Fence construction and repair is a common duty. It’s taxing on the body and for the wallet. For one handling that hard work, having the proper tool can make that task a more efficient venture in time and money.
For instance, a pneumatic stapler gun expedites fence construction with its rapid application. Posting long stretches of fence seems a bit more tolerable. To speed up the process, some fencers are using a fuel-cell stapler for better results.
Though sold under the Stock-ade name, the ST-4001, made by a subsidiary of Illinois Tool Works, is the fuel cell version of the company’s ST-400, a pneumatic stapler that has been on the market for several years.
As part of their beta testing, several users in the United States were given units to try under local conditions. Originally offered to the market at $1,000, it is expected to sell in the United States in the $700 range, making it best suited for someone who does regular fence jobs.
“There is no question that it will pay for itself if used regularly,” Rick Jackmas, president of McArthur Lumber and Post, McArthur, Ohio.
He noted it is light enough and portable enough that a 10-year-old can use it all day. “But the tool will keep up the two-staples-a-second pace longer than any man can,” he said.
Andy and Sam Gardner of Gardner Brothers Land, LLC agreed. Their operation feeds out replacement heifers for dairy producers in the Northeast and along the mountains into Virginia
“We usually put one guy on the gun for about 20 or 25 posts and then switch off,” Sam Gardner said. However, he notes that the unit is not as light as it seems after it has been toted up and down hills for a day.
That said, most users say the best thing about the ST-400i is that it requires no compressor. Set-up and take-down time is close to zero because no truck or wagon access is required for power as would be needed with a pneumatic unit. Anyone who has run fence in hilly or boggy areas knows what a hassle it can be to get a pickup truck close enough to where the fence line work needs to be done. Usually, someone has to move the truck and help drag the compressor hose.
The 400i runs on fuel cells. As a result, stapling with the cordless stapler requires just one person for the job.
It works well on spot maintenance jobs, hilly projects, or full-farm electric or woven fencing, Jackmas said.
Andy Gardner agreed. “We do a lot of high-tensile fencing,” he said. Last year, his company had one job alone that involved 15,000 feet of high tensile fence installation.
“You need to make high tensile ‘hot’ for it to be effective,” Andy said. He’s aware that producers in some areas do not electrify fence. However, given the choice, he said he always would go with juice.
They also have experience using the 400i on woven wire and barbed wire, too.
The typical package from the manufacturer includes a box of 1,200 staples shipped with two fuel cells for the stapler.
They drive two staples per insulator. Figuring it costs 32 cents per insulator and 12 cents for the cell and staples, they figure they have about 56 cents tied up in each installation.
Better yet, the Gardners have had no malfunctions with their demonstration unit.
“It is consistent,” Andy added.
That consistency is helped by a guide that comes with the insulator attachment. “As long as you take the insulator attachment and put it in the guide hole, it is pretty foolproof,” Andy said.
That is, unless you need to remove a staple. The staples have barbs that make them even tougher should pressure be put on the fence. The driving depth is adjustable to assure no damage to the fencing.
“Once they are in there, they are in there,” he noted.
Jackmas credits the positive placement to the fact that there is no wiggling around when the staples are driven into the fence post. It is “POP!” and then they are set straight into the timber.
Like the Gardners, he typically sees a 1.75-inch staple for most fencing applications.
“It’s a great product,” Andy said. “My guys are completely sold and would probably revolt if we had to go back to hand-driving staples in insulators.”
“We really like the gun,” Andy added. Noting that his crews are fencing from the fall into early March, he says the ST-400i is “way more than adequate.”
“We are fortunate, blessed and humbled,” Sam added. “Our fencing business complements our replacement heifer operation. And this fencing business just keeps growing!”