"אני צריך מספר מזלגות."
Translation:I need a number of forks.
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I'm struggling to think of a rule, I think it's more an intuition thing that you will pick up over time. But possibly, because מספר here is not a literal "number", and just a different way of saying כמה, it's probably more natural not to use של because of that. You couldn't say כמה של מזלגות for example.