January 30, 2009

Craftsman NexTec Auto-Hammer - Review

autohammer.jpgThis little fella hit the stores just before the holidays as part of Craftsman new NexTec line ("next technology?"). We got our hands on one a few weeks ago and have been testing it in a variety of situations and here's what we thought...

If we had to classify the Auto Hammer, we'd say that it's a battery-powered palm nailer. The functionality is the same; the piston within the sleeve that pounds the nail with a series of hits, in this case, up to 3600 impacts per minute, which is actually more than most, if not all, palm nailers. The Auto Hammer also has a magnetic head that can hold any nail up to 7/16" wide. There's also a little LED that lights up the work piece. The tools in the NexTec line are all powered by a little 12-volt li-ion battery. Now, on to how the tool actually performed...

In the hands, the Auto Hammer is great. We actually weren't expecting something with such a sturdy feel, but it really has a nice weight to it and a good balance. The product literature says that it can sink nails from 2d to 16d. This, we discovered pretty quickly, ain't true. Because it reminded us so much of a palm nailer, we first tried it out with some joist hanger nails. While the Auto Hammer had no problem getting the nails started, it couldn't sink them flush. And these were only 1-1/2", not the 3" that the website boasts.

autohammer_close.jpgWe also tried it out with some smaller nails and found that it had no problem once we got away from 'framing-sized' fasteners. The Auto Hammer performed great when matched up against finish work or around the house tasks. It also did well in cramped areas where swinging a hammer is out of the question, in fact we see this as the focal point and the main reason for purchasing the tool. Cabinet work, under the sink tasks, and the dreaded crawl space project are all going to be made easier with the Auto Hammer. The head is also magnetic, so you can stick a nail on and maneuver the tool into place (and around the water pipes) before setting the nail.

It's also worth mentioning that the Auto Hammer is insanely loud. Pounding a normal hammer is loud too, but the mechanical rat-tat-tat of this tool is pretty abrupt. Not something you want to use first thing in the morning or around someone who is prone to migraines.

autohammer_case.jpgThe bottom line for us is that this is a nice little tool for light duty use. We're not sure what Craftsman was nailing together in order to make the claim that it can pound a 3" nail, maybe jello and butter. But working with small nails and in confined spaces, it does great. Just don't expect to be doing any framing with it.

The Auto Hammer comes with a nice little zippered carrying case, one battery, a small nail remover, and a charger.

If you're looking for more information on the tool, there's a mind-numbingly good article up over at Popular Mechanics (written by me) with a direct comparison between the Auto Hammer and a traditional hammer. If you can't stand the Tool Snob site, you should definitely check it out because I videoed myself smashing my thumb with both tools in order to see which hurt more. That article is here

At Sears

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at January 30, 2009 5:20 AM
Recent Comments

Just buy a goddamn nail gun and an air compressor. Same thing but with much better results. Worst idea ever, Craftsman.

Posted by: Dan at December 6, 2009 3:47 PM

What about the battery life of the hammer? I would think that this factor could have a significant (forgive the pun) impact on the overall value of the tool.


Posted by: ToolGuyd at January 31, 2009 10:49 AM
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