A few months ago, we talked about our positive first impressions of Campbell Hausfeld’s new finish nailer, which is part of a new line of Campbell Hausfeld nailers choc-full of features and designed to provide great results while being easy to use.
It took us a little longer than we anticipated, but we now have enough experience with Campbell Hausfeld’s CHN706 angled finish nailer to offer a more detailed review and evaluation.
To cut to the chase, we were fairly impressed with the finish nailer for what it is, a feature-packed consumer level tool. CH deserves two thumbs up for a job well done as the nailer exceeded all of our expectations – and that’s no easy task.
Keep reading for the full review, or skip ahead to the verdict.
For the sake of brevity, we won’t go into why we disliked the box’s peekaboo window. But we will say that the nailer arrived clean, intact, and with plenty of documentation.
The following was enclosed in the box: the nailer, a rather durable-feeling space-saving bag, a “hardboard nail clip”, a starter nail clip, batteries, hex wrench, registration card, and documentation.
First Things First, the Included Nailer Bag
We were quite surprised by the quality of the included tool bag as it looked and felt solid enough for both carrying and storing the nailer, not an easy task for soft tool bags. There is no padding or cushioning, but the bag’s fabric feels very thick and rugged.
Inside the bag’s main zippered compartment is a smaller zippered pocket and a row of looped pen holders. On the outside is another small pocket covered by a velcro pocket. The bag also comes with two corner protectors that you place inside the bag to prevent damage from the nailer and to also provide additional support.
Inside the outer pocket we found two AAA batteries (used for the stud finder and laser) and a hex key. Over the course of our lengthy evaluation period, we noticed a few online complaints that there were no batteries included with the nailer. Well, they’re there…
First Impressions of the Finish Nailer
To recap, our first impression of the nailer was extremely positive. The nailer has a very solid and sturdy feel to it, and was relatively comfortable to hold. The handle had a no-slip rubber grip that was very comfortable to grasp, and was much grippier than we had expected.
Although the nailer’s unconventional features such as the stud finder and laser are the most noticeable, there are a few subtle conventional features that we appreciated, such as the air inlet swivel plug. All air tools should have swivel fittings! That’s not to say that the swivel fitting was top-quality, as it was a bit stiff and no amount of working it back and forth would loosen it up, but a stiff swivel is still much more desirable than no swivel at all.
To be honest, we did not have high expectations for this nailer. Whenever we hear “pro results,” “like a pro,” or similar terminology, we roll our eyes and wonder what the catch is. However, to our pleasant surprise, the nailer performed reasonably well.
We did not get the feeling that this nailer would hold up to constant daily professional use, but it performed leaps and bounds better than bottom-shelf paperweights that some companies market as consumer or homeowner level nailers.
The nailer had no trouble driving 2 1/2” and smaller finish nails flush into studs without any hiccups, and with high repeatability. There was some recoil, but no more than the other angled finish nailers that I’ve used in the past.
It is recommended that a compressor capable of 70-120 psi and at least one gallon compressor be used to power the nailer. In other words, most consumer compressors, or at least those not intended as inflators, should be able to power this nailer.
As mentioned, this nailer is choc-full of features, including several unconventional ones.
At the rear of the tool near the adjustable exhaust port is a little bubble level. While the adjustable exhaust may come in handy at times, the bubble level was very small, somewhat hard to read, and easily forgettable.
Loading nail clips into the magazine is straightforward and simple. At the top of the magazine is a quick-clear mechanism that allows for quick and easy clearing of nail jams. We were satisfied to find these claims of quick and easy clearing to be true, at least for the rare jams we encountered.
Right above the trigger is a three position switch which allows the nailer to be set in sequential (single nail) mode, “bump” mode, and “safety” mode. The safety mode is convenient, but to be honest, disconnecting the airline is much more reliable safety measure.
The non-marring tip looks and feels very durable, and is tethered to the nail via the stud finder’s wiring. The tip does not seem to be easy wearing, and we highly doubt that a DIYer could ever use the nailer enough to require a replacement tip.
There’s not much to be said about the nail-depth adjustment other than to convey it worked as expected.
To prevent damage to the work surface, the nailer will not dry-fire, and there are low-nail warning LEDs.
We initially scoffed at the idea of an embedded stud finder. But by golly, it really works, and it works well. The stud finder was spot-on each and every time. The tool’s stud finder is still subject to the same over-stud calibration errors as standalone stud finders, but that’s unavoidable. The calibration and use of the stud finder is well documented in the nailer’s manual.
