Review By Dean Bielanowski  GMC Website - http://www.gmcompany.com


GMC 18v Magnesium Strike Allnailer

Review
By Dean Bielanowski

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Please note: Since this review was published, Global Machinery Company (GMC) has gone into receivership and is no longer operating. As such, spare parts or technical support cannot be obtained directly through them. Their website at www.gmcompany.com appears to still be available online and offers some product information and manuals but contacting them will receive no reply. Note that OnlineToolReviews.com does not work for GMC, nor do we offer any support or spare parts for their products.

So you have a nail to drive... what are your options? Naturally, the first that probably comes to mind is the trusty old hammer (in its many variations). Next on the list is probably the pneumatic nail gun (and its many variations). But what comes after that? Suddenly the options become extremely limited.

Well, Global Machinery Company (GMC) is attempting to add yet another nail driving tool variant to the list of possibilities with their new Magnesium Allnailer tool. It promises to offer all the ease of a power tool but without the restriction of expensive or hard to find nails for pneumatic tools. Plus, it's a world's first in terms of nailer design! Let's see how it works, and whether it does the job it is designed to do well.

GMC Magnesium Allnailer
When I first saw and heard about the Allnailer, I immediately thought... "here we go, another cordless nail gun that is probably not powerful enough to drive anything more than brads into softwoods", like many other cordless nail guns and bradders flooding the market. When one purchases such a tool, they often end up having to buy a pneumatic nail gun and compressor because they discover the cordless nailers are just not up to scratch for most tasks. So what makes the Allnailer different to these other cordless nailers?

Well, to begin with, the Allnailer functions a little differently to most nail guns. Instead of a single, rapid burst of air that is used to thrust a driver on conventional pneumatic nailers, the Allnailer uses somewhat of a continuous hammering action, much like you would experience with an air hammer chisel, or a jackhammer. So the nail is driven in with successive blows rather than one single burst of power. This alone offers benefits over other nail gun types which we will see later. But for now, lets take a look at the features of the Allnailer from the outside.

Packaging and Contents
The Allnailer ships in a plastic molded case. It offers great protection during shipping, and when transporting the tool around. As a result, the tool arrived free of dings, dents or other shipping damage. Inside the case you will find the Allnailer itself, two 18v batteries, and a user manual. Naturally, being a "new" tool in terms of design, every new owner should read the instruction guides. This nailer works differently to pneumatic nailers, and hence, requires different steps and technique to drive nails. The full color product manual will provide all the instruction you will need to operate the tool correctly and safely.

The Power Packs + Charger
The Allnailer ships with two 18v Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) cordless batteries. Each has a 1.5Ah capacity, which is probably average for a reasonably good quality power tool. The batteries connect to the bottom of the Allnailer handle via standard battery clips that are secure, but easy to remove when you need to switch a battery or charge one up. The batteries actually slide onto the bottom of the tool and then click in place to secure them. Naturally, a mains charger is included in the kit for restoring battery charge levels. In the marketing blurb it states the charger is a 1-hour rapid charger. I have been skeptical of these claims with other product reviews in the past because the batteries end up taking anywhere between 2 to 4 hours to charge. The 1 hour charger in this kit however does indeed seem to rate to the one hour mark. I timed the first charge cycle of the batteries and it came in at around 1 hour 15 minutes, but it could have actually finished charging 5 minutes prior to this as I was only really checking it every 5 minutes or so. Bear in mind that charge cycle time will likely decrease with future recharges, likely bringing charge time down to the one hour mark, and in some cases, even less.

The charger itself features 2 LED lights to display charge status. The battery is fully charged when the green ("charge complete") light is illuminated. If the red light is on, the battery is still in the charging cycle. Nothing complicated here, but it works just fine. The battery mounts on the charger at an angle to one side. This is pretty insignificant however. Of course, with two batteries in the kit, you should always have one charged and ready to go. One can be in use while the second is charging. Each battery has a rubber protective coating around the base. I guess it helps protect the edges if you knock it around a bit, or at least protect your work surfaces or benches from casing scratches.

Battery Life
Battery life seems pretty good. While I haven't yet needed the tool for an all-day nailing task, I have managed to use the tool successfully for framing three interior walls from scratch and there was no sign the battery was slowing down. This was about 140 nails worth after I got through it all. It is claimed the Allnailer can drive up to 360  50mm nails into pine according to GMC's own tests. I'd believe that based on my experience and use of the tool. In hardwood however, or if using longer nails (and hence requiring longer tool cycle) the total number of nails that can be driven on a full battery charge is likely to be lower. In my testing, I drove about 60  75mm nails into some dense hardwood and the battery charge indicator feature (which we will see shortly) was showing a little over half a charge remaining, so I guess you could expect about 100-140 nails in dense hardwood on a full charge. Of course, there are a lot of variables to these estimates, including nail length, nail diameter, species of wood, moisture content of wood, and so on, so just use these estimates as rough guides. Your mileage may vary greatly in some cases.

