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Hello, I've done searches on this subject and read so many posts on the subject of hive box assembly that my head is spinning. I've been using the hammer and 7d nail system up to now because it seems like all the hive bodies I've been buying from Brushy Mountain come with pre-drilled holes and nails. I have 12 hives right now but plan on continuing to expand over the next few years and will probably top out around 100. Home Depot was recently running a sale on a Ryobi battery powered 16 GA cordless straight Finish Nailer that could shoot up to 2.5 inch nails so I bought that for hive body assembly (I use Titebond II glue in addition to nailing). Here is the Ryobi I had bought for $179:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ryobi-18...raight-Finish-Nailer-Tool-Only-P325/204667878

Well, then I got to thinking, 16 gauge nails are pretty thin compared to the 7d nails, and the hive bodies I've been getting from Brushy Mountain are pre-drilled holes for 7d nails. I questioned whether the 16 gauge, 2 1/2 inch nails the Ryobi shot would do the job so I returned it. A lot of what I read is that the nails are simply holding the pieces together until the glue dries and secures the joints. This leads me to believe the 16 gauge, 2 1/2 inch nails would do the job but I'm just not sure. NOTE: I also stain my boxes and then apply fiberglass resin on the exterior.

After returning the Ryobi Finish Nailer I went to Harbor Freight and bought a 21 gallon compressor ($154) and an air powered framing nailer ($99). Now I'm sitting here with these items still in their boxes trying to figure out if this was the right move. I just read a post saying that the nails will split pine if you don't pre-drill holes and I don't want to do any predrilling. I'm hoping I can get boxes from Brushy Mountain that don't come with nails or pre-drilled holes. And, if I do continue with pre-drilled hole boxes, can I even line the framing nailer gun up to the holes good enough to shoot the nails through them? I do currently use a harbor freight air powered staple gun (narrow crown 1 inch staples) for my frames and it works great with the old 3 gallon compressor I already have. I can't really test the framing nailer gun and compressor because once it's out of the box I know there will be a re-stocking fees / who knows what else....or if I can even return it.

Then, today I see this Ryobi tool ($229). A 15 gauge finish nailer that can shoot 2 1/2 inch nails. A little thicker nail, but still, is it "enough".

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ryobi-18...Angled-Finish-Nailer-Tool-Only-P330/205792768

Now I'm leaning back towards the 15 gauge finish nailer because I think I would really like the convenience of the battery power. I don't really have a lot of uses for the 21 gallon Harbor Freight air compressor other than blowing out my sprinkler system, so I'm really buying it just for the Harbor Freight framing nailer. If the Ryobi battery powered nailers will do a good job I'd rather buy that (15 gauge or 16 gauge)...not sure if 1 "gauge" is a big difference. Please offer your opinions on which direction you would go. Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it.

Mike
 

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Welcome to Beesource!

My suggestion is to return the 21 gallon compressor and framing nailer. The framing nails are likely to be thick enough to encourage splitting of the wood fingers. I think you will find its very difficult to repeatedly get the nailer nails in the predrilled holes.

A narrow or medium crown stapler, used with your existing 3 gallon compressor, is what I would use. My 1/4" narrow crown stapler came from Grizzly Tools, but HF also sells those - here one: http://www.harborfreight.com/18-gauge-14-in-crown-air-stapler-68018.html I think 1 1/2" staples, plus TB glue will produce fine boxes, and in an efficient manner.

Battery powered tools are convenient, but I got tired of buying replacement batteries. I am shifting back to (mostly) corded and pneumatic tools. Battery/electric powered staplers and nailers lack the power to deal with tough boards, IMO. I think using the power of pneumatic nailers/staplers are worth the minor hassles with the air hose.
 

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I'm using a Porter Cable 16 ga air powered finish nailer to assemble my boxes (rabbeted ends) , and an 18 ga for the frames . Your 3 gallon compressor should be fine for this - I have no experience with the electric nailers . If your boxes come with pre-drilled nail holes , just set the nail gun offset a bit so you miss the hole . As you said , the nails are just clamps to hold everything together while the glue dries .
BTW , I also have a framing nailer , but it's just way overkill for building hive bodies .
 

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It is impossible to nail into predrilled holes with a framing gun. I think that tool should go back.
A stapler works great for boxes and frames, and staples have a little more holding power than finish nails.
 

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I can pound them in by hand pretty quick. Box assembly by hand is no time compared to frame assembly without an air stapler. My dad came over the other day and we each nailed two sides of some supers. That's quick assembly. I have a 5-gallon compressor that barely runs when doing staples on frames and that's 6 staples per frame x 10 frames per cycle and the cycle is only a couple minutes long. So I don't think the monster air compressor is a must unless you're doing other things than building bee equipment small scale.
 

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Like Graham, I use a air power crown stapler with 1½" staples. It has never split the wood and it holds everything secure while the glue dries.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'll keep following the thread for other responses but thank you so much for the information so far. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me with this decision I've been struggling with. I'm now leaning toward the 15 gauge anged battery powered Ryobi finish nailer. My box assembly setup includes 4 Jet bar clamps and it's difficult to hammer around those with the clamps set out so close to the edges. The Ryobi battery powered nailers get good reviews and I could actually use some of the other battery powered tools they offer (circlular saw, saw-zall, drill) for my light duty stuff around the house.
 

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I'll keep following the thread for other responses but thank you so much for the information so far. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me with this decision I've been struggling with. I'm now leaning toward the 15 gauge anged battery powered Ryobi finish nailer. My box assembly setup includes 4 Jet bar clamps and it's difficult to hammer around those with the clamps set out so close to the edges. The Ryobi battery powered nailers get good reviews and I could actually use some of the other battery powered tools they offer (circlular saw, saw-zall, drill) for my light duty stuff around the house.
Complicated. :)

I glue and nail, throw the square on two sides, smack them square if needed (which is rarely), and call it good.

How much battery life do you get out of a battery powered nailer, I wonder?
 

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"Please offer your opinions on which direction you would go."

I use a pneumatic staple gun with 18 gauge, 1/4" x 1 1/2" long, staples with Titebond III glue for boxes and 1 1/4" long staples and glue for frames. Lately, I've been using 1 1/4" staples with extra staples for the boxes also. My boxes are all eight frame medium depth with nominal 1" thick (actual 3/4") cedar wood. I have had no problems.
 

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I use a nailer and Titebond III when assembling hive boxes; IMHO, the glue is strongest "mechanical fastener" and the nails are only needed to keep the joints in place until the glue sets.
 

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I used a Bostitch coil siding nailer with 2" nails. They're thinner than a framing nail, but have a bigger head than a finish nail. I also experimented with my last 10 boxes using my narrow crown stapler with 2.5" staples, everything glued using TB III. Longevity is still unknown, but after the glue set I couldn't tell any strength difference between the stapled box vs the nailed box when trying to break them. I did have a "control" unglued box that broke fairly easily, as mentioned above probably because its the glue providing the strength to the joint. I think the next batch of boxes I build I will be just using the staple gun as it is MUCH easier and faster to use. Its easy to overshoot a nail and have it pop out the side if you're not angled just right. Note: I make my own boxes from dimensional lumber using rabbet joints.
 
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