Review By Dean Bielanowski  Senco Website - http://www.senco.com



SENCO FinishPro 41XP 15ga. Finish Nailer
Review

By Dean Bielanowski


"Extreme work calls for extreme tools, and the FinishPro 41XP is up to the challenge! With a variety of features designed to make any job easier, the FinishPro 41XP is ideal for the most demanding Pro.
"
Quote Source - Senco Website - www.senco.com

Tool manufacturers, or manufacturers/developers of almost any other product on the market are notorious for ramping up their product to attract consumer attention. It's the nature of the game and one manufacturer's product (in their eyes at least) will always be better than their competitors. So how does the poor consumer at the local hardware or woodworking store make a purchase decision when every box or product blurb he/she reads claims they are the best? It certainly is a quest on its own.

Very few products, however, can actually live up to their marketable box blurbs, which in the end frustrates the consumer and leads to bad publicity. Let's be fair though, products or manufacturers that claim the world AND actually deliver are those companies that sit high on top of woodworker's, trades-people's and DIY enthusiast's product wish lists. These are the companies that, ultimately, are successful in most instances.

Marketing is a tough game and I was interested to read the above quote on the Senco website regarding the claims they make about the 41XP. Well, this is exactly what we are here to find out.. whether the 41XP is the ideal tool for the most demanding Pro!

Let's take a closer look...

Packaging
Personally, I like to think that quality shows its playing card well before you have used your tool for the first time. Either your local woodworking/hardware shop (that has a credible and knowledgeable salesperson) has recommended the tool based on experience, or the product itself is well presented, packaged and complete. I'll be the first to admit that you can certainly buy flashy looking products which end up becoming scrap metal soon after. I've purchased these in the past, so have many others. A good indicator of a quality tool is a quality printed manual. Without a quality manual, setting up your tool could not only be difficult, but also frustrating and potentially dangerous. Many budget brand import tools lack good manuals, and some you cannot make heads or tails of due to very low quality graphics, poor printing or language translation that is very sub-standard. I am happy to report that the 41XP scores well in this area. The 41XP is shipped in its own molded carry case, which not only protects the tool during transport and shipping, but also helps eliminate problems like rust, accidental damage and essential bits and pieces going walkabout! Like a business briefcase, your tool case should also carry around important elements necessary to complete your work. The 41XP case houses not only your 41XP, but its various attachments (which we will look at next) and a well thought-out molded 'pocket' area to keep the manuals and documentation securely seated away. No one likes opening up a tool case and having all the paperwork fly out all over the place, which then requires your effort to stuff it all back in.

Manuals
The manual included is a generic manual that addresses a variety of Senco nail guns (FinishPro32, SFN30, SFN40, Finish Pro 41XP) and a variety of languages (English, Spanish, French). As a result, you can get yourself lost looking for the right part at times. While this is no real drama if you have used similar nail guns before (the basics are generally the same), a new user may get a little lost, but it is certainly no point-deducting issue. All graphics in the manual seem to be vector-based illustrations, which makes them ultra-clear and easy to follow. The manual covers all the basics of using and operating the 41XP and it answered all my initial questions right off the bat. Along with the 7-page operation manual is a 6-page Safety Instructions booklet. This will only take you a few minutes to read, but could save you from a disaster that could last a lifetime, so it's a wise choice to read it carefully.

What's In The Box?

  • FinishPro 41XP 15ga. Nail Gun

  • Dual-Action Trigger Parts/Assembly

  • Instruction Manual, Safety Instructions & Parts Reference Guide

  • Handy Belt Clip to keep the 41XP at your side.

  • Senco Advertising Pamphlet with $10 Senco Fastener Rebate Coupon

To Get Started, You Will Need These Additional Extras (Not included):

  • Air Supply (Compressor) with hose and connectors etc

  • Nails! (Readily available in most good hardware stores)

  • Safety Glasses and other appropriate workwear - Essential!

Draw Your Weapon!
It's time to get into some woodworking action with the 41XP! I must confess that while checking my compressor and getting everything setup for the first test run, I reached for the air tool oil ready to squeeze some drops into the nail gun (probably out of habit). I soon remembered the box and manuals stating that the 41XP is an oil-less piece of machinery! Ahh, that is one less thing to worry about, or to remember every time you 'draw your gun'. The NeverLube
system on the 41XP is certainly a welcome change to most of my other air tools and no worries about any oil inadvertently marking your work piece either.


15 ga. Fastener Range

Since we don't need to worry about oil maintenance, we can get straight on to loading the nails. As mentioned above, the 41XP uses 15 gauge finish nails and is capable of driving such nails from 1-1/4" to 2-1/2" in length. This range allows the nail gun to be used across a variety of applications including:

  • Cabinets

  • Exterior and Interior Trim

  • Window Casings

  • Door Casings

  • Flooring

  • Crown Molding

  • General Fastening

  • and much more!