Battery Level Indicator
Just above the installed battery pack on the base of the Allnailer itself is the battery level indicator. With a battery installed, all it takes is a press of the battery indicator button to check the current level of battery charge. There are 3 bright white lights; one that indicates "Low" charge, one for "Medium" and one for "High". If the battery is fully charged, all three lights will illuminate fully. As the charge decreases, the highest charge light dims progressively. As charge further decreases, only the Low and Medium lights illuminate to indicate approximately 50% charge remaining. As charge further decreases, eventually only the "Low" light will remain. Once fully depleted, no lights illuminate and it's time to put the battery back on the charger again. The level indicator is a handy guide to determining battery charge level, particularly if the tool hasn't been used for a period of time (where battery charge can deplete on the shelf). It will avoid downtime waiting for batteries to charge after you discover they are flat just when you need to use them!

Body & Tool Construction
As the product name implies, the Allnailer features magnesium construction. Magnesium seems to be the material of choice for quality power tools these days as it offers excellent strength without the added weight of traditional tool making metals. GMC seems to be leading the charge with magnesium use, as many of their new products now feature this material as part of their build, with only a handful of other tool manufacturers following along. The upper and forward drive section of the tool features the magnesium material, whereas the less-critical and non-impact areas, such as the handle and lower casing is constructed from hardened plastic. The handle also features a rubber overmold for comfort and slip resistance. Despite the lightweight outer materials, the tool still weighs about 2.9kg. This is because most of the inner working components are metal construction, namely the steel piston and drive anvil which do all the "hammering" work.

Controls
The tool features a variable speed trigger which allows the user to control the speed of the hammering/driving action. The nailer has a no-load speed range of 0 - 16,000 min-1 and an actual hammer rate in use between 0 - 5500 bpm. Simply depress the trigger for the hammering speed required. There is a trigger lock slide switch on the tool just above the trigger to help prevent unwanted starting of the tool as well.

Offering variable speed allows you to control the nail driving speed, allowing you to have some control over issues like excessive wood splitting or over-driving of nails, particularly if you want them to remain proud of the surface (for whatever reason).

A better way to control nail depth however is the depth control wheel. It offers 4 depth settings and the user can switch between these by first pressing the knob inward, and then rotating it to the desired setting. Settings are marked 1 through 4 on the adjuster and equate to the following depth of drive;

  • Position 1: Nail head underflush by 1mm
  • Position 2: Nail head level with surface
  • Position 3: Nail head 5mm proud from surface
  • Position 4: Nail head 10mm proud from surface

This adjustment control works well in use and seems to function to specs above no matter what type of wood you are driving a nail into, or the size of the nail itself, unlike pneumatic tools where the nail can often be overdriven or underdriven easily if you haven't done some prior testing on scrap material first. In use I mostly used Position 2 for the majority of tasks - setting nail head level with surface. On rare occasions I had difficulty with Position 1, where I couldn't get the nail to drive under the surface of the material I was nailing into. Not sure why, but occasionally it would not go all the way. May have been the nail head type I was using in those instances (thicker head than standard nails)??

Nail Compatibility
One of the features that makes this product unique in the power nail-driving world is its ability to use a wide range of commonly available nail types. No longer are you restricted to purchasing expensive strip or coil nails that have to be exact fits for your particular nail gun type. The Allnailer can use many types of loose nails you can buy from just about anywhere, and has the capacity to drive nails from 40mm (1 9/16") to 150mm (5 29/32") in length with up to a 10mm diameter nail head! The following table lists common nails and lengths the Allnailer can drive:

NAIL LENGTH
Brad
Round
Serrated
Clout
40mm
(1 9/16”)
No
Yes
No
No
50mm
(1 31/32”)
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
60mm
(2 3/8”)
Yes
Yes
No
No
75mm
(2 15/16”)
No
Yes
Yes
No
100mm
(3 15/16”)
Yes
Yes
No
No
125mm
(4 15/16”)
No
Yes
No
No
150mm
(5 29/32”)
No
Yes
No
No

The range of nail types that can be used is made possible by the Allnailer's Universal Nail Clamp. This fixture on the front of the driving shaft grips the shaft of the nail and places the head of the nail directly in line with the driving anvil. A conveniently-located nail insert trigger located above the main power trigger allows you to open or close these clamping jaws to insert a nail ready to be driven.

