The stapler’s secret

And now for what may be the most prosaic post in Eternal Recurrence history: examining your stapler! Yes, your stapler. A simple object you’ve used thousands of times and probably feel like you’ve mastered. Well, think again. Your stapler may possess a mysterious feature…

Here’s what the base, or anvil, of a stapler looks like prepared for normal operation:

Normal stapler anvil

But push up on that metal plate and it rotates:

Stapler morph

Turn it 180 degrees and it displays an anthropomorphic smiley face:

Oh hai i stapled ur paperz

But that’s not the point! Now the staple bends outward instead of inward, like this (top normal, bottom reversed):

Crazy, man

Wow! My friend Caleb showed me this yesterday, though even he was unsure of why staplers do this. Wikipedia has the answer:

Pinning

This method is by far the least known and utilized stapling method. It is used to temporarily bind documents or other items, often cloth or clothing, for sewing. In order to pin, the anvil must be shifted so that the staple bends outwards instead of inwards. The staple binds the item with relative security, but can be easily removed by pulling the staple along the plane of the paper. This method varies between staplers, as some anvils need to be simply pushed forward to allow pinning, while others must be rotated. Some staplers implement pinning by bending one leg of the staple inwards, while bending the other outwards. Some modern staplers do not even include support for pinning.

Since learning of this feature I’ve shown it to lots of people and only one of them was aware of it. So informal poll time, blog readers. You’re an intelligent mob and have been around your share of staplers. How many of you knew they could do this?

Bonus link: I’m sure you’re dying to go play with a stapler now, but you may not have one nearby. No worries, the internet offers a handy virtual stapler for all of your virtual stapling needs.

Comments

  1. Barzelay says:

    I had noticed the different markings on the other side of the stapler thingy, and I had mindlessly assumed that they would have some different effect on staples. But it never occurred to me to test what they’d do, or that whatever it was might be useful. I guess I never picked up a stapler and found it lacking some necessary feature, so it never occurred to me to look for another feature. Thanks!

  2. It always amazes me when I find out that people don’t know staplers do this. I guess I’ve had too much idle time around staplers in my life. The idea of pinning fabric for sewing was new to me though.

  3. Joel H says:

    I knew staplers could do it, I just never knew why they did it.

  4. tp says:

    “Huh. I did not know that.” From miracle fruit to the secret lives of staplers, you never cease to astound, Herr Jacob.

  5. D White says:

    Jakub, the office is melting your brain.

  6. Dante says:

    ditto Joel H

  7. Mike says:

    I never knew why, but I was indeed aware of the ability.

  8. Perry Lambesis says:

    I got here through “STUMBLE !” and give me a break this some I learned about it in Grade School. And to your readers think you are a hero. Don’t forget to keep them in the know they need all the help you can give them.

  9. Jacob Grier says:

    Yes, Perry, they do think I’m a hero. Please don’t disillusion them. They need me. I’m all they’ve got left in this postmodern world, the poor little fellas.

  10. Mapz says:

    Now I know

  11. David says:

    I did know but it doesn’t pull out all that easy if you are stapling more than a couple of sheets. :(

  12. Richard says:

    I agree with Joel – I knew they could do it, I just didn’t know why!

  13. Barzelay says:

    Haha, random commenters can be so cruel!

  14. kmarex says:

    this is and OLD trick. nottin’ new!!

  15. nn says:

    Wow…

    So simple, I’ve seen it on my stapler for years and wondered what it was for…

    Thank you for pointing that out… really useful and I’ve used it at least a dozen times already today!

  16. anishka says:

    i totally knew about it and used it too, but for a different effect. when you have a stack of stapled documents, if you use the “pinning” feature the documents stack flatter than if they’re “stapled”.

  17. Earl says:

    As other people thought, they knew it can do it, just not what’s the point.

  18. Michael says:

    I waited all the day to get back home, and I discovered I HAVE IT!

    http://www.3dita.it/spillatrice.JPG

    Thanks for sharing, this will be so useful!

  19. JT says:

    my stapler (Bostitch) doesn’t even have a switchable plate.
    :-(

  20. Matthew Brennan says:

    I knew you could do this, I just didnt know why!

  21. cassandra says:

    i don’t know how i missed this blog entry before you posted the new one about it, but i also knew about this and never thought about the reasoning- i remember discovering this about 6 or 7 years ago but not thinking much of it other than “neat”… but you have solved the mystery!

  22. David Tufte says:

    I have never been to this site before today (Jacob trackbacked to my post about Zap Reader).

    And yet … I had heard about this stapler trick somewhere on the internet late last week.

    Ain’t the internet great?

  23. Lou says:

    Find less stupid friends.

  24. Peter says:

    As soon as I read this, I converted my stapler. I think it will stay this way.

