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Holding Things Together

When we get ready to tackle a project, the first thing we consider is what will be used to hold everything together--nails, screws or nuts and bolts. Will we need a hammer, screwdriver or socket wrench? Although the tools and fasteners we've mentioned are the most common and most popular, there are other options.

Here are some alternatives to popular fastening methods and a look at specialty connecting devices. When it comes to fastening there are more choices than you might think. We aren't suggesting you run down to the hardware store and add the list to your toolbox. Specialty tools are just that--for special projects. Our alternatives to nails, screws, nuts and bolts follows:

  1. Manual Stapler (Upholstery Stapler)
  2. Electric Stapler
  3. Hammer Stapler (Hammer Tacker)
  4. Rivet Gun
  5. Glue Gun

A manual stapler is not like the one used at an office desk; it is big and bulky and has a d-ring grip with a firing lever (trigger) that is as long as the tool. Considerable force can be exerted with this tool making it excellent for upholstery work. Use one hand to stretch and hold the material, and the other to grip and fire the stapler which spits the staple in place holding the fabric tightly in position. Want to cover dining room chairs? You can use upholstery tacks, but the manual stapler will make the job faster and easier. A strong, well-driven staple holds like glue.

Want to install a new screen at the kitchen door? Nothing holds screen material like a staple. Whether you have copper, steel, aluminum or fiberglass screen material, staples work well.

For years we've had an electric stapler, yet we prefer the manual kind. For some reason the electric stapler just doesn't seem to have the oomph of the manual stapler. However, for lightweight projects the electric stapler is easier to use and requires a lot less elbow grease.

No carpenter would be caught at work without a hammer stapler (hammer tacker) in his toolbox. It is used to apply siding paper (house wrap), window flashing, corner flashing and roof felt (underlayment) and is used when accuracy isn't important. The hammer tacker looks like a desktop stapler with the bottom section missing. It is held at the end opposite the tip and swung like a hammer. When the hammer tacker hits, the staple is fired. Staples can be shot out of a hammer tacker as fast as its operator can move.

Note: The most common staple has a flat head and is used for general purposes. There are some staplers that shoot round-head staples. These are special devices made specifically for attaching wire. They even have a guide on the end near the tip that holds the wire in place so it won't be accidentally penetrated by the staple.

Staples aren't the only alternative. Rivets and glue are excellent fasteners, too. When it comes to sheet metal, leather and heavy cloth (like canvas), rivets are the best alternative. Many sheet-metal contractors use rivets and liquid sealant to join metal gutters. Where soldered joints often fail (expansion and contraction between heat of day and cold nights) on rain gutters, riveted joints just don't come apart. With a riveted joint, a flexible sealant can be used that will expand and contract with temperature changes.

And rivets are easy to remove; just drill out the center. It takes only a few seconds. Then, a new rivet can be added. Rivets are available in several different diameters and lengths. A complete rivet kit of good quality can be bought for about $40.

Neither of us knew anything about glue guns until Morris' wife Carol decided to decorate a flowerpot. She was attaching plastic, glass, fabric, leather and stone to a ceramic pot. There doesn't seem to be anything that you can't assemble with a glue gun. Carol once purchased a box of seashells and covered the frame of a mirror. As the trigger is pulled the glue gun feeds a stick of glue into a heating chamber. A hot sticky liquid that dries almost instantly comes out from the other end. Be aware that hot glue guns can be dangerous. Even the most careful operators sometimes get burned.

Having the right tool for the job will always make it easier.



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