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Ridgid's narrow crown stapler is compact but powerful and tough.
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Ridgid R150FSA, 18Ga Finish Stapler

Compact Power and Durability

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

Narrow crown staplers are quickly growing in popularity with woodworkers for securing thin ply back panels and other light attachment tasks. The holding power of a two-legged staple over simple brads, along with the ease of installation are both attractive features to professional and home woodworkers.

The R150FSA Kit

In addition to the very nice, protective carry case, the R150FSA kit includes the stapler itself, 1,000 1"-long staples, an extra no-mar tip, Allen wrenches, safety glasses and instruction manual set with fastener selection guide and a complete parts listing.

Oil-Free Air Motor

The oil-free motor is machined into a tough, magnesium housing.
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Machined into the light but very strong magnesium housing, the R150FSA motor features an internal piston catch that insures a precise, full stroke on every shot. This feature produces a high level of consistency throughout the normal line pressure variations between compressor cycles.

Designed to be oil-free, the R150FSA motor is durable without the daily maintenance of adding oil before each use. Despite the no-oil design, the R150FSA motor delivers crisp, consistent blows with every shot.

The motor is designed to operate with line pressures between 70 and 120 PSI. Air consumption is very small at 0.04 ft per-cycle at 100 lbs of line pressure.

Air In & Out

The swivel air inlet, positionable rear exhaust and belt hook make the R150FSA handy and comfortable to use.
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The R150FSA air inlet features a swivel connector that accepts the common ¼"-female quick coupler. The swivel feature helps eliminate twisted hoses and the tangles they produce. Allowing the hose to hang from the gun at an angle also reduces the strain on the hand when using the gun at virtually any angle.

Another creature comfort of the R150FSA is the rear-mounted exhaust that can be set throughout a 360-degree circle to avoid blowing on the operator or other directions that could present a problem on the job. A rear-mounted exhaust is a good idea to start with; making it directional makes this a feature I think you will see on competing brands in the near future.

Magazine

The bottom-loading magazine is easy to fill and empty.
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Note: The R150FSA instruction manual warns to have the air hose connected before loading staples into the magazine because the driving mechanism could cycle by itself when the air pressure is first applied. Make sure the magazine is empty before connecting the air line.
Starting with an empty magazine is a good idea with any air nailer and a practice all of us should make part of our standard procedure to maximize safety.

The magazine is loaded from the bottom by opening the follower and simply dropping a strip of fasteners in. The magazine has a capacity of 110 staples and has a pair of sight windows that allow the operator to see if the supply of fasteners is nearly exhausted. The magazine handles the full 3/8" to 1 ½"-long staple range without modification.

The R150FSA also has a dry-fire lockout built into the magazine that prevents the gun from trying to shoot staples when none are left. This helps prevent missing staples in the project as well as damage to the gun itself or empty dimples in the project, both caused by dry firing.

Trigger Modes

The R150FSA trigger is factory set in the "Single Sequential Activation" mode which means the safety nose must be depressed and then the trigger pulled to fire each fastener. For the vast majority of woodworkers, this is the only trigger mode necessary.

The trigger can be changed from the single the Single Sequential (single fire) to Contact Actuation (bump fire) modes easily but will not do it on it's own!
The depth control is easy to reach, use and is effective.
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By changing a spring-loaded barrel switch in the trigger, the R150FSA can be converted to the "Contact Actuation" mode, meaning the operator can hold the trigger and fire a series of staples, one each time the safety nose is "bumped" on the work piece. Commonly known as "bump fire", this mode is generally used by professionals who have considerable experience with this actuation mode and are doing a job that does not require the accuracy of most woodworking stapling tasks.

Changing from Single Sequential (single fire) to Contact Actuation (bump fire) requires a conscious effort that while easy to do, makes it impossible for this change to happen accidentally.

Note: Woodworkers will find it nearly impossible to be accurate with any nail gun in the Contact Actuation mode. Plus, this can be dangerous if someone else picks up the gun and is not aware of this capability. It is a good idea to return the gun to Single Sequential operation before storing it just to be safe.

Depth Control

A key feature of air staplers is controlling the depth to which fasteners are driven. Because we often use these guns for attaching ¼"-thick (and thinner) sheet goods, this is a particularly important feature to prevent the fastener from being driven most of the way through the material.

The R150FSA has a dial located just below the trigger, complete with graphics that show which way to turn it. The dial has detents that help quantify how much of a change is being made.

Grip and Controls

The handle area of the R150FSA has a rubber over mold that makes it both comfortable and slip resistant. Though this gun develops little impact shock at the handle, that amount is reduced even more by the rubber grip.

The diameter of the handle and placement of the trigger make the R150FSA comfortable to use for virtually any hand size. In addition, the layout of the gun gives a good feel of balance even with the hose connected.

At the rear of the handle is a positionable belt loop that allows the operator to go hands-free between stapling tasks.

In the Shop

The grip is comfortable and non-slip, giving the operator very good control without tiring.
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At only 2.6 lbs with overall dimensions of 9 5/8 by 9 ¾", the R150FSA is very easy to handle, including in small areas. Between the light weight and swivel hose, using the R150FSA for extended periods of time is not tiring.

The R150FSA is very consistent in driving power throughout line pressure variations common to small compressors. Even just before the compressor runs, staples were driven fully in all types of wood I tried, including oak.

The depth control is effective but requires enough change at the dial to make controlling the amount of change easy. This can be an important feature for the home woodworker who does not use a staple gun daily.

The R150FSA does not have a flip-open jam-clearing mechanism but also does not seem to need one. A path is built into the magazine (shown in the instruction manual) through which a flat-bladed screwdriver can be inserted to push the driver bar back and free a jammed fastener. Throughout testing, the R150FSA never jammed, misfired or did anything out of the ordinary so I did not have to try this system though it appears easy to use.

The depth control works well, making it easy to staple even thin ply without weakening the grip of the staple.
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Overall, the R150FSA is a nicely sized narrow crown stapler with a wide range of fastener capability and plenty of power for any home woodworking or job site task. The driving tip is small enough to make placing staples exactly where desired simple.

The quality of the materials and construction as well as the design of the operating mechanisms are all first rate and promise many years of trouble-free use with minimal, common-sense care.

With a street price of $119.00 (10-19-2005) the Ridgid R150FSA is a good value for the job site or home woodworking shop.

The Ridgid R150FSA, and other Ridgid air nailers, is available at your local Home Depot or on line at www.homedepot.com.

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