Bostitch EHF1838K 18 Gauge Engineered Flooring Stapler Kit
Bostitch is no newcomer to the fastener market. They introduced their first Model AO desk stapler in 1914, and they released the first Coil Nailer back in 1965, the model N2. When it comes to fastening 3/8” engineered hardwood over a wood subfloor, you can’t just reach for your typical go-to hardwood flooring stapler/nailer; these tend to just blow through this thinner wood. Introduce the Bostitch EHF1838K, perfect for fastening flooring from 5/16” to 5/8”. Shooting 18 GA staples, and thumb-screws for easy adjustment to vary the thickness, makes this the perfect tool for the thinner hardwoods. With a ~$200 street price, it’s not a bad tool to have in your arsenal, and very much needed if you have a job like mentioned here.
Bostitch EHF1838K Testing and Use
Unboxing and preparing the stapler for use was pretty simple – a few drops of oil in the air inlet, a row of 18 GA – 1 ½“ staples, adjust the thumb-screws for the correct depth of your flooring choice, and you’re off to the races. Ok, maybe setting the depth should be a little more concise than what I just described, but it really didn’t take much time. Within a few minutes, I was laying floor as fast as…as fast as…as fast as you can lay 3” wide x 3/8” thick wood flooring. You know what I mean, you work a few hours to turn around and find out you’ve completed…seven rows…SEVEN ROWS???!!! When the realization hits, and that statement to your wife replays in your head: “Oh honey, I can knock that job out in one day”…ain’t gonna happen. No fault to the tool, of course.
The body of the stapler seems to be built off much the same platform as some other Bostitch tools in my garage, like the 18 GA brad nailer. Nothing wrong with using a tried and trued successful platform to create another tool. If it ain’t broke, break it don’t fix it. In addition, this is a lightweight tool, so it’s comfortable even after an extended day’s use.
The only way to really get rolling on laying this type of floor is to slide the stapler down the tongue and pull the trigger every ~8-12 inches (of course, in the increments that the manufacturer and/or your local building code dictates). Being such a thin floor, this was tricky to do, and a bit frustrating in the beginning. This is not much fault to the tool, and more to do with just the limited amount of “step” you have from the tongue to the face of the flooring. Once you got the hang of it, you could keep the Teflon points in the recession of the tongue, thus keeping the safety depressed and enabling the continuous fire. In short: place the Teflon points in the recession, with the bottom step of the stapler face on the subfloor and the upper step resting on the new flooring face, pull the trigger, slide the stapler (making sure to keep the points in the groove and the stapler flush), pull the trigger, slide, pull, slide, pull…you get the drill. In the rapid-fire setting, it didn’t require you to lift the stapler between each round.
One thing you don’t want in a floor stapler, especially with flooring this thin, is inconsistency in the depth of the fastener. I really didn’t recognize any issues in this area. Once the pressure was dialed in where I wanted it, all the staples seemed to sink just below the surface in the crevice of the tongue, as you would expect. Not once did I have to pick up my nearby nail-punch to finish driving staples; notice that I said nearby. I was totally expecting it to happen but was pleasantly surprised when it never did. Other than a few misfires (mentioned below), the BOSTITCH EHF1838K was spot-on with the depth delivery of the 18 GA fastener. During this job, I did shoot thousands of BOSTITCH-brand staples, as well as thousands of other well-known brands, and the tool was near-flawless with both.
There were a few misfires during the process of laying 1500+ sq. ft. of flooring, which is understood, and typical with just about any pneumatic fastener I’ve used when firing thousands of repetitions. There were a couple of instances when the stapler wouldn’t fire, and the trigger wouldn’t pull, almost like there was a lot of pressure on the trigger but wouldn’t release. Both times, it seemed that the safety was stuck in the depressed (fire) location, and both times I was able to clear the problem by forcing the safety back into the “safe” position (not depressed) using a flat-blade screwdriver. Be sure to remove your energy source (air hose in this case) before messing with the “business” end of the staple GUN. Other than these few instances, the tool worked as expected for the entirety of the job.
So what is it that we really want when it comes to a pneumatic stapler for fastening thinner wood than what we should be laying? I mean, you’re not expecting some crazy feature that automatically shoots a staple every xx inches as you slide the stapler down the floor, or some fancy-bedazzled holster to hold your gun (well, there may be some of you out there that would like that, but we’ll let that be your little secret). No, you just want a stapler that shoots when you pull the trigger and sets the staples at a consistent depth each time. The BOSTITCH EHF1838K accomplishes this task with flying colors and without complaint…of the stapler anyway.
If you’re facing the daunting task of laying flooring 5/8” or less, then reach for the EHF1838K, get on your knees, and plan on staying there for a while. Are you getting the feeling that I like the tool, but am not a fan of the thinner hardwood/engineered-hardwood?! Good, you picked up the vibe that I’m throwing at you. Don’t get me wrong, the finished product, in my case, was gorgeous; it just seemed to be more labor-intensive than the thicker alternative. Great tool, good price, and suitable for the task at hand.
Bostitch EHF1838K Summary
- Adjustable knobs allow tool-free adjustment from 5/16″ – 7/16″ for solid hardwood and 1/2″ – 5/8″ for engineered hardwood and engineered bamboo
- High visibility tongue engagement for faster installation
- Non-marring profile tips to prevent floor scratches
- Oil-free operation requires no regular maintenance and eliminates the risk of oil stains
- Rear exhaust directs air away from the user
- Driving Power: 160 in-lbs.
- Capacity: 100 staples
- Fastener Range: 1 – 1 ½ in.
- Fastener Guage: 18
- Weight: 3.47 lbs.
- MSRP: $320
- Warranty: 7-year limited