Hole Punch Tools

A two-hole paper punch has a lever that you push down on to make holes.
A two-hole paper punch has a lever that you push down on to make holes. (Image: red hole puncher image by dana nicolescu from Fotolia.com)

Whether you're making holes in paper, leather or metal, there is a tool for any punch. One of the earliest forms of punching holes – whacking the back of a straight, metal implement with hammer – is still widely used today. However, many hole punch tools today are much more high-tech. The hole punch tool that you choose will depend on the project as well as whether you prefer manual or mechanical tools.

Paper Punch

One of the most familiar types of hole punch tools is the paper punch and no office is complete without one. They come as single-hole, two-hole and three-hole paper punches. Manual, single-hole punches are hand held and make a hole when the tool’s handles are squeezed. Push down on a lever to punch holes using a manual two or three-hole punch. Two and three-hole punches make holes a standard distance apart for paper binders with rings. Electric paper punches have sensors that, when a paper is set in place, activate the punch. Heavy-duty paper punches are also available and can handle larger stacks of paper.

Rivet Punch

Two types of rivet punches are available: One is a basic implement with a narrow tip that is hit with a hammer to make a hole. After the hole is made, a rivet is set; The other type looks like a pair of pliers and, when squeezed, punches a hole. Some rivet punches also set the rivet for you. Use rivet punches in a variety of applications, including leather craft, upholstery and furniture, and fashion.

Belt Hole Punch

A belt hole punch is similar to the rivet punch with squeezable handles but has a revolving wheel with different size punches. The wheel is turned to select the desired hole size. A belt hole punch is used for leather as well as for synthetic materials, such as vinyl.


Commonly used in leather work for making holes for stitching, an awl consists of a handle with a long, metal skewer. The sewing line and stitch holes are pre-marked, then the stitch holes are pierced with the awl.

Industrial Hole Puncher

An industrial hole puncher is a hand-held tool and, like a single-hole paper punch, has squeezable handles. However, unlike a single-hole paper punch, an industrial hole puncher is made with hardened steel and is used to make holes in sheet metal. Industrial hole punchers are often used to punch holes in metal signs for hanging. Industrial hole punchers typically have several different sizes of punches and dies for making different sizes of holes.

Hydraulic Punch

For making holes in heavier metals, such as carbon steel and stainless steel, a hydraulic punch is commonly used. A hydraulic punch is a power tool that operates through pressure-activated pistons and applies several tons of pressure to make holes in things like steel bars, pipes, beams and angle iron. A range of punches and dies are available for making different sizes and types of holes. Electric hydraulic punches have a motorized driver and manual hydraulic punches have a hand pump.

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