Most people buy their bathmats and small area rugs at the store, never thinking about how they’re made or where they come from. We settle for the designs and colors available, not realizing how simple it can be to make our own custom rugs.
When diving into the world of tufting, it can be easy to jump straight into the yarn options. With so many colors and fibers to choose from, it’s one of the more exciting aspects to rug tufting.
However, you can’t get started tufting without the essential piece that makes the whole process possible: a tufting gun.
So, what are tufting guns? Tufting guns are a power tool designed to tuft yarn onto a cloth to create a rug. There are three types of tufting guns: cut pile, loop pile, and 2 in-1. The best tufting guns have adjustable speed, a rotating front handle, and are the right style (cut, loop, or both) for your project.
If you’ve ever looked at your boring bathmat and thought, “I wish I could have a custom rug instead,” you’ve come to the right place. We’ll give you all the information you need to know about tufting guns and the tufting process to get you started making your own rugs.
What Are Tufting Guns?
Tufting guns are the power tool used to create handmade rugs. Running on electric power, they have mechanisms designed to feed yarn through the primary fabric. On the other side, they’ll leave a strand or loop of yarn, and these strands or loops will become the strands of your rug.
Whether it leaves a strand or loop of yarn is determined by the type of gun you purchase. There are three main types of tufting guns: cut pile, loop pile, and 2-in-1.
A cut pile tufting gun has a pair of scissors attached to the tool, mechanized to snip the yarn and leave loose strands to make up the rug.
The cut pile type rug has a shaggy feeling to the yarn on top. Shag carpet was made with this method, since it gets its shag from the piles of loose strands of yarn.
A loop pile tufting gun will instead have one continuous, running strand of yarn to create the rug. It pushes the yarn through the primary fabric, then loops it instead of cutting it on the other side. It will then bring the yarn back around to the working side of the rug, ready to be run through again.
Then there is the 2-in-1 tufting gun, which is equipped to do both cut and loose pile methods.
When using a tufting gun, be sure to take proper safety precautions. This is a power tool with sharp components. Always remember to keep it turned off, and even unplugged, when not in use.
How To Use A Tufting Gun
Although a tufting gun may seem intimidating at first, they’re actually quite easy to use. Tufting guns are designed with a simple on-off switch and trigger button, which makes the process as simple as the push of a button.
All you’ll need to do is plug in the machine, thread your yarn, turn on the machine, and press it to the primary fabric. Once you’re ready, hit the trigger button and start tufting! Remember to keep up with your machine. A tufting gun will become covered in lint and fibers as it works.
To keep your tufting gun working great, use a brush to dust away any lint after every use. Be sure to maintain the mechanized parts by lubricating them with sewing machine oil.
For a great in-depth video about the basics of a tufting gun, check out this video below from AJ MAKES. She goes over all the introductory information about the tufting gun specifically, then shows you how to use it.
Tufting Process – How To Tuft A Rug Step-By-Step
Using a tufting gun comes with a bit of a learning curve, but below we’ve listed the basic steps to give you a good head start!
- The first thing you’ll need to do is get your primary fabric set up on your tufting frame. If you don’t already have a tufting frame, there’s a YouTube channel called Flavor World with a video on how to make your own. Check it out here!
- Choose a good place to set up your tufting frame. You don’t want it too close to the wall, or you may puncture your wall with the tufting gun. Clamp it to the edge of a steady worktable or counter for best results.
- Make sure the fabric is pulled nice and tight on your tufting frame. If it’s too loose, you run the risk of tearing holes in the fabric with your gun rather than simply punching the yarn through.
- Once your fabric is set up, you’ll want to thread your yarn through the gun. This can be done with the help of a needle threader.
- Make sure that your yarn is run through the hooks above your tufting frame. This will help keep consistent pressure and yarn tension, which are essential to creating a beautiful rug.
- Now that the fabric is ready and the yarn is threaded, it’s time to get tufting!
- We recommend starting with straight lines – either vertical or horizontal. If you do a few rugs with straight lines and feel ready to try curves, go slow. Try working on the curves in small segments to keep the curve nice and clean.
- You can change up your yarn color to create stripes or other patterns. If you’re using a cut pile gun, you can simply unthread the machine when you’re done with one color segment and thread your new color.
- If you’re using a loop pile gun, you’ll need to snip the thread before changing the color.
- After you’re done tufting your rug, you’ll need to leave the whole piece of fabric on the tufting frame. Apply an adhesive to the back to keep all your yarn in place. We recommend a regular carpet adhesive.
- Let the adhesive dry overnight. It’s best to leave it for at least 24 hours to dry.
