Staple guns are useful for upholstery, woodwork, and furniture building, along with some construction tasks like fastening subfloors or roofing materials. You’ll also see them used for house wrap and fastening wiring or carpet. And some types of staple guns are best for hobbyists or crafters.
As the name implies, staple guns fire staples. Even though people sometimes refer to nail guns as staple guns, the two are different tools. In this article we’ll talk specifically about staple guns. They come in manual, electric, and pneumatic versions, and each presents considerations for proper use and safety. Here are some do’s and don’ts of staple guns:
Do Take Safety Precautions
Even manual staple guns can cause serious harm if used improperly, especially if the user isn’t wearing proper safety gear.
Always wear eye protection when using a staple gun
If using a pneumatic tool, consider ear protection. These staple guns can be noisy.
Choose a pair of gloves that resists penetration but allows freedom of movement for your hands for squeezing the trigger on the staple gun. You must also be able to hold it securely in order to direct the staple it fires to the right spot.
Never walk with your finger on the trigger of a staple gun.
Never disable safety features. Why on earth would you do that?
Use clamps rather than hands to hold materials in place where possible.
Never drag or pull a staple gun by the cord or hose.
Never use a staple gun as a hammer. Use hammers as hammers instead!
Don’t Point a Staple Gun at People or Pets
NEVER point a staple gun at yourself or anyone else, and don’t forget that pets can get underfoot unexpectedly if they’re not closed off from your work area. Keep the firing end of the staple gun pointed downward and away from you.
Do Understand Your Tool’s Trigger Feature
Staple guns will fire staples one at a time, requiring you to squeeze the trigger each time, or they will have a continuous or automatic fastener feed, which will keep firing staples as long as you are squeezing the trigger and the muzzle of the stapler is in contact with the work surface. So don’t get your hand between the muzzle and the work surface.
Staple guns are aptly named, as they fire an object at high speed. They have triggers. The only things that a staple from a staple gun should penetrate are the materials you are trying to fasten.
Do Match the Staple to the Tool and the Tool to the Job
Make sure you have selected staples that fit your staple gun, and take the time to read the instructions about how to properly load your staple gun and what to do if it jams. Check that you have the correct staples for your staple gun, and consider the task. Think about corrosion resistance if you are working on materials that will be outdoors, like patio furniture.
Make sure you understand what kind of stapler is best for the materials you’re using. Staples fired at a material they can’t penetrate may ricochet and end up hurting you or someone nearby.
If you’re using a staple gun for hobbies or crafting, a manual type might be just fine. You won’t be firing a lot of staples over and over again, because you’ll be spending time preparing and arranging your materials carefully before you fasten them.
For heavier jobs that involve repeated motion and need a lot of staples applied quickly, like flooring, carpeting, roof felting, house wrap, furniture building or upholstery, you will likely choose an electric or a pneumatic staple gun. With these more powerful tools, you’ll have additional safety considerations:
Electric staple guns need a power source, either batteries or a cord. If using a corded version, be careful about tripping and obstacles, and watch out for overstretching the cord.
Pneumatic staple guns use compressed air to fire the staple. Some are portable and others tether you to a hose, so watch your distances and don’t overextend the hose.
Pneumatic staplers must have a safety feature.
If you’re using a pneumatic upholstery stapler, you may find yourself trying to reach awkward angles and curves in the wood frames of chairs or sofas. You’ll also be getting very close to the surface of what you’re fastening, so impact-proof eye protection is critical here.
Unplug or detach cords and hoses when climbing ladders, handing the tool to another person, servicing or maintaining the tool, and whenever you’re not using it.
Don’t Use Indoor Staples for Outdoor Jobs
Outdoor furniture and framing are subject to moisture and, depending on the location, salt sea air. Select staples that resist corrosion for jobs that must endure varying weather conditions.
Do Keep Your Staple Gun Clean
After a day of use, your staple gun can look dingy, covered with dust, bits of fabric, wood, or even chips of drywall or paint. Clean your staple gun at the end of each workday by wiping it down with an appropriate oil according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but don’t let oil build up on it, because that will just attract and gather more dirt and debris.
Do Inspect Your Staple Gun Before Each Use
Look over your tool before every use. They work hard, just like you, and their parts can loosen or wear down. Check all screws, caps, and connections. Inspect hoses and cords for wear or fraying. With cords and hoses disconnected, check for and clear jams. Check to make sure the motor is running smoothly. Don’t use the staple gun if parts are loose, cords or hoses damaged, or if the tool is jamming.
Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or a professional carpenter, roofer, or upholsterer, you’ll benefit from having the right staple gun, staples, and safety gear to help complete your project. Remember your do’s and don’ts for staple guns and stay safe while taking pride in your work.