Bench Grafter Tool DIY

I am interested in fabricating my own bench grafting tool (literally mounted on a bench). After seeing the old school grape bench grafting tools that the French used to manufacture, having a similar setup seems to be a great project. The challenge is that those tools are extremely hard to come by, although relatively affordable when they do pop up.

I have been thinking about something similar that could be fabricated and retrofitted instead of developing the entire device from scratch, and I’ve landed on the industrial stapler market. You can find heavy duty 250 page staplers for around 20-30 bucks used with heavy duty construction. These would need the stapler mechanism removed and a grafting blade installed as a replacement piece. I would think the $3 aliexpress blades should work well, but if you know of a source of blades that make LONGER cuts for more cambium contact I would love to check them out.

Let me know if this is a crazy idea, but I think I’m onto something. I have access to welding equipment, a drill press and various other tools at work to make it all go. If I figured it out and you are interested in a tool I would be happy to consider fabricating more than one, it should be a fun project that only improves with each iteration.

I’ve seen vintage Bostitch models that look like a good fit. Let me know if you are aware of specific models or brands that would work well, both for ease of retrofit, ergonomics for use, as well as SAFETY which is THE MOST important factor to me.

Thanks to @Borer_the_explorer for piquing my interest in this topic and reminding me I wanted more tools I don’t actually need.


I wondered if you might find this video by @applenut inspiring - maybe get some ideas from it?

I found it on this thread:


Well, today was my lucky day. The vintage rig I thought my boss scrapped 5 years ago was actually just placed on a shelf above the refrigerator at the office. Time for some engineering, metal fabrication and welding!

@Barkslip are you still in the market for one of these things? I might be able to hook you up with a future retrofit…


Wow, that’s cast iron isn’t it?

I got a Grape Grafter’s Tool arriving soon. It’s going to be an easy project to get back up and going to initial operation, too.

Thanks Ryan,

Very clever.


Yea it appears to be cast iron. It’s cast down from an old government office, cast down from my current office to me haha.

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That’s too funny!


Imagine 100 cigar cutters lined up or a paper cutter that cut 30 scions at once. The angles wrong but you could modify it.



I hadn’t thought of a paper cutter Clark, that’s an interesting thought. They would have a massive amount of leverage to work with larger or harder materials more easily.



You could angle the blade to more shave the wood side ways. If you were bench grafting you could do hundreds. The wood would all need to be the same size. The paper cutter design I’m afraid most likely came from something they saw somewhere. I’m just guessing where they saw it. The guillotine was common in Europe. The blade will need to be sharp so as not to bruise the wood when you cut it. A razor blade is perfect.

My guess is some of these were for chickens or in this case rodents

When I first started grafting I used a Cresent wrench to gauge the wood size to ensure it was equal for the rootstock and the scion wood.


Acme No 1 staplers are what I have been searching for. The OLD ones. Short of actually finding a real bench grafter, I can most certainly weld some scrap railroad stock steel in the right places on this thing and make a few cuts. Then drill some holes to tap and it should be good to go with modern blades.


I finally found a picture of what I intend to do, but a little small. I want to attach my cheap v-grafter to a table as in this picture. I think this is an actual Topgrafter handheld, mounted as a table model, there is a wide space above the blade. I have an open table underframe, so I will likely do this the other direction, with handle away from seated person. Attach a foot pedal of some type, maybe just a metal loop or extra bicycle pedal. This can be attached to handle, or better to top of blade unit. My quick and cheap version of Topgrafter table unit. I will have this done soon.

From Figure 216, Ch13 Something about grapevine indexing, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.



That sounds like it could work! The one thing I would be most concerned about is the physics of your chain attachment location marked in green. The intent and design of the handle is to have enough leverage to cut through the wood. By putting your “crunch point” in that location, you are stressing the tool in a place it wasn’t designed to have that amount of force applied and I would be worried about premature breakage. Not to mention it might be even harder to do it with your foot than by hand with the handle as you’ve lost all of your leverage. If this was a hydraulic press with a stop on it and variable speed I could see that working but probably not being very safe.

Ultimately making it safe will also make it faster.


When my second tool shows up, I can take the handle off entirely and see how this works running a connector through where the handle is attached. That’s probably much better, but I didn’t want to play with it this week. I know I will have an easier time handling the cheaper construction and wiggle, being able to use both hands on stock and scion. The cutting and wrapping will definitely go faster with the grafter in a fixed position, not handheld. I cut out more space above the blades like Dax showed, but may reinforce that area as well.


I used a half round file on mine, it makes a huge difference in how wide your scions can be. I’m hoping with the stapler retrofit that I can reduce that limitation too.


@franc1969 my concern would be that you can see the scion and blades and anvil from every position. Before I chop thru something, I swing that thing around in the air and look at everything closely from many positions. Then, I “chop!” or actually, or more appropriately, I press with different amount of force… when you’re dealing with 1/8th stuff, obviously it can tear very easily so, you ‘learn’ the tool… there’s an example… of what I’m talking about.

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My vision and glasses do not allow movement, so fixed location that I can move around to look at is safer and better to see. So much of what is out there does not work if you have any disability at all.


Thanks for letting us know, Francy.


Well, in addition to the tool I was donated at work, I just won a pretty beat up rusty old Acme #1 cast iron stapler. It was a great price so we’ll see what I can do with both of those options as a retrofit. There will certainly be cleaning, grinding, welding, and likely a bit of cursing mixed in. If the weather cooperates and I can get up to the office to borrow tools I will try to get it done before the spring haha. I’ll plan on putting some sort of tutorial together for those interested in following along if it comes out nicely. By nicely I mean functional, with a shoddy but effective weld job.


I found another apparent option for conversion - a leather punch / press.


Hell that’s just a tack weld to make a complete tool. You’d need to lessen the diameter of the plunger to fit thru a V.

Here’s another one showing a fully-pressed plunger:


You going to need more clearance for the cutting area… but maybe there are larger leather presses.