DeWalt DCN692 Cordless Framing Nailer

Over the years, my crews and I have framed hundreds of new houses and done countless remodels and additions. The framing process always involves lugging around a bulky air compressor, running multiple air hoses and a fair amount of set up work before we even start working. Ever since Paslode invented the first cordless nail gun in the 1980’s, the idea of being untethered from air hoses has always been appealing, but the added expense and unreliability made it impractical. In this review we’re going to take a look at the DeWalt DCN692 Cordless Framing Nailer and see if it has what it takes to replace my tried and true setup of compressor, hoses and pneumatic nail guns.

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This review was sponsored by DeWalt Tools. DeWalt has provided me with products in exchange for my review. My opinion is my own.

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What’s in the Box?

If you purchase the kit (DCN692M1), it comes with the DCN692 framing nailer, a 20-volt 2 ah battery, DCB115 charger and a gig bag. If you already have other Dewalt cordless tools that are part of their 20-volt Max platform, the DCN692B is available without the battery and charger. In DeWalt’s numbering system, if the tool model number is followed by a “B”, it means bare tool (without accessories). Tools ending with M1 denote a kit with 1 battery and charger, while D2 stands for 2 batteries with charger.


What Makes It Work?

DeWalt’s innovative flywheel design has a brushless motor that spins super-fast, storing energy from its rotation. When the driver blade contacts the spinning motor, the blade pushes forward to drive the nail. Pressing the nose of the tool against the work piece or pulling the trigger activates the motor (depending on which firing mode you are in). The power is of course supplied by the 20-volt battery.


The Nails

The DCN692 can shoot 2” to 3-1/2”, 30 to 34 degree angled paper tape nails, with either clipped or offset round heads in shank diameters from .113” to .131”. Loading the nails is like most any nail gun – Slide the pusher latch back and drop a stick of nails in the back. Releasing the spring loaded pusher latch pushes the strip of nails towards the nose of the tool. The magazine’s capacity is 55 nails, which is significantly less than a traditional pneumatic framing nailer.   


Dry Fire Lockout

The nailer is equipped with a dry fire lockout feature which prevents the tool from firing when the magazine is nearly empty. When between 7 and 9 nails remain in the magazine, the tool will not fire until another stick of nails is reloaded.  


Depth of Drive Adjustment

Depending on the type and thickness of the wood and the length of the nails you are using, you’ll need to adjust the depth of the countersink, or in other words, how deep the nail is driven. It’s easy to dial in the right amount by turning the wheel – to the left is shallower and to the right is deeper.   


Clearing a Jam

While not an everyday occurrence, freeing a jammed nail can be a real pain on some nail guns. It’s a fairly simple operation on the DeWalt DCN692. Remove the battery and the strip of nails before loosening the two hex bolts at the top of the magazine. Rotating the magazine out of the way makes it easy to remove the offending bent nail.


Clearing a Jam

If the driver is stuck in the down position after clearing the bent nail, just slide the stall release lever to retract the driver. There is an LED indicator that lights up to alert you of a jam and the tool will not reset until the battery has been removed and then reinstalled.


Non-Mar Tip

The DCN692 comes with a non-mar tip that might come in handy if you were nailing on siding or trim that you didn’t want to mark up. In the real world, it’s probably one of those things that you’ll remove once and never see it again. I hope you’re impressed that I took pictures with the non-mar tip installed!


Sequential Fire Mode

Setting the slider switch to show one nail puts the DCN692 into sequential fire mode, which provides the maximum power for driving the longest nails. Depress the nose, wait for the flywheel to spool up and pull the trigger to fire one nail. Speaking of waiting, there is a noticeable delay between when you depress the nose and when the tool is ready to fire. I figure it’s a little under 1 second, which might not sound like a lot of time, but it takes a bit to get used to. When using a standard pneumatic nail gun, it’s almost instantaneous and this delay is the biggest minus to the tool.


Bump Fire Mode

Selecting the three nail icon will allow the gun to fire every time the nose is pressed against the work piece while holding the trigger. Holding the trigger will keep the flywheel spinning, which lets you fire nails one after the other, without the delay like in sequential fire mode.  


Motor Speeds

For shorter nails, use motor speed one, as it will prolong the battery run time. When a little more power is needed to drive longer nails, use power speed 2.


Rafter Hook

DeWalt included a super useful rafter hook that flips out of the way when you don’t need it. It’s the perfect size to hang the tool on any 2X rafter or joist.


Battery Indicator

DeWalt’s 20-volt batteries have these nifty indicator lights to show you how much charge is left in the battery.


Battery Indicator

When you press the button, all three green lights mean full charge. Two lights signal between 50 and 75%, and one light means less than 50%. The 2 ah battery will drive approximately 850 brad nails on a single charge.


How does it Perform?

The familiar DeWalt handle and trigger feel comfortable because they are almost identical to the design of their cordless drills. The DCN692 is really not much bigger and just a little heavier than a traditional pneumatic framing nailer, so I wouldn’t give it any negative marks for size, especially considering how much less it weighs compared to any compressor and hose setup. Running it through the paces on the jobsite, it had no trouble driving 3” x .131” nails into Doug Fir studs and beams. It didn’t sink every nail perfectly in I-Joists and LVL’s, but you’re probably not going to encounter too many situations of anything tougher to work with. The tool works well, is equipped with tons of useful features and it should stand up to years of use.      


Final Thoughts

Am I ready to ditch my air compressor and pneumatic nail guns? Not yet, but the more I use the DeWalt DCN692, the more I appreciate the hassle free portability. It is a great tool for small projects or pickup work, and it really can do just about anything that a traditional pneumatic nail gun can do. On our jobsites today, there is one less air hose strung about. If you’re a DIY-er that hasn’t yet invested in an air compressor, the DCN692 is worth considering as it will set you back about as much as a professional grade compressor and framing nailer, but you’ll get the ultimate in portability. If you already own some DeWalt cordless tools and batteries, that’s a double bonus.

One final note about nails and formats- The DCN692 uses 30-degree angled nails. DeWalt also makes the DCN21PL, an almost identical tool, except is uses the standard 21-degree plastic strip nails.   

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Steve Wright

Steve Wright is a general contractor who over the last 30 plus years has built hundreds of new homes, ranging from first time affordable homes to multi-million dollar custom homes and everything in between.

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