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:


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.


57 thoughts on “The stapler’s secret”

  1. Thank you! I thought my stapler was broken and I was really tired of puncturing my fingers with the staples that were suddenly being bent outwards. I thought there had to be a reason and maybe a fix fo the problem before I threw away my (up until lately) trusty stapler, and I found your post. Voila! There was a little dial on the bottom of my stapler and by pushing it in and then turning the “face” upside down, the problem was fixed!

  2. Sure, I knew it. Why else is there even a movable plate? Not much call for it usually, but if you need it it’s there.

  3. The only reason I found this blog is because I stapled something like this on accident so I googled “why does my stapler plate turn around” and now here I am!

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