The fist tack strip machines were very similar to what shoe cobblers at the time were using to repair or manufacture shoes. A strip of wood manually loaded on one side of the machine pressed pins through, while the head nails were manually placed using a press. These were called single pin machines. They produced an erratic but acceptable product that along with “tufting” revolutionized the carpet industry in the 1960s.
The largest development came in the 1980s when a patented multi-pinner machine was put into production around the world. This type of automation lowered the labor costs dramatically. Less expensive alternatives from overseas had a difficult task competing with the U.S. now that American labor was no longer a problem for manufacturers.
The biggest problem for U.S. manufacturers came from within as one company purchased production and consolidated the tack strip business by the late 1990s. Consolidation (in this case) resulted in increased prices and few alternatives for distribution, retailers and installers. As prices increased, imported products became more appealing due to the lower cost. But as we all know, quality is sometimes hard to find overseas. But times they are a-changing!
With the history lesson over, what do we have to look forward to today? Look atPhoto 1, the top piece of strip is a quality product available today, and manufactured overseas. The bottom piece of strip shows what was available 20 years ago, manufactured in the U.S. Do you see any difference?
I was lucky enough to visit a residential job site with my good friend John Shoffner, a CFI kind of guy. He allowed me to do some of the dirty work in order to get the following photos for educational purposes in exchange for free labor (mine).
You Make the CallHe still has his super zoomo kneepads on, but look, he is standing. John likes to be comfortable when he is on his knees (you can tell by the high-end knee pads), but like all of us, he feels best when standing.
Again, taking the extra step, John is reinforcing both the new and old tack strip with a pneumatic stapler.Photo 10shows the unit, and where he got the universal handle that allows him to stand is still a mystery but as John says, “Any tool that gets me off my knees is worth the money”!
Did he need to reinforce the strip? That’s a good question, so I asked him. “Well Bill,” he said, “we will be properly stretching this new carpet (unlike the old rug) and I don’t like re-fixing something I already fixed.”
Thanks again for reading, and have a great day!