How to Make a DIY Gripper Frame for Punch Needle | Video + Tutorial

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Have you been wanting to upgrade to a Gripper Frame for your punch needle projects? 

Learn how to make your own for half the cost in this DIY Gripper Frame tutorial!

DIY Gripper Frame for punch needle

I’ve been wanting to get a gripper frame for a while, but I just kept putting it off. 

There are some great ones available online, but when I know there’s a way to make it myself and save money, I just have to try it.

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What’s So Great About a Gripper Frame, Anyway?

Gripper frames are awesome because they hold your foundation fabric SUPER tight (with no slipping).  

You can use them for Monk’s cloth, Weaver’s cloth, rug linen, and linen.

You can customize the size and have a nice large area for punching, and if your project is larger than the work area, you can carefully move it on the frame.

If you want to see some popular gripper frames for sale (that I totally recommend if you don’t want to make your own), here’s a great one, and here’s another.  

Below you’ll find a written and video tutorial that will show you exactly how to make your own gripper frame. 

It’s not difficult, but there are a few places where things can go terribly wrong (believe me, I found out the hard way!) so you’ll definitely want to read and watch the video before you take the plunge.

The frame for this project is the easiest part of the whole thing. 

You can buy sets of canvas stretcher bars, and they have slots on the ends that just slide right together.  No nails or screws required!

Canvas stretcher bars for DIY gripper frame

Supplies You’ll Need to Make a DIY Gripper Frame for Punch Needle

DIY Gripper Frame Tutorial

Assemble the Frame

This part is super easy, the ends have slots that slide together.

Assemble canvas stretcher bars

Once it’s put together, I recommend stapling the seams together on the back so they don’t slide apart while you’re attaching the gripper strips.

Staples on back of canvas stretcher bars

Cut the Gripper Strips

Next, measure the inside width of one of the sides.  That’s roughly how long you need to cut the gripper strips.  (It doesn’t have to be exact.)

showing where to measure for cutting the gripper strips

This part is important.  Mark where you are going to cut the gripper strips.  Then, remove a row of the metal staples from the back of the gripper strip where you’re going to cut.  

Removing staples from gripper strips

They pop right out.  (This is what the awl is for in the supply list but you can use any pointy tool you want.  

Staple removed from gripper strip

I say this is important because I didn’t do this at first.  I just tried to cut through with my scissors. It somewhat worked, but it was really hard to cut and also my scissors took a major beating.  Learn from my mistake!

Row of staples removed from gripper strip

While we’re talking about learning from mistakes, I have another one for you!

The little spikes on the gripper strips bend in one direction.  It’s important to have them pointing away from the inside of the frame. 

Gripper strip teeth pointing in one direction

I (of course) stapled two of the gripper strips on facing the wrong way at first, and my fabric didn’t stick when I tried to stretch it. 

After doing some quick research, I figured out my mistake. Luckily it wasn’t too hard to remove the strips and put them back on the right way. 

So yeah, don’t do that!

Attach the Gripper Strips

Once you get all your strips cut, line one up with the inside edge of the frame (facing the right direction), leaving about an ⅛ to ¼ inch of space from the edge, and staple it securely in place with the “T” staples.

Staple gripper strip to frame
This is a reenactment, yours won’t be stapled on the top yet.

I recommend putting a staple every ½” or so.

Staples placed roughly every half inch on gripper frame

Repeat that process on each side.

Now, make sure you have on your gloves (once again, I learned this the hard way!)  Hold the frame upright and wrap the gripper strip over onto the top of the frame.

Staple top of gripper strip to frame

Press down the gripper strip and staple every ½” along the edge. 

You’ll need to hold the leading edge of the gripper strip down while you do this, if you don’t the staples tend to pop out.

Repeat this process on each side.


DIY Gripper Frame for punch needle

You did it!  That wasn’t so bad, was it?  Ok, I had a few issues, but all in all, I’m over the moon for my new DIY Gripper Frame!

Let us know in the comments down below if you made one of these and how the process went for you. 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! What size gripper frame is your favorite?

The 18” one I made is a little on the larger size, but it’s perfect for some projects I’m working on (that you’ll be hearing more about in the near future!)

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One Comment

  1. Thanks! I was trying to make a very small frame using an old picture frame for small pieces of scrap weavers cloth and could not cut through the gripper strips. I never thought about removing a row. Thanks for your info! Very helpful. Maria

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