The Snap Dragon Frame tm uses a cam-activated leverage system to amplify the amount of force you can apply to stretch your rug backing.  You must never use a tool to force the paddles into position.  Only finger or hand strength should be used to operate the lever.  Applying too much force to the paddle levers can cause the backing to tear or shred and /or the frame to crack.  The following pictures show the operation of the lever without fabric on the frame.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Loading Position

Engaging the Paddle

Working Position

This simple and rather small amount of movement is all that is necessary to put a large amount of tension on the rug backing.  The pressure on the frame caused by the stretched fabric causes the paddles to lock in place.  To remove the fabric, simply reverse the process by disengaging the paddles one at a time.

Now let's do that again, but with a rug pattern on the frame.

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Fig. 6

Get Comfortable

Place the Fabric - Leave Slack

Engage the Right Paddle

Sit back, get comfy, and place the frame on your lap (fig. 4).  The gripper rails should be in the Loading Position (fig. 1).  Now place your pattern on the frame, centering your work area.  Smooth the fabric down onto the grippers allowing plenty of slack.  Do NOT pull the fabric tight! (fig. 5).  While holding the backing with your left hand (fig. 6), engage the paddle from underneath with your right hand until it locks in place (fig. 3) in the Working Position. 

Fig. 7

Fig. 8

Fig. 9

Engage the Left Paddle

Engage the Far Paddle

Engage the Near Paddle

Next, move to the left gripper rail (or the rail across from the first).  Hold the pattern against the left gripper rail with your right hand (fig. 7) and engage the paddle from underneath with your left hand, again moving it into the Working Position (fig. 3).  This time the tension on the fabric should "snap" the paddle into place.  If you cannot engage the paddle easily with your hand or if there is hard resistance, you need to release the tension on the rug backing and re-position the fabric, allowing a bit more slack.  Some rug backing fabrics stretch more than others, so varying amounts of slack will be required in order to achieve a good working tension.

Repeat the process with the upper gripper rail and paddle (fig. 8) followed by the lower (fig. 9).  Once again, if the paddles are difficult to engage, remove the fabric and re-position with a little more slack.  It may take a little practice to achieve your ideal working tension.

Once you become comfortable with the process you will be able to remove and adjust your pattern very quickly.  It should also be noted, as the backing becomes more fully hooked, it becomes stiffer and less able to stretch.  More slack will be required as you approach completion of your project.

Gripper Strips

To clean your gripper strips, we recommend using a soft dedicated toothbrush to remove wool buildup in the needles.  If they are packed, it is best to remove the gripper strips, and use a wire brush to clean them.  Do NOT use a wire brush to clean the grippers while they are mounted in the frame.  The wire brush can damage the gripper rails and possibly cause them to fail under tension.

To remove the gripper strips for cleaning or replacement, you should wear leather gloves.  The grippers are held in position only by friction.  Simply PUSH the gripper out along the long axis of the gripper rail, sliding it away from you while holding the rail from underneath.  DO NOT PULL the grippers out as this can cause the thin wooden lip that holds the gripper in place to break.  When replacing the gripper strips in the frame, make sure the needles are angled out from the center of the frame.  If you have trouble inserting the gripper strips, try spraying the rail with industrial silicone lubricant or wax.  Do not use oil as it will cause the fabric backing on the gripper strip and the wooden rail to expand, making it even tighter.