MAKE:TNT Tools 'n' Tips

Punch Happy

by Steve Wood

As seen in MAKE 01 Toolbox


Tool photo.

If you have sheet material you need to make neat holes in, nothing beats a Roper-Whitney #5 Jr. Compact, powerful, reliable, and hand-powered, a #5 Jr. will punch holes through quarters, if that's what you want. (And who doesn't want to do that?)


Designed for working with sheet metal, the #5's role in your projects will expand when you realize just how much it can do. There is no tool that does a cleaner job punching ventilation holes in computer cases. Cladding a ho-hum bit of electronics in material to match your decor is easy when you can make your own mounting holes.


Plastic flowerpots can be hung by cord passed through the smooth holes a #5 will punch in their edges. Washers made from pennies keep bolt heads from tearing through thin material and make good electrical contacts when grounding electronics. Punching heavy cardstock or plastic sheets is trivial for this tool. Wind chimes, made from found objects or flea-market cutlery, are amazingly well-received gifts, as are homemade buttons. It's possible to do intricate punching of sheet stock and wind up with your own absinthe spoon in very little time at all.


Roper-Whitney makes replacement punch sets suitable for punching oblong holes in leather belts, along with many other sizes and shapes. Besides all this, the Roper-Whitney #5 Jr. combines an elegant articulation and the good ergonomics that result from a long presence in the market. Grab one and start ventilating.