Screws are the best way to securely build a wood fence as they are less susceptible to growing loose over time, unlike nails. We often use nails to quickly frame-up wood fences and then come back and add screws to secure it. Nail guns are fast and more common than screw guns, but you might be surprised to find that screw guns aren’t much slower than nail guns and can be used to quickly build just about any wooden fence.
In this article, we’re looking at electric screwdrivers and impact drivers, or screw guns, that use collated screws and a feeding system to make securing wood incredibly fast. Decks, drywall, sub-floor, metal framing, underlayment, siding, roof tile, fences, panelization, metal deck stitching, and pallets are some of the common applications for screw guns.
The most important thing is to make sure you have screws intended for your application. For fencing, you want an appropriate length screw that’s not susceptible to corrosion. If you’re simply using screws to attach wooden pickets to wooden posts, then most deck screws are fine for this. For structural applications, you need a more heavy-duty screw, and a gun capable of driving it.
Metabo HPT SuperDrive Collated Screwdriver
- Optional 20″ Extension allows you to work from a grounded standing position or for above-the-head applications
- SuperDrive system fastens from 5/8″ to 3″ screws with diameters from #6 to #12
- 24.6 ft. power cord
- Includes: #2 Philips Bit, #2 Square Bit, #2 LOX Bit, Decking Nose Piece
- Max Torque: 139.6 inch-lbs
- Depth-of-Drive Adjustment
The Metabo HPT Collated Screwdriver, formerly branded Hitachi, is an all-in-one package that includes the electric screwdriver and SuperDrive system that feeds collated screws between 5/8″ and 3″ in length. For fencing, you likely won’t need the 20″ Extension, but it’s great to have for some applications, especially above-the-head projects such as ceiling work. Don’t want to bend over while securing your decking? The extension works great for that as well.
There are other options that involve purchasing the screw gun and drive system separately, which we’re going to look at below, but the well-known Metabo-HPT (Hitachi) brand is one we can confidently recommend. There are cordless screw guns as well
Purchasing a drive system for using collated screws can be quite a bit more expensive than just buying one of these screw guns that have the drive system built-in or included. Also, collated screws are more expensive in general. So if you’re just a DIYer looking to build your own fence, and speed isn’t necessarily an issue, then simply using an electric screwdriver can still make for a fast and easy build.
Choosing the Right Screw
The type of fastener, or screw, material depends on the type of wood you’re using for your fence. The acids in cedar or the chemicals used in the pressure-treating process of pine can interact with different types of metal fasteners, so you want to choose the right type that won’t corrode.
- Pressure-Treated Pine – Hot-dipped galvanized, stainless steel, polymer-coated, silicon bronze, or copper fasteners
- Non-Pressure-Treated Pine – Galvanized steel or just about any other option. In this case, you’re not worried about the wood causing corrosion, but rather the environment. Since there are a variety of chemicals that can be used to treat wood, it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s recommendations when selecting the right fastener.
- Cedar – Stainless steel, aluminum, or polymer-coated fasteners. NOT galvanized steel.
Now, a little about thread types. Fine threads are conventionally thought to be best for hardwoods – oak, cherry, maple, birch, etc. – while more coarse-threaded screws are better for softer woods, plywood, and composite wood (particleboard, MDF). However, there are many new and unique types of screw designs that are suitable for a wide range of applications.
Top Screw Gun Reviews
Let’s take a look at some of the top electric screwdrivers that are great options for quickly framing up a fence. You can, of course, use these for a variety of purposes such as drywall or decking. We’re going to look at standard screw guns as well as those that use a feed system to take advantage of collated screws.
You may be thinking cordless models aren’t going to work well, but batteries have come a long way and many professionals rely on cordless screw guns. They’re easy to use and the battery can usually last longer than you want to work. For example, the DeWALT Screw Gun that includes two 4.0 Ah lithium-ion batteries lasts about a total of 8 hours. Lithium-ion batteries charge fast, so you could have the first battery charged by the time the second runs out.
DeWALT XR Drywall/Framing Screw Gun – Cordless
- Includes two 4.0Ah, 20V lithium-ion batteries
- LED Light for visibility
- Charger and Carrying Bag included
- Model: DCF620
- 3-year Limited Warranty
- 1″ to 2″ Screw Capacity
- Great Battery Life – charge one while using the other
- Long Warranty
- DeWALT Collated Magazine Accessory can be purchased separately
- Use limited by battery charge
In theory, you should be able to use the DeWALT cordless screw gun nearly all day as long as you immediately start charging the first battery when you swap to the second. It can be frustrating if you forget to keep your batteries charged and need the screw gun, but many professionals find cordless screw guns to be even more convenient than corded models and just as capable. The extra maneuverability of not having a cord really helps speed up work.