- The important thing to remember with this step is to leave the fabric on the frame. If you cut the rug out of the fabric and take it off to seal with adhesive, it may curl and warp in shape. Leaving it on the frame keeps the fabric pulled taught and flat.
- When it’s done drying, then you can remove it from the frame. Cut around the edges of your rug, leaving around 1.5-2 inches of extra primary fabric around the shape of the rug.
- Now you’ll need to bind the rug. There are a few different binding methods to choose from, with the two most reasonable being to run a whip stitch around the edges or do a waterfall bind. You can also get it professionally bound, but this will cost extra money.
- After you’ve done your binding around the edges, it’s time for the final step: adding a backing! You can choose many fabrics for your carpet backing, but cotton canvas works great.
- Apply your backing using either spray adhesive or another layer of your regular carpet adhesive. Allow to dry under weight to help the backing stay in contact with the adhesive.
That’s it! After allowing time to dry, you now have a finished, handmade rug.
The YouTube channel Flavor World has another great video about the basics of rug tufting. In the video, he reviews the different options for binding, and shows you how they’re done. Check out the video below!
Best Yarn For Rug Tufting
The best yarn for use with a tufting gun will come on a spool. You can use acrylic, wool, or cotton, as long as it’s on a spool. It’s easiest to work with yarn on a spool because it gives consistent tension, which makes for a better finished product.
When you purchase a regular bundle of yarn from the craft store, it won’t be consistent as it pulls. The bundle will have to roll itself around, which will cause your tension to fluctuate between tight and loose.
If you’re having a hard time finding spool yarn, you can use a bundle, but be sure to start your yarn by pulling the center string out from the middle of the bundle instead of grabbing the loose end on the outside.
You can also use an old paper towel or toilet paper roll and wind the yarn bundle onto that tube, then place the tube on your yarn spool holder.
Supplies For Rug Tufting
When it comes to supplies for rug tufting, there really aren’t many that you’ll need. You may have a bigger investment up front, but once you have some of the essentials, your only expense will be the yarn, cloth, and adhesives.
The list below is a good guide for what supplies you’ll need to get started with tufting:
- Tufting gun
- Tufting frame
- Primary fabric (tufting cloth or burlap both work great)
- Carpet adhesive
- Spray adhesive
- Needle threader
- Backing fabric
- Sewing machine oil
If you’re looking to get great quality supplies, you can also check out tuftinggun.com. They’re a reputable website with all the items you’ll need to get started in rug tufting.
Top 3 Qualities For Tufting Guns
Now that you know how to use a tufting gun, the whole tufting process, and what supplies you’ll need, it’s time to dive in on tufting gun specifics.
Let’s review the top 3 qualities to look for in your tufting gun.
1. Adjustable Speed
Tufting guns tend to work very quickly. This is great once you get the hang of things, but can be very intimidating for a beginner.
You’ll want to find a tufting gun that has an adjustable speed. It isn’t a deal breaker if it doesn’t have adjustable speed, but as you start working, you’ll notice this feature is super helpful.
When you’re first staring out, you’ll likely want to go pretty slowly. This will help you learn how the gun works, how the power feels, and the best way for you to grip and guide the gun.
Then, after you’ve learned how to handle your tufting gun, you may want to kick up the speed. This will help you get projects done faster so you can make as many rugs as your heart desires!
2. Rotating Front Handle
This should be a given with all tufting guns, but you need to make sure it has a rotating front handle.
The rotating front handle allows you to guide your tufting gun in different directions with ease. You’ll have a better grip as you go around corners, tuft around curves, and try horizontal or diagonal lines.
When your tufting gun arrives, hold it in your hand and try out the rotating handle. Get a feel for the way this handle works and how it can help you change directions while still maintaining the power of the machine.
3. Cut, Loop, Or 2-In-1
As we mentioned, tufting guns come in three different types: cut pile, loop pile, or 2-in-1. None of these guns is “better” than the other. It all depends on the style of rug you want to make.
Before you purchase your gun, take a look at the different types of cut pile and loose pile rugs you can make. Try going to a carpet store and feeling the difference between cut pile and loose pile.
If you want to make both, then you’ll definitely need a 2-in-1 machine that can switch back and forth between cut pile and loose pile.
The best tufting gun for beginners would be a cut pile machine. These can be easier to manage since the machine is cutting the yarn for you, and you don’t have to keep up with the continuous yarn strand to keep the tension and direction.
