Confused? Don't know where to even start? Wondering what's the difference between studs and sockets? Or what a die set is?
Don't worry, we have the answers to the most common questions you have when you are new to snaps, pliers and presses.
Understanding Plastic Snaps
All about plastic snaps
Press VS. Pliers
Which is better for you?
Snap Pliers Information
All about snap pliers
Snap Press Information
All about snap presses and die sets
Understanding Plastic Snaps
What is the difference between plastic and resin?
The terms are often used interchangeably. Resin is a type of plastic used to make snaps. Resin snaps are stronger and more resistant to extreme changes of temperature than other type of plastic. All of KAM's snaps are made from polyacetal resin.
What is a snap set?
A complete resin snap is made up of four pieces: two caps, one stud, and one socket. So there are actually 400 pieces in 100 complete sets of snaps: 200 caps, 100 studs, and 100 sockets.
Which is the stud, and which is the socket?
The stud is the “male” side of the snap, and the socket is the “female” side of the snap.
What size resin snaps should I get?
That depends on what you are making, and personal preference. Most commercially produced cloth diapers and covers use size 20 snaps. Size 20 snaps are preferred by home sewers when making diapers as well. You can use size 20 snaps on any size of diaper or cover. Keep in mind that size 20 snaps will need to be reinforced if applied to a single layer PUL cover.
Some people prefer to use size 16 snaps on newborn, preemie and doll diapers.
Size 14 and 16 snaps are often used for mama pads, pacifier clips, infant clothing, preemie clothing and dolls clothing. Size 14 snaps have shorter prongs, so are not suitable for thicker layers.
What is the difference between resin size 14 and 16 snaps?
The stud and socket dies and snap pieces are exactly the same. The only difference is the cap diameter and prong length. The size 16 snap has a wider diameter and a slightly longer prong.
(If you are buying a press it is helpful to know that if you want to be able to apply both sizes then you only need the size 16 die set plus the size 14 cap die. You do not need to buy a whole size 14 die set if you already have the size 16; the two sizes share stud and socket dies.)
What holds the resin snap onto the fabric?
Each cap has a long, pointy prong, and each stud or socket has a hole in the center. The snap press holds the snap pieces just perfectly in place (while you make sure the fabric is positioned and won’t move) so that when you press, the center prong on the cap pierces the fabric and comes up through the hole in the center of stud or socket. The prong is then flattened in the center of the stud or socket piece and cannot pull back through. This holds the two snap pieces firmly together with the fabric sandwiched between.
How many layers of fabric do I need to apply a snap?
You need at least two, unless the fabric is unusually thick and heavy. If your fabric is too thin then the snaps may pull out. You may need to reinforce the fabric where the snaps are applied if the fabric is thin. For clothing items an added layer of interfacing is usually sufficient. For larger snaps or diapers, a hidden layer of fleece or other thicker fabric may be needed, especially when applying snaps to a single layer of PUL.
How many layers you need depends also on what kind of snaps you are applying, and whether they are long prong. Smaller snaps (like size 14) have shorter prongs. If you want a smaller snap but a longer prong then go with long prong.
What are hidden snaps?
Hidden snaps are snaps that are applied before the diaper or garment is completed. The cap side of the snap is not exposed in the finished project. Hidden snaps are generally applied to fewer layers, so if you think you might need long prong, try doing hidden snaps instead. Snaps on the front of a side snapping diaper or the wings of a front snapping diaper are usually not hidden.
Do I need long prong resin snaps?
If you are using size 20 resin snaps for the average project like cloth diapers, then you probably do not need long prong. Regular prong size 20 snaps will usually go through 2 to 3 layers of diaper fabric with no problems. If you are going through more layers, or you find that the snap falls off easily then you might need long prong.
Should I just get the long prong in case I need them?
No, don’t order long prong unless you know you need them. If you are using long prong when you don’t really need them, then the snap will look fine until you try to snap it together. Because the prongs are too long, they will not be completely flattened when you press. With the round ball of prong in the middle of the snap it will not fasten together.
