Power Stapler Tips and Advice for the Novice

​​​​Ready, aim, staple! Get a grip on safety and great results in your DIY projects when you learn how to properly use a power stapler.

By Ande Waggener


A power stapler is a handy tool to have on hand, especially if you like doing DIY projects with upholstery fabric. Using a power stapler may seem like a pretty basic skill, but a wise DIYer knows to ask, “What are tips for safe use of a power stapler?” before he or she starts aiming this potentially dangerous tool.


Not all power staplers are created equal, and stapling results can vary if you don’t know what you’re doing when you use a power stapler. So to help you safely and effectively staple your way through your projects, first, you need to choose the right stapler for your needs, and second, you need to learn how to use an electric staple gun or a pneumatic staple gun.


Choosing the Right Stapler

Manual Staplers

Even if a power stapler isn’t commonly found in a perfectly stocked toolbox, most households have a manual staple gun. This is basically just a stapler that shoots a staple into items instead of crimping items together with a staple.




Manual staple guns are inexpensive and easy to use, but they do require decent hand strength to be effective. Because you squeeze a handle to activate the stapler, repeated use of a manual stapler can cause hand fatigue. If you only have occasional use for a staple gun, this stapler will be all you require. If you need your stapler to be portable (for putting up flyers or decorating for parties that aren’t in your home), a manual stapler can be handy.


Power Staplers

Power staplers come in one of two types: electric and pneumatic.




Electric staple guns can be either plug-in or battery-powered. Instead of pressing a handle to activate the stapler, you squeeze a trigger on these staple guns. Because of this functionality, electric staple guns are much easier to use than manual staple guns. They also have more power because electricity is driving the staple instead of just the force of your pressing a lever. Even so, not all electric staple guns are cut out for heavy-duty stapling. You need a pneumatic staple gun for the tough jobs.


Pneumatic Staple Guns

Pneumatic staple guns are favored by contractors and frequent DIYers who do a lot of stapling. If you, for example, do big jobs like instaling insulation, a pneumatic staple gun will make your life much easier. Pneumatic staple guns are the most powerful of the power staplers. Because they have so much power, they’re easy to use; you won’t get hand-fatigue with a pneumatic stapler.


A pneumatic stapler, however, requires that you have an air compressor. The air compressor is what powers the stapler. Because of this, unless you have a portable air compressor, a pneumatic stapler isn’t as convenient as a manual or electric staple gun. Pneumatic staple guns, however, do have a bonus feature; many of them can also handle small nails or brads in addition to staples.


How to Use a Power Stapler

1. The first step in using a power stapler is to be fully aware of power stapler safety. As with all power tools, be sure you’re wearing eye protection when you use a staple gun. Don’t ever treat it as a toy (a power stapler isn’t a pretend gun for you or your kids). Also, always read the manual that came with your power stapler. All staple guns are different, and yours could have special instructions you need to know. In addition to these basics, here are additional precautions you can take to be sure you’re using your stapler safely:


  • Be sure the staple gun doesn’t go off when you don’t want it to. If it has a safety lock, engage that whenever you’re not using it. If you have to walk away from your stapling job, unplug the stapler or turn off the air compressor it’s connected to, even if you’re just going to be away for a minute. An unattended power stapler is asking for trouble. Be aware that on some staplers, the safety lock is a very small button that isn’t labeled. Before you use your stapler, locate the safety lock.




  • Never point a power stapler at any living thing, including pets and yourself. Don’t look at the business end of a staple gun, even if you think it isn’t loaded. It might have a staple caught up that could be ejected at just the wrong time.




  • To prevent accidental stapling, remove your finger from the trigger when you’re not in the process of stapling. Get in the habit of resting your finger away from the trigger when you’re not actively stapling.




  • Always be sure you’re not going to staple into something that could be dangerous. Check beneath where you’re stapling to confirm that there aren’t any electrical wires or hard objects there before you start stapling.


2. Now that you’re safety-conscious, it’s time to learn how to load an electric staple gun. To load a power stapler, you generally press a latch that’s located at the back of the staple gun. When you press the button, this either reveal the staple tray or release the staple tray so you can remove it and load it with staples. Be sure that you put in the staples so they’re all level and properly seated over the stapler’s carriage. Then close up the stapler, listening for the click that lets you know the stapler carriage is locked in place properly.




3. Finally, it’s time to staple. Do these simple things to perfectly seat a staple every time you use your stapler:


  • Press the end of the staple gun against the surface where you want to place a staple. Be sure the end is flush against the surface and level so that all of the end is in contact with the surface.


  • Squeeze the trigger. The amount of pressure you need to use here depends on the type of stapler you have. Generally, though, with power staplers, you need very little pressure on the trigger.


  • Don’t lift the stapler away from the surface you’re stapling until the staple has seated itself. If you get to stapling quickly, it’s common to start unconsciously lifting up on the stapler as you activate the trigger. But doing this will result in a partially-seated staple.




That’s all there’s to it. A power stapler is an easy and fun tool to use when you know how to handle it safely. So go forth and staple your way through some awesome DIY projects.


Images used with permission, courtesy of Ande Waggener

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