The 7 Best Tufting Guns
Now that you understand the qualities to look for in a tufting gun, we’ve collected a list of our top 7 recommended tufting guns.
|Vehipa Cut Pile Rug Tufting Gun
|Adjustable speed dial, pivoting front handle
|GBgeffy 2-in-1 Tufting Gun
|Adjustable speed dial, comes with yarn
|Tufting Starter Kit – Loop Or Cut Gun
|Tufting cloth, cut or loose, tufting frame
|IFISH Cut Pile Tufting Gun
|Rotating front handle, adjustable speed dial
|Artufting 2-In-1 Tufting Gun
|Rotating front handle, stickers, lightweight
|XKUN 2-In-1 Carpet Tufting Gun
|Durable, heavy-duty, long lasting
|KRD-I Cut And Loop Pile Tufting Machine
|Rotating front handle, adjustable speeds
Most of these are from Amazon, though we did add a couple products from tuftinggun.com to our list. We split these tufting guns up into two categories: for beginners, and general/advanced.
1. Vehipa Cut Pile Rug Tufting Gun
The Vehipa cut pile tufting gun is a perfect choice for beginners. Incredibly user friendly and has a bright red power button that stands out against the silver and blue body of the machine.
It’s important to have a visible power button so that you can easily see if it’s on or off for safety.
This tufting gun has an easy trigger button and an adjustable speed dial on the bottom of the handle. These features make it easy to use for any beginner not used to a tufting gun.
This is also a cut pile tufting gun, which is ideal for beginners. It will snip the yarn for you, making it easy to switch between colors and create infinite patterns.
It also has the rotating front handle, making it easy to maneuver around your rug design.
2. GBgeffy 2-In-1 Tufting Gun
This 2-in-1 tufting gun by GBgeffy is a great beginner option for those who want a gun that can do both cut pile and loose pile.
This tufting gun also comes with the red power button, an easy trigger button, and an adjustable speed dial on the bottom of the handle.
To make life easier, they’ve also included some primary tufting cloth, backing cloth, and yarn sample colors to get you started!
The yarn bundles are very small, but a perfect amount to practice with before you dive into a whole rug with your larger spools of yarn.
If you’re a beginner who wants the flexibility of both cut and loose pile for rug tufting, we recommend this gun for you.
3. Tufting Starter Kit – Loop Or Cut Gun
It simply doesn’t get any easier than this tufting starter kit by TuftingGun.
With this starter kit, you’ll get an easy-to-assemble tufting frame, 1 yard of primary tufting cloth, and a tufting machine in either cut pile or loose pile.
We love that this starter kit has the flexibility to choose between a cut pile or loose pile gun.
It’s also great that it comes with your tufting frame and a sample piece of tufting cloth! This kit gets you started with the main basics you would need before starting tufting. All you’ll need to do is buy some yarn!
Another great thing about this kit is that you can trust the quality. TuftingGun is a reputable brand that sells great quality tufting guns, as well as accessories.
You can even purchase your yarn, backing cloth, and tufting cloth from them! Check out their entire product selection here.
4. IFISH Cut Pile Tufting Gun
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, the IFISH tufting gun is the right choice for you.
This is a great tufting gun with the rotating handle and adjustable speed dial on the bottom.
The power button is black, but still easy to find against the silver-plated part of the body.
Your trigger button is red, helping you to easily identify where it is and avoid pressing it when you’re not tufting.
5. Artufting 2-In-1 Tufting Gun
A great, 2-in-1 tufting gun option is this gun by Artufting.
This gives you some creative freedom to make your tufting gun more original.
The tufting gun itself includes the rotating front handle, an easy power button and trigger button, plus the adjustable speed dial on the bottom of the handle.
Only weighing 3 pounds, this tufting gun is lighter than some others on the market, making it easier to work with and causing less strain on your wrists and shoulders.
6. XKUN 2-In-1 Carpet Tufting Gun
Another solid 2-in-1 tufting gun option would be this one from XKUN. This is a considerably more heavy-duty product that’s certainly worth the investment.
With a more durable and heavy body, this tufting gun can be harder to hold but gives you more control and power over your tufting.
This tufting machine is certainly not for beginners. It works at a high-speed that cannot be adjusted. It also uses a lot of electricity – 220V to be exact – so be sure you have an outlet that can handle the power this gun needs.
If you’re someone who’s been tufting for years and is looking for a more heavy-duty machine, this may be a good fit for you.
7. KRD-I Cut And Loop Pile Tufting Machine
Our final tufting gun option is another from TuftingGun. This is their more advanced model, the 2-in-1 machine able to switch between cut pile and loose pile.
This is another heavy-duty machine intended for those who have experience in using a tufting gun.
The sleek green body contains an easy trigger button, a rotating front handle, plus a dial to adjust your speed.
This tufting gun is a little bit on the heavier side, weighing around 4 pounds and 10 ounces.
It also comes with extra scissors plus an allen wrench to make any adjustments to the machine, such as switching between cut pile and loose pile.
If you check out the product listing, you can even find a video at the bottom of the page showing the gun in action. Check it out!