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DEWALT 21-Degree Cordless Framing Nailer & Small Parts Organizer Tool Review

The DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion 21-Degree Cordless Framing Nailer is fully battery powered and perfectly designed to get into tight spaces. It’s a framing gun for the pros designed by the pros.

*This post is sponsored by The Home Depot.

When I took carpentry years ago, my teacher was very serious about the importance of learning how to frame a wall with just a hammer and nails.  Yea that sucked! I hated it; it took forever, I hit my thumb a couple of times,  but I understood what he was trying to do.  It was kinda of the learn how to crawl before you walk principal.  He wanted us to understand the principal behind framing a wall before we got caught up in the fancy tools that would make the process seamless and…well more efficient. Hahaha  After that, I graduated to pneumatic framing guns and life was a little bit easier, except when I was one a ladder.

I’m kind of clumsy, so the air hose to the compressor was always an issue for me.  Fast forward to present day and that is no longer an issue.  The DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion 21-Degree Cordless Framing Nailer (DCN21PL) solves all of the issues that I had with the pneumatic 21-degree framing nailer.  This framing gun is 100 percent battery operated. It has the exact same power as its old pneumatic nailer predecessor.



The DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion 21-Degree Cordless Framing Nailer model DCN21PL comes with everything you would need to get started on any framing job.

  • Included with the framing nailer are the bag, battery, and battery charger.  All you need are the fasteners for the job.
  • The DCN21PL holds up to 49 plastic collated nails.  Nails can be 2 in. to 3-1/4 in. long.

  • There’s a rotating rafter hook that can move from the left or right for your convenience.

  • The contact trip is nicely grooved, allowing you to really grip the wood when using the nailer.  I especially like this feature when toenailing.  Of course, you can cover it with the plastic non-mar tip on softer material where you don’t want to leave a mark.

Safety Features

Normally, I’ll admit that I’m the type that would just jump right into it without reading the manual. But for this, I strongly recommend at least doing a quick overview of the manual.  If nothing else to review the safety features and ways to stay safe when using this tool.  After all the first 5 pages of the manual is dedicated solely to safety. Because while this tool might make the job easier, it could be dangerous if used improperly.

  • TheThe DCN21PL has a Dry fire lock out feature which prevents the tool from firing when nails are low (about 3 to 4 nails remaining).
  • In the event of a nail jam, there’s jam Jam/Stall Indicator Light.

You can rotate the stall release lever to easily clear jammed nails.  There is also a hex wrench provided to loosen the screws at the top of the magazine.   

Ease of Use

Using the DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion 21-Degree Cordless Framing Nailer is really simple once you understand how it works.

  • The DCN21PLM will fire approximately 899 nails per charge.
  • There are two speed settings (1 & 2) and its based upon the application (whether you’re framing or decking, applying sheathing or fencing) and the length of the nail.   For the most part, you will probably have the nailer set at 2.  It’s mostly applications like fencing that use a 2in. nail that would be at the lower setting of 1.  
  •  The can operate is the Sequential Action (1 nail in the photo) mode or Bump action (3 nails in the photo).

Testing it out

When you push the nose on the work surface you will hear the motor gear up. It caught me off guard at first, but It was preparing to exert the power.  I started with the first speed setting just to see what it would do.  As you can see it didn’t fully drive the 3in. nail into the surface of the wood.

So then I adjusted the speed to 2 and the nail went deeper, but not flush with the surface. 

So I adjusted the depth.  The depth that the nail is driven can be adjusted using the depth adjustment wheel on the nose of the tool.  I actually adjusted it a couple of times until I achieved the desired nail depth.

This nailer is heavy and kicks a punch.  So for me it was really important that I had a firm grip and my material was secure.    I found that gravity is your friend when driving a fastener into the material.  I had an easier time driving the nail in at the desired depth when I pointed the nailer down v. nailing from the side. But all in all, it still worked beautifully.  




Overall thoughts

I really like this framing gun.  This is a contractor grade tool.  However, I would recommend this for the weekend warrior that is tackling some larger jobs around the home.  You can use it to fasten various types of materials. This is great for not only your standard framing, but this can be used in decking, fencing, or a host of other DIY projects. I can’t wait to use this in my next project.


  • This thing packs a punch.  The power is amazing for a non-pneumatic nailer.
  • No need for a compressor
  • The dry fire lock out feature is a nice safety feature to have.


  • This thing is heavy.  It weighs 8.5lbs.
  • You will reload more often largely due to the limited capacity of the magazine and the round head nails take up more space.

Small Parts Organizers

To help manage and store the nails for this nailer as well as other small parts around the workshop I highly recommend the  DEWALT 10-Compartment Pro Small Parts Organizer

and DEWALT 10-Compartment Deep Pro Small Parts Organizers.  I am going through the process of organizing and tiding my garage workshop and these stackable storage containers have been a lifesaver.




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I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with me to participate in the ProSpective 2018 Campaign. As a part of the Program, I am receiving compensation in the form of products and services, for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

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