A New Fix?
I am a great believer in the ”if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy and for many users, the old shiny Arrow T50 ain’t broke. I still regularly use my T50 although it is getting on for 15 years old. But inevitably, time moves on and competition is always driving progress, hence the arrival of the new R.E.D. range of staplers and nailers from Arrow Corporation.
They have a brand new look, brand new packaging and a sharp new outlook.
Although the new products are all coloured a smart postbox red, the R.E.D. in the name stands for Reliability, Ergonomics and Durability and they aim to bring the new Arrow staplers completely up-to-date. I was given the T50 R.E.D. stapler/brad nailer to try out, perhaps because my affection for the old T50 is well known.
For the retailer, the new packaging will be a plus. The clear plastic partial-cover packaging allows the user to see the complete product at a glance, so there is no need for purchasers to unpack boxes (which inevitably get left open to pilfering and damage) in order to see what they are getting.
The operating handle is left completely free of packaging so that a purchaser can try for size by simply removing the stapler from its display hook and hefting it in a realistic way. The printed card inner packaging contains the instructions and safety advice, with a quick guide to sizes of staples and brads that can be used in the R.E.D. T50, and the whole lot is just big enough not to be easily tucked under a jumper out of the way!
In comparison to the old T50, the R.E.D. seems quite big, but it is in fact quite a bit lighter since it is made of cast alloy. While the old guard may complain that cast alloy might not be up to the job, I urge them to look under the trigger handle. There you will see that the castings are very crisp and deeply ribbed, so they are in fact, very strong.
There are many modern touches too. The underside of the body grip, as well as the trigger handle are covered with an ample layer of rubberized material that ensures comfort in sustained use and a good grip on the machine. The rubberized material continues forward from the trigger handle right onto the front of the machine where it can be gripped firmly by the other hand when pushing the stapler down onto the work.
Another innovation is that this stapler has a power selection lever situated on the left side of the body. This allows the user to select the power needed to either drive the staple or brad home flush with the material or indeed just below flush, ready to be filled to conceal the fixing. I must admit that I found this feature great when I was making a small wooden box recently and I was able to conceal the brads without resorting to using a nail punch.
Loading the stapler with staples or brads is as easy as the old T50 – just pull the black plastic handle at the back of the staple magazine down a bit to unlock it, slide the pusher back and slip the staples into the magazine. Brads need to be loaded into the correct side of the magazine and this is indicated by a marker on the inside of the magazine, as well as an aperture on the left hand side of the body as you look down on it. The pusher is then slid back and locked into place, where the spring loading will ensure a smooth supply of staples or brads.
Only continued use will tell, but in all the time I used the R.E.D. I had no misfires, either with staples or brads. This may be due to the fact that the Arrow brand staples and brads I was given to use, are well made compared to some cheaper mass-market types. Clearing a misfire with the R.E.D. is no drama, since all you have to do is open the magazine and pull out the bent staple – exactly like the old T50.
The R.E.D. line of staplers and nailers is the result of eighteen months of work by Arrow Corporation in the US. Over a thousand interviews with professional users were consulted in order to find out exactly what they wanted in a range of stapling tools. The interviews suggested that the new staplers should be lighter, as tough as the old range and provide more power and versatility. The Arrow designers then set to work to fulfill the brief and, as they say, the rest is (modern) history.
Testing my “if it ain’t broke” theory I used the R.E.D. T50 for a range of tasks that I normally use my old T50 for. I reasoned that if I liked the R.E.D. more, then the designers would have succeeded.
First impressions in the hand were a little less favourable than the bright red initial look since the big trigger handle felt quite big in my hand. However, that comparison didn’t last long. The trigger of the R.E.D. is bigger, but easier to squeeze and seems to result in a much more powerful “thwack” as the staple is driven in. It seems as if it is truly is a more ergonomic design and easier to use, and therefore easier to use for longer periods. I really liked the grip and comfort that the rubber cushioning gave, as well as some protection from the hammer action of the stapler. The action of the trigger is really quite progressive and smooth, no doubt due to the wheeled lever bearing in the handle.
I am also convinced of the sheer handiness of having a stapler and a nailer in one tool. The brad nailer worked very well, and a 25mm brad maximum is a very reasonable sized capacity for a hand nailer. The whole design is very easy to use, whether it is loading the nails or staples, or adjusting the power of the staple whacker.
I think Arrow has hit the nail on the head with this design, and courtesy of them, the R.E.D. is going straight into my toolbox, and I guess my old T50 is destined for the loft and a comfy retirement.