I have seen three varieties of this gadget. All work by using intense material shear forces to create a hole in some sort of sheet material.

  1. The simple handheld office tool that can punch a single hole in a few pieces of paper, for binding, keychain, or confetti purposes.
  2. The more complex tabletop variant of 1. that uses three such punchers aligned against a base, so that one can easily punch a few pieces of paper at a time for inclusion in a binder. Usually more useful than 1.
  3. The industrial model that is found in machine shops and is used to punch holes in sheet metal. This machine consists of a rotating barrel of punches in various shapes and sizes. You do the actual punching by pulling on a big lever and abusing your mechanical advantage.
The internet is suprisingly devoid of all information on the hole punch, as is file-cards in my library. What little information I could glean can be found below.

History: Charles B. Brooks patented the "Ticket Punch" in the late 1800's. Though not the first hole-puncher, it was the first to be patented and the first to incorporate the "clippings" cannister.

How It Works: As bitter_engineer notes, the hole-puncher works much like scissors - by shearing two peices of metal together. In this case, though, it is a circular shape, not a straight bar as scissors are. They are usually used to put holes in paper so they can fit into various binding devices.

Because of the shearing method described above, a long handle is usually necessary to provide enough leverage to brute-force your way through several sheets of paper. The energy required to punch through paper increases exponentially with every sheet (at least, it seems that way). Of course, this is why hydraulic and electronic punchers were invented.

Variations: There are literally hundreds of different types of hole-puncher, so I will list the major categories. Depending on design and manufacturer, hole-punchers can punch anywhere from one to hundreds of sheets of paper at a time, and some can punch things such as sheet metal, et al.
  • Singe-Hole Punch - Range in size from pocket- to industrial-strength desk mounted. Resembles a stapler. Punches a single hole.
  • Double-Hole Punch - Usually a discman-sized desk-mounted device, but varies to be larger as well. Punches two holes at a fixed width; more expensive models have variable width.
  • Triple-Hole Punch - Continuing the trend, as more holes are added they generally become more bulky and cost more. Triple-hole-punches are the last of the common punchers, but four-and-more-hole-punchers do exist.
  • Electronic Hole Puncher Simply slide a sheet of paper and hit a button - one, two, or three? Presto! No manual labor is necessary. Comes in varying sizes and models.
  • Portable 3-Ring - This new-fangled hole punch is designed to fit inside a 3-ring binder, making it the most convenient and easy thing to use since pocket-sized one-hole punches. Can only do a few sheets at a time, though.
Fun Hole-Punch Phrases!
  • "You do the actual punching by pulling on a big lever and abusing your mechanical advantage." - Bitter Engineer

If you have any fun phrases or facts about hole-punches, please /msg me. Sources: about.com, swingline.com, askjeeves had no useful information whatsoever.

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