How to Make a Gripper Strip Frame for Punch Needle

I’ve been wanting to make a Gripper Strip Frame for quite some time now. After I finally found the time to make one, I left myself wondering why I didn’t do it earlier. Overall, it was quite simple to make. 

Although, my first super important, big helpful tip of the day is: Get someone to help you! 🙂 

The fine metal teeth on the gripper strips are very sharp. I hulled myself up in a hotel one night in an effort to be super productive. I was super resourceful and have a useful tip if you just can’t find anyone to help. 

But in the process, I tore up my poor unassuming fingers. These strips are sharp folks! (I also forgot gloves.)

Outside of the sharp teeth, I found myself on top of the world for assembling my own frame! AND these bad boys are awesome! You lay your fabric on top and you’re ready. Yes, that’s right, you read it correctly. You LAY your fabric over it and you’re set. So simple! 

So let’s not wait any longer, here’s how you can make your own! 

Punch Needle Gripper Strip Frame materials

Materials needed: 

  • 1 – 1x3x8 Pine Board – I used this from Home Depot. (Recommend having Home Depot cut for you.)
  • Sandpaper
  • Door stopper (optional but super useful) – I used this from Home Depot
  • Gripper strips – You can buy here in my shop: Gripper Strips Note: Strips are 40″ long. 1 strip will be enough for 1 – 12″ frame. 2 strips will be needed for 14″ or 20″ frame. 
  • Staples
  • Staple gun
  • Wood or Drywall Screws (at least 2.5” long) – I used these from Home Depot
  • Screwdriver or Drill
  • Wood glue
  • Pencil
  • Clamps (optional)

1. Cut boards to length

I typically have my husband build this kind of project. He’s very handy and can usually whip up anything in minutes. 

This time I wanted to do it all on my own! I even wanted to buy the wood at Home Depot and have them cut it for me. Unfortunately, the land of 3 young children and building a business doesn’t always allow for full individual wish granting. 

My husband bought and cut the wood for me. Home Depot and I believe Lowe’s will do the cutting for you. My husband has them cut it for him all the time. 

A little stay at home mom trick: go during the day, during the week. If you work, try to go over your break. It will save you time and maybe even skip out on grumpy workers. 

Now to the math part. You will want to determine the size of your frame. I, apparently, like to go big and went for the 20” frame. 

I dreamed of making beautiful 18” pillows, store room ready of course. And I regret it 100%. It is far too big. I like to turn my frame when I punch, but this huge frame makes it so awkward it’s not even worth it. 

I also like to enjoy the outdoors or sit on my couch while I punch. The large frame makes this almost impossible. The only place I could comfortably punch was my kitchen table. Not to mention the storage. It takes up my entire kitchen counter. 

While I love my gripper strip frame, I plan to make a much smaller one soon. 

What size is the right size? I’m going to say it’s personal preference. I think 12” or 14” frames would be good options. From what I’ve seen from others, 12” frames seems to be the most common. 

A fun fact for you: If you use rug wool yarn, you can move your punch needle project as you work. The rug yarn is sturdy enough to stand up to the metal spikes allowing you to set the yarn on top of the spikes as you work. 

Board Lengths

For the 20” frame in photos and the video, I have 2 boards at 20” and 2 boards at 18.5”.

14” frame = 2 boards at 14” and 2 boards at 12.5”

12” frame = 2 boards at 12” and 2 boards at 10.5”

Fun math for you: Did you know standard construction boards are typically shorter than the listed dimensions? A standard 2×4 board is actually 1 ½ ’ x 3 ½ ”. The reason is that the wood is 2×4” when it is cut from the log. The drying and planing of the wood then reduce the wood to the 1 ½” x 3 ½”. So for our project, our board is 1x3x8. The 1” is reduced to ¾”. This is why your shorter boards are 1 ½” shorter than the longer boards. Your longer boards will sit on the outside of the shorter boards. Because your longer boards are ¾” wide and there are 2 (1 on each side), they will make up for the 1 ½” extra for the shorter boards. 

2. Sand edges of the wood

Once your wood is cut, it will have rough edges from the saw blade. You want to run your sandpaper over the edges to smooth them out and remove any splinters. 

Sanded edge of the cut wood edge

3. Pre-drill holes to make assembly easier

This can be an optional step. If you’re handy with a drill, you may not need to do this part. 

I knew I would struggle to hold my boards and get the screw to go in, so I resourcefully pre-drilled my holes using a door stopper I found in my junk drawer. 

