back to article US nailguns itself towards extinction

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has demanded that more be done to make DIYers aware of the dangers of nail guns following a massive rise in injuries provoked by the tools. Indeed, the CDC says that since 1991, nail gun-inflicted injuries have risen by 200 per cent, averaging 37,000 victims a year between 2001- …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry for sounding ignorant but...

    Are they saying that DIY is a disease?

  2. Simon Painter

    Yay for Darwin

    This is like the whole motorbike helmet thing... surely anyone stupid enough to fuck with a nailgun or hang about while some fat caffeinated vest wearing pool or bad DNA fucks with a nailgun should expect to be culled from the gene pool.

  3. Rob Holmes


    I dont think so. Possibly that being stupid enough to shoot yourself with a machine you're only meant to used when its pressed firmly against the surface you are nailing is disease-worthy.

    Most nailguns wont even fire unless firmly pressed against a solid surface. How do you "accidentally" shoot yourself with one?

  4. Lee Staniforth


    Not DIY itself, but nailguns - they're the disease(!)

  5. Steven Bentley

    Fun and educational.

    DIY a disease, was there ever a doubt in your mind?

    Education is required to tell people nail guns are dangerous? a few games of Quake would seem to cover this.

  6. Sumesh


    Nail guns don't nail people, people nail people (albeit really stupid ones).

  7. Nev Silver badge

    nailguns don't kill people...

    ... people kill people!

    umm, I'll get me coat.

  8. Liam


    natural selection at its best! how many make it into the darwin awards?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Natural Selection... its best, in my opinion. Hopefully this type of thing can only speed up the extinction of this particular breed of the human race.

  10. Dan

    Never underestimate the lengths stupid people will go to

    Mr. Holmes is basically correct, a proper nailgun has a catch on the front that has to be pressed against a solid surface before one can pull the trigger to fire a nail. However, in the two years or so when I built theater sets, I've seen and heard of many people endangering themselves and others through stupidity.

    Some nailguns will let you pull the trigger back even when the gun is not pressed against a surface- and if the trigger is back the gun will fire whenever the tip presses against something. This is popular with some contractors because you just hold down the trigger and tap the front of the gun against whatever you need to nail, over and over again. Its fast, but dangerous- one stumble on the job, and the tip of the gun hits a human body instead of the intended target.

    Its also not hard to imagine how a technically skilled (but otherwise stupid) person could jam or modify the catch on the front so the nailgun will fire any time the trigger is pulled.

    Finally, I once saw a kid with a nailgun horsing around and pointing it at his co-worker like he was going to shoot him. It doesn't matter that its not connected to the compressor, it doesn't matter that it has a safety, it doesn't matter that there are no nails in it.

    I don't think its a DIY problem, I think its a lack of sense problem. Read the user guide, know your equipment, and know your limitations, and no one gets hurt.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accident or just daft?

    Many (most... all... ?) newer nail guns have a safety interlock which disconnects the trigger after each nail. This feature prohibits using the bump method of nailing where the trigger is held back and the tool fires a nail each time it is "bumped" along the part to be secured.

    Unfortunately for those careless DIYers that use the bump method, either by model or modification, the nail gun doesn't know, or care, what it has bumped into. Mind you, I have seen people go the the extreme of tying a string around safeties or triggers so the job would go "quicker." Yes, some of the people I have worked with in the past were a little... off.

  12. Marc

    Re: Rob H.

    At least with the industrial guns I've used, there are only two 'safety' devices that are needed to fire the guns... 1, being that the trigger is pulled, and 2 being that the nose of the gun is pressed against a surface hard enough to cock back the safety mechanism that's mounted there... No surprises here.

    What's odd is that there is no sequence to that. You can hold the gun up in the air, pull the trigger, and nothing happens. Hold the trigger down and press the nose of the gun against something, and it fires.

    From my experience, when doing tedious things like sub-floors or roofing (tar shingles), it's common practice to hold the trigger and bop the nose of the gun every place you want a nail. It's definitely fast, and definitely an easy way to hurt yourself.

  13. Andrew Bright


    that they're only talking about idiots who use these things at home - the number of work place incidents has actually remained steady since 1998.

    I love this country, always have since I moved here from England 8 years ago.

    Why? Because the people here are lemmings.. not muppets.. lemmings.

    It's frighteningly true how stupid Americans are.

    Basically it's because of High School - which are mostly very good by the way, if you take away the guns.

    Anyone who knows stuff, reads, can add up, etc is generally regarded as a nerd. This means they're ostricated from society, and first in line to be investigated anytime something very nasty happens.

    Given this environment of suspicion and hatred towards anyone who shows the slightest aptitude with computing skills, mathematics or science in general, is it surprising how hard the average American kid tries to appear to be very, very, stupid?

    My theory is they try so hard and for so long it becomes second nature.

    It's also my theory that this is the reason they have so many red light runners in the US. They aren't deliberately running red lights, they're just too stupid to have the reaction time necessary to stop.

    Doesn't mean I don't love them, not unlike my puppy, who's also stupid, but very cute and lovable.

    No mostly Americans are just morons, with the odd exception of the particularly brave person that sticks with being knowledgeable and is able to trick the rest of America into giving them tax free grants to do studies on the gayness of squirrels and sheep - or a billion dollars to create a website about whatever the person thinks is a good idea that day, hence Silicon Valley.

    But stupidity alone should be no hinderence to owning either firearms or a nail gun. Both are requisite possessions for the "look at me, I'm a real man with a gun and a tool belt and a pickup and a hound dog" American.

  14. Dick

    Hair trigger

    "Most nailguns wont even fire unless firmly pressed against a solid surface. How do you "accidentally" shoot yourself with one?"

