Why Would a Woodworker Want To Use
Plastic Nails and Staples?

Image courtesy of RAPTOR

RAPTOR's Composite Fasteners Can Solve Many Woodshop Problems

Well, to begin with, composite (plastic) fasteners can be routed and sawn, so they're ideal for holding work to a CNC spoilboard. They are also great for running manual jigs through a table saw, or across a router table. The opportunity to replace clamps, vacuum pods or other devices on a CNC means that spindles and aggregate heads will have more room to move around with hitting something.
Losing C-clamps or similar mechanical devices on manual jigs makes them a lot less cumbersome, and often a lot safer. Ever clip a clamp with a bit or blade? Plus, the work is more stable when permanently nailed than temporarily clamped. Composite fasteners don't rust, so they're ideal for boats, outdoor trim, and even tagging the ends of boards at mills or lumberyards.

Woodshops building casework for medical and lab clients have also discovered that composites won't interfere with equipment that detects metal such as X-rays and microwaves.

Three Things to Know About Composites
1. The connection has twice the tensile strength of metal nails/staples, and half the shear strength.
2. It is HIGHLY recommended that they are driven by a dedicated gun that won't be able to deliver the same nominally-sized metal nails or staples.
3. You only need to penetrate the second layer about 3/8" or so for maximum holding power.

Tensile strength refers to the hold in the direction of the nail (vertical), while shear strength refers to sideways force. A composite fastener melts a little and bonds with the cellular structure of most wood or wood products. So, pulling two joined plates apart is extremely difficult. However, a strong sideways force can break or 'shear' the fasteners, so a sharp tap with a hammer and waste block (or even a hand) can usually release parts.


Image courtesy of RAPTOR
  Can I Use My Standard Guns?
The inside of the chamber in a dedicated pneumatic gun for composite fasteners is tight, and allows very little deviation as the nail or staple is being driven. That is, the plastic is supported down its sides as the top is being compressed, so it can't flex or break. Because of that, the chamber is too tight for metal fasteners, so the guns and fasteners are not interchangeable. Composites can be driven by a dedicated hammer stapler, percussion hand-held gun, or pneumatic gun. They will work to some degree with your existing nailers and staplers, but there will be a lot of breakage.
sing too long a nail actually works against you when it comes to composites. The industry norm is to select a length that is about 3/8" longer than the thickness of the top board, and anything beyond that actually slows down the penetration. Because the plastic fasteners partially bond to the wood, they have an awful lot of grip so a shallow hold works fine. Pushing the nails too hard (that is, using too long a nail) can cause it to bend and even break as it travels. Plus, there are some restrictions on using the standard composite fasteners with high-speed molder knives: check with your salesperson.
Who is RAPTOR?
The RAPTOR® brand is manufactured by Utility Composites, Inc. (UCI), which is headquartered in Round Rock, Texas. The company was founded in 1993 by Pamela Tucker and Nancy Showers, with the support of friends, family and investors. UCI is the originator of engineered polymer composite fastening technology, and all of its fasteners are made in the USA from materials that are sourced in the USA. Today's RAPTOR fasteners are the result of more than two decades of research and development, which is based on real world customer knowledge and expertise.
Image courtesy of RAPTOR

Image courtesy of RAPTOR


UCI describes RAPTOR as "a range of completely non-metal, polymer composite plastic finish nails, common nails, brads, pins, staples and specialty fasteners. These nails and staples provide an excellent solution for all industries that require blade and abrasive-friendly, non-rusting, metal-free fasteners."

The company makes no secret of the fact that RAPTOR composite fasteners are more delicate than metal fasteners, and must be handled and used with care and precision to obtain the best performance. There are several videos on its YouTube channel that woodshops will find extremely helpful when thinking about adding composite fasteners to the arsenal. Some product characteristics include the fact that, unlike metal, RAPTOR nails and staples can be put into RF or microwave drying ovens without arcing. These fasteners can also withstand temperatures up to 350°F for several hours. They are UV resistant, and are virtually unaffected by chlorine, acids and solvents such as gasoline and oil.


When it comes to temporarily fastening material to a spoilboard for machining, RAPTOR's F/15-100 CP nails are ideal for 3/4" thick stock - and the nails don't always have to be placed in a waste area. If parts of them end up in components, they can be sanded and then painted, or even stained. It is suggested that woodshops test the staining routine before committing to it: the nails and staples usually look like the filler in a very small nail hole, or else completely disappear. That's because the indent is only as wide as the shank, and not the full diameter of the head of the nail.

One of the nicest aspects of RAPTOR's website is its online store. The company sells direct to woodworkers, and it's very reassuring to have immediate access to tech advice from the people who design, build and reseach the products. The store carries the complete line - 8 lengths of finish nails ranging from 1/2" to 2-1/4" in 15 Ga. and 14 Ga.; 4 lengths of 18 Ga. brad nails; 4 lengths of 18 Ga. pins; 3 lengths of 16 Ga. pins, 3 lengths of 19 Ga. staples; and 4 variations of 16 Ga. staples. The company also offers several industry-specific fasteners, such as clamp nails in 4 lengths (which are primarily used in Jewish Orthodox casket manufacturing), bulk and collated common nails which are used in pallets for international shipping, a 6" spike nail for marking turf, Copula™ pins for joining foam and balsa core, and a snap stud that connects to a stainless-steel snap socket, to hold protective covering (usually over a boat).

RAPTOR has now introduced mountable automated tools for use with CSE automated presses for cabinet door manufacturing. The image at right shows the Omer model 12P.25 CL4-1, which is used with the company's B/18 brads. Automated, mountable tools are also available for composite pins.

For more information on RAPTOR products in North America, visit the company online. Customers in North America can shop the RAPTOR webstore, and international customers can contact the company to purchase direct, or to find a local reseller.


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