Review: DeWalt DCN 890 concrete nailer

Review: DeWalt DCN 890 concrete nailer

Does the new DeWalt DCN 890 battery-powered nailer drive as well with no gas in the tank? Roger Bisby investigates

Over the years I have owned a Ramset powder actuated concrete nailer and several gas nailers all of which do the job well but there is the obvious drawback of needing to buy fuel or gunpowder. A machine powered entirely by battery has some obvious advantages but is it up to the job of firing fixings into concrete and steel?

DeWalt has been developing gas-free nailers for many years and this new 18 volt battery-powered tool, with a brushless motor, is another stage in that evolution. The primary use for this tool is to fix metal drywall track into concrete floors or ceilings as well as a range of other clips and fixings for plumbing and electrical services.

The maximum length of the fixing is 56mm. The extra-long fixings are, however a bit of a mixed blessing because it has led to people thinking they can fix 50mm timber sole plates for stud walls into a concrete floor simply by over driving the nails.

This is not what the machine was designed to do and driving through timber that thick into a hard host material is not likely to be successful because the head will still be sticking out and the penetration into the host will be negligible. In essence, you are asking the tool to do the hardest part last. Fixing a batten half that width is fine however and I would drive those into steel and concrete all day long.

The key to longer runtime from a battery is to not use more power than necessary so the tool has three selectable power settings so you can optimise the tool for the job. If you are firing short fixings, for example, using the lowest setting will ensure that the pin is not being overdriven. You also have the choice of single or rapid bump fire. Bump is ideal for fixing track but if you are fixing cable clips or washers then the single fire is required for precision.

There is a selection of different noses, one with a magnetic tip for picking up clips and washers, and a long nose for getting down inside the track.

In use I found it didn’t struggle in concrete or steel provided you set it right and used the right pins. There is a choice of super-hardened nails or slightly more malleable nails which help achieve a very low failure rate.

By failure I mean pull out, which can be as much to do with variations in the concrete as anything else. If for example you hit a piece of flint the fixing will not be as good as it is in finer aggregate. The pins are sintered into the concrete by the friction heat as they enter and if you have ever tried to pull one out you will find that it often takes a chunk of concrete with it.

Unlike their framing nailer there is very little recoil on this tool but on longer fixings I would still place my hand on the top to minimise it. Compared to a gas nailer this is a little on the heavy side but not dramatically so.

Working above my head for more than ten minutes at a time is a challenge but they make an extension pole so you can work from the ground. Personally I would get my lad to do it, he needs building up.

One word of warning, never, but never lubricate the drive pin. These tools rely on friction and the first one I ever tried had a smear of oil on the drive pin which made it next to useless.

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