To understand where your screws will be going, it’s helpful to first explain how the frame will fit together. Your 2 longer boards will fit on the outside of your frame. The 2 shorter boards will fit in between these 2 longer boards. 

In the picture below, the 20″ boards are on the outside. The 18.5″ board fits inside the 2 – 20″ boards. (If you’re doing a 12″ frame, the 12″ boards will be on the outside and the 10.5″ board in the middle.)

Long boards fit on the outside of the short board to make wood frame

This means your 2 pre-drill holes will be on the outside of your longer boards. On each end. 

Pre-drill holes on long boards

Using your door stopper, screw in 2 holes on the top and bottom of the same side of your longer boards. I used my other boards to mark a line using a pencil so I made sure my pre-drill holes were inside this area.

Use a pencil to mark the area of pre-drill hole

Long board (20”, 14” or 12”) – Top of board, 2 pre-drill holes. Bottom of board (same side as top), 2 pre-drill holes. 

Pre-drill screw holes on both ends of the long boards

4. Start screw in the board until just a tiny bit sticks out the other side

I found it easiest to assemble the frame solo by using this little trick. I started my screw in the wood just far enough that the tiniest bit of the screw end popped out the other side. 

Tip of screw sticking out the other side

The screw end helped me hold the boards together while I screwed the screw in the rest of the way. 

Hold board on table or in arms. Using your drill or screwdriver, screw the screw into one of your pre-drill holes. 

5. Apply glue to joint area

Place a small bead of wood glue on the inside of your board. 

Apply wood glue at joint

6. Use screwdriver to screw in wood screw to hold corners together

Screw corners together

7. Repeat all corners

8. Cut Gripper strips 

There will be no gripper strips on the corners. The gripper strip will fit inside the edges. 

Cut the strips to fit inside this edge. I held up my strip and used my finger to mark about where I wanted to cut it. This does not have to be exact. 

Cut 4 strips. 

9. Staple Gripper strip to the top frame side (⅛” from the side to avoid splitting wood)

Before we talk about stapling, we need to discuss the metal spikes. The metal spikes are angled in one direction to allow for better fabric hold.

If the spikes are facing the wrong direction, they will not hold the fabric. (I may or may not have done this…..I will not tell……okay, okay, I totally did this. 2 of my first strips were pointed the wrong way and thus did not hold the fabric.)

Ensure the spikes are angled down toward the outside.

Angle the metal spikes down toward the outside

Now you know which way to lay your spikes, let’s talk about the wood. The 1×3 wood is relatively thin making it easy for the staple to split the edge of the wood. To avoid splitting, start your gripper strip edge ⅛” in from the edge. 

Staple the top first. I started in the middle of the strip, then stapled the outside of each side and finished off by filling in everything in the middle.

Staple the top gripper strip first starting in the middle and working outward

Your staples will be very close together. You will insert A LOT of staples. 

Staples in the gripper strip

10. Bend Gripper strip over the side and staple

Use clamps or second set of hands to bend the strip over the side. 

Bend the gripper strip over the side and staple

This is where I highly recommend using a second set of hands. While you can do it by yourself using a clamp, it was much harder and took a lot longer. 

If by yourself, using a section of gripper strip and a clamp, fold the gripper strip over the frame’s edge. Clamp down the edge of the gripper strip. While clamp is in place, insert staples along strip. 

Use clamp and a section of the gripper strip to hold down the strip and staple

Try to staple as many as possible before moving your clamp. The gripper strip is stiff and sturdy. If too few staples are inserted, the strip pops up taking the staples with it. 

Move clamp to another section and repeat process. Do this until the entire strip has been stapled. 

If you have help!! Starting in the middle, have your buddy bend the strip over the edge of the frame. Be nice to your buddy and give him some gloves!! 

Your helper can hold the strip down with his thumbs while you insert the staples along the entire edge of the strip. 

11. Repeat all 4 sides

12. Enjoy your frame!! 

To use your frame, you simply lay the fabric on the frame and then using both hands pull it down over the sides to tighten. 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me or comment below!

Here is the complete tutorial by video. Check out my YouTube channel for more Punch Needle tutorials!!

Until Next Time!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. It was my first true all video tutorial! I learned a lot and have so much more to learn. Let me know your thoughts. What you liked? What you thought would be beneficial to know?

As always, have fun!

Warmest,

Shawna