A hole punch (also known as a hole puncher) is a common office tool that is used to create holes in sheets of paper, often for the purpose of collecting the sheets in a binder or folder. A leather punch, of different construction from one designed for paper, is used for leather goods, cloth, or thin plastic sheeting. Hole punch tools are also made for use on sheet metal, such as aluminum siding or metal air ducts.
Google celebrate 131st Anniversary of the Hole Puncher with doodle on 14 November, 2017.
A typical hole punch, whether a single or multiple hole punch, has a long lever which is used to push a bladed cylinder straight through a number of sheets of paper. As the vertical travel distance of the cylinder is only a few millimeters, it can be positioned within a centimeter of the lever fulcrum. For low volume hole punches, the resulting lever need not be more than 8 centimetres (3.1 in) for sufficient force.
Two paper guides are needed to line up the paper: one opposite where the paper is inserted, to set the margin distance, and one on an adjacent side.
Hole punches for industrial volumes (hundreds of sheets) feature very long lever arms, but function identically.
Another mechanism uses hollowed drills which are lowered by a screwing action into the paper. The paper is cut and forced up into the shaft of the drill to be later discarded as tightly packed columns of waste paper. This method allows a small machine to cut industrial volumes of paper with little effort.
Single hole punches are often used to punch a ticket, which indicates it has been used, or to make confetti when creating scrapbooks and other paper crafts. For applications needing a variety of hole shapes, a ticket punch may be used. A single hole punch differs from a ticket punch in having a shorter reach and no choice of hole shape.
In the United States, single hole punches are often used to punch holes through playing cards, marking them as “used” or “canceled”. This helps cut down on cheating by eliminating any cards that may have been tainted by players. Paper drilling is also popular for this purpose.
The origins of the hole punch date back to Germany via Matthias Theel, where two early patents for a device designed to “punch holes in paper” have since been discovered. Friedrich Soennecken made his patent on November 14, 1886, for his Papierlocher für Sammelmappen.