23 gauge pinnerPart of being a woodworker is being able to fix, adjust, sharpen and re-utilize. All of these take a certain amount of talent, a little of common sense and a whole lot of self confidence. When ever I find my self embarking on some new repair or method, I always tell myself that whatever I do wrong, it can all get fixed.
And so it was when my inexpensive 23 gauge air pinner died on the first nail on a recent project. The pin jambed in the pinner as it entered the wood and hand to be pulled free. As luck would have it, I have an 18 gauge pinner that finished the job, but that still left me with a broken 23 gauge pinner and the one I seem to use the most because is uses very small, headless pins that once driven into many woods, the nail and hole virtually disappear so it's perfect for temporarily holding pieces together while glue dries and you often don't even need to worry about filling the tiny holes.

Upon putting the pinner back in it's plastic case I noticed there was a spare piston that I had long since forgotten about. There was even 2 Allen Wrenches just the size that fits the pinner, so it looked to me like someone expected this pinner would need to have it's pin-driving-plunger replaced at some point in time. Nice of them to add this component as part of the purchase.

The first thing I did was to remove the bottom cover plate over the plunger. I have had some pins stick in here before and usually just taking the cover off releases them and the pinner works fine again. But not this time, the plunger is firmly jambed in the down position.
Since I know that the plunger needs to be inserted from the top air piston housing, so I first removed the 4 cap screws from the top, part of it came off the top, but it still did not give me access to where the piston needs to be inserted. As it turns out, I just needed to be a bit more persisten in taking off the sealed top. I also had to remove another cross brace piece from above the plate where the piston rises up and down. Once I did this, the piston was still stuck. As I did some tapping with a rubber hammer the piston came free and just what I suspected, it was jambed in the piston raceway with a partially bent pin.

After removing the bent pin, and the old piston, I could see that the piston had been pretty well used and had enough wear in certain parts, that jambing problem would like re-occur if I put the old piston back in and since I had a new one, I replaced it.

I made sure that the new piston was clean and I oiled well so that it slid up and down smoothly and inserted in place of the old. Once the new piston was in, I resealed the top, put on the bottom piston brace and the piston cap and basically just put it together the way I had taken it apart, making sure to tighten all the cap screws well so there would be good seals and firm support ... easy peasy

Next came the moment of truth, I connected the pinner to the air compresser, having previously inserted some small pins, and pulled the trigger. It drove pins in perfectly. I took the shorter pins out and replaced them with longer one ... they worked perfectly as well. Whew ... another job done. I have fixed my 23 gauge pinner.  It's always a relief to me when I take things apart, repair them and put them back together and find they work.

I'm not sure that I would recommend repairs on all air nailers ... first of all you need to have the correct parts and they need to be installed correctly, otherwise you may be creating some sort of a hazzard as many of these air nailers require serious amouns of air pressure to operate and you will want to make sure they operate safely. In my case I really didn't know what was wrong, but I did have a good idea, and I had one spare part that I coudl replace, and lucky for me it worked. Next time I might not be so lucky, but next time I will be even more prepared because I now have, at least some ... experience.

Finding parts for any of your equipment can be a challenge. There are often local service companies who have access or even inventory of a few parts for some tools, but sometimes these businesses are reluctant to sell their parts because it is cutting into their livelyhood, so it is understandable why some either will not sell parts, or they charge silly prices for them. One organization that does supply a good variety of parts, and you can check them out online ... http://www.ereplacementparts.com/  I personally do not have any experience with them but others have had good service, so it is one source you may want to consider.

Copyright Colin Knecht