This cordless screw gun can use the DeWALT Collated Screw Accessory to make this screw gun work with collated screws for fastening wood quickly. No cord and a collated screw drive system? It doesn’t get much better than that. Now, this model can’t handle the larger screws like we saw with the Metabo HPT screw gun, but if 2″ screws work for you then this is a great cordless solution. Do keep in mind you can always just use the screw gun without the collated screw accessory to work with any size screw. Just don’t make the mistake of buying a tub of 3″ collated screws!
DeWALT Drywall/Framing Screw Gun (DW276)
- High torque for deck building, drywall, and heavy gauge steel stud framing
- Metal gear housing for durability and reliability
- Depth-sensitive nosepiece for consistent fastener depth
- 1-Year Warranty
- Highly adjustable screw depth is great for fencing or drywall
- Excellent price
- You may prefer an impact driver for heavier jobs
The corded electric DeWALT DW276 is a variable speed screwdriver that’s versatile enough to handle decking or drywall, although it is primarily meant for drywall. Many professionals have moved to cordless models because they are so reliable and easier to deal with since you don’t have to worry about a cord. A corded screw gun is going to be dependable and a good option if you want a backup for when your cordless batteries run dry, or you just don’t want a cordless. As far as strength, this screw gun can handle at least up to #12, 3″ screws and lag bolts, but you’re not going to be able to remove lug nuts off your vehicle wheels. You certainly can use sockets for sheet metal screws if needed.
The DW276 should be able to handle most fencing such as attaching pickets or slats to posts. Pine wood being the most common wood for fencing, is relatively soft and easy to work with, and it resists shrinkage. If you’re installing a fence in your backyard or close to your home, then power usually isn’t a problem as long as you have extension cords, but if you’re in a field you may prefer a cordless screw gun.
DeWALT DCF887B Cordless Impact Driver with Battery Bundle
- 3.0 Ah Battery Included
- Variable-speed Trigger – 0 to 1000, 2800, 3250 RPM
- LED Lights with 2 second delay after trigger release
- Accepts 1/4″ Hex Shank Bits
- 3-Year Limited Warranty
- Easily handles 10″ TX40 Wood Screws
- Works with some other DeWALT batteries you already own
- Bare model and other bundle options availabe
- Problems with this Impact Driver seem rare, so we don’t see any glaring negative issues
The brushless DCF887 Impact Driver has plenty of torque and is compactly designed to fit in tight areas. How much torque? On the 3rd speed setting, you get 0-3,250 RPM and 151 ft.-lbs of torque. On the low setting, you get 0-1000 RPM and about 20 ft.-lbs of torque.
The great thing about the DCF887 is that you can bundle it with a variety of accessories that you may need. If you already own a DeWALT battery that fits the DCF887, then you can opt for the bare model instead. The DCF887 is compatible with the 20V MAX battery packs and you have many options ranging from 3Ah to 8Ah.
As you can see this DeWALT cordless can handle quite a bit. Here’s a list of the screw types from the video.
- Precision driving screws in pre-drilled holes
- Driving x50 5.0mm x 50mm Screws PX2 on speed setting 2 (169NM torque)
- Driving x4 8.0mm x 240mm Paneltwistec Screws TX40 on speed setting 2 (169NM torque)
- Driving x8 8.0mm x 120mm Screws Hex on speed setting 2 (169NM torque)
At the end of all that, the battery still shows a full charge. There are 3 LEDs indicating the charge level, so you can expect great battery life even with these fairly strenuous tasks.
Metabo HPT SuperDrive Collated Screwdriver
- Hitachi power tools rename to Metabo HPT
- Model W6VB3SD2
- 20″ Extension Shaft Included
- Max Torque 139.6 inch-lbs
- SuperDrive System works with 5/8″ to 3″ Screws with diameters from #6-#12
- 24.6 ft. Power Cord
- Included SuperDrive System can handle a wide range of screw sizes up to 3″
- Excellent price for a collated screw gun
- Versatile – includes Decking/Drywall Nose Piece
- Setting screw depth can be tricky with drywall
Some drive systems don’t fit 3″, so this is a great all-in-one package that can handle even the longest screws used in most home improvement projects. For fencing, you likely don’t need the extension so you can get better handling and speed by leaving it off. Adjusting the screw depth is as simple as rotating the dial on the drive system to make the screw shallow or deep. Depending on the application you may need to adjust it, such as with drywall if the screws get pushed too deep.