Press VS. Pliers?
Do I really need a professional snap press in order to apply snaps?
No. You can apply plastic/resin snaps with either a snap press or snap pliers. The snap pliers we offer are a lightweight, inexpensive tool that will apply resin/plastic snaps; they will NOT apply metal snaps.
Some people prefer to use snap press dies in a drill press or arbor press, though neither was intended for applying snaps and will require some modification. Even if you use a modified drill or arbor press you will still need the die sets for whichever size(s) of snaps you plan to apply.
So what is the difference between the press and pliers?
The snap press will offer more options for applying snaps. You can buy dies to apply many sizes of plastic/resin snaps, as well as dies that will apply metal snaps. Dies may also be available to apply rivets or grommets as well.
The pliers are recommended for personal use. Snaps applied with the pliers are every bit as durable and well attached as those set by a press, but the pliers were not intended for large scale manufacturing.
Which is the easiest to use - press or pliers?
Actually, many people find that the pliers use less strength to apply a snap than the press. However, the amount of time required to get the snap in place (poking the hole and setting the snap cap) does not make for efficient large scale production. For applying large amounts of snaps, we recommend you get a press, mount it to a work table and convert it to a foot press.
Snap Pliers Information
How do they work? Why don’t they need dies?
We suggest you have a look at the snap pliers instructions for more info on how they work. Basically, you apply the entire snap to the fabric before you press it. The pliers simply smash the prong flat so everything is permanently held in place.
Can they apply other brands of snaps?
Yes, the snap pliers can apply size 20 snaps from any manufacturer. Because there is no upper die to fit the snap (just a soft rubber cap) there are no compatibility issues.
Snap Press Information
I want to order a press but have no idea what I need?
We recommend you get a press starter package which will include everything you need to get started snapping. If you order a snap press package you will not require anything else to start snapping, unless you want to apply other sizes of snaps that were not included in your package.
What exactly is a die set?
A die set is a complete set of dies (usually three pieces) that is used to apply a complete snap. A snap press cannot apply a snap without the correct dies.
Resin snap dies sets usually have three dies - a large, heavy cap die that sits in the bottom of the press and holds the cap in place for pressing, and two smaller upper dies, one each for studs and sockets.
The die set for metal snaps is also three pieces: a cap die for plain caps, a cap die for open ring caps, and one single upper die that holds either stud or socket for pressing.
What if I want a die set that you don’t offer?
We'd strongly suggest that you get a press elsewhere, and get the dies that you need together with your press. If you know you need a die set not available at our store then we do not recommend buying a press here. We are happy to help special order a particular die set, we do not guarantee that we'll be able to fill all special requests.
Can I get dies to fit another press?
You can get dies to fit the plug in style KAM press for resin snaps in sizes 20, 16 and 14. These dies have a 3/8" upper shank and 1/2" cap die shank. KAM dies *may* fit in other brands of press, but we recommend that you get dies for your press from the supplier who carries those presses.
Note: The KAM 3/8” smooth shank upper dies will fit in the Very Baby/OSDS press, but the cap die will not fit because it is ½”shank. You will need a customized KAM cap die in order to fit the Very Baby/OSDS press.
Do I really need a size 14 cap die to apply size 14 snaps?
If you will not be apply tons of size 14 snaps then you can probably get away with just a size 16 die set. You’ll just need to make sure that the snap cap is centered in the cap die when pressing.
Once I buy a KAM press, where can I get snaps to fit in it?
Just about any brand of size 20 snaps will work in KAM press and dies. The majority of snaps on the market today are KAM brand, and as long as you use KAM snaps in your KAM press you will not have any compatibility issues. When in doubt get a sample snap set and test it with your press.
Keep in mind that while most size 20 snaps that are available to home sewers are compatible with KAM presses, this is not true of size 16 and 14 resin snaps. We do not know of other brands of resin snaps that are compatible with KAM size 14 or 16 dies. For size 14 and 16 snaps we highly recommend using only KAM brand snaps.
If you didn't find the answer to your question, please contact us and we'd be happy to help.