How To Use a Grommet Tool

Grommets are metal, plastic or rubber rings used to reinforce or embellish different types of fabrics or materials. Smaller grommets are called eyelets, normally used in handy crafts and clothing items. On the other hand, larger grommets called cringles are generally utilized for home or boat fixtures and other more heavy-duty applications.   

Whether for home repairs, scrap booking or leather work, setting grommets are easy if you have the right tools and know the proper ways to use them. Depending on your purpose, there are various grommet setting tools available. 

For heavy-duty applications or mass production, a heavy, lever-type grommet machine is normally preferable. However, handheld kits are often sufficient for lighter or home applications. A normal set of handheld grommet tools include several grommets as well as setting and cutting devices. The most commonly used are the pliers-type and hammer punch setting tools. This article will guide through the basic process of grommet setting using these handheld tools.

  • Select the right grommet. Before setting, you need to measure two things - the object to be inserted into the grommet and the space available on the material where the grommet shall be placed. Using these measurements, assess the size of grommet to be used. Also consider the material to be used in selecting whether to use metal, plastic or rubber grommets. 
  • Mark the placements on material. Once you have prepared the grommet pairs, lay down the material and mark the placements of the grommets. If you are going insert a line of grommets, start from the center of the material going outwards to the side.
  • Punch a hole through the material. Most pliers and hammer grommet tools come with a hold punch. Strike the punch with just enough force using a rubber mallet.
  • Insert the grommet through hole in the material. The grommet is inserted from the outside surface of "right side" of the material. The second ring to be placed on the other side of the material is called a "washer."
  • Set the grommet using the pliers setting tool. Hold the pliers with the longer center "probe" at the lower jaw. Insert the material into the pliers, so that the grommet is held by the lower jaw with the fabric on top and the washer by the upper jaw. The probe on the lower jaw should traverse the grommet hole. Press the pliers to close and hold for several seconds to set the grommet evenly and tightly.
  • Set the grommet using the hammer punch. With fabric on top, securely position the grommet onto the groove on top of the metal disk. Place the washer on top of the fabric and insert the steel setting tool through the grommet hole. Strike the setting tool three to four times using a rawhide or rubber mallet to set the grommet.

To prevent any waste in materials, always test the grommet and the setting technique on a sample of the actual material before proceeding with the project. It is almost impossible to remove a grommet once it's been set so always work with due care and certainty.


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