Top tufting tools of 2024
AK comes out on top!
While there are countless informative videos and forums online to help you get on your way tufting, you'll likely come across confusing and often conflicting advice and it can be troublesome finding a reliable source. This can really get you off on the wrong foot and lead to time-consuming and often super costly choices.
We understand how daunting it can be starting out so we've compiled an updated list of our favourite tufting tools taking into consideration performance, availability, after-care service, repairability, reputation and price.
AK-1 - The Original CUT PILE tufting tool
There are other industrial models in use today but few can offer the kind of reliability, flexibility and user simplicity that the original AK-1 offers.These are professional grade CUT PILE machines and while they have spawned countless copies, they still remain the go-to tool for serious tufters and are most commonly used today in both professional rug factories and by tufters worldwide.
The popularity of the AK-1 has led to numerous imitations, so be cautious of counterfeit products. They may look the same on the outside but are hiding an array of hazards with bad circuitry, wiring and power shortage issues common place.
If you get your hands on an authentic model you’ll be equiped with a quality tool that is proven to last.
This gun makes tufting an enjoyable process and you'll find yourself reaching for it more often than not if you have it amongst your toolset.
- Not much can go wrong! These little workhorses are generally quite simple and easy to repair. A reputable seller should be able to repair it for you or at the very least walk you through the process.
- AK-1 devices are easy to hold. The AK-1 is a perfect combination of aluminium and plastic housing keeping it both light and durable. Some rug guns are heavy units to start with and it can get quite tiring tufting for prolonged periods while pushing and guiding into your chosen backing cloth. The AK-1 certainly gives your arms a rest. If you do tuft for extended periods or have issues operating tools for extended sessions, we recommend setting up a counter-balance system.
- It is not too noisy at all! The buzz of the AK-1 has had side-by-side comparisons with replica models and it is half as loud. Having a loud gun is one of the first tell tale signs that yours is a dreaded fake.
- AK-1 is now LOOP pile That is correct. Being both cut-pile and loop-pile was a big step for the DUO but after it was discovered that the AK-1 could be easily manipulated to produce loop-pile tufts, the classic AK-1 regained it's top position. The AK-1 will not produce perfect loop-pile tufts like the professional loops created with the Duo but it certainly gets the job done!
Cut Pile Height Range (adjustable): 7 - 20mm
Speed Range: 5-45 stitches/sec. This is adjusted via a convenient speed dial located at the base of the hand grip.
Weight: 1.4kg aluminium construction
The AK-Duo Family
The AK line of rug making machines has a few new siblings.
The rise of tufting in the wake of the pandemic significantly increased its user base and as a result tools are no longer supplied directly to the rug making industry.
Through consultation with users, engineers have worked tirelessly re-engineering the mechanics and making them more user friendly.
The AK-Duo is an amazing improvement overall. Some advances:
- Tufts are incredibly even
- Considerably lighter and quite easy to hold
- A new system for changing pile height that is fast, simple and accurate.
- Fast turnaround conversion from cut to loop pile
These factors were the stumbling blocks that have been problematic for all previous dual models but have been embraced and the challenges have been overcome. You can’t help but give credit to the engineers.
There are now 3 DUO entries!
The Duo has enlisted 2 new long electric long pile variants and with these newer tools you can create longer shag rugs with ease. While they are heavier, they do increase your rug's pile height to lengths only available previously with pneumatic guns.
There is a wheel on the undercarriage of the device controlling the needle as it travels through the backing cloth. In order to add extra length to the pile height, this has had to be enlarged. We've found that it can cause the needle to jump out of lodgement occasionally however a simple push is all that is required to get the back on track. Always turn off the device beforehand. This factor does make them a touch clunky but that is to be expected when you are gaining this amount of added pile-height. The added length is similar in approach to 'The Spider' and likewise is a bit of a workout to operate but unless you go pneumatic and utilise an air compressor, these tools are your best bet.
