Clam clips 13


Today I want to show you a type of clip that I use often and that’s very practical. Like the Ohto (officially OHTO) super clip and the corner clips, this type of clip is not very popular and this time I’m not even sure what to call this clip – there are so many different names for this type of clip. A few of the common names are: clam clip, supaclip, power clip, gachuck and nalclip.

The slot loading version

The slot loading version and an Altoids tin with clips

Instructions from Yoyo's ex-power clipper

Instructions
(© Yoyo)

 

Function1

We are basically talking about a foldback clip (also called foldover clip or binder clip – here in the UK often called a bulldog clip) without the wire handle. This makes the whole clip quite a bit smaller as you leave out the two handles to open the clip which also means that the clip doesn’t need the small loops necessary for the handles. The disadvantage: you can’t easily open the clip any more when you want to clip it into paper, unless you have a clipper/dispenser, the device necessary to clip these clam clips onto the paper. Removing these clips is generally possible by pulling the clip off, most dispensers have a lip at the base to make pulling clips off easier. Even though you can remove them easily enough they clip the paper well enough so that the clip won’t come off by itself.

 

supaclipHistory

Ohto calls their version of this device Gachuck …because of the sound the dispenser makes when clipping paper together. I think in their version of the story the Gachuck’s inventor, a Mr. Sato, tried to approach several companies, but none were interested in this clipping system, until in 1980 he approached OHTO, back then still called AUTO, which then took on this product. Other companies have registered their names for these clips, too. Rapesco’s Supaclip even came with the tag line “The Original”.

 

 

Different versions

Clips from different manufacturers

Clips from different manufacturers

There are many different versions of the clipper/dispenser and of the clips – made by many different manufacturers. I know of four different types of clippers and have three of the four different types. You can find each of these different types of clippers from different manufacturers and in different sizes. Clips are available in different widths as well as with different thickness to handle more sheets if needed.

Most clippers will only handle one size of clips, but will usually be able to handle clips made from different material. Most clips are made from stainless steel, but there are also plastic clips and clips made from a paper and polypropylene mix.

– Slot loading version

clips and clippers

You can see that the blue clipper as been fixed with tape. This type of clipper will usually get damaged when trying to remove a stuck clip.

The most common version these days seems to be the slot loading version2. You load the clips by feeding them into the slot at the back of the clipper. The slider, used to dispense the clips, is connected to a spring. It will automatically slide back after dispensing a clip, so you can use it again immediately. You will have to hold the clipper front down to get the next clip to slide to the front of the dispensing mechanism as clips will slide around in the dispenser, especially if the dispenser is nearly empty. The biggest disadvantage of the slot loading version: if a clip gets stuck you usually can’t remove it without inadvertently breaking the plastic off that prevents clips in the dispenser from falling out.

 

 – Spring loaded version

This is my favourite version, unfortunately this version seems to be pretty hard to find these days. The advantage over the common slot loading version: the slider will slide back after use and will stop just after the next clip to be dispensed.

The spring loaded version and some plastic clips

The spring loaded version and some plastic clips

This means you can keep using the machine without having to turn it front down to get the next clip to the front. This is achieved using a spring mechanism similar to the one you will find in some good staplers3. The disadvantage: you need to open the clipper, similar to a stapler, to reload it. This takes slightly longer than reloading the slot loading version.

The spring loaded version, open

The spring loaded version, open

– Springless version

This version doesn’t have any spring. This means that additionally to holding the clipper front down, to get the clip in the right position to be dispensed, you also need to use your thumb to move the slider to the back, to be in the right position to dispense the clip.

The springless version next to an Altoids tin I use to store clips

The springless version next to an Altoids tin I use to store clips

This is the least comfortable to use version, but fixing any stuck clips is much easier compared to the spring loaded version. It can usually be done without damaging the clipper.

The springless version, open

The springless version, open

– Cartridge fed version

I don’t own a cartridge fed version, but as the name suggests you load the clipper by inserting a cartridge with clips. You can see a photo of this version on Ohto’s web site.

 

Usage

I like these clam clips a lot. I often use them to temporarily clip sheets of paper together that will get properly stapled at a later stage. If you have a dispenser at hand these clam clips are faster to use and more convenient that foldback clips.