  25. I was also aware that staplers could do this but did not ‘why’. Thanks for the tidbit!

  26. I just discovered this today when my daughter told me! Who knew?

    I found your site using Google images. I hope you don’t mind my borrowing your pictures for my post. I’ll take them down immediately if it’s a problem. (I linked up to your post here in mine)

    Here’s to us who have discovered the secret of the stapler! *cheers*

  27. Rachel R. says:

    How cool! I had noticed the alternative “markings” on the stapler, but never stopped to wonder what they were there for. (And I am a tad embarrassed to admit that if you hadn’t mentioned it, I wouldn’t have been able to figure out HOW to rotate the plate. I thought it looked like it needed to be unscrewed with some special tool.)

  28. James says:

    My stapler actually has a little bubble on the underside that I can push to lift up the anvil, then rotate the plate. Thanks for the tip!

  29. Erica says:

    I knew that you could do it, I just wasn’t sure what it was for.

  30. Ziggy says:

    Weird… I thought it was a function of the type of stapler. I only saw the pin system in australia and figured it was because everything is backwards down there. I had no idea my regular stapler could do it.

  31. Carolina says:

    I knew about it but I had no idea why it was there.

  32. Miles says:

    I knew about it due to my natural need to touch practically EVERYTHING I see. I never could’ve told you why anybody would want to use that function of the stapler, but I’ve just always assumed it was used for more temporary stapling. Thanks for the article!!

  33. This post shows that the stapler can be both useful and whimsical. The information about pinning is very valuable.

  34. Rob says:

    It’s also a painful feature when someone else switches it on you without your knowing as a joke. I stapled a receipt to a piece of paper with the expense justification and then proceeded to fold the paper into a business tri-fold. When you’re not expecting two sharp pointy ends of a staple to be pointing outwards and you run your thumb across the paper quickly and with a lot of force to make a nice crease, it’s not pleasant when the open point rips your thumb open.

    Try explaining the large blood smear to accounting.

  35. Henry Kelly says:

    How amazing… ! That’s a very good lesson on the working criteria of the stapler. I came to know from the text, how stapler’s staple in inner side and the outer side. Thanks mate for the wonderful allocation. :lol:

  36. Local Idiot says:

    What the hell? How can someone NOT know staplers do that?

  37. Nick says:

    I find it scary that most of you didn’t know this…

  38. Liz H says:

    I’m a high school teacher. I’ve known this for as long as I’ve been in the classroom (almost 15 years)…because my students used to switch it on me all the time just to be funny. My guess is MANY fellow teachers are in the same boat! LOL

  39. Jimmy says:

    I knew about this trick, I just didn’t know the reason for it.

  40. blah says:

    you can actually bend a staple 8 times

  41. What i do not realize is in reality how you are no longer actually much more smartly-appreciated than you might be now. You are so intelligent. You already know thus significantly in relation to this subject, made me for my part imagine it from so many numerous angles. Its like women and men aren’t involved until it’s something to accomplish with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs outstanding. All the time maintain it up!

  42. Brandon says:

    Regardless of how many people already knew about this wonderful feature, I think we can all agree that staplers are awesome.

  43. I used to be recommended this web site through my cousin.
    I’m now not certain whether or not this submit is written by means of
    him as nobody else recognise such certain about my difficulty.
    You’re amazing! Thanks!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Blogger Jacob Grier discovers what Wikipedia calls “the least known stapling method”: pinning. If you rotate the plate on the bottom of your stapler, it will bend staples outward instead of inward to fasten things temporarily. Easily remove a pinned staple by pulling it along the plane of the document. Many modern staplers don’t have this feature any more, so pick up an old-school model to try it out. The stapler’s secret [Eternal Recurrence] [...]

  2. [...] Blogger Jacob Grier discovers what Wikipedia calls “the least known stapling method”: pinning. If you rotate the plate on the bottom of your stapler, it will bend staples outward instead of inward to fasten things temporarily. Easily remove a pinned staple by pulling it along the plane of the document. Many modern staplers don’t have this feature any more, so pick up an old-school model to try it out. The stapler’s secret [Eternal Recurrence] [...]

  3. [...] Since, for three weeks anyway, I’m a woman of leisure – I get to play with fun stuff on the internets. Today’s highlight and chief activity, for example, is staple pinning. I guess I’m lucky that the ex that I stole my stapler from had high class taste, because its does rotate for the temporary pin instead of the permanent bind. The coolest thing? You can use it for sewing! No more gnarly staple removers and no more straight pins. Today IS a good day. [...]

  4. [...] Blogger Jacob Grier discovers what Wikipedia calls “the least known stapling method”: pinning. If you rotate the plate on the bottom of your stapler, it will bend staples outward instead of inward to fasten things temporarily. Easily remove a pinned staple by pulling it along the plane of the document. Many modern staplers don’t have this feature any more, so pick up an old-school model to try it out. The stapler’s secret [Eternal Recurrence] [...]

  5. [...] A temporary Staple [Eternal Recurrence] [...]

  6. [...] [via Blogger Jacob Grier] [...]

  7. [...] staplers don’t have this feature any more, so pick up an old-school model to try it out.The stapler’s secret [Eternal Recurrence] (via Lifehacker)   If you enjoyed this article, please [...]

Leave a Comment

*