Pull it, punch it and nail it

IF you enjoy messing around with craftwork and hobby DIY projects, a staple gun could prove to be your all time best buy. Staples can hold everything from upholstery fabric to window dressings, and join a variety of materials used all over the house.

DISCREET STITCHES:

The greater the power of the gun, the heavier the staple and supporting materials it can handle, but for most amateur crafters, a manual or electric model is sufficient. Leave the pneumatics to the gnarled tradesman. Staples appear as little metal stitches and you don’t want them on show. When securing materials on decorative pieces, think about ways of hiding them either on the underside of the piece, enfolded in drapes of fabric or set under another finishing material such as a trim.

CHOICE:

Manual guns operate with a pull or push of the handle. A push handle goes with the action of driving staples down into the surface and, as your weight’s behind it, it’s easier to operate. Forward placed handles put the pressure over the action rather than behind it, so look for push models with a forward design. Light guns taking 4-14mm staples and start from as little as €10 for a Stanley Sharpshooter. If you have a lot of work to do, a lightweight electric model with a single shot trigger at €30-€40 will save a lot of effort fighting the recoil of the gun, handling heavier staples, denser materials, and performing heavy duty joining.

STAPLER/NAILERS:

Staple and nails (brads) can be combined in the one unit, ideal for serious enthusiasts and offering the extra welly of nails for DIY adventures — carpet underlay for example. Try the Tacwise 53EL at €38 from Handy Hardware, a lovely lightweight staple/brad gun for home use. www.handyhardware.ie.

An electric guide light in LED and anti-jamming designs will add another €20 to a base line gun. If you want to nail up wiring, a wire guide must be included in the package or invest in a separate cable tacker for 9-14mm ‘curved-crown’ staples.

The electric version of the Stanley Sharpshooter is a serious weapon and includes a wiring facility plus staples and brads.

SAFETY.

Whatever electric gun you choose, ensure it has an ON/OFF switch or a trigger safety lock to allow you to make it safe between firings. Children find the popping noise of a stapler completely fascinating and may attempt to fix a sibling directly to the floor between the webs of the feet. Removing staples is the perfect way to split open your finger tips. Use a dedicated flat-topped pincers or a dedicated prising tool for extensive work such as the Draper 43275 Heavy Duty Staple Remover. €6 at any large DIY outlet. Never fire the gun unless the base place is against your working surface.

FIVE STARTER PROJECTS FOR A LIGHTWEIGHT STAPLE GUN.

If you don’t have a gun, any of these projects can be carried out with a small tack hammer (look for a nice dainty head) and small upholstery tacks (mind your fingers).

* Re-cover drop-in seat dining chairs:

This is the simplest project of all, especially if the seats have sufficient padding still in good condition. Simply cut your new fabric to size, including excess to stretch over the old covers and staple in position on the underside of the pad. Choose fabric that’s sufficiently opaque to blind out the old one, is stain resistant, and doesn’t bulk up too much or the seats won’t sit nicely back into the chair frames. Even vintage dress material will work well. As with most fabric projects, an extra pair of hands to pull into place really helps.

* Covered Shelving and more.

A quick fashion fix, shelving can be painted, papered and yes wrapped completely with a light fabric. The key thing is to hide the longest stapled position at the reverse edge, so a blocky thick shelf is ideal. If you want to add stain resistance and a tighter fit, decoupage medium (a thin form of PVA) can be brushed onto the fabric to seal it. Sand the shelving first to give yourself some grip between the fabric and the surface. Leave an excess of at least 3cm to your fabric measurements and iron folded seams for a perfect finish when you staple.

* Gorgeous Memo Boards.

A large cork board can be quickly covered with material stapled on the reverse. To add interest, measure carefully, mark up and add a trellis for letters with ribbon secured where the lines crosses with decorative brass tacks. Hold the ribbon ends with staples behind the board or tack where the board meets the frame. Leaving extra material and then stapling you can trim back the excess while having a good handful of material to hold.

* Craft a homework table.

Take any old table at a good height for homework or crafts. Check it for stability and re-screw or tighten joints where needed. Paint up the legs and skirt, and staple a brightly coloured complementary oil-cloth (available by the metre at any good DIY or fabric outlet). Use the table edges to hide the stapled edges. The oilcloth is easy to wipe down and designs cover post war chintz to fresh cheques and retro motifs.

* Up-cycle a headboard.

Make one, refresh one — a headboard is an ideal adventure for a starter as there’s lots of room to pull the material behind to be hidden at the rear. As with most fabric projects an extra pair of hands to pull swathes of material into place really helps. If the original fabric and padding is clean and flat, just cover what’s there. If you’re using new batting, fold it generously (10cm plus) over the edges of the board to the back and staple in place, using a spray adhesive to hold it in place as you work.

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