How Often Should You Lubricate Your Pneumatic Nailers And Staplers?

Date of post: July 6, 2020By: Mike Butler

Most pneumatic tools offer more power and torque than traditional electric tools, helping you accomplish even the toughest of jobs. But, with power comes responsibility. Because pneumatic tools have mechanical elements like air motors, bearings and seals and must rely on an air compressor to function, regular maintenance including lubrication is essential.

With proper maintenance, your pneumatic tools can go the distance — helping you stay on task, on time and on budget. Here’s why a regular lubrication schedule is essential to the life expectancy and effectiveness of your air tools.

Related: Pneumatic Tool Safety Maintenance Tips


Why should I oil my pneumatic tools?

The facts: Pneumatic tools require regular lubrication for optimum performance. Imagine not using oil in your car engine. It wouldn’t take long at all for that engine to lock up. Pneumatic tool oil works in essentially the same way. It can:

  • Remove build-up on components
  • Prevent rust build-up
  • Ensure free movement of parts
  • Create smooth starts and stops
  • Prevent moisture build-up
  • Remove sludge and calcium deposits
  • Prevent O-ring breakdown

Did you know that the air in your facility can be deadly to your air tools?
That's right. If the air that is going through your compressor into your pneumatic tools has any moisture — that moisture is going directly into your fittings, encouraging rust and corrosion. If you don't have a dry air supply or an air dryer on your compressor system, lubrication is the next best thing you can do for your air tools.

What kind of oil should I use on my pneumatic tools?

Not all oils are created equally. Oils created for air tools are often non-detergent or specially formulated with anti-rust agents or additives designed to meet strict industry requirements. Additionally, some types of oil will degrade O-rings' seals and other components. So, it's important to use only approved pneumatic tool oil and follow manufacturer recommendations. Look for oils that are high-quality, easy to apply, combat rust, resist blowout, dissolve gunk and won't harm your rubber seals. And never, ever use WD-40, compressor oil, 3 in-1 oil or those lubricants not specifically designed for pneumatic tools.

We are proud to offer Pro-Drive, our brand of pneumatic tool oil, specifically for customers enrolled in our contract tool program. LINC Systems also carries a broad selection of pneumatic tool oil by top-rated brands including Bostitch, DeWalt, Paslode and Kilfrost. Kilfrost pneumatic tool oil is ideal for use during colder temperatures to stop moisture from freezing in the lines.

How often should I oil my nail gun or pneumatic tool?

Knowing how and when to lubricate your pneumatic tools doesn’t have to be complicated. The frequency in which you need to lubricate your air tools will be determined by the tool's specs and the application you using it for. The general rule of thumb is to lubricate at regular intervals, especially in high-speed, high-cycle applications. This is because with every cycle of use, there is a burst of air that passes by every internal component. Proper lubrication can help to ensure smooth movement of those parts and lead to:

  • Longer tool life
  • Maximum performance
  • Protection under extreme operating temperatures

Manufacturers recommend lubricating tools often throughout the day, rather than waiting until the end of the day and applying excessive amounts of oil.

When done regularly, oil will coat everything and protect the air tool's components. When done infrequently, the oil will expel out through the exhaust and O-rings will dry out. When an operator only oils at the time of use, it increases friction and reduces performance, leading to early tool failure.

Manufacturers often recommend applying two to three drops of oil at the start of the shift and at lunchtime, at a minimum. One way to detect if your tool is properly lubricated is to check the area around the exhaust. If it is moist, it is adequately lubricated. What you don’t want to see is excessive oil or dryness.

Different air tools like nailers, spray guns and other pneumatic tools require different lubrication schedules for the best performance. Here are some guidelines on common nailers and staplers:

Pneumatic Tools

To break down deposits and ensure smooth starts and stops, most pneumatic nailers and staplers require a total of 4-5 drops of pneumatic tool oil into the air fitting every day, adjusting for the amount of use.

Oil-Less Pneumatic Tools

Some pneumatic tools are designed to be oil-free and do not require regular lubrication. Instead, Teflon seals and parts are used in oil-less air guns.

Paslode Cordless Tools

Typically, these tools require a synthetic oil specifically designed to work with Paslode cordless tools. Clean tools and apply lubrication regularly to keep your tools in tip-top shape.

To learn more about your pneumatic tool's specific lubrication requirements, check the operator’s manual from the manufacturer.


Air tools, otherwise known as pneumatic tools, require regular maintenance for optimum safety and performance. Different air tools and different manufacturers will have different recommendations, so check your manual first. A general rule of thumb is for oiling a pneumatic nail gun is:

Step 1: Remove all nails from the gun.

Step 2: Hold in upright position.

Step 3: Add 3-5 drops pf pneumatic oil to trigger, air fitting and feed system.

Step 4: Pull trigger to distribute oil through the motor.

Step 5: Reapply every few hours for extended use (daily at a minimum).

Download LINC System's Pneumatic Air Tool Safety Checklist


When air tools are not maintained properly, they can quickly malfunction. Components will wear out; moisture will build up and rust will form. When this happens, it prevents the free movement of parts and smooth starts.

Here are some surefire ways to kill your air tools:

 ☹ Not regularly oiling and lubricating air tools.

 ☹ Not using enough oil and lubrication (or too much).

 ☹ Using the wrong oil and lubricant for the tool.

 ☹ Not cleaning excess oil from tool, rubber and other components.

 ☹ Failing to remove dirt and other buildup from the tool.

 ☹ Not storing air tools in clean, dry containers when not in use.

 ☹ Not following manufacturer recommendations.

LINC Systems is here with the tools and advice to help you work safely and productively. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an on-site consultation for your pneumatic tool program or set up regular service, please click here to contact us. Or, give us a call at 800-513-9918.

For more safety tips on using your pneumatic tools, visit our YouTube channel and subscribe!

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