How a Hole Puncher Works

Office supplies have grown increasingly sophisticated over the years, in large part due to advances in technology. The 21st century has reached the highest point yet with computers, printers, fax machines at home and in the office, plus a bevy of other high tech gadgets that have grown so commonplace they are no longer even noteworthy. In spite of these giant leaps in technology, there is still room for many of the simple, basic tools that have graced homes and offices for decades.

Every classroom or office, no matter how technologically advanced it may be, possesses at least one of the most basic pieces of office equipment around, the hole puncher. It’s a simple device, really. In order to gather sheets of paper in a binder to keep them orderly and organized, it’s common to punch holes along the left side of the paper and mount the pages in a 3-ring binder. So simple, in fact, that little thought is given to just exactly how a hole punch works. We take it for granted, but there is a bit of science behind the operation of this basic tool.

A hole punch can be designed to punch a single hole or multiple holes. Regardless of its capability, a hole punch has a long lever used to push a sharply bladed cylinder through one or more sheets of paper. The cylinder only travels a few millimeters so its position is within a centimeter of the fulcrum of the lever. For household or office hole punches, the lever does not need to be more than eight centimeters to provide adequate force. Hole punches on the industrial level have very long lever arms, capable of much greater capacity, but the principle is the same. Still another principle used with industrial level hole punching involves using hollowed drills which are “screwed” into the paper. The residual paper from the holes is pushed into a shaft in the drill and discarded in the form of tightly packed columns.

The process of using the hole punch is a simple one. Start by positioning the page or pages to be punched to line up with the cylinders. Many hole punches used for multiple simultaneous punches will have an adjustable measuring gauge to allow for consistent results when punching multiple stacks of paper. It’s always a good idea to work on a hard, flat surface when using a hole punch. Use even pressure to ensure proper alignment of the holes. Take your time; once a hole is punched it cannot be replaced.

Experiment with some scrap paper to see how many pages the hole punch can handle at one time. The typical home or office standard hole punch can usually accommodate between five and eight sheets. Overloading the hole punch can result in jamming the punch or in having incompletely punched holes in all sheets.

Hole punches have storage trays to collect the holes. This tray should be emptied regularly over a trash can. Failure to empty this receptacle can result in jamming and poor operation. Proper maintenance of a hole punch is a snap. Whenever the hole punch seems to stick, try punching holes in a few sheets of wax paper to lubricate the cylinders. Try a sheet of aluminum foil to sharpen the cylinder edges if they start punching ragged holes.