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Powder-actuated tools drive studs by power from an explosive charge. Their operation is similar to a firearm and they can be just as dangerous if used carelessly.  


Would you want to work around someone using one of these tools who doesn't know the first thing about it? You could be endangering your life if you did. You also could be risking your life and the lives of others if you attempt to use this tool without proper instruction. In many states you must be formally trained and licensed to use powder-actuated tools. There are several makes of these tools and no two are just alike. Before using one, thoroughly study the manufacturer's instructions. 


Many hazards are involved in using these tools. These include the following:  

1. Flying particles of dirt or scale, or particles discharged from the work surface the stud enters.

2. Using too heavy a charge for the material. This can result in the stud being shot completely through the work.

3. Studs ricocheting if the tool is not held properly or is being used on too hard a material.

4. Fire hazards from using the tool when flammable or explosive dust or fumes are present.

5.Using the tool powder charges in fire arms or using firearm blanks in powder-actuated tools.  


Test the tool each day before loading to see that the safety devices are working. Follow the manufacturer's test methods. If the tool does not work properly, do not use it until it has been properly repaired. Inspect the tool before using to ensure that it is clean, all moving parts operate freely, and the barrel is free from obstructions. Make a thorough study of each job. Know the types of materials you'll be driving into, so that you can select the proper stud and cartridge. Also know what is on the other side of a wall as well as what is inside it, such as electric wires and pipes or wire chases.  


Never point the tool at anyone. Don't let bystanders stand too close to the operator. Clear people from the area on the other side of partitions being worked on. Don't fire studs into cast iron, high carbon or tempered steel, armor plate, rock, glazed brick, tile, or glass. 

Load immediately before firing only. Never carry a loaded tool from one job to another.  

Always wear adequate eye protection when using these tools. This applies to both you and your helpers.  

Hold the tool perpendicular to the work surface.  

Don't try to start too close to the edge of the work surface. There is a chance of material cracking or spalling. Unless the tool manufacturer recommends otherwise, minimum edge distances of one inch for steel and six inches for concrete are suggested.  

Never place your hand over the muzzle of a loaded tool. Don't rest the tool against your body when loading or making adjustments.  

Don't drop or throw powder-actuated tools. The chance of accidental discharge is great. 

Never fire close to or through pre-drilled holes. This can cause the fastener to ricochet. 

Always keep powder-actuated tools, studs, and cartridges in a safe place when not in use, preferably under lock and key. Don't leave tools or accessories unattended, even for a short period of time. 

The charges are much more powerful than firearm loads and should be used only in powder-actuated tools.  


Never try to release a loaded tool that has jammed in the firing position. Place it in a safe place and contact the manufacturer's representative.  

If a misfire occurs, hold the tool against the work surface for 15 to 30 seconds. Do not remove the tool from the work surface when opening the tool and removing the defective load. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for disposal instructions in case of a misfire. Do not throw loads into trash containers or leave them lying around.  


All types of tools need to be properly maintained to do their job effectively. Powder-actuated hand tools are no exception. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for maintenance, inspection, and cleaning.  


Powder-actuated tools are work-savers and time-savers. Know how to operate them correctly. Your life can depend on it. 

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