Senco Corded Screw Gun with Auto-Feed (1″ to 2″)
- Corded Screw Gun with Collated Screw Drive System
- 0-5,000 RPM Variable Speed
- Fits 1″ to 2″ Screws, #6 to #10
- 1-Year Warranty
- Built-in collated screw feeder at a great price
- Excellent for drywall, sub floor, or fencing
- Collated screws make every job faster
- Doesn’t work with 3″ screws
This Senco corded screw gun is in the price range we would consider a “budget” option. Screw guns with collated screw feed systems are relatively expensive and collated screws are more expensive in general than regular screws. With that said, they’re extremely fast. You never have to stop and manually position a screw and then line up your screwdriver while trying to keep it from wobbling as you drive the screw in. The collated fastening system does the work for you and you just apply pressure and pull the trigger. The 1-year warranty with this Senco model is pretty good too, but is shorter than what we see with the DeWALT screw guns.
For quickly fastening privacy fence pickets to rails, the Senco fastening system is going be a quick and easy solution. You’re generally going to be dealing with 1″-thick (or less) pickets that are either cedar or pine, which is well within the range that this screw gun can handle.
Senco Corded Screw Gun with Auto-Feed (1″ to 3″)
- Top-loading Screw Feed System (DS320)
- Extension Included for Flooring or Above-the-head Work
- Easy Depth-of-Drive Adjustment
- Feed system can be quickly removed
- Drive System works with screws from 5/8″ to 3″
- #2 Philips, #2 Square, T25 Torx bits
- Drive system handles 3″ screws (better than TV174274 model)
- Great for fencing or decking if you want more screw penetration
- Using the drive system takes some time to get used to
The Senco Screw Gun with the DS320 drive system is the best option for a corded gun that handles larger screws. Many people prefer using 3″ screws for fencing or decking for the added peace of mind. One thing to keep in mind is that every feed system requires some practice to get used to. The drive system holds the screw for you and you apply pressure and pull the gun’s trigger to start driving the screw. Having the drive system hold each screw and rotate to the next screw speeds things up immensely. You should be able to at least drive twice as many screws as you normal would trying to do the same job without the drive system.
With the DS320, you don’t need to apply too much pressure to start driving the screw to avoid spinning it out of place; light pressure at first then add more to finish driving. Not only is this system great for fencing, but sub flooring as well since you don’t have to bend over or be on your knees when using the extension.
The bottom line is we think the Senco is a great option for many projects, including fencing, and you will find that it makes jobs that seem impossible be able to be finished in hours instead of days while still being one of the most affordable tools in its category.
Makita XRF02Z Cordless Autofeed Screwdriver Kit
- Screw sizes between 1″ and 2-1/8″
- Screw guide to prevent screw strip tangling
- Aluminum auto-feed housing
- 18V Lithium-ion Cordless (Battery Not Included)
- Compatible with other 18V LXT and compact Makita batteries you may already own
- Good screw size compatibility
- Great price for a cordless auto-feed system
- You will need to purchase a battery separately if you don’t already have Makita tools with a compatible battery
The Makita cordless screw gun we’re showing here comes as the bare tool without the battery. The great thing about most Makita cordless tools is that they are cross-compatible with most Makita batteries. With this auto-feed system, you get a slightly larger nail size at 2-1/8″ when compared to the DeWALT cordless that fit a maximum of 2″. For fencing, the Makita is a great choice, especially if you already own Makita cordless tools.
If you have to choose between the DeWALT or Makita, it really just depends on what you prefer. With the Makita, you can handle slightly larger screws, but we’ve seen more complaints from customer reviews about the auto-feed system on the Makita. We suspect it’s more to do with getting used to working with the tool rather than an actual problem with the feed system. If you already own an electric drill or screwdriver from either brand, then it may be worth sticking with that brand so that you don’t need to purchase another battery, or if you do get an extra battery then at least it’s compatible with all of your tools.
DeWALT 20V MAX XR Drywall Screw Gun – Cordless
- 20V MAX XR Compact Li-Ion Batteries (4.0Ah) – 2x batteries included
- Comparable performance to the corded DW272 Screw Gun
- 3-Year Limited Warranty
- The two batteries give you enough power for a full day of work
- Excellent warranty – one of the longest on the market
- Move faster without a cord
- If you want to use collated screws you have to purchase the auto-feed system separately
The DeWALT DCF620M2 can also use the collated magazine accessory if you prefer to use collated screws to speed up your work. The magazine accessory uses 1″ to 2″ screws and is easy to put on and take off the screw gun. You can adjust the drive depth to your needs with simple knob adjustments, no tool needed.
The DeWALT battery packs are fairly expensive, so you will find that this DeWALT bundle with 2 batteries to cost quite a bit more than some of the other models. With that said, if you’re looking to have a reliable screw gun that you can take anywhere with long battery life, then look no further. It’s certainly an investment worth making. The 4.0 Ah battery size is great as well, since you should get enough battery life from one battery to allow you to completely charge the other before running out of power. Effectively, you should be able to work all day.