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Instructions for KAM Snap Pliers


Pliers should be very easy to use.  If you are having difficulties with your pliers, then there is most likely a problem with set-up or with the snap size you are using for your particular fabric density and thickness.  Most problems are due to user error so please read the instructions in their entirety and practice on scrap fabric before using your pliers. Refer to the Troubleshooting section below for guidance on specific problems.




*------------------------------- Preparing Your Pliers -------------------------------*

Pliers are lubricated to keep the parts running smoothly and prevent rusting prior to use. Just wipe off any excess oil with a damp cloth and you're good to go. 

Be sure to tighten all 3 metal screws before use.


*-------------------------- Fitting the Cap (Bottom) Die --------------------------*

>> If you have multiple snap sizes and need guidance and which snaps to use, visit our Guide to Snaps section. Or, just have fun experimenting--on scrap fabric of course!


Use the cap die that exactly fits your plastic cap. The cap should sit completely and comfortably inside the inner cup of the die.  If any part of the cap is resting on the raised outer edge of the die, then that die is too small and your snaps may crack. 

The pliers are usually pre-installed with the T5 die, but double check!

Below is a quick reference for the K1 model pliers (does *not* apply to any other pliers):

  • Sz20 & Heart & Flower = T5 die
  • Sz16 = T3 die included in the standard pliers package
  • Sz14 = also labeled T3 but has a smaller inner cup than the one for sz16
  • Sz22 & Star = T8A die


To change a cap die, simply use the screwdriver to loosen the screw under the die, insert the appropriate die, then tighten the screw. Do not overtighten the black screw, as that will cause the screw to strip faster.  Just tighten it enough to keep it secure.


*------------------ Fitting the Metal Shank with Rubber Tip ------------------* 

Be sure to tighten all 3 metal screws before use and periodically over time.

Most pliers come with a large head shank (left in photo below) and a small head shank (right in photo below). The difference is in the diameter of the tips.  You will need to remove the rubber and determine which shank has the smaller tip. 

  • #20 & smaller snaps = small head shank
  • #22 & optional flatter press on #20 SOCKETS = large head shank
  • Pliers are usually pre-installed with the small head shank, but double check!

Most pliers come with only 2 shanks, but we actually offer 3 versions in our store for the K1 model pliers (does *not* apply to any other pliers):

The K1 model pliers have 2 small versions of the shank and the large.  (Does *not* apply to any other model.)  Both versions of the small head shank should work with the same snaps, but we have found that each version is ideal for certain sizes, as described below.

3 different metal shanks for the K1 model pliers:

  • Small, dome/concave tip = ideal for #20 snaps
  • Small, circular/bullseye tip = ideal for #14/16 snaps but also commonly used with #20
  • Large, circular/bullseye tip = ideal for #22 snaps and may provide a flatter press for #20 sockets


Here's how to change out the metal shank:

Unscrew the screw at top of the shank and remove the spring.

Pull off the rubber tip and slide the metal shank out.

Reverse these instructions to install the correct metal shank.

Be sure to tighten all 3 metal screws before use and periodically over time.

*----------------------------- Using the Pliers -----------------------------*

Practice on scrap fabric first to get the hang of it before applying snaps to your actual project. Removing plastic snaps can be very time-consuming!

To begin snapping, first make sure all 3 metal screws are tightened well.  Then use the awl to poke a hole through your scrap fabric where you want the snap to be. We recommend using at least 2 layers of sturdy, non-stretchable fabric to avoid tearing over time.

Place the prong of your cap through the hole.

Place the socket/female or stud/male over the cap prong.

Make sure the cap sits perfectly and comfortably within cup of the cap die.  Hold your snap in place and firmly squeeze the pliers closed. 

TIP: You may find it easier to press down if you place the bottom of the pliers on a hard surface like a table, so that you have some leverage.

The prong should be smashed down into a flat pancake. The pancake should be wide enough to hold the socket/stud in place.  If the ball isn't flat enough, your snap will fall apart or won't close.


Here's a video showing how the pliers work


*----------------------------- Maintenance -----------------------------*

Pliers may squeak. This does not affect their function, but if it bothers you, you can spray WD40 or other lubricant on the metal screws, metal hinge, and metal shank to lessen the squeaking.

Pliers parts will wear out and will need to be replaced periodically. You can find replacement parts here.

You may find it easier on your hands to wrap some fabric or padding around the handle for cushioning. The pliers in the following photo were wrapped in craft foam and white electrical tape.


*----------------------- Troubleshooting -----------------------*

Having problems with your snaps?  Click here for troubleshooting tips on the most common issues.


*-----------------------------  Removing Snaps -----------------------------*

The easiest way to remove plastic snaps from fabric is with our KAMsnaps Removal Pliers but click here for several alternative options.


*------------  Installing Pronged Studs to Make Double-Sided Snaps --------------*

Click here for instructions on how to install pronged studs to make double-sided snaps.


*--------------------- Mounting Pliers ---------------------*
A base mount can help with leveraging which may make squeezing the pliers a bit easier, especially for those who suffer from hand pain.  A base mount is available for purchase, or you can build your own.

This base was built by a user who has tendonitis. Just to give you an idea of a way to "improve" the pliers if you can't afford or don't want to invest in a table-top press. Leila from provides details and measurements of her base here.