So How Does it Work?
Basically, the tool's motor drives an internal piston which compresses air against the the steel driving anvil. The spring-loaded anvil then strikes the nail head, while the nail is gripped by the nail clamp. This action is repeated continuously until the nail is driven to full depth. The Allnailer puts out a bit of vibration as this process is undertaken, but it is "muffled" in comparison to what you might expect from an air chisel, as an example, which seems to have a sharper punch with more recoil. The Allnailer's driving action is a little more sedate and steady with less recoil, but it gets the job done. Soundwise it can be a bit noisy, reaching up to 96 decibels during use. Ear protection is a must, as is eye protection, but this should be common sense. Although I was once told that common sense is far from "common", so use that grey matter and keep yourself safe! Apart from the sound and mandatory eye protection, the Allnailer is not nearly as dangerous as a pneumatic gun. We have all seen those X-ray photos of a framing nail imbedded in someone's skull. Although they seem like fantasy, many of those images are indeed real. It would be pretty much impossible to do similar damage to yourself unintentionally using the Allnailer, as it drives in smaller successive blows, rather than one big powerful bang!

Another advantage of this tool is its accuracy. Unlike a pneumatic nailer where it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint a nail driving location, or angle, the Allnailer allows you to accurately set a nail to be driven, and at an angle of your choosing. Simply start driving the nail in the required location and at the required angle, and hold the tool at that same angle until the nail is fully driven into the material for accurate results.

Being cordless, the tool does not require an air compressor, air hose or electrical cord. This means it can be taken and used pretty much anywhere. There are no limitations to where the tool can be used, except for say, really tight places, where the tool itself cannot fit in the space or gap. I am sure current pneumatic nail gun users could appreciate not having to drag a hose around behind them!

But will the Allnailer replace the pneumatic nail gun? Well, I'd say... yes and no. Where it wont replace the pneumatic nailer is in commercial building and construction work where nailing is a constant ongoing process and fine accuracy is not really a consideration, like when framing a house. The fact is that a pneumatic nailer is indeed much faster than the Allnailer in driving nails (about 3 times as fast per nail), plus the time it takes to load each nail individually. In these cases, that adds up to a lot of time saved if you are shooting hundreds or thousands of nails each day. But this doesn't mean a contractor could not make use of the Allnailer. In fact there is no reason your couldn't frame an entire house with the Allnailer. It would indeed do the job if there was no other option.

Remembering that the Allnailer requires no hoses and can use many nail types, there may be the occasional odd fixing task on the building site where it is quicker and easier to use the Allnailer for small scale tasks, and when the contractor doesn't wish to swing a hammer around in completing those tasks. So, it is a case of choosing the best tool for the job.

The Allnailer is similar in action to a pneumatic palm nailer, but again, you have freedom from hoses and the need for an air compressor and electrical outlet (if using an electrically powered compressor). Additionally, some palm nailers require you to change driving heads to use different types of nails. This is not the case with the Allnailer, so there are some differences between the two.

Does it Do the Job?
Simply put, yes. It successfully drives nails of all types into both softwood and hardwood. Whether it is the best tool for the job at hand will depend on the specifics of that job. For general home handyperson and DIY type tasks, the Allnailer does indeed make the trusty old hammer look obsolete. However, either a pneumatic nail gun or indeed a hammer (if only to use the nail puller to remove nails) would be complimentary tools to use alongside the Allnailer if you want to be able to tackle all types of DIY, home renovation or building tasks.

GMC have created a world first with the Magnesium Allnailer. It is definitely a unique tool and it's good to see a company thinking outside the square and coming up with totally new tools rather than re-hashed products that offer very little in new design or features over their competitors.

The retail price for the Allnailer is AUD$199 in Australia and US$129.99 in the USA. It is not a bad price considering the amount of research and development that goes into new products. And if you are not fond of hammer and nail efforts, then the Strike Allnailer offers the modern day equivalent, helping to drive nails relatively quickly and very accurately into many materials, without the bruised thumbs to boot!

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GMC Magnesium Allnailer Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited

 

The Allnailer out of the box.


Variable speed trigger and trigger lock slide switch above it.


The nail clamp release button.


Battery mounted on charger.


Battery attached to Allnailer.
 


Battery indicator showing roughly 50% charge remaining.


The drive depth adjustment knob.


The Jaws that grip the nails!


Workshop test driving nails into softwood.


The Allnailer can be most all the same tasks a regular hammer can!


A DIY project constructed using the Allnailer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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