Comparing the Atoma Paper Punch to the Staples Arc Punch

Over the last year and a half, the William Hannah A6 has become one of my most used stationery items. Inspired by Jesi’s original post about punching papers to make her own notebook, I’ve been punching away ever since. I’ve had two different paper punches in that time and both options are decently pricey (one much more so than than the other!) so I thought a comparison might be helpful to anyone else considering their options.

The first punch I tried was the Staples Arc Punch. This punch retails for just under $50. After I had been using the William Hannah for a while, I splurged on the Atoma Paper Puncher (for research purposes of course), which retails for over $130 at the time of writing this post. That’s a very large investment in a hole punch. Has it been worth it? And is it really more than twice as good as the Arc punch?

Let’s start with the Arc punch. This is a very, very solid punch. It just works. It’s meant to be used with up to 8 pages (of course depending on what kind of page) and creates very crisp, clean cuts on everything from Tomoe River paper to watercolor paper. In terms of the basic functions of this punch, I have virtually no complaints.

When in use, one item of note is that this punch is very large and a little unwieldy, but not at all unusable. When not in use it can be locked so that it is a little more compact (although still larger and less compact than the Atoma). The tray for clippings is hard plastic and slides out from the bottom for emptying. I wouldn’t call it the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the room, but again in terms of function in does exactly what it was designed to do.

For the Atoma punch, the design is a little different, but the function is very similar. The punch is made up is mostly black metal and is slightly more compact and in my opinion maybe a little better looking than the Arc punch.

In terms of punching though, both are equally solid- I really can’t tell any difference in terms of how they punch paper in general terms. For the Atoma, the tray for clippings is rubber and peels off the bottom.

The only real meaningful difference worth any price difference in these two punches comes down to a single photo. The Atoma punch is on the left, and the Arc punch is on the right.

Or that photo in reverse. Again, the Atoma punch is on the left, and the Arc punch is on the right.

When comparing these let’s start with a basic question. Can you buy a Arc punch and use this punch to punch papers to use in a William Hannah notebook system? Yes, absolutely. It works. You can place the paper into the notebook, turn the pages, and remove the paper from notebook. I’ve tried all kinds of paper from Rhodia to Bank Paper to Tomoe River and even Col-o-Ring Cards.

However, I personally do feel that the shape difference above makes a decently big difference for me in daily use. The arc’s shorter punch makes it a little more difficult especially in turning pages and especially if you have a lot of pages packed into the notebook. It’s not a non-starter issue, more of a small annoyance. And whether a small annoyance is worth a $80 price difference really comes down to personal preference and how much you use the product.

This is one of those products that is very difficult to recommend to anyone because the price point is so far out of reach compared to alternatives and compared to what “seems” reasonable to pay for item in this category. At the same time, this is an item I use every single week, and the small improvement it has over its competitor in the market makes a difference in my stationery use on an almost daily basis. There are items twice this cost in my collection I can’t say the same for.

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4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I believe the Happy Planner punches also give you longer stems and are priced similarly to the Arc/Tul/Rollabind/Circa punches (two of the Circa punches produce wider “heads” but have the same short stems).

  2. Have you considered the Levenger Circa punch? The Circa Universal desk punch is similar to the Atoma punch except for the price ($69.50). The Circa Levenger punch ($99) resembles the Staples Arc. There’s also a portable model ($29.50) that I now own which does a fine job for the occasional punching that I do. I once owned the Universal – which worked very well for me – until I noticed I was no longer punching very many pages and gave it to a friend. I agree with Zoe that the Circa ‘heads’ are bigger. Perhaps that would compensate for the shorter stem?

  3. I also have both punches. I really wanted to love the Atoma punch as I prefer the shape of the holes, and it is of a great build quality. Unfortunately, I find the design is back to front compared with a standard hole punch – the lever presses down over the paper side rather than the side away from the paper. I find that makes it more fiddly to use and harder to line the paper up. It’s frustrating as it is probably the better punch but my Arc is easier to use in practice. Just a shame the Arc appears to have been discontinued now! I have also tried the Happy Planner punch and found it flimsy and prone to jamming.

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