This Old House electrician Heath Eastman and Tool Lab editor Chris Emides take a close look at the pros and cons of a unique, one-of-a-kind tool aimed at making electrician’s work easier.
While this installment of Tool Lab is out of the realm of “useful tools every homeowner should own,” it is unique and noteworthy enough to take a closer look. The DeWalt Cordless Cable Stapler is designed solely for electrical contractors and anyone who runs significant amounts of electrical cable on a regular basis.
Electrical codes require that wires be secured to a framing structure. Traditionally, this means hand-stapling hundreds or thousands of staples on any given job, which, as you can imagine, is quite time-consuming. And while there are manual versions of staplers that attempt to do this work, nothing has come close to delivering the power and consistency necessary for streamlining the wire-stapling process like this stapler.
The stapler runs on DeWalt’s 20V Max battery platform and comes kitted with a 2 Ah battery, case, and charger ($249) and is available as a tool-only if you’re already vested in the platform ($199). The stapler utilizes the latest in cordless tool technology: brushless motor and lithium ion battery. The two combined make for a powerful gun that does what it’s designed to do (in most cases). I asked DeWalt to send the stapler to us to test out. I’ll be passing my sample along as a donation to our friends at YouthBuild—not because I don’t like it, but because I have no use for it on a daily basis. Our electrician Heath Eastman got a sample to test out as well. Heath put the stapler to the test throughout his job sites along with his crew.
Overview: Compact and Powerful
It is well-balanced and compact enough to fit into a 16” stud bay. Thanks to the head design, line-of-site is good and made even better by the LED light. I found the handle to be on the large side which took some getting used to. It doesn’t have as ergonomic a grip as other cordless tools you might be used to like circular saws and drill/drivers or other nail guns.
If you’ve ever seen Heath’s work on Ask This Old House or our House projects, you know how neat and tidy he is. His wire runs are perfectly lined and organized. Heath accomplishes this with traditional hand-staples. He found that the cordless DeWalt stapler didn’t offer the same level of precision because it doesn’t snug the wire enough to the lumber. So his solution was to use hand staples to get the wire running straight (one on each end) and then filling between at the prescriptive code schedule using the staple gun.
Other points where Heath felt this stapler shined was when working around plaster and lathe. Because you’re not banging multiple times with a hammer, less dust falls from overhead. While it does offer that benefit, he found that on old framing lumber the staples didn’t always set properly. Heath likes the compactness of the gun, the fact that one staple ($11 for a box of 540/ DRS18100) can cover a number of wire configurations, and the excellent runtime from the battery. He ended up going out and buying a second one during a job because it was saving him and his crew so much time.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a professional electrical contractor, this stapler is definitely worth buying – especially, as Heath points out, if you’re running wire in a new house. If you’re a DIYer hoping to add to your tool collection, your $250 is better spent on something you’ll use more often.
Tool Height: 12 in
Tool Length: 7.75 in
Tool Width: 3 in
Tool Weight: 4.7 lbs