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Staple wires come in different sizes and numbers which could be esoteric for most of us. But the key to knowing which one is the right for your office needs simply lies in learning what the numbers mean. Of course, you can always take the easy way out by looking for the suitable staple wire size for your stapler that is printed on the base or inside of the stapler box and just give the size to your friendly neighbourhood office supplies clerk, but that would be no fun isn’t it? Read on as goes into geek mode.

Wire Gauge and Shank Length
There are two numbers used in conventional staple sizing which are the gauge of the wire, which essentially measures the thickness of the wire, and the length of the staple shank, which measures the legs of the stapler. Both numbers are given in millimetres. When printed on the outside part of the box of staple wires or staplers, the sizes read as wire gauge/shank length. There’s only one exception to this rule which is size no. 10 or the standard size used for mini staplers.

Reading Staple Wire Sizes
Now for the most exciting part: learning how to read the sizes. As mentioned earlier, the sizes come in the wire gauge/shank length form such as 13/8 or 23/10. In these examples, the former (13 and 23) is the wire gauge and the latter (8 and 10) is the shank length. The higher the wire gauge size means the thinner the staple body is. It works the other way for the shank number as the higher the latter is, the longer the staple legs are.

There’s also a shortcut to doing this. The trick is by looking at the shank length. The higher the shank length would tell you that the staple legs are longer, which means it could penetrate thicker layers of papers or whatnots. The higher the number of shank length leans to the heavy-duty kind. They mostly come in 10 and above. The lower the shank length means the shorter the legs are, of course, which means the staples are used mostly for fastening thinner layers of items at home or in the office.

Are There Other Staple Wire Sizes?
Staple wires in the United States come in a different form based on the conventions covered by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) International. The specifications are much complicated and are enumerated in the ASTM F1667-11a, more commonly known as the Standard Specification for Driven Fasteners: Nails, Spikes, and Staples. For example, an office stapler would come in the form of F1667: STFCC-04 where ST represents the type (in this case, staple), FC means flat crown (the wire gauge or body), and C means cohered and 04 representing a certain set of measurement for the legs and crown.

Enjoyed this post? Don't forget to check out our previous article, The History of the Stapler.

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