    Not true unless something has changed since I bought my last framing nailer (shoots a hefty 3 1/2" nail) in the U.S. a couple of years ago. As supplied they have a "contact trigger" meaning you can hold the trigger and then it will fire a nail each time anything touches the business end. If you want a safety trigger, which needs a sequence of first contacting the surface and then pulling the trigger to fire each nail, you have to order it, wait for it to arrive, then install it yourself.

    Framing nailers are very powerful, imagine banging a large 3 1/2" nail in with a single stroke and with power to spare. Even so I doubt many accidents are direct nailings. Most newbies underestimate the wrist strength needed to handle the recoil, so the first nail fires into the wood, then the gun bounces one or more times and, without a safety trigger installed, it fires more nails which fly off in all directions. If the nail hits another nail in the wood it can be deflected anywhere, if the wood splits or is too weak the nail will fly straight through. Not a tool to be taken lightly...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yup, definately natural selection

    I actually witnessed just such an event and the most ironic thing about it was that it involved my former boss, who is quite a brilliant individual. His wife demanded that he build a deck behind their house and I stopped by one of the weekends he was working on it... Needless to say, there were copious amounts of alcohol involved (I don't drink so I was just there as an observer and comic relief).

    The damn fool nailed his hand to one of the big planks and sadly all I could do was laugh, as he clearly wasn't in the condition to be operating such a device nor was he paying attention...

    After he got back from the hospital I very gently explained to both he and his wife that it would probably be in the best interest of society that they don't procreate...

  16. Peter Simpson

    I'd like to think...

    ...we're *improving* the gene pool, rather than "nailgunning our way to extinction". I guess it's a "glass half full" viewpoint.

    Anyway, here's to "commonly available pneumatic nailers" from China! (Harbor Freight's where I got mine)

  17. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    To assume this sort of thing is limited to the US...

    ... is, I think, rather parochial. The only reason we here aren't having the same sort of problem is because nailguns are only just edging their way in to the market in any real way. My dad, who I used to work with, started using nailguns about a year ago. He has 5 now for various purposes. Four are gas-fired, one - capable of shooting a 6 inch nail through a steel beam and in to a stone wall - is cap fired. He is a rather progressive operator in this regard as few other small traders and contractors use them yet, and they are almost completely absent from the DIY market.

    Give it a few years, we'll have people nailing each other to the ceiling before you know it.

    I have to confess, I've wiled away a good few hours thinking about the best way to convert the gas fired guns in to semi-automatic weapons. The scary thing is, it could actually be done... Quake made real. It's a scary thought.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just nails

    It's not just the projectiles that cause injury, but also the shrapnel.

    My father, many years ago, was using a staple gun to mount wood veneer panelling. Staple went in, splinter peeled off the veneer and projected into his eye. Very nearly lost the eye completely.

    Yes, safety glasses. But he was being careful, and it could have been his ear or wrist just as easily.

  19. Dan

    Stupidity is universal.

    Does the American System inherently encourage the kind of dumbness that causes nailgun accidents? Probably, but I've seen and heard of people doing plenty of equivalently stupid things in the UK... like a British biology PhD student slicing his hand open with the folding knife I brought with me from the USA on a trip. He was holding it too gingerly and fumbled it because he was scared it was going to bite him or something, not having had any experience working with knives or tools growing up apparently.

    Really, I wish someone would explain to kids in school that every time they get hurt by not reading the manual or asking for help with something, an angel falls from heaven and burns up in the atmosphere. And causes global warming.

    P.S. I'm not going to get a letter from the British Government asking me to pay a fine now that I've admitted to bringing a savage, deadly pocketknife into their peaceful country, right?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just Americans?

    Seriously, do you think that this just affects Americans? There are no stupid people in the UK? Or do they just not sell power tools there? I'm Canadian, and I'm used to people making fun of us and we all know how the UK likes to think of themselves as superior to Americans but come on, the article was about some statistics compiled in the US. To assume that this means that this only happens in the country in question is a little bit naive. Man, I wish I was a rich English IT guy who could afford to have everything done by professionals so that I didn't have to risk the hazards of slashed fingers and electrocution while changing a light bulb.

  21. John Stirling

    professionals - HAH!

    I think you'll find that the professional builders here in the UK do not perhaps have the best reputation in the world for intelligence, honesty, craftsmanship, or indeed any other virtue.

    Actually I can think of a couple of builders I have employed who I would happily nailgun to the vastly expensive and not very good structures they built for me.

  22. Ian Damage

    Not just the US...

    Its a universal constant..."As soon as you make something idiot-proof, the universe develops a bigger idiot!"

    I used to work for a hire company who hired out nail guns, compressors, chainsaws, grinders, etc etc.

    The amount that came back damaged, or better still, hirers who came back damaged, was unbelievable. Every single time they claimed they werent shown how to use the tool correctly, and promised to sue.

    Right up until we show them the part of the paperwork, which they signed, stating they had been shown the correct procedure on its use.

    We had a motto. "Whoever took one of our tools out the gate, was a f*ckwit. Whoever came back with the tool and themselves in one piece, was a tradesman."

  23. Ishkandar

    A better use of a good tool

    Many years ago a bunch of technically competent robbers walked up to a *bullet-proof* plate glass window at a jewelers in London, fired a nailgun at it and made off with several millions in jewelry. Appearantly, the *point* of the nail multiplied the force of impact tremendously and, thus, shattered the *bullet-proof* glass. If I remember rightly, that nailgun was made/marketed by a company called "Hilti". I believe that a scramble ensued amongst the glass manufacturers to produce a *Hilti-proof* glass !!

    So, all are not stupid, who use a nailgun !!

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