June 27, 2008

Duo-Fast 903000 Cordless 20 Degree Framing Nailer - Review

duofast_in_case.jpgWe were a little worried about testing out this tool. Up until now, we had only used one cordless nailer and it was quite a long time ago. Not only was the gun bulky (and smelly), but it kept running out of fuel and the battery couldn't keep a charge. But we thought that maybe the technology has been refined over the past handful of years so we cleared the slate and gave the new Duo-Fast Cordless Framing Nailer a fair shake.

Out of the box, there is a little bit of prep that needs to get done before the nails start flying. First, the battery needs to be charged (2 hours), and secondly, the fuel cell needs to be installed. There is no fuel cell included in the kit, but Duo-Fast has included one in every box of nails, ensuring that you won't ever run out of fuel.

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The fuel cell gets installed in an opening to the rear of the gun. It's not a tough process, but there are a few things you need to pay attention to. Thankfully Duo-Fast includes a fantastic quick reference guide with each tool. The single sheet of paper (printed on both sides) covers the basics of setting up the gun and cleaning the gun. The guide is easy to understand and includes tons of pictures. With so many tools, you're on your own and it's nice to see that extra bit of customer service in Duo-Fast.

duofast_back_end.jpgSo we got the gun set up with no problem and then we were ready to do some testing. We've been procrastinating on framing out a wall in the woodshed, due to the fact that getting a compressor setup out there is such a drag, so we figured that would be a good workout for the cordless.

The gun comes with eye protection, but after a few shots, we started thinking that it would be a better idea if came with ear plugs instead. This tool has some serious volume to it. Perfect for 7:00am start on a job with a lousy client.

As far as power goes, this gun is a real monster. We set the gun at the deepest setting, thinking there was no way it would be as powerful as a pneumatic framer. The result was that the nail heads were so buried in the wood we could hardly even see them.

There were a few times during our testing when we had to wait for the gun to catch up, but it's a small price to pay for the convenience of being able to use a nail gun in the middle of the woods. It was also nice not having to worry about tripping over an air hose or getting one all tangled up. All in all, the gun performed perfectly. No jamming and no misfires, just that odd smell that cordless nailers have.

duofast_paslode.jpgThe gun is more compact than a traditional framer, with most of that size reduction coming from the smaller magazine (it can only hold a single nail strip). But it's not like this is really an issue. The Duo-Fast isn't about shooting in nail after nail after nail. It's about portability and convenience.

One thing we were worried about was battery life. Once we got all set up were we going to have to keep recharging the gun in order to get more than a hundred nails in. Luckily, this isn't the case. The Duo-Fast battery has a life of about 4000 nails (we're taking their word for this - we don't think the neighbors would be interested in us doing that particular test), and the fuel cell is good for about 1,200 nails (like we said earlier, a cell comes with each box of 1,000 nails). So you've got at least solid day of work before having to recharge.

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Another thing that Duo-Fast has obviously thought about is the case. Knowing that if someone is using a cordless framer, they're likely on the go or somewhere inconvenient, they have given you plenty of space for extra batteries, fuel cells, and nails.

We can't say this is perfect gun if you're looking for something to use every day on a high-speed framing crew, but if you often find yourself in situations where compressor hoses are difficult or impossible, the Duo-Fast will deliver all the power you need without any of the hassle.

The Duo-Fast Cordless costs in the area of about $400. It's a lot of money, but if you want an alternative to your compressor set up (or if you want a nail gun but not a compressor), it's a small price to pay for such a fine tool. It far exceeded our expectations and made us seriously reconsider the usefulness of cordless framers.

At Amazon.com

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at June 27, 2008 5:00 AM

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