Yes you can use it on furniture projects and many other applications to provide a little additional strength, but for classic furniture, I personally prefer the 'no metal' policy when constructing these items. The 41XP has a capacity of 100 nails, which is likely going to be more than enough for most small applications in one session. If you are nailing down floor boards, then you may find yourself having to reload on occassion to secure down a large area. The nail chamber is constructed of hardened plastic. Before we go into the analysis and results from our testing period across a range of uses, let's take a quick look at the finish nailer itself and highlight its broad range of features.

Senco 41XP Construction and Features
At first glance, the XP41 appears like it would have some weight to it, but the main driver housing is constructed with magnesium for a total lighter weight (around 4lbs), which certainly validates its value if you use the nail gun for extended periods of time. In stating this however, the FinishPro - like almost every other nail gun of this size out there - is top heavy with a tendency to drop toward to the active firing head. This is actually advantageous in many conditions such as nailing crown molding at 45 degrees or nailing at 90 degrees straight down. You will find that any extended length nailing done holding the gun in a horizontal position will cause a touch of wrist ache over time, but again, this is no different from almost every other product on the market.

Adjustable Depth of Drive
Yes! you can adjust the depth of drive of the nails with the 41XP. This is a common feature on many higher quality nail guns and on this particular model, the depth is adjusted via a small wheel located on the reverse side of the guide body. For safety reasons, you should always disconnect your air supply when making adjustments to any parts of the gun. This feature is useful if you find your nails are firing too deep into your work piece (or not deep enough) and in testing, it worked efficiently.

Easy-Clear Latch
This particular feature allows you to clear a nail if it has become jammed during use. We fired over 360 nails in testing without suffering a nail jam. It is hard to say at this point whether we were just lucky, or whether the nail gun itself is engineered well enough to reduce the occurrence of nail jams. We will certainly update this particular section of the review if anything changes in the near future. In the case of a nail jam, one only needs to lift the latch to expose the inners of the guide body and remove the jammed nail. Very quick and efficient and allows you to get on with the job without losing too much time.

No-Mar Pad
Pretty self-explanatory. These protect your work piece from any coincidental scratching or damage from the safety element. The 41XP package gives you two no-mar pads which is practical, plus an onboard storage spot for the replacement pad. With good care practices employed, you should find that one pad will last a very long time if not exposed to harsh elements unnecessarily.

Construction Ruler
The nail chamber features a construction ruler along its length. Actually, it is really only a sticker attached to the chamber but is handy to have in circumstances where you need to measure something quickly. Personally, I didn't use it a great deal, but its an added bonus that may come in handy when that frame ruler goes missing. Measurements are in inch increments from 0" to 7". Perhaps it's best and most practical use is to quickly identify the length of the fastener/nail you wish to use for your project.

Comfort Grips
Rubber grips are employed around the handle shaft and on the trigger itself. The trigger grip is not always found on all nail guns and is a nice inclusion that gives the 41XP not only a sense of class and style, but an important boost to user safety - particular in hot and humid climates. In testing (warm humid conditions), we found the rubber grip to be adequate in maintaining a good grip and control of the gun. Common sense states that you would not use a nail gun that is likely to 'slip' out of your hand. Always keep your handle clean and dry as much as possible.

360 Adjustable Exhaust
The exhaust outlet on the 41XP can be angled through 360 degrees. This is a feature that is actually not too common in nail guns. Some allow you to turn the exhaust to several pre-set positions, however, the 41XP gives you a full 360 degree rotation of the outlet. In some nailing situations, you may need to get up close and friendly with your nail gun, so keeping the exhaust port pointed away from you to avoid a nasty and potentially dangerous blast of compressed air hitting you in the face (or any other part of your body), the ability to turn the point through this wide range is an added safety feature. The exhaust port is secured via a hex screw and can be adjusted without too much drama.

The Shooting Gallery
Ok, back to loading up the nails and the first test was basically to nail a CD/Multimedia rack together. This was a rushed project I was making for a friends birthday, so gluing/finish nailing was the quickest alternative (and a good excuse to test the 41XP) For this particular project, I used 1-1/4" fasteners as maximum strength was not absolutely essential in this task and I didn't want to have nails shooting out boards if one decided to stray from its desired path inside the wood.


The fasteners are loaded through the base of the nail chamber, with the feeder shoe pulled down and ready to engage the last nail in the set. All pretty standard. A retainer mechanism toward the bottom end of the chamber helps keep nails in line and pressed against the 'inner' wall.

