Cadex 18-Gauge Professional Duty Brad Nailer (CB18.50A)

The CB18.50A is a stellar performer - while you can buy a nailer for less money, it's highly unlikley to have the quality that the Cadex provides.

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Cadex 18-Gauge Professional Duty Brad Nailer (CB18.50A)



18-gauge nailers shine at all kinds of trim work - installing door casings, baseboards, crown molding and the like - as well as cabinet and furniture assembly.
 
Many people will know the Cadex name because of their 23-gauge pin nailers, which are consistently rated as among the best on the market. After spending the better part of six weeks working with the new Cadex 18-Gauge Professional Duty Brad Nailer (CB18.50A), I'd have to say that their reputation will be even more enhanced.
 
The CB18.50A comes with a durable hard shell plastic storage case, two no-mar tips, Allen keys, 360° coupler, a small container of oil, and an instruction sheet. The case is durable, yet light, and offers good protection for the nailer during transport to and from a job site. While not overly large, it has enough space to hold a couple of packs of brad nails.
 
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All-metal construction for maximum durability

The CB18.50A is both light and compact. It weighs in at just under 3 pounds and is barely 9" long and high. Just looking at this tool you can see the level of quality. All the critical parts - body, magazine, and nose are made of metal. The slide cap is made of a high impact plastic - I would have preferred a metal cap, as it's in somewhat of an exposed spot at the back of the magazine, susceptible to being knocked. Still, the all-metal design means that this nailer will take a lot of abuse, which is important whether you're working on a job site or in a shop setting.
 
Coupled with the light weight and compact size, the CB18.50A is also very well balanced. If you suspend the tool with your finger on the trigger, it only tilts slightly downward at the head. Even if you used this nailer for extended periods of time I doubt you'd feel much in the way of hand or wrist discomfort. The trigger is a good size, and has a long tang on the end, which makes it easier to grip, particularly if you're wearing gloves.
 
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110 clip magazine capacity and wide quick view window
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On-board storage for no-mar tip

The CB18.50A shoots 18-gauge nails from 3/4" to 2" - the full range of brad nail sizes. The magazine has a 110 clip capacity, and a wide quick view window that makes it easy to see when it's time to reload. The side loading magazine is easy to open and close with just the right amount of spring tension. 
 
It also includes a dry fire lockout that prevents the pin from firing when there are no nails in the magazine. This is a feature you'll find on most top quality nailers. At 1/4" wide and just 5/64" thick, the firing pin is a common size among brad nailers - large enough to set nails but not too obstructive. A slim nose design and small pin give a better line-of-sight making it easier to place nails more precisely - important when installing trim work. It also makes it easier to nail into inside corners.
 
The nailer comes with two no-mar tips that are helpful for protecting wood surfaces. There is a tab on the end of the magazine for storing the tip when not needed. Very convenient.

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Slim nose design and a good size firing pin
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Single/bump fire selector (A) trigger (B)
With the CB18.50A you get a choice of single firing (one press of the trigger shoots one nail) or bump firing (every time you press the firing pin onto a surface while depressing the trigger a nail is released.) Switching between the two modes is a simple matter of turning a selector button located adjacent to the trigger. While I use single fire nailing most of the time it's nice to know bump mode is available when you need to lay down sheeting or install some light framing.

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Quick release nose cover
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Nail depth adjustment wheel
It couldn't be easier to remove a jammed nail from the CB18.50A - simply pull a latch to uncover the strike plate and then use a pair of pliers to remove the nail. Obviously this is much more convenient than having to unscrew the front of the nose piece. Try as I might, I just couldn't cause this nailer to jam or double fire, even firing one nail flush into another.
 
Right below the trigger is the nail depth adjustment wheel. You can quickly adjust the wheel so that the nail is set flush, just shy of the surface, or buried out of sight. This is way easier and less time consuming than adjusting nail depth by manipulating the pressure regulator on your air compressor. The CB18.50A is designed to work at a pressure from 80 to 105 PSI, which is a range you'll find common to most brad nailers.
 
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Nails sunk just below the surface (top row); Nails sunk at maximum depth setting
 
While you're apt to get some marking on soft woods and plywood, even when using the no-mar tip, you won't get any marking on hard woods. If needed, these holes are easily covered with putty or other fillers. The photo above shows the quality of nailing into plywood - for nails set just below the surface, and nails set at maximum depth.

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Fully rotatable coupler (top), air exhaust/silencer (bottom)
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Thumb operated blow gun
The fully rotatable coupler on the back end of this nailer is a gem, making it much easier to manipulate the hose so that you keep it tangle free. Also at the back is the exhaust port, which is equipped with a mini muffler that helps mute noise. 
 
Up at the front of the nailer is a unique thumb activated blow gun. It shoots out a blast of air to clean sawdust and other debris off your work area. It seemed a bit gimmicky at first look, but has turned out to be a very handy feature.
 
There isn't a belt hook on this nailer, which I didn't expect. Unlike a framing nailer, I wouldn't carry it around on my hip, particularly inside a home where there is a risk of accidentally knocking against walls or trim.
 
I tested the CB18.50A for handle and trigger comfort, ease of nail loading, ease of adjusting  drive depth, single and bump mode firing, amount of recoil, and nail driving efficiency. On all counts, the CB18.50A proved to be a stellar performer. 
 
While you can buy a nailer for less money, it's highly unlikley to have the quality that the Cadex provides. 

KEY FEATURES:

  • 2 5/8" W x 9" H x 9-1/8" L
  • 18 gauge nail diameter
  • 3/4" - 2" nail length
  • 110 nail magazine capacity
  • 80 - 105 psi air requirement
  • All-metal body
  • Depth-of-drive adjuster
  • Sequential and bump fire modes
  • Quick release nose cover
  • Dry fire lockout
  • Rear exhaust
  • Built-in blow gun
  • 2.9 lb weight
  • 1 year warranty
  • Includes: 360° coupler, extra no-mar tip, oil, Allen keys, rigid carry case, instruction sheet

Manufacturer:Cadex Tools
Available From:Find a retailer
Street Price:$179.95 to $199.95
Model #:CB18.50A
Made In:Taiwan
Carl Duguay, December 2011
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