On Episode 25 of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom, Ceil DiGuglielmo and Rodger Walker talk about air compressors and staple guns. (Air date October 9, 2019) You can listen to this episode here: Staple Guns and Air Compressors
Why use air tools Electric and manual staple guns are more suitable for crafters and occasional use, or for use on the road when you don’t want to haul your compressor to the job. Air tools are sturdy, reliable, efficient, high volume professional tools.
The Fasco F1b long nose staple gun is used at Workroom Tech. (Rainco R1b is the same gun). Rodger shared that this model of staple gun was recommended by Grant Trick, who has a high volume drapery and upholstery workroom in Birmingham, AL. "We wanted a durable, long-lasting, all purpose tool".
The long nose gun does everything the short nose gun does, but it is better for corners, channels and tight spaces. If you are buying one gun – make it a long nose staple gun.
In workrooms, and in Workroom Tech classes, the 3/8” staple is the most used. You will want to keep 1/2” staples for more layers and thicknesses, and heavy upholstery. Staples are very reasonable. A box of 10,000 staples is under $10.00 a box.
Purchase the correct staples for your make and model of gun. Stainless steel staples are available for marine upholstery and outdoor use.
General care and maintenance is very simple. 1) oil regularly 2) don’t use the staple gun nose as a hammer
3) don’t drag the gun by the hose
Practical use and safety:
1) don’t point it at anything you don’t want to shoot a staple into
2) respect the safety features and wear safety goggles
3) use the right air pressure
4) use the correct staples
Rodger shared that there are generally three types of hoses: heavy rubber hose (like you might see in a tire store); light nylon reinforced hose (which is used at Workroom Tech); and the coiled hose (looks like an old telephone cord). Buy a hose longer than you think you will need.
"We prefer the light hose at Workroom Tech because we ran them along the acoustic ceiling and we needed hoses that were affordable, and easy to move around".
When you buy your staple gun, it will come with an attached air plug for connecting to the air coupler on the hose.
You will generally see two different kinds of couplers and plugs in the stores; industrial and automotive. There is also a “universal” but that’s seldom used in a drapery or upholstery workroom.
The air compressor will have a coupler attached. The tool will have a plug. The hose will need a plug, and a coupler. There are manual, and automatic couplers.
Rodger shared that "the hose will have threaded fittings on each end, ready for you to put your coupler, and plug on. We use plumber's Teflon tape on the threads so they will not leak air".
At Workroom Tech, 3-way manifolds are used to hook up three staple guns to each compressor
A one-person workroom only needs a small, inexpensive air compressor. In a large, production facility there would be a large air compressor outside of the work area, in another room, or closet.
"At Workroom Tech, we use two, 8 gallon, 1 hp, quiet air compressors to run 6 guns", Rodger said. "We use the California Air Tools quiet compressors because we are in a commercial setting with other tenants in the building, and the air compressors are in our space, not outside in a garage or closet".
Air compressors run the gamut from cast iron oil-filled compressor heads, to light weight oil-less. There’s pancake style, hotdog style and stationary, which are large, vertical tanks with the compressor on top. (The pancake and hotdog styles have wheels and handles for convenience). There are also small, 1-gallon compressors. All compressors will have a guide with recommendations for what types of tools you can use.
"Believe it or not, all air compressors have a drain on the bottom", Rodger shared. "Many people don’t know that air compressors produce condensate. If you don’t drain the water, it will rust the tank". To drain the compressor, open the drain plug on the bottom of the tank and let the air and water escape.
For an oil-less air compressor, there’s not really any maintenance. Parts will wear out over time, and can be replaced. Rodger recommends turning off the air compressor at the end of the day, and to take the air off the hose by turning the knob to zero air pressure. "Leaving it turned on is a waste of electricity and is hard on the equipment", he said.
Refer to your tool manual. Most air tools operate well at 80 to 90 psi. There is a knob on the compressor that sets the amount of air pressure on the hose. Staplers don’t have a depth setting, like a nailer does. You regulate the staple depth with the air pressure.
If you are buying your first staple gun and air compressor, invest in the best that you can afford, and always follow manufacturers instructions.