Advice on Using a Paper Punch

Paper punches, both Circa and 3-ring, are insanely useful. They allow us to use our preferred paper in our planners. They allow us to make and keep articles of interest to our careers and hobbies. And they allow us to fulfill the spirit of DIY by customizing every aspect of our paper life by ourselves. Like any modern day device, however, using a paper punch requires a little bit of exploration and maintenance to get the most out of it.

The first thing you should do, when you get your punch is to look it over and read any manuals (if any). Get to know how your punch works. This includes removing any thing clamping the punch together, like the small red plastic bits that held my Levenger Circa punch together. Understand how the punch tray works and test this feature out. This is that plastic tray that is loosely held on the bottom of the punch that collects all the left-over holes and smurfs after you perforate your papers. Sometimes this tray sticks and can be a big pain to remove or put back on. You'll want to make sure you can get yours on and off when the tray fills up with those tiny scraps of paper.

Finally, familiarize yourself with the metallic slide ruler, if your punch came with one. This slide rule allows you to adjust the punch to accept larger and longer paper. Note which number it defaulted on and adjust it to a bigger and smaller number and back to the "zero position" (default) setting. Knowing this little guide has saved me and many papers from the recycle pile.

Once you get used to the weight of your punch and know exactly how it works, the first thing you should do is test it out. Grab some junk mail and punch holes in them. Watch how your punch aligns and how many pieces of paper it can hold. I know the Levenger Circa Punch can hold at least 5 normal inkjet papers. It'll also allow me to punch a single, thick plastic cover. Sometimes I'll use a pre-punched piece of paper and try and duplicate the holes exactly. This helps me find the center prong of the punch and makes it so that I get clean, perfectly centered punches every time.

When I've gotten the basics of punching standard sheets of paper (in my case 8.5 x 11), I'll make a few test runs of the smaller (index card) sized sheets I know I'll be punching in the near future. The best tip I can give you for punching index cards is to align the cards up to the bottom of the puncher. This gives me perfectly accurate punches for my Circa PDA every time. Occasionally I notice that the zero position for index cards tends to be off by a few centimeters. When this happens I move the slide rule out a bit and keep a mental note of where this position is for later use. Just remember that when you go to punch your standard letter sized sheets again, that you move the ruler back to the default position again.

I hope these suggestions for using your punch, whether it's a Circa or 3-hole, help you get the most out of punching holes in your forms and journals. Feel free to post your tips and tricks in the comments below.

Syndicate content

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Factory paper sizes unpredictable

I purchased the three-size Circa sampler pack (letter, Classic, & Junior) recently, and I was surprised to find that the different page styles (notes, to-do, address, event planning) that came with it were not all cut to the same dimensions. I had already been planning to print pages from my own templates, so it's no real worry - just dismaying to see that this great product was suffering from poor quality control in paper sizes.

FYI, this was true for the Junior & Classic sized Circas only; the Letter sized pages were pretty accurately sized.

mine was fine

I got my circa sampler kit 2 days ago and everything was cut perfectly.

What I did notice was that if all the different sized sheets were put on the rings starting at the bottom they did not line up. The perfed 3X5 cards and the letter size lined up on the bottom, the Classic was below everything, including the plastic covers and the Jr. Classic was a little higher. This was just due to their size. The ring holes were perfectly centered.

I already spent that $40 gift card which came with the sampler pack... and a good deal more on circa goodies. This morning I already made a 5.5X8.5 template/checklist dedicated to one of the ongoing projects I have. Can't wait to get the punch so I can put it in the rings.


What not everybody knows...

.... is that Levenger has recently changed the size of their Classic-sized pages. They used to be an odd size for American paper, but are now the normal 1/2 letter size. What is happening is that there is a mix between forms, etc.


The Classic/A5 switch

Levenger has recently changed the size of their Classic-sized pages. They used to be an odd size for American paper, but are now the normal 1/2 letter size. What is happening is that there is a mix between forms, etc.


Oh, this is good to know! Thanks for the info, Jon...was the change this year?

This year?

As in "This year, 2008"? or "This year, 2007"? ;-) It definitely wasn't 2008, so it must have been 2007.



Atoma/Myndology Desk Punch

Inowen, I find this post very useful. I have a portable Rolla punch and at first, I didn't look carefully at the marking and just lined everything up to the left side. Atoma/Myndology also makes a Punch. I thought I throw that into the mix. Atoma/Myndology has marking for European A4, A5, A6.
-Duc Ly

Adjusting a Regular Punch + Q Using Levenger Punch

I taped a yellow bit of paper with lines marked where I need to put the end of paper or card when I do my 3x5's. Two lines needed as when I flip, the other side has to be placed a bit differently. This figured after some experimenting on my regular 3-hole punch. The punch has 11 places to move the gadgets but fiddly as screwdriver needed and much wiggling and testing to get fine placement right - it has no markings. Then I used a 'very fine' marker to trace around the correct placement of the gadgets. Once done it's done and now easy and fast to move if I need to change after using for regular 3 hole. Next need to figure out the split 6-ring I have tho ...

But a question: when using the levenger type punch on ordinary paper, can you use that paper in a regular ringed binder without the punched holes becoming raggedy and torn from moving pages around by just pulling out and inserting somewhere else?



If by ordinary you mean prepunched Notebook paper forget it, won't last very long moving it around.
24-28 pound paper will move around several times without a single tear, and anything over 60 pounds it rugged enough to move daily. Levenger sells smurf protectors which is basically packing tape that you put over where the holes are.

Smurfs vs. Ring holes

I haven't had the pleasure of using the Levenger paper yet (drool!) but have been using regular 7-hole punched 8.5 x 5.5 ("classic"-sized) dayplanner forms to punch for my Rollabind notebook.

What I've noticed is that the smurfs end slightly closer to the edge than the ring hole. If I line up the middle HOLE of the 7-ring holes exactly with the middle SPACE of my 8 smurf cutters, I end up with a document that has both sets of holes without any overlap and can use them in either a Rollabind notebook or a 7- or 3-ring classic binder. Works great!

Gil_Smoke is right, however, that the regular paper doesn't hold up to much moving around in the Rollabind system. Fortunately these are my day pages and don't often get moved.

I got Circa desk punch

I got Circa desk punch and...... two problems.
Circa-holes made by Levenger are a bit wider and pages turn more smoothly then those made by desk punch (May be they have more advanced equipment).
Second, the holes position (I use Junior size) need to be adjusted by user. Becuase if I printed out my own junior templates (2 per one A4), I have to keep a small margin while making holes by desk punch in order to get a pages which fit into Junior notebook. Otherwise pages overhang the Junior cover (which just destroy whole outlook). Althought desk punch can be adjusted somehow easily.... it still takes time.

....Pages (80 g/m2) are not

....Pages (80 g/m2) are not just overhang. They also able to cut your fingers if you are not careful while handling you notebook.

index cards

Can you buy index cards with a hole already punched in them?

If so, where can you buy them?


Pages 3 and 8

Try Staples, Office Depot, Target, Wal-Mart, and Google
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

regular round hole punch + slit?

Im thinking of using my regular 1-hole punch and index cards (and regular, pre-punched paper), and using the thickest rubber o-rings i can find at home depot. I'd slit the paper holes. I hope that'd work, i tried with notebook paper and a chopstick and it held on to my move it around. I'm planning to get some rubber rings and some loose-leaf rings (prob no slits for this) this weekend; any reasons why this would not work?


anyone selling rollabind/circa punch, etc? I'm looking to start.