Dewalt DCN680 Brad Nailer

No hassle nailing with this light, well-balanced, easy-to-use nailer. You can fire at a steady rate and place nails at a consistent depth with a high degree of accuracy.

Dewalt DCN680 Brad Nailer

Dewalt DCN680 18-Gauge Brushless Brad Nailer

PRICE:Bare Tool: $399.00 (DCN680B)
Kit: $499.00 (DCN680D1)
SOURCE:Dealer Search
Power:Any DeWALT 20V MAX battery 
Fastener Type:18-gauge
Fastener Range:5/8" - 2-1/8"
Firing Modes:Sequential and contact actuation
Weight:5.3 pounds (no battery)
Notable Features:Brushless motor
Tool-free jam release
Tool-free nail depth adjustment
Stall release lever
Low nail lockout
Dual LED work/diagnostic lights
Kit Includes:
2.0Ah Battery (#DCB203), Charger (#DCB112), Bag
Warranty:3 Years
Full Specifications:Click Here

An 18-gauge nailer – usually just referred to as 'brad nailer' – is the standard, general purpose workshop and job site fastener. It's ideal for installing face frames, interior trim, mouldings, door trim at the jamb edge, carcase and drawer assembly, and a range of other jobs where you require an inconspicuous nail with a small head, but want good holding power.

While pneumatic nailers have ruled the market for eons they're quickly being replaced by cordless nailers – pretty well in the same way that cordless drill/drives and impact drivers have largely taken over the powered hand drill/driver market.

A cordless nailer does away with the compressor, hose, and electrical cord – a real bonus when you're working on a job site, and often moving from one floor or room to another. Plus, they're just quieter to use. And, if you keep a spare battery on hand you'll really never run out of power during the work day. 

If you use a nailer occassionally for odd jobs around the shop or home, a consumer grade tool is a reasonable choice. But, for anyone using a nailer consistently throughout the work day, a professional grade tool is a much better choice. In many cases the price differential is minimal, especially when you factor in tool life, durability, and down time.

When it comes to pro grade, cordless, brushless power tools you can't go wrong with DeWALT. Add, the newest addition to their fastener line, the DCN680 is a tool that will cause no regrets.

The DCN680 comes as either a bare tool – for DeWALT devotees who likely have lots of 20V MAX batteries kicking around – or in a kit with a compact 20V MAX 2.0Ah battery, along with a charger and carry bag.

As with most power tools today the DCN680 features a brushless motor that
 helps reduce overall tool weight, gives better battery mileage, and should provide a longer tool life. If you need a reminder of why just about every company uses brushless motors read our short primer.

With the 2.0Ah battery install the DCN680 weighs about 6.8 pounds. I find it to be well 
balanced, and even though it's almost a foot tall and 10" long, it doesn't feel overly hefty or cumbersome in use, which an important consideration if you're using the nailer for any length of time or doing a lot of overhead work.

The body is made of a durable, impact resistant ABS plastic with side rubber bumpers that help minimize scuffing and abrasion on the casing and on any surfaces you lay the tool on. 

The switches are in the usual locations, and easily manipulated. Next to the trigger is the lock-off switch that prevents the gun from inadvertently firing when toting it around. The firing mode selector switch that allows you to switch between sequential (single fire) or bump firing (contact actuation) modes is located at the base of the handle, making it quick and easy to access. 

On the top of the housing is a stall release switch. If the driver blade gets stuck you can try pulling on the switch to free it up – this should release tension on the driver blade so that it moves back into position. Removing a jammed nail is a piece of cake – pull back the pusher (to release pressure on the nail clip), flip a latch on the front of the nose to open the access door, and then flick out the nail (or grab it with needle nose pliers). 

Setting nail head depth couldn't be simpler – just turn a dial. I found that I could rotate the dail easily even wearing gloves. The scale gives a general idea of how deep the head will go, but it's still best to take a couple of test shots before getting down to business.

The DCN680 has a standard magazine capacity – 110 nails – along with a low-nail indicator window so you can see when it's time to reload. However, because it also has a dry fire (low-nail) lockout feature I just wait until I can't fire any more nails and then reload. The dry fire feature is great, as it prevents the gun from firing when the mag is empty, reducing undue wear on the driver piston and contact tip.

The DCN680 also comes with dual LED lights that project up from the base of the nailer. I haven't benefited from their use yet, but they'll be helpful when working in areas that aren't that well lit. The lights also have a diagnostic function – they flash when the battery needs to be replaced and when a nail becomes jammed in the nosepiece.

If accurate nail placement is important then you'll appreciate the small nose on the DCN680 and the fact that the head doesn't bulge out too much – both help with the line of sight so you can comfortably sink those nails right where you want them to go.

DeWALT has been making nailers for some time now and they've got the process down rather well. For a big, sturdy nailer the DCN680 is remarkably well balanced, line-of-sight is excellent, nail loading and depth drive adjustment are effortless, nail depth placement is consistent, shooting is virtually instant, and there isn't any recoil to speak of.

The DCN680 is a nailer that is sure to provide renovators, cabinet makers, and carpenters with years of reliable, stress-free use.


Clearing jammed nails couldn't be simpler – flip and clear.

Change nail head depth by turning a dial.

Dual work lights aid in nail placement in areas that aren't well lit and also let you know when the battery needs recharging.

A low nail window and dry fire lockout prevent undue wear on the piston and contact tip.

Use it - love it!

Carl Duguay
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