Grex: Our Favorite 23-gauge Pinners
The editors don’t all agree on much here at Popular Woodworking, so when we do, we think it’s worth noting. When it comes to 23-gauge pin nailers, we always reach for the unmistakable bright green nailer from Grex. These nailers are extremely well made pieces of equipment, almost never jam and fire pins that are an astonishing length (2″). Best of all, the pinner leaves little trace that it was there, so there are no nail holes to fill. Above is a video (which was sponsored by Grex) that features the tool that was shot during the International Woodworking Fair. Plus below you will find two articles from past issues of Popular Woodworking that show why this is our favorite line of pinners.
“Tool Test” , April 2007 (Issue #161)
Twenty-three gauge headless pinners have come a long way in recent years, and we were glad to test the new Grex model P645L in the shop. The new edition is an upgrade from the P630 model in a number of ways.
First, there’s the additional range of fastener lengths. Now you can use fasteners in 12 different lengths from 1/2″ to 1-3/4″ in size. This is a 3/8″ increase in the total fastener length from the earlier tool’s top end. Is this something big? If you’re attaching face frames, it might just be great news because of the additional holding power. This was evident in plywood as well.
Next, while Grex has continued using the adjust-free magazine (no need to adjust for each change in fastener size), the double trigger safety and rubber hand grip, there is a new feature in the P645L that I found especially interesting , the lock-out mechanism (shown in the inset photo). If you have ever attached mouldings to your projects only to find that the pinner was emptied sometime during the task, you will appreciate this feature, too. Dry firing will not happen after the number of remaining fasteners drops below six or seven pins. Of course, this feature can be over-ridden if you are about to complete the task.
How does the pinner operate? I shot the 1-3/4″ pins through 4/4 pine and 6/4 red oak without any problems. The pins did move slightly with the grain of the wood, however nothing more than you would expect. The P645L is a bit weightier than the previous model by almost a half-pound but it is still light enough to use for an eight-hour work day.
Unlike many of those in the construction trades, I am not a fan of the belt hook. I cannot see dragging the air hose around the woodworking shop while attaching mouldings. Fear not, I am sure that the feature can be removed if need be.
“Best New Tools of 2005” , December 2005 (Issue #152)
In the interest of full disclosure, know this: We’re fools for 23-gauge headless pinners. There’s no better pneumatic tool for attaching delicate mouldings without worrying about splitting the work.
The only limitation we’ve encountered with these fine air guns is that they generally only fire pins up to 1″ in length. That does get you most of the way there, but more often than not, we want a 1-3/8″ pin for attaching 3/4″- or 7/8″-thick moulding. Our prayers to the pneumatic goddess were answered this year with the Grex P635 headless pinner.
This tool goes to 1-3/8″ (1-1/8″ and 1-3/8″ pins are available from suppliers). If that’s all the tool did, we’d be happy. But the Grex goes a step further; it’s a well-designed gun.
The fit and finish is excellent, for starters. It also exhausts out the rear and has a silencer. The safety on the gun is both safe and convenient. And the magazine for loading the pins is thoughtfully designed: A small metal clip keeps the pins from falling out of the magazine when you open it up, and the magazine automatically adjusts for different pin sizes (some pinners require you to reconfigure the magazine when you change to a different length). Plus, the tool’s shape and size allow you to get in tight spaces under mouldings. It’s pricey ($199) but we’re completely sold.