nail guns (ballistic hammer?) -- question

They are called "powder actuated tools" and they'd be perfect for what you describe. There's a wide range of loads and pins. It may take some experimenting to get it right. You'll want to shoot the pin thru a steel disk, thru the copper and into the steel. I'd try a rental yard first - they are expensive to buy, for one job. If that's a dead-end call up some drywall contractors. They all do steel-stud interior partitions and they gotta have a pin-driver for that.
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Only the first 6 shots are kind of fun w/ a single shot so, if you are going to get one, get a repeater....... believe me.
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sorry but i'm not sure what they're called...
by "nail gun" i dont mean air or charge driven nailers,
like for roofing / woodworking...
i mean those heavy hunks of metal that take what
look like .22 shells in the back and fire BIG nails into
steel and/or concrete. most i've seen you have to load
a nail and a charge/shell/powder each time. no automatics.
at any rate, i need something to attach thin copper sheets
(4'x8'x maybe 1/32") to a steel structure... I-beams with
1/4" web/flange.
i was told one of these could drive a short nail into a 1/2"
steel plate.
1) is this true?
2) will it completely blow through my thin copper sheetmetal?
3) will the nail come loose? does it work the same as a nail
driven into wood, for example?
4) is this a quick way of doing what i need? (have to attach approx
400sq feet, nailed/riveted every foot or so)
cost is about $400 round these parts..
my hands are hurting just thinking about drilling all those holes
and using a rivet gun.
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The device is called a powder actuated fastener gun. One brand name is Ramset. Hilti also carries a large line of these guns and fasteners
Not if you use a washer on the nail. You can buy the fastener with a washer already attached.
wood, for example? No, Yes.
Yes, probably the quickest way
Gary Brady Austin, TX
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Gary Brady
Tony wrote: (clip) is this a quick way of doing what i need? (have to attach approx 400sq feet, nailed/riveted every foot or so) ^^^^^^^^^^^^ Be sure to wear hearing protection. Or you'll be wearing hearing aids like me.
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Leo Lichtman
If it's feasible, I would attach some kind of hat channel or other intermediate steel furring to the I beams and then Tek-screw the copper to the thinner furring strip. Obviously aesthetics are not an issue if you are considering a powder actuated gun, so attaching some kind of termination bar over the copper might be an option as well. Fastening the copper directly to the I-beams with a Ramset is going to take a lot of fasteners and may not result in a uniform look.
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If you intend to use the power hammer and don't want to spend a killer amount of money, unless they are no longer on the market, Remington made what they called a Power Hammer, for which various strengths of charges and lengths of nails are (or used to be, anyway) available. I recall paying something in the neighborhood of only $30 for the hammer. One places the charge and nail in the hammer by hand, then strikes the end with a hammer to detonate the charge. I don't mean to imply that this hammer would compete with the more expensive hammers in ease of operation, but they do work, and that's the point. If they are still available, you may find them at Home Depot or other such stores.
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Harold & Susan Vordos
Trades typically call them "bang sticks". I have one also, and have used it quite a bit...... They're great for all kinds of difficult attachments. A little bit of experimenting for load sizes, etc., but will do the job. Ya just have to make sure the chamber stays closed while you are positioning the stick to the item to be attached. Sometimes the chamber will slide open, and the charge will slide back and come out of place - which could be dangerous if hit while in that position. Ken.
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Kenneth W. Sterling
I recall those hammer-types, but have not seen one for a long while though.
A word of warning to the original poster. I believe his comment was that he didn't want to have to drill so many holes by hand, as it would be tiring. I would suggest that before he spends much on the Ramset project that he try one. I've never fired one into steel, but let me tell you that there is one hell of a painful kick-back firing a "Black" charge 2-1/2" through a 2 x 4 into concrete when it is tough to get a decent stance. Not bad on the wrist and arms if it's at waist height and straight on, but otherwise you'd be happier with a drill!!
Have you explored other methods, such as glue or spot weld? And whatchamakinhuh???
Take care.
Brian Lawson, Bothwell, Ontario. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
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Brian Lawson
You sound like you plan to spend a lot of time and money on this. Have you considered that you are creating a huge electrolytic corrosion problem? Fastening copper to steel doesn't seem like a very good idea to me.
