Tools for Fastening Steel I-Beams and Wood in Residential Home Construction

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While antiquated and potentially explosive, powder actuated fastening tools are still an extremely common solution for a range of construction activities, such as wood-to-steel framing; an application often used in the construction of luxury homes. Though common, contractors need to be aware of the special requirements and safety protocols necessary for the use of P.A.T. tools on active jobsites.

OSHA standard 1915.135 sections b and c outline the general precautions concerning the use of Powder Actuated Tools (“P.A.T.”). These standards include 16 regulations that must be adhered to when using P.A.T.s on jobsites. Skip a step and you could face a fine (varies state to state) or risk the shutdown of your job site.

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Due to these safety concerns surrounding P.A.T.s, their manufacturers offer certificate and licensing programs to train operators on proper operation and maintenance of the tools. A key point to remember about P.A.T. tools is that they function like loaded guns. When their highly explosive powder propellants actuate, the tool fires a pin. But what happens if it doesn’t? In the event a P.A.T. misfires, the explosive cartridge needs time to cool off to reduce the likelihood that the unused cartridge will explode or accidentally discharge. After 30 seconds, it is “safe” to discard the load in a bucket of water as per manufacturer’s instructions.

A More Efficient and Safer Solution

Engineered to perform at a higher standard PowerLite® system tools can easily be used as a replacement for powder actuated tools for fastening wood-to-steel i-beams. The PowerLite® system can also fasten engineered woods such as LVL and LSL, wood to concrete, steel to concrete and steel to steel.

Through this invention, pneumatic tools became much more versatile. The PowerLite® system can shoot pins 3x faster than powder actuated tools. Pins for PowerLite® tools come in 50 or 100 pin coils no single or 10 shot strips like P.A.T.’s and they don’t require powder loads to actuate. The PowerLite® system works 100% pneumatically. As long as the PowerLite® compressor is plugged in, the tool will work seamlessly. There’s no need to stop to replace or charge batteries.

PowerLite® tools are extremely powerful, yet their size is up to 40% smaller and up to 30% lighter than conventional 100 PSI tools. The MAX PowerLite® system provides a hassle-free pneumatic solution for which no license or certification is needed to operate. Because air is used to power the tools, there is no need for warming or cooling of the environment in order to maintain PowerLite® system performance.


At only 6.4 lbs., the safety equipped and lightweight PowerLite® HN120 pinner is lighter than most competitive tools without sacrificing driving power. Unlike powder actuated tools, this tool is faster, more efficient and doesn’t require a license or powder loads to operate. Backed by the power of a 500 PSI PowerLite® compressor (the AKHL1260E or AKHL1260E) the HN120 can easily drive pins, through wood and steel with minimal recoil. The HN120 is designed with a patented, self-cleaning end cap filter that captures foreign substances before they can enter the tool and automatically ejects them when the air hose is disconnected.

THE HN120 CP-W .133” Pins for Steel I-beam

MAX manufacturers a series of .133” pins for wood to steel applications, such as fastening 2x wood or plywood to steel i-beam. The .133 pins range in length, starting at 7/8” for fastening ½”wood to i-beams between 3/16” – ¼” in thickness. On the top end, the pins max out at 2” in length for fastening 1- ½” wood to i-beams between 3/16” – 3/8”in thickness. With a magazine capacity of 50 pins less time is spent reloading the tool compared when compared to a powder actuated tool.


Overall, the PowerLite® system offers several benefits including versatility, efficiency and safety when compared to powder actuated tools.

Review our other tools at or call Bruce Panveno at (815) 546-1150 to discuss becoming a MAX distributor. Becoming a MAX distributor opens you up to receiving exclusive promotions, free merchandising displays, sales materials, and exclusive product training webinars.

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