Meaning of Staple Sizes – SF 4, SF 3, standard, SF 1, What does it stand for? Paper Staples, stapling, stapler definitions


Who invented the stapler and where do staples come from?


Staplers and staples have become a part of office life.

What does SF 4 (SF4), SF 3 (SF3) and SF 1 (SF1) stand for?

The S.F. actually stands for “Stapler Food” or “Stapler Feed”

It indicates how many staples per strip.

S.F. 1 and S.F. 4  =  210 staples per strip.

S.F. 3  =  105 staples per strip (a half strip)

Larger staplers take the full strip, smaller ones take the half.

What is Stapling vs Tackling?

The term “stapling” is used for both fastening with straight or bent legs.

The term “tackling” is used for straight-leg stapling.

On the other hand, the term “stapling” is used for bent-leg stapling when being contrasted with “tacking”.

The legs of a staple can be allowed to protrude out the back side and folded over to provide greater binding than the friction of straight legs. Modern staples for paper staplers are made from zinc-plated steel wires glued together and bent to form a long strip of staples. More expensive stainless steel staples which do not rust are also available. 

Some staple sizes are used more commonly than others, depending on the application required.  Some companies have unique staples just for their products, which is annoying. Staples from one manufacturer may or may not fit another manufacturer's unit even if they look similar and serve the same purpose.

Internationally (outside the USA), staples are often described as X/Y (e.g. 26/6 or 24/6 or). The first number X is the gauge of the wire, and the second number Y is the length of the shank (leg) in millimeters.  Some exceptions to this rule include staple sizes such as No. 10.

Common sizes for the home and office include the following sizes: 26/6, 24/6, 24/8, 13/6, 13/8 and No. 10 for mini staplers. Common sizes for heavy duty staplers include the following: 23/8, 23/12, 23/15, 23/20, 23/24, 13/10, and 13/14.

There is no one standard that exists for staple sizes, lengths and thickness (with the notable exception of 24/6 staples, described by the German DIN 7405 standard).

This has led to many different incompatible staples and staplers systems that all serve the same purpose or applications.

In the United States, the specifications for non-medical staples are described in ASTM F1667-05, Standard Specification for Driven Fasteners: Nails, Spikes, and Staples. A typical office staple is designated as F1667 STFCC-04. ST indicates staple, FC indicates flat top crown, C indicates cohered (joined into a strip), and 04 is the dash number for a staple with a length of 0.250 inch (6 mm), a leg thickness of 0.020 inch (500 µm), a leg width of 0.030 inch (800 µm), and a crown width of 0.500 inch (13 mm).

Stapleless staplers cut and bend paper without using metal fasteners.

So….who invented the stapler???

The Staplers we used today (21st century) has a lot of conflicting evidence as to who created the first version. It is recognized that the first version of the modern stapler was created by the B. Jahn Manufacturing Co. in early 1900s. They issued the first stapler that contained an entire row of staples not just a singular version. But, there is also evidence for the invention of a stapler like the ones we use today by a Mister John Munford. Munford sold the prototype to his employer for a small profit and thus never received recognition for his invention.

The first stapler that has been recorded is in 18th century France.  It was said to have been used by King Louis the 15th.  Then in 1866 George W McGill developed a small, bendable, brass fastener that could be used with paper. Later in that same year he invented the machine that could insert the bendable brass clip into paper. McGill showed his invention at the 1867 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This “stapler” could load a single ½ inch wide wire stable and had the ability to bind several sheets of paper.  However this version of the stapler was still not even close to the ones we use today.

Fun Fact:

The Red Stapler that appears in the Movie "Office Space" is the Red Swingline Stapler.

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