Stringer CH38 Specs

Weight: 2.6 pounds
Cap diameter: 1 inch
Staple length: 3/8 inch
Capacity: 168 caps and staples
Cost: $50 to $60
Cost of fastener pack: $38 (2016 caps and fasteners)

National Nail Corp.

When the Stinger CH38 Cap Hammer came out, I bought two — even though I already owned a pneumatic cap stapler. I wanted a couple of hand-powered models because I was tired of dragging around an air hose while fastening housewrap, roofing felt, and other thin materials.

The Stinger works like a regular hammer tacker except that it contains staples and collated plastic caps, both of which go in from the rear. To advance caps one at a time, the user pulls a trigger between swings. With each strike, a staple penetrates a cap and pins it against the material being fastened; then the cap breaks off from the tool. It's not as fast as using a hammer tacker, but it's fast enough — especially once you're used to the tool and can get into a groove.

The Stinger looks like an elongated hammer tacker. The caps go in the back, just behind the staples. To use the tool, the operator squeezes a trigger (the black piece above) between swings, which advances a cap for the staple to pierce.

Applications. I've used the Stinger on a variety of substrates. It works fine with OSB and plywood, but the chisel-point staples included with the tool wouldn't go far enough into AdvanTech roof sheathing for the caps to be tight to the felt. I got around the problem by temporarily switching to Arrow T50 staples, which have sharp points and are better able to penetrate hard material.

Although I like the Stinger, I don't use it for every cap-stapling application. Since the staples are short — only 3/8 inch long — they work only on thin material. If I have to fasten foam insulation or want to hit the studs when I'm putting housewrap over gypsum sheathing, I go back to using a pneumatic cap stapler. For applications where I could use a hammer tacker but want to use caps, I use the Stinger.

Operation. After running through 20 boxes of staples (a total of 40,000 staples) with my two Stingers, I have one minor complaint about how the tool operates. When you hit it to drive a staple, a piece on the nose is supposed to break the plastic collation. Every once in a while the plastic doesn't break, and when you pull back for another swing, a string of disks is yanked from the nose of the tool. There's no easy way to put the disks back in. The best solution I found was to pull the entire string out the front of the tool, coil it back up, and put it back in the magazine — a huge waste of time. Fortunately, this annoying glitch does not occur very often.

Overall, though, I consider the Stinger a worthwhile purchase — not just because it costs less than a pneumatic model but because it's light, it works well, and it doesn't trail a hose.

Scott Dornbusch is a remodeler in North Branch, Minn.

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