-- --Pete "Peter W. Meek"
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Peter W. Meek
have you thought of gluing the copper sheets on using sikaflex its sticks like **** to a blanket its the same stuff they glue windows in cars and busses allso panels on busses
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Colin French
Northern Tool had them the last time I was in there. The tools are cheap, it is the cost of cartridges that'll eat you alive if you have to do a lot.
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Gary Coffman
seems like mixed results on the "bang stick"
maybe i should explain what i'm trying to do.. maybe get some other options..
last year the town (my town) had an ornamental steel (scultured) entrance installed at the old cemetery. sort of like a big awning (20' x 20') the top is curvy and artistic.
the outfit that made and installed the 'awning' isnt around anymore (the project dried up and they are working elsewhere) --the town has approached me to finish it.
the architect still lives here and showed up with his and the city's plans for the structure.
his drawings call for copper sheeting to be laid down on the curvy awning. (only curved along one direction.. sort of like a "nun's hat" if that even makes sense -- no bowl shapes)
how much of a problem will this "electrolytic effect" have? should i bring this up? or is it some way to get it to patina? i'm not sure what the motive is for copper sheeting.
i've considered gluing it down. but since the roof is curved, i'd have to put clamps everywhere. i think it might be hard to find clamps with a 10' throat clearance.
screwing it down seemed the way to go.. since i could start in the middle, and the screws would pull the thin copper to match the roof curvature.
then i found out the steel was 1/4" thick (6mm).
so i thought of the power/powder hammer. having never actually used one myself, i turned to the NG.
how would you do this job?
(i/we are a machine shop, by the way, and apart from a few ladders and bosch battery drills, we dont have much in the way of construction supplies... if only i could fit the roof under my Bridgeport)
it is a paid job, though (pretty decent dough if i can do it in a few days).. and am willing to buy a powerhammer if thats the fastest way. i will then use it for hanging shelves. :)
sorry so longwinded. and thanks for the input so far -tony
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Tony, The electrolytic effect will cause corrosion to eventually eat through. It depends on humidity, temperature, salty air, pollution, etc.. If this sheet is thin enough and the curve shallow enough you may be able to use a magnetic drill press. Since the steel is only 1/4 thick then a combination drill/tap may be in order. Either the drill press would need to have clearance to use a tapping head or the drill can be run slower and you just reverse before you crash the tap. I power tap all the time with the tap in the drill chuck and haven't broken a tap in a long time. Shouldn't have said that probably... Anyway, it would be best if the copper can be insulated from the steel. A thin rubber sheet would work and SS screws could hold the whole thing together. ERS
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Eric R Snow
This is exactly the problem that led to the total rebuilding of the Statue of Liberty. They ended up using stainless steel bars wrapped in teflon to isolate the copper.
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But it did last 100 years in a marine environment before being repaired. On the other hand, I've seen the threads on a galvanized steel shackle that was safety wired with copper disappear in a few weeks when submerged in salt water.
It's hard to predict what will happen without knowing what sort of electrolytes this thing will be exposed to.
Ned Simmons
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Ned Simmons
Tony, No glue. Shoot pins. Forget about electrolisis. You'll be in that cemetary 100 yrs before the copper falls off........ so don't worry about it. or......... ask the architect how he wants it done.
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HD has replaced many of the Remington powder guns with Ramset. I have seen some as cheap as $18 for the gun. The special nails and powder cartridges are quite pricey.
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Thomas Kendrick
I bought one last year to put up furing strips on my basemant wall, They woork great. I belive I paid something like $20.00 for it. Sure was easier then trying to drive concret nails.
Jim Geib Mansfield, ohio
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Jim Geib
Pinning wood to the steel beams and then nailing off the sheet with copper nails might be the way to go. That will eliminate the electrolytic corrosion. No way I would try firing pins through discs into the steel. I have used those pins, the result will vary depending on the location and will look like holy hell on top of that copper. This is really a job for a high end copper flashing/roofing outfit. The copper may not match that curvature as well as you think without some serious wrinkles. If you do take the job, make sure and get detailed shop drawings signed off by the architect prior to starting the work.
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