Troubleshooting the Craftsman 18 Gauge Brad Nailer: When It Just Won't Fire

In the world of construction and woodworking, a reliable nail gun is like a trusty sidekick for contractors and DIY enthusiasts. Craftsman, known for producing quality tools, offers the Craftsman 18 Gauge Brad Nailer—a tool that usually performs flawlessly. However, even the best tools can run into issues. In this article, we’ll explore what to do when your Craftsman 18 Gauge Brad Nailer won’t fire. We’ll cover common problems, troubleshooting steps, and some tips to keep your nailer in top working condition.

The Basics of the Craftsman 18 Gauge Brad Nailer

Before diving into troubleshooting, let’s get acquainted with the Craftsman 18 Gauge Brad Nailer and understand its key features:

  • Power Source: Typically, Craftsman nailers are pneumatic, relying on compressed air to drive nails. It’s essential to ensure you have a compatible air compressor to power the nailer.

  • Brad Nail Size: This particular nailer is designed for 18-gauge brad nails, which are commonly used for trim work, molding, and other finishing applications.

  • Magazine Capacity: It usually has a magazine capacity of 100 brad nails, reducing the need for frequent reloads.

  • Depth Adjustment: Most models come with a depth adjustment feature, allowing you to control the nail’s depth, ensuring precision in various applications.

Troubleshooting the "Won’t Fire" Issue

1. Inspect the Air Supply

The primary culprit for a nailer not firing is often the air supply. Here’s what to check:

  • Air Compressor: Ensure that your air compressor is functioning correctly and that it’s delivering adequate pressure (usually around 70-120 PSI). Low air pressure can cause the nailer to misfire.

  • Hose and Connections: Examine the air hose for any leaks, kinks, or blockages. Make sure all connections are secure.

2. Nail Jam

A common issue is a nail jam within the magazine. To resolve this:

  • Disconnect the air supply and remove any nails from the magazine.

  • Open the nailer’s magazine and check for any jammed nails or debris.

  • Clear any obstructions, and ensure the nails are properly loaded.

3. Depth Adjustment

If the nailer isn’t firing correctly, it might be due to improper depth adjustment. Follow these steps:

  • Experiment with the depth adjustment setting. If it’s too shallow, the nails may not penetrate the material properly.

  • Gradually increase the depth setting until you achieve the desired nail depth.

4. Trigger Mechanism

Check the trigger mechanism for any issues:

  • Inspect the trigger for any damage or obstruction. Make sure it moves freely.

  • If the trigger is sticking, disassemble it and clean any debris or residue.

5. Maintenance

Regular maintenance is crucial to keep your nailer in optimal condition:

  • Lubricate the nailer according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Proper lubrication ensures smooth operation.

  • Clean the nailer’s exhaust vents and cooling fins, as dirt and dust can affect performance.

  • Inspect the driver blade for any damage or wear. Replace it if necessary.

6. O-ring Inspection

Air tools, including nailers, often use O-rings. These can degrade over time, leading to air leaks and malfunction:

  • Inspect the O-rings for visible damage or wear. Replace any damaged O-rings with compatible replacements.

7. Safety Measures

Always observe safety precautions while troubleshooting or using the nailer. Ensure the nailer is disconnected from the air supply during inspection and maintenance.


The Craftsman 18 Gauge Brad Nailer is a versatile and reliable tool, but like any equipment, it may encounter issues from time to time. By following these troubleshooting steps and conducting regular maintenance, you can ensure that your nailer fires consistently and accurately. Remember to consult the manufacturer’s instructions and seek professional assistance if necessary to address complex issues. With the right care and attention, your Craftsman nailer will continue to serve you well in your construction and woodworking endeavors.

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