Most of my clippers and clips were bought in Shanghai were a clipper or a pack of clips usually costs around 5-10 RMB (~80c – $1.50; ~50p – £1; 60c – €1). They are sold under the following brands: Bona, Comix and Deli. I bought the springless clipper many years ago from Schreibwaren Jäcklein in Volkach. It’s from Yoyo, distributed my Metzger & Mendle4. I think I paid just above €5 (~$7; £4) for it. Replacement clips were just above €3 (~$4). Replacement clips bought in the UK are similarly priced.

Has anyone seen the spring loaded version of the clipper? I’d like to get another one5 – they are great and the one I’m using has never had any problems with clogging up, unlike the slot loading clippers I’ve used.

A clip in use

A clip in use

 


No proper dates this time as I’ve bought these items over many years. The exchange rates given in the text are also only a rough guideline, as I just want to illustrate what you can expect to pay if you’re after one of these clippers.

  1. This is gone be complicated, it’s probably easier if you just look at the pictures. []
  2. This is just my name for this type. If you know what this and other versions are officially called, please let me know. []
  3. My Leitz stapler has a very similar mechanism []
  4. I’ve been meaning to reciew their inks for a few years now. I should definitely try to do that soon. []
  5. The one in the pictures actually belongs to my wife, but I’ve used it almost exclusively for the last few years. []

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13 thoughts on “Clam clips

  • Gunther

    Thank you for that detailed review of these clips! Until now I have seen them as non-essential gimmicks but suddenly I think that my desk isn’t properly equipped without them 😉 I will have to look for these clips.

  • Matthias Post author

    I’m glad you liked the blog post. They are quite nice. For the purpose I use them for they are more suitable than staples and foldback clips, but I guess there’ll be many occasions where they are non-essential or where you could use them but you don’t have the clipper nearby, so you use something else instead.
    They’re definitely worth having a closer look!

  • Johnny

    I had one of these about ten years ago, when they really came in handy for organizing seminar notes. I don’t understand why they never got very popular — more difficult to make an airplane than the bulldog clips? 🙂

  • Matthias

    What’s that about making an airplane? I only got to know the bulldog clips when I came to the UK, so it was after my airplane building phase. Please explain.

  • Johnny

    If you place the “handles” in certain ways, you can fashion pretend aircraft and spacecraft. This explains a lot of my bad high school math grades. 🙂

  • Matthias Post author

    Ah, ok. I somehow imagined there’s a way of integrating them in a useful manner into a paper air plane.

  • Wendy Hager

    I’m in need to find the manufacturer that produces the clam clip and dispenser. Could you help me with any information. Thank you.

  • Doyle

    In the US we have seen these for at least 15 years as Clam Clip, under the brand of SkilCraft, and more recently IDEK, both manufactured (or at least ‘produced’) in San Antonio, Texas by the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind. The clip set I have from 2001 or so are the ones with an extra bend line on each side near the base. They have ‘US patent 5806147’ on one side, and some have the words POWER CLIP on the other. I know earlier ones I used had Clam Clip on them. I have also noticed Clam Clip dispensers and refills under uxcell(Hong Kong exporter), [includes: ‘100 pcs 15mm x 10mm x 5mm Metal Reusable Refill for Clam Clips Dispenser’, and others] and Sonline(Summer Online-HK). These Asian clips have flat sides back near the base, very like binder clips. Rapesco Supaclip 20/40/60 dispensers and refills from the UK also use this flat-sided clip design.
    US patent 5806147 is the 1997/98 patent by Sato, referencing the 1982 patent. http://www.patentbuddy.com/Patent/5806147 includes the drawings.
    The dispenser I located under US Patent No: 4,996,755 in 1989/91 by Sato as a clip driver.
    The first clip is still an active patent, the clip driver is expired.
    I have had little problem spotting them on Amazon.

  • Matthias

    Thank you for this detailed explanation and the link. This is great. Are clips and dispensers made in Texas?
    Unfortunately I’ve never seen the Texan ones in Europe.

  • tom giesen

    Hello,

    My name is Tom Giesen. I live in the Netherlands. Ik want to order some power clips.
    How can I do this? Can you buy theme some where here in the Netherlands?
    What will it cost?
    Ik would be gladly to here from You.

    Sincerely tom.

  • inotrym

    Hey Tom,
    I don’t know if you can find them locally, but you can purchase them on e-bay.
    Just search for “nalclip” and you should be good to go.
    Regards.