3: AK-2 The Original LOOP PILE tufting tool
If your choice of rug pile is loop then you could really benefit from high quality from the very outset. While cut-piles are easily trimmed to conform to a chosen length, irregular loops can't be reshaped as easily so loop integrity is better handled by a machine devoted to the task at hand.
The AK-2 is a perfect accompaniment to the AK-1. While the AK-1 has shown it can be tricked into creating loops, these loops are made by forcing the scissors to stay open and play the part of the loop tool. This can result in inconsistencies when the open scissors create misshapen loops but if your preference is for loop pile, you should really use the right tool: AK-2
- High-quality aluminium construction
- Adjustable loop-pile height range: 4-13 mm
- Adjustable tufting speed: 5-45 stitches per second
- Weight: 1.4 kgs
- Universal voltage 100-240 V. 50-60 HZ
AK-3 The Pneumatic tufting machine.
We do lean quite heavily on this family of AK tufting machines.
- They are engineered especially well for the price
- They have spare parts that are easy to access
- They’re lightweight
- They tuft darn well
- With a good cleaning schedule to ensure the tool is clear of excess fluff and an oiling routine with machine oil or sewing machine oil, these guns will last considerably well
The AK-3 is a more powerful tool and does require an air compressor to run but it isn't as noisy an option as you'd expect. While it does make a bit of noise, the sound concerns are really down to your choice of air compressor so make sure you investigate silent oil-free options. This is the long pile gun you need for hassle free shagadelic tufts. Unlike the new long-pile Duo guns, they are incredibly smooth to use which is a characteristic of air driven tools.
Manual rug maker speed tufting tool
These tools have been in use for generations throughout rug making factories and predate the electric models. They work the same way so are a great way to get a clear understanding of the tufting process. Today they can be used solely or even in addition to add some extra tufts of colour or dimension to your work. They come in set lengths in cut or loop pile.
Earlier models have handles made from coconut trees and you can identify parts made up from objects such as bottle caps. More typically today newer models are developed in polished or painted steel and wood.
The 45mm cut-pile tool is quite easy to get the hang of and is a fantastic option for those seeking long shag-pile on a budget. You can pack quite a few strands in the eye of the needle at once so it can pack a punch with really nice tufts that can be left as is or carved and trimmed. They are not unlike many vintage rug making or Danella tools but are a little heartier and less refined. I find the older models don’t tend to last due to the stress on the handles but the newer steel versions are greatly improved.
Electric rug carving scissors
These tools are heavy duty and industrial so not for the faint hearted but if you get to a point where you want to level up your rug game, nothing beats them when you get accustomed to their use. They clean up lines like nothing else but one slip and you've cut a whopping hole in your rug so carve with caution. Remember that they are industrial tools and work safely. We recommend serious non-cutting work gloves and eye protection.
If you're looking for a tool that allows you to increase the speed of your rug carving, these electric scissors are perfect. They are not designed for simplicity of use and require a high level of skill to perfect.
CP-1 - The Shearer
These rug making tools operate just like a wood planer. You essentially shave the rug down to an even set level that is easily adjustable. They're great for tidying up your work and giving it a uniform finish. It is a serious purchase for those who are prepared to take their rugs to a final commercial finish.
Powered by lithium batteries, these carvers are rechargeable and powerful enough to handle a hefty tufting session. The real beauty with these carvers is their lack of chords but if portability isn't really a concern for you, the Rosewood Carver is an effective tool.
Traditional rug scissors
Hand forged and finished by rug companies in India, these scissors are just beautiful objects. They have been used for generations and we are lucky to have discovered them.
The Rug Rake
This comb is quite a hefty object. It is hand made and designed for use in the final stages of rug-making. Have you noticed that rugs can continue to shed and lose hair for some time after you have made them? This shedding can continue for quite some time which is messy upkeep for your valued customersunless you rake them beforehand. If you use acrylic or cotton you can get away with a lint brush but if you are making wool rugs, you need to pack a Rug Rake!
*These are available instore.