While found today on desks in all kinds of offices from the corporate to the creative, the humble hole punch was originally invented to be used on the go. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the earliest patent for a paper punch, from 1885, was issued for a gizmo that conductors could use on railroad trains. This handheld device featured two spring-loaded metal clamps, one with a sharp cutting surface for piercing tickets. Notably, this conductor’s punch doesn’t look that different from 21st-century handheld versions, which are of course used by many people who don’t ride the rails for a living. Punching power, though, has certainly improved since the Victorian era, with some punchers capable of puncturing material much tougher than paper. Whether you need functional holes or a batch of confetti, our picks below will help you find the best punch for your project.
1. Matt’s Essentials Hole Punch
Durable, comfortable to use, and sharp, this steel hole punch is perfect for studio or office use. It’s capable of cutting through thicker material like cardstock and laminated paper without requiring a lot of squeezing power. But what really makes it stand out for us is its accuracy: The long, sleek design of the puncher jaws makes it easy to see where you’re positioning your materials, eliminating guesswork. You also get perfect holes with every squeeze of the handle, and the separated circles collect in a neat little catching area. And it doesn’t hurt that this tool looks good, with a brightly colored handle that fits nicely in the hand.
2. MROCO Single Hole Punch
The first thing you’ll notice about this hole punch is its size. It’s quite small, measuring about 3.5 inches in length. But don’t underestimate its punching capabilities: It can penetrate chipboard, cardstock, leather, and even lightweight metals, popping out circles with no jagged edges. We like that you can use it in your hand or place it on a surface, where a rubber base prevents it from slipping as you press down on the lever. When you’re done, you can even fold and lock it into a streamlined bar. Our biggest gripe is that it can be difficult to see where you’re punching, but you can remove the catching tray for a clear view of the hole location.
3. Swingline Single Hole Puncher
Sturdy and springy, this chrome punch is great for kids and adults alike to use for repetitive punches. Just a little grip strength is needed to cut smooth holes, and all scraps fall into a hinged compartment that’s easy to empty. Compared with our other picks, this punch is a little harder to align, but it is sharp and exact. It also has less cutting power than the competition, but it will still serve you well to perforate light- to medium-weight papers.
4. Fiskars Circle Hand Punch
Fiskars is a brand known for tools with impressive cutting power, and its hand punch is no exception. This punch creates holes that are about half the size of a typical notebook hole, making it ideal for creating apertures for string or twine; it’s also a quick way to make colorful paper confetti. Its puncher is sharp and its handle soft to grip, allowing you to use it for long periods without cramping up.
5. We R Memory Keepers Crop-A-Dile Power Punch
An incredibly popular tool among crafters, the Crop-a-Dile power punch is the tool you want to reach for when you have to punch through challenging material. This workhorse can cut through leather, thin tin, thick chipboard, and even certain fabrics. You don’t even need to apply a significant amount of pressure to make these punches, and the soft rubber handle is super comfortable to grip. All waste falls straight into the built-in receptacle.