Hey friend! So you’re about to start your first upholstery project and one of the tools you need is a staple gun. I’ve been there too. Those things can be intimidating with all the different sizes and technical terms. But have no fear, we’ll break it all down so you can pick the perfect staples for your project.
The most important thing to know is that the staples need to fit your particular staple gun. It’s like shoes – you can’t wear a size 10 shoe if you’re a size 7 foot! Same goes for staples. You need to match the “crown width” of the staples to your staple gun model.
Crowns, Legs, and Numbers, Oh My!
The crown width refers to the width across the top of the staple. Common sizes are 3/8″, 1/2″, and 5/8″. Your owner’s manual should tell you the crown width your staple gun requires.
Another key measurement is the “leg length” – that’s how deep the staple will sink into the wood frame. Typical upholstery lengths are 1/4″, 3/8″, and 9/16″. Longer legs for softer woods, shorter for hardwoods.
And we can’t forget the “gauge” – that’s the thickness of the steel wire. You’ll usually see 20, 21, or 22 gauge. Lower numbers are thicker. The thickness affects how delicate a fabric the staple can handle.
Finally, there are “series” numbers like #7, #8, T50. These are just model numbers from various brands. As long as you match the crown width, you’re good to go!
Picking the Right Material
Most upholstery staples are galvanized steel. It’s strong, affordable, and gets the job done. But for outdoor furniture or antique restoration, stainless steel resists rust better.
You can also choose between “fine wire” and “medium wire” depending on if you’re working with delicate fabrics or thick leathers. Finer wire reduces tears.
Match Your Project for Success
Now that we’ve got the lingo down, let’s talk about how to choose the right staple for your specific upholstery project. The materials you’re using and the type of frame will determine what length and gauge you need.
For slip seat cushions with thin plywood bases, 1/4″ leg length is perfect to avoid poking through. Delicate fabrics like silk would pair well with a 22 gauge fine wire. But leather slip seats could handle a slightly longer 3/8″ length and 21 gauge medium wire.
Reupholstering a full chair frame calls for a little more grip. I’d recommend 3/8″ or 9/16″ lengths for solid penetration into hardwoods. Medium wire gauges provide durability when stapling heavy fabrics onto curved frames.
Troubleshoot Like a Pro
Having some issues with your staples? No problem, here are some quick tips. If your staples aren’t sitting flush with the frame, they’re likely too long – try a shorter length. But if they aren’t penetrating deep enough, go up a size in length. Easy peasy!
Time to Start Upholstering!
Looking at all those staple sizes can make your head spin. But don’t overthink it too much. Just match your crown width to the staple gun model, consider the project materials and frame, and pick a decent middle-of-the-road length like 3/8″ and you’ll be stapling like a pro in no time!
Hopefully this gives you a good starting point for choosing staples for your first upholstery adventure. Just take it slow, double check your sizes, and you’ll have that chair reupholstered before you know it. Let me know how your project turns out – can’t wait to see your beautiful creations!
Choosing the Right Staple Gun
We’ve talked a lot about staple sizes, but the staple gun itself is just as important! You’ve got a few options when it comes to upholstery staple guns.
These staple guns are powered by compressed air and deliver a lot of force. That makes them great for driving staples through tough materials. Brands like Arrow, Bostitch, and Porter-Cable make reliable pneumatic staple guns.
The downside is you need an air compressor and hose to run them. But for frequent upholstery work, the power and consistency of pneumatic models can’t be beat.
Electric staple guns plug into an outlet and are a good middle ground option. DeWalt, Ryobi, and other tool brands produce electric staplers with decent power for light to medium upholstery jobs.
They don’t require a noisy compressor like pneumatics. However, they aren’t quite as strong and can struggle driving longer staples through tougher materials.
Manual, hand-powered staple guns require some serious elbow grease but are a budget-friendly option. Many have a lever-style design that you pump to drive each staple.
While very affordable, manual staplers lack the power and stamina for large upholstery projects. But they can work fine for small jobs like seat cushions or dining room chair seats.
Staple Gun Features to Look For
Whatever type of staple gun you choose, be sure to keep an eye out for these handy features:
- Depth adjustment – Allows you to control staple penetration
- Jam clearing mechanism – For quick jam fixes
- No-mar tip – Prevents surface dents and damage
- Quick-release cartridge – For fast staple reloading
- Safety trigger – Helps prevent accidental firing
An adjustable exhaust port is also nice for controlling the power and noise level on pneumatic guns. And a pivoting nose cone helps you get into tight spaces.
Take your time playing with the settings and getting a feel for whatever staple gun you go with. Knowing all the ins and outs will make your upholstery experience much smoother.
Stocking Up on Staple Supplies
Once you’ve got your trusty staple gun, it’s time to stock up on ammo! Here are some tips for buying staple supplies:
- Buy in bulk packs to save money over time
- Store extra staples in an airtight container
- Double check the crown width for your staple gun
- Get an assortment of sizes to test what works best
- Use heavier gauges for tougher jobs/materials
- Choose longer legs for softer woods
- Go with galvanized over stainless for most jobs
- Invest in a box of misfire removers for jams
It’s always smart to test different staple brands, gauges, and leg lengths on scrap pieces first. Dialing in the right sizes for your projects will prevent headaches down the road. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Safety Tips for Staple Gun Success
While super handy tools, staple guns can cause injuries if not used properly. Follow these tips to staple safely:
- Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes
- Keep fingers away from the nose cone
- Engage safety locks when not in use
- Unplug electric/air hoses when changing staples
- Check for misfires before setting the tool down
- Point away from yourself and others when firing
- Keep pneumatic pressures at recommended PSI
- Secure workpieces with clamps if needed
Taking the time to operate staple guns safely will lead to many future upholstery projects done right. Don’t take shortcuts – your safety is what matters most!
Hopefully all this info gives you the confidence to pick the perfect staple sizes and rock your next furniture makeover. Let me know if you have any other questions. Now grab your staple gun and start upholstering!