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Poor Man's Carpet Stretcher

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Old 08-26-2007, 04:35 PM   #1
Glacier991
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Poor Man's Carpet Stretcher

Over the years I have laid a bit of carpet here and there, and along the way acquired most all of the tools necessary to do that (knee kickers, knives, cutters, seaming iron, etc) but the one tool I did not own was a stretcher. Why? Because they are insanely expensive. SO.... whenever I needed one I rented it... usually not cheaply either I might add and inconvenient.

Harbor freight sells a carpet stretcher ... $60 full price, and $40 when it is on sale. I have a coupon for 15% off and when it recently went on sale I bought one - $39.99 less 15% -= about $33.

Overall it is not a bad little unit, but it only extends to about 6 feet....

I got to thinking and did some snooping around and found out that 1-1/4 inch electrical steel conduit is the exact size of one of the tubes (The big outer one) this thing uses - and that chain link fencing uses a small tube the exact size of the smaller one ( 1.314 inches in diameter and with one end smaller to connect together -both the conduit andthe fence tube are available at Home Depot)...so... about $20 later I have two 10' tubes, an inner and an outer... I cut them into two pieces each, drilled the outer and will be adding the steel clips to the inner (I was able to order them from HF) and I will have a stretcher capable of just about anything for less than the usual cost to rent a commercial one. I'll post some pics here later - paint is still drying.

Last edited by Glacier991; 08-26-2007 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 08-26-2007, 04:49 PM   #2
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Glacier, hey sweet! Carpet stretchers are right up my alley these days..

We are in the market for one as well, we have an installer that needs a decent one

Can you post pics of your project??

If its a standard style carpet stretcher (compatible with other units) you may also be able to get some cheap poles that just attach to your HF unit??




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Old 08-26-2007, 05:23 PM   #3
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I'll try and get some pix up tonight. I have no idea if the commercial tubes will work or not but this was cheap and easy.
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Old 08-26-2007, 05:30 PM   #4
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Julee, my GF and I were just reading this and we went and checked out the HF stretcher after your post.

Its kind of unique really, it uses what looks like a stretcher head instead of the expensive style stretcher heads (expensive commercial duty stretcher)
for $40 this could be a very useful tool!

Julee's son is one of her installers (she has a carpet business) and he is just getting out on his own, he needs a cheap stretcher.
this sucker may work perfect for small jobs (one room drops)

From the pictures the tubes do look similar to commercial strether tubes, they may interchange!

Installers usually have extra tubes laying around they want to get rid of, just FYI


Just for your entertainment check out this new sucker on the market, the Bher claw

http://www.tools4flooring.com/behr-c...ool-p-802.html




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Old 08-26-2007, 06:00 PM   #5
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Hmm.. I may have some spare tubes laying around from my Roberts kit. I'll have to check if you need them. I haven't tried the harbor freight one myself, not sure on the reliability and durability of it but for ocassional use I'm sure it'll work but when I was installing carpet, those things would get used alot since every job required it. A rule of thumb is to try to get 1 to 2% of the width & length of the carpet when stretching. You can get attachments for them probably too if they fit the Roberts or Crain versions. They have things like a tail that go into the carpet & padding into a wood floor or making a dead man for concrete floors. Another thing to remember is that if you have a pattern berber is to stretch carefully so the pattern is uniform around a wall.. I had countless jobs that required that. Such a pain.
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Old 08-26-2007, 06:42 PM   #6
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Ok here's some pics.... this is what comes in the HF kit....



Here is a pic of the business side head unit...(Note, it is not as wide as a commercial unit)



Now the easy way to extend this is simply to buy electrical conduit and simply do the larger tube... in fact that is what I would recommend... I had to also do the smaller tube "just because".

Here is the preparation of a small tube for the gizmo that locks two tubes together





This is the "factory" model



Here are the innards. HF sells them for a buck a part, $3 each end (Which is why it may make better sense to just make the outer tube and save $$.





Here is ONE long tube mixed into the HF setup... really adds!



Here is how it fits with the factory setup piece



And lastly here is the stretcher using one of my outer tubes.... the length you can make is up to your imagination.



Hope this helps. Ya know I had thought that at $3 for a tube end it might be cheaper to buy a 2nd stretcher... and "borrow" those parts...which would give you a chance to have something cool. a 2 headed stretcher! You might need to drill holes on a big tube 180 apart to make it work.

ps. I may add a hardwood backing to the foot to make it wider and easier on walls.

Last edited by Glacier991; 08-26-2007 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 08-26-2007, 06:46 PM   #7
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Ben... I am still waiting for my seaming lesson <g>.
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Old 08-26-2007, 06:51 PM   #8
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It should come soon.. Neighbor's wife dropped a iron on the carpet when it was plugged in and hot..
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Old 08-28-2007, 09:51 PM   #9
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Well my timing was perfect. A buddy was going to hire out a simple single room carpet replacement. With my new stretcher and my other tools I was all set so we popped in a 12x14 room carpet tonight and I got to try out my little HF stretcher and he got free labor for an install.

How did it work? In a word, sweet. Worked like a champ.

Caveats: The head is a little smaller than a commercial one, so plan accordingly. With Berber this little head might be an issue, or at least require more care and feeding ... but for the plush it was fine. Add something to the foot unit... it needs a larger spread....

I wish I had made a couple shorter tubes. Hell ... iI mean at this point I could stretch a 24 foot run with what I have... had to adapt a little to get it right where I wanted it ... but the stock 6 hole tube helped.

For the "occasional" user or for an installer doing drop in room replacements this works just fine. Would it stand up to the abuse of a big Roberts? For a while anyway <g>.

Nice addition to round out my installers tools. Cheaply.

ps. I always forget just HOW sharp installer knife blades are.....ow.
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Old 08-29-2007, 09:41 AM   #10
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so funny that this is a topic on the forum this week, we were doing seeming lessons in teh kitchen last night with some scrap carpet. My GF was an installer for like 15 years, her son is trying to get good enough to go out on his own so shes teaching him and practice makes perfect!




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Old 08-29-2007, 09:44 AM   #11
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For good seams make sure you use quality seaming tape like Orcon K-40. Some of those cheap ones at Home Depot & Lowes just aren't up to par for when you use a power stretcher, I had a job long ago where they supplied a cheap tape and upon using the power stretcher across 2 12' wide lengths, the seem split pulling the backing off the carpet.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:32 AM   #12
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Glacier, maybe Harbor Freight would be interested in marketing your version of the stretcher?
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Old 09-11-2007, 11:42 AM   #13
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Hey Could you post the part numbers for the locking mechanism for the tube ends.... I don't even know what the correct name of the parts are... except for the spring, but I am unable to locate the parts on Harbor Freight's website. Thanks
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:31 PM   #14
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There are no parts numbers per se. In the parts diagram in the owners manual the parts are numbered in the exploded diagram as follows:

22 Caulker
23 Spring
24 Push Pin

I was quoted $1 for each.
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