How to Use a Narrow Crown Stapler and Why

Ryobi Narrow Crown Stapler

Do you need a narrow crown stapler? What is a narrow crown stapler and how do you use it? Are there wider crown staplers? Which narrow crown stapler should you buy? If you have questions about these handy carpentry tools, we have answers!

What is a Narrow Crown Stapler and Do You Need One?

If you have ever put together IKEA furniture, shelves other such pre-assembled furniture yourself, you may have noticed shelves almost fall apart until you put the back on. The back is thin and held together with small ring shank nails. Professional cabinet shops building custom, high-end furniture, use this method to add strength to their cabinet cases- they just use much better materials. They also don’t use ring shank nails. They use narrow crown staplers to attach the backs.

Fred the Oyster
Narrow crown staplers are ideal to help assemble any part of cabinets and case-style furniture that won’t be seen such as attaching the backs. Drawing by “Fred the Oyster”

Narrow crown staplers are 1/4-inch wide staples and range in length up to 1.5-inch long. They are great at holding across the grain on thin strips like lattice without splitting the wood. Because of their shape, they provide a lot of holding power if you go across the grain.

Also, because of the small head size, narrow crown staples work well when installing decorative wall paneling.

Are There Wider Crown Staplers?

Now that we’ve introduced narrow crown staplers, what about wider crown models? Pros use medium crown staplers for attaching OSB or plywood siding, flooring, and roofing to houses. They come in 7/16-inch or 1/2-inch wide versions and use a thicker wire gauge (16 gauge). Narrow crown staplers use smaller 18 gauge staples.

Narrow crown staples are ideal for attaching this lattice without splitting it while providing plenty of holding power.

Fence Staplers

You can also get stockade fence staplers that fire either 3.155mm (10-1/2ga) staples or 4mm (9ga) staples. These help secure stockade fencing to posts and are beloved by ranchers all across the world. If any tool benefits from battery-powered, cordless freedom, these tools fit the bill. If you can’t locate a battery-powered solution like the cordless fencing stapler, go for the Stockage ST400i fence stapler which uses gas cartridges.

Stockade ST400i Fencing Stapler - Luke Stapling Lo-Res

Electrical Wire Staplers

More recently, manufacturers have announced electrical wire staplers that use proprietary staples for securing Romex and 12/2 wire directly to studs. One product that comes to mind includes the DeWalt 20V cable stapler.

DeWalt DCN701 20V cordless cable stapler

Cordless Narrow Crown Staplers

Cordless narrow crown staplers provide plenty of power for the most common stapling applications. They do, however, add some serious weight. Pick up any of the Ryobi cordless nail and staple guns, for example, and you will immediately notice they weigh considerably more than a pneumatic tool.

Ryobi Stapler
Making a lattice out of oak strips. The narrow crown staples provide lots of holding power and will not split the thin wood

Are Cordless Narrow Crown Staplers Powerful Enough?

The biggest question we get with cordless narrow crown staplers deals with power. Are these cordless narrow crown staplers powerful enough for most tasks? In a word: Yes. When it comes to driving the fasteners, I had no trouble driving 1.5-inch fasters in any material except hardwoods like oak. This should not be an issue as these are almost always going to be used in sheet goods, construction lumber, trim, paneling, or molding. In oak, expect to drive staples 1-inch or shorter in length.

narrow crown staples
The Ryobi can use any 18 gauge 1/4-inch wide narrow crown staples from 3/8-inch up to 1.5 inches long

Depth adjustment is very easy on all the Ryobi cordless nail guns. Simply turn the dial on the side the make the fastener sink deeper or stick up higher.

How to Use a Narrow Crown Stapler

If you want to known how to use a narrow crown stapler, first realize that it works exactly like a finish nailer. To fire it you basically line up the nose of the tool, press it against the workpiece, and pull the trigger. Unlike larger staplers designed to go around cables or wire without penetrating, a narrow crown stapler fastens material flush.

This gives you some leeway on where you place the staple. It also speeds up the process considerably since you aren’t placing the head across or overtop of a wire. Even so, let’s break down the steps:

1. Remove the Battery or Air Supply and Load the Staples

Before you do anything with the tool, like loading nails, you want to make sure to disable it. For a battery-powered crown stapler, that means removing the battery. On a pneumatic tool, you disconnect the air supply hose.

Next, load the staples. For most crown staplers, this involves pressing a button to open up the magazine. Often it slides back towards the user and crown staples drop into the magazine parallel from the bottom. On other models, the staples drop in from the top.

Metabo HPT N3804A5 narrow crown stapler

This is different than when you slide a stick of nails into the magazine from the end. Just make sure the points of the staples face in the direction you intend to fire. That may seem obvious, but if it’s your first time, this could save you some hassle!

2. Secure the Magazine and Staples

Once loaded, secure the magazine by sliding the spring-loaded cover back in place until the feeder button or lever locks.

3. Reconnect the Battery or Air Hose

You’re almost ready to get to work. Reconnect the air hose or reinsert the battery to get the tool ready. On a battery-powered crown stapler, you may also have to turn on the tool.

4. Select the Firing Mode

Some crown staplers have the option of bump-fire (contact actuation) or sequential-fire modes. Select it using a switch near the trigger. On some antiquated models, you may need to do more steps to switch the mode. For battery-powered crown staplers, you typically get a button to press or switch to slide.

Milwaukee Narrow Crown Stapler controls

5. Aim and Fire the Staple

Next, place the head where you want the staple to emerge and pull the trigger. You should hear the tool activate and the staple should fire directly into the material.

6. Check Fastener Depth/Penetration and Adjust if Needed

Check your fastener to see if you achieved the desired depth of fire. Is it flush? Is it “proud” (standing out from. the surface too far)? Adjust the depth settings on your cordless tool or the air pressure on your pneumatic tool to help get the results you want in the material you’re fastening.

The Bottom Line

A narrow crown stapler works really well for building cabinets, bookcases, drawers, or other box-type assemblies. If you can use a ring shank nail to hold a thin sheet good material in place, a narrow crown stapler can likely save you time. Anyone with a lot of wall paneling or lattice to install should also check out these handy tools.

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