Grommet Tools
Informational page from Specialized Textile Outfitters - Suppliers of Quality Grommet Tools, and Brass Grommets for Fabric & Leather

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Lets start with grommets before we talk about grommet setting tools. Grommets are simply a piece of hardware used to reinforce a hole made in some type of material. Grommets with holes smaller than 3/16'' (size #00) are usually called eyelets.

A Grommet consists of two parts, the grommet (shank) and the washer (the flat piece).

Grommet Components - the washer and the shanka High Quality Grommet Setting Kit made from Tempered Tool SteelShown here is a Grommet kit for setting size #4 grommets that have a hole diameter of 1/2''
image of Grommet Components - Left: the grommet or shank, Right: the washer. There are also Spur Grommets (see below)

The Grommets used for fabric and leather that we will be discussing here are typically made out of Brass, Nickel Plated Brass or Anodized or painted Brass. Brass is used to make most grommets because it is both non-rusting, non-corrosive under everyday conditions, and because brass is a soft enough metal to work with using non-hydraulic forces and relatively inexpensive setting tools. Specially heat treated Stainless Steel Grommets that can be set with regular hand grommet toots are now available. Previously, the hardness and brittleness of stainless steel prevented it's use for grommets

Grommets come in several sizes and are measured and sized by the diameter of the hole in the center, not the overall diameter of the washer or flange. Grommets commonly range from size #00 through size #8. Oversize grommets, such as #10, #12 and the huge size #15 are also available.

Grommet Sizes and their measurements
Here is a chart that shows the grommet numbered sizes and there measurements in inches. (Click to Enlarge Picture)

Grommet Setting Tools range from expensive, industrial, powered presses, to hand tools that are operated with a light mallet (a type of hammer with a soft, plastic, rubber or wood head).

A typical Hand Grommet Setting Kit consists of a hole cutter, a bottom setting die, a top setting punch/die and a wooden or plastic cutting block. Grommets are simple to set by hand as shown by these typical instructions for setting grommets using a hand grommet kit. With the hand grommet setting kit, a different kit is needed to set each size of grommet, and as the grommets get larger in size they require more and more hammering force. A size #0 grommet can probably be set with one light blow with a heavy mallet, but a size #8 grommet might take 5 to 7 heavy blows with the same heavy mallet.
grommet setting press made of heavy cast steel, intended to be bolted to a work bench
Hand Grommet setting kits that use a mallet to set grommets are great for the occasional user, but for higher output or shop use, a Grommet Setting Press will save a lot of time and effort. Grommet Setting presses are able set most sizes of grommets from the smallest to the largest. Simply snap or screw in a different set of grommet setting dies to set different size grommets. Grommet setting presses, are intended to be bolted down to a heavy work bench or floor standing, weighted steel frame. The lever action of the grommet setting press gives even the smallest person enough of force to set the largest grommets. Constant downward force is not required, simply use the weight of the handle, throwing it downward sharply, to generate enough force with 2 slams, to set even a size #15 grommet. Instructions for the grommet press shown here

Dies for Grommet Setting Kit
These are dies for a grommet setting press, Left: Hole Cutter. Center: Bottom Grommet Setting Die. Right: Top Grommet Setting Die.

Large size 10 grommet tool
Shown here is the size #10 Hand grommet setting tool wich sets grommets with a hole diameter of 1.5'', larger size grommets like size #12 & #15 need to be set with a grommet press due to the force required to set them properly. Notice the washer in this photo, it has pointed "spurs" on it. This type of grommet is called a Spur Grommet, the pointed spurs help the grommet hold onto the fabric better, common in the larger size grommets, but not oftern neccesary in smaller sized grommets.

Grommets are often used in tarps, vinyl mesh tarps and straps.

Visit our other sites to learn about
Buckles and hardware for webbing straps 
and for information about the different types of webbing material that can accept grommets.
Grommets are also used to attach shock cord to webbing and vinyl, learn about shock cord and elastic here: