they could do to someone. That and we didn’t let my alcoholic uncle use them.

  28. savvy9999 says:

    I cut a finger off this spring using/abusing a table saw (they put it back on, mostly works).

    Trust me, tools that saw/hammer/nail with great force are to be utterly respected.

  29. MrEvil says:

    I guess too many people pretend they’re some hotshot cowboy with their nail gun. I don’t see how you can nail yourself to anything if you aren’t holding onto the trigger except when to apply a nail.

  30. dragon:ONE says:

    Yeah, don’t get nailed… get screwed.

  31. mcnee says:

    Most professional framers use guns with ‘bump’ triggers so they just hold the trigger in and ‘bump’ the gun along the board they are nailing.

    A friend recently fumbled his while holding up a wall section and put a nail in to the top of his knee right behind the kneecap.

    Doctors borrowed a needle-nose and linemans pliers from the hospital maintenance guy to get it out.

  32. Trai_Dep says:

    All I’s sayin’ is the first goofball that manages to nailgun his penis damn well better capture it on camera and post it on youtube…