With our nails loaded, we can now hook up our air supply (no oiling needed remember!). A quick check that our safety element can move freely and does not stick and we are ready to go (eye protection and safety gear on of course)


Now, the 41XP allows several methods of firing action. These are Dual Action or Restrictive Trigger action firing mechanisms. Most woodworkers who use brad nailers or lower end nailers will probably be familiar with restrictive action triggers. This method involves you depressing the safety element and then the trigger to fire a nail. A nail cannot be fired if the safety element is not depressed and likewise, a nail cannot be fired if the trigger is not engaged. You need to engage both the safety element and the trigger to fire a nail in Restrictive Trigger mode. Naturally, this mode is the safest of all as it requires you to remove 2 safeguards before the nail can be fired. The downside is that this method also consumes most time. By default, the nail gun is fitted with the restrictive action trigger mechanism. Also included is the dual action trigger assemble which you can fit to your 41XP nail gun. Dual action allows you to hold the trigger in and 'bounce' along the work piece depressing the safety element wherever you want to drive a nail. Just don't bounce it off yourself or anything else you do not want nailed! Full instructions are provided for switching triggers and the process is relatively simple. Each trigger assembly is also color coded to help you identify the mechanism you currently have installed - restrictive action features a grey rubber trigger, while dual action adorns a black rubber trigger grip.

Personally, I tend to use Restrictive mode almost exclusively as it affords the highest possible safety factor, and for me, safety comes before anything else. However, Dual Action mode can be just as safe, and much faster in application if you are very conscious of your tool and its use.

With my CD 'shelves' freshly glued into their housing, I fired off a few nails. KAPOOSH! KAPOOSH! The sound of a nail gun firing is hard to describe in words, but we all know what they sound like don't we? Like any nail gun, you experience a slight bit of recoil as you fire. In my books, a quality nail gun will not displace itself terribly much in any direction as you drive a brad or a nail. The weight of the gun itself plays a role here, as well as the firmness of your grip on the tool itself, but some nailers I have used before seem to throw themselves off balance ever so slightly as the nail is driven. Not so with the 41XP. While you inevitably experience the 'thud' of compressed air being released, the tool remained well balanced and steady during use. I felt completely confident in driving nails at a fair pace after firing the first dozen or so. Needless to say I managed to nail the shelves in quite quickly.

By default, the nails were driven to about 2-3mm below the surface of the piece. Of course, this amount can vary depending on numerous factors including density of wood and the PSI setting of your air supply. I played a little with the depth setting to gauge the effectiveness of this variable control and it seemed to work quite well in both soft pine and dense Ipe wood. Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell the difference in these nail depth results via pictures, but I was quite happy with the result.

A quick work over with some wood putty and my nail holes were filled and well concealed and the CD/DVD rack ready for delivery!

Next I drove a few nails into a quick tool cabinet/stand I had resurrected from an old set of drawers someone was throwing away. Although it didn't strictly need them, one must find things to test their tools on. It actually gave me a chance to drive some nails into some tight corners, which is made possible by the 41XP's angled nail cartridge. This also allows you to drive nails into low wall trim where other 90 degree cartridges may prohibit this action. No problems at all with this task and again the 41XP handled the job easily.

I could tell you about several other situations in which the 41XP performed well during testing, but I don't want to bore the socks off you now... All you really want to know in the end is whether this tool is a good buy or an item to stay away from... I'll conclude this piece now and tell you exactly what I think of this tool!

Conclusion
Senco has built a well earned reputation over the years for producing quality tools and the 41XP Finish Nailer does not seem to be an exception to this trend. It has all the features most woodworkers are looking for, plus the added benefit of a lighter weight nail gun. Despite this light weight, the 41XP feels solid and works as expected for a tool in this price range. My only rant about the tool is that it has yet to provide me with a nail jam to try the easy-clear latch out with!

With a 2Yr warranty and a $10 rebate on fasteners, the 41XP should be on the consideration list for any serious woodworker looking for a finish nailer that will get the job done! Recommended.

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FinishPro 41XP
Specifications

Power (in/lbs): 408
Height: 11.6" (249 mm)
Length: 13" (330 mm)
Weight: 4 lb (3.6 kg)
Fastener Capacity: 100

Reg. Operating Pressure:
70120 psig (4.88.3 bar)

Mode of Operation:
Available with either Dual Action or Restrictive Trigger activating mechanisms

FinishPro 41XP Photos
All photos copyright. Use without prior written permission prohibited


Almost too nice to open!


The Ammunition...


360 degree adjustable air exhaust


A replacement no-mar pad can be found onboard


Non-slip rubber handle and rubber covered trigger mark the quality of this tool.


Feeder shoe moves smoothly down the chamber shaft to load nails. Note also the measure scale on magazine body.


Clearing a nail jam is quick and easy with the Easy-Clear latch shown here open.


An added bonus. A tool hook for your belt.


Adjustable Depth of Drive Wheel located on the reverse side of the 41XP Finish Nailer


Driving some finish nails into my quick-construction CD/DVD multimedia tower. A little glue and a few nails and we have a nice strong joint. The shelves fit into 1/2" dadoes here for even further strength. Considering the weight of CDs/DVDs etc, I can't see these joints faulting any time soon!


Here's the finished product!

application photo
Another common application of the 41XP Finish Nailer.

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