Although the stud finder works really well, we still have mixed feelings about using it. The placement of the stud finder’s activation button is a bit inconvenient, and something that we couldn’t really get comfortable with. The button is located opposite the trigger, making it somewhat awkward to press.
We simply could not find a way to push that button that did not disturb our grip and the balance of the tool. The best way to push that button is with the nail or tip of the trigger-finger, but that just didn’t feel right. Because of this, we used the stud finder no more than actually needed, which was infrequent since we typically marked off nail locations ahead of time.
Still, it’s better to have the stud finder and not need it, than to need it and not have it, even if its power button is somewhat awkward to press.
When using the stud finder, a green LED will light when the unit is calibrated and ready to go. Once a stud is detected, a red LED lights up, and an alert speaker buzzes away. There are LEDs on both sides of the tool, making the nailer righty and lefty friendly.
Next up for scrutiny is the laser. Yes, this is the first nailer (that we know about) that comes with a built in laser. What can we say about the laser? Well… it works, but it’s not terribly accurate.
We followed the manual’s instructions and set the nail depth control to is maximum setting, but even then the laser wasn’t dead-on. We finally found that the laser is most accurate once the nailer is moved about a centimeter away from the target surface. We can live with this.
Documention – Detailed and Helpful
To start off, there is a “hardboard nail clip” – a piece of cardstock with a photo of a nail clip on one side, and helpful guidelines on the back. This card can be brought with you when you go shopping for fasteners, and reminds you to get 35° 15 gauge nails 1 – 2 1/2” in length.
In addition to the product manual and “easy setup guide”, there were two loose instruction sheets that we expect will be added to future printings of the full manual. One of these sheets described how to attach the corner supports inside the bag, and the other described the tool’s battery-changing process.
We really appreciated the care with which the product manual was written. The representative diagrams are exceptionally clear and easy to read. In all seriousness, this is one of the better manuals that we’ve ever seen.
An “easy setup guide” is also included, but we didn’t care for it, although it was clear and concise. There’s something about how “Like a Pro” was written three times that we didn’t appreciate.
We similarly were not fond of the phrase “Getting to Know Your Angle Finish Nailer Like a Pro” that can be found in the full manual.
There was a noticeable absence of safety precautions in the “easy setup guide,” but thankfully there is no such shortage in the full manual. We found this to be acceptable because there is a rather ingenious spring-loaded double-sided warning that can be pulled out from the tool itself. Printed on the warning scroll are safety guidelines for the both the nailer and laser, as well as contact information for Campbell Hausfeld.
“Like a Pro”
This nailer does not have all of the bells and whistles of a “pro” nailer, but it does have the chimes and lasers that a DIYer will find handy.
As far as we can tell, there are three main distinctions between the Campbell Hausfeld CHN706 angle finish nailer and a “pro” nailer.
First, the non-marring tip on this nailer cannot be (easily?) replaced. Judging from the good quality of the tip material, this is not something to worry about as long as the tool is not used in a professional setting.
Second, this nailer is maintenance-free. While we definitely enjoy this convenience, we wonder how the durability and longevity of the tool compares to that of pro nailers that are oiled and maintained regularly.
Lastly, although the tool has great balance and a great feel to it, it is slightly heavier than magnesium and aluminum bodied finish nailers. While this might not make much of a difference to a home owner or casual DIYer, it will most certainly make a difference to a contractor after several long hours of work.
Overall, we’re quite pleased with how well the nailer satisfies its claims at being a DIY/comsumer level nailer that can be used to achieve pro results. Jammings were rare, the tool was relatively comfortable to use, and it drove nails consistently and with high repeatability.
Pros: The nailer provides high quality and consistent results, has several useful new features, as is very easy to use.
Cons: Our only gripes are that the nailer came with so few starter nails, and that cheap safety glasses or goggles were not included. Most buyers would appreciate these accessories, especially with this being a DIY/beginner level nailer.
Summary: The Campbell Hausfeld CHN706 angle finish nailer definitely impressed us despite being designed as a DIY-level tool. Using this mid-level nailer was a good experience, and we feel comfortable recommending it to beginners and casual DIYers.
Campbell Hausfeld’s angle finish nailer is available for a reasonable $150.
Note: the nailer featured in this review was provided by Campbell Hausfeld, and will be donated to a charitable organization at the conclusion of the review.