Papercrafting Supplies 101: Tools

I’ve been known to say papercrafting is my type of “art” because all you have to know how to do is cut and paste. That isn’t too far from the truth. So far in this series we’ve looked at paper, the key component in papercrafting, and adhesives, the pasting part. Today we’re going to look at the 3rd part of that equation, the cutting, and a handful of other basic tools for paper crafting.

Cutting is necessary for most paper crafts, and if you’re a lot better than I, perhaps you can do it with just a pair of scissors. But most everyone uses a more accurate and faster tool, a paper trimmer. Quick, straight and accurately measured cut lines from a paper trimmer make paper crafting easy. You’ll still want a good, sharp pair of scissors for more detailed (and more rough) cuts, but for most of your cuts, that are just straight lines, get a paper trimmer.

mspapertrimmerThe most common, and usually least expensive, type is the sliding blade trimmer. These trimmers have a small blade that slides up and down in a groove that lays over the paper. It can cut paper and cardstock, but not thicker materials, and usually not more than a couple layers at a time. Many of these trimmers are narrow and have a swing out arm for measuring larger cuts (up to 12×12″ paper). They are light weight and portable, fast and easy to use, and accurate. You can also make partial cuts with them, just part way down the paper, or even only in the middle of the paper, with the measurements down the length. Some of them come with a separate plastic “blade” that can be inserted when you only want to “score” (crease), not cut the paper, (or you can use a bone folder in the groove to make score lines also.) The blades on these trimmers need to be replaced, pretty often if you use them a lot. They will leave a ragged edge when they are getting dull. But blades are inexpensive and easy to replace–just always keep spares on hand. Some feel that the swing out arms don’t give real accurate measurements on larger pieces. (The one pictured, and that I own, has a pull out arm which I think is more accurate.) Most people start with sliding blade trimmer, and usually keep one on hand, even if they add and use the other types.

I own the the Martha Stewart trimmer pictured, and also a Fiskars, perhaps the most well known brand. My Fiskars is older and not as accurate, in my opinion. My Martha Stewart has both cutting and scoring blades, a full length slide out arm, and  a small magnifier on the blade holder that magnifies the measurements down the length of the blade guide. I really like the way it works, but its blade seem to dull faster than any of my other trimmers.

rt200nThe next type of paper trimmer is the Rotary Paper Trimmer. Many of these look much like the sliding blade trimmers but the blade is round and rolls down your paper along the guide. Rotary trimmers can be found with both the swing out measuring arm like most of the sliding blade trimmers, or full width. These trimmers usually cost a bit more than the sliding blade type, but are available in all price ranges. They are very accurate, cut very clean edges and can make very small cuts. This is what I use when I need to take off “just a sliver”. It somewhat bothers me that the entire bar area isn’t see through, like on the sliding blade trimmers, making it harder to cut narrow papers, in my opinion. Also with the round blade, it is harder to make accurate partial cuts, stopping at the exact spot you’d like. Be sure to get a rotary trimmer with plenty of measurement markings down the length by the blade (mine, not pictured, doesn’t). Rotary blades last longer than sliding blades, but cost a bit more to replace. Rotary trimmers also have a narrow cutting mat under the blade that has to be replaced occasionally, when it’s cut up. A bad cutting mat results in inaccurate cuts. Some of the rotary trimmers have optional blades that make various decorative cuts.

My rotary trimmer is a Carl brand (same brand as pictured). I love it’s accuracy and ability to make clean sliver cuts. I love that I can cut (at least) medium weight chipboard with it.
purplecowcombotrimmerThe least common paper trimmer is a guillotine type. This is the type of paper cutter used in offices and schools. It can cut through layers of paper and thicker cardboard and such, and you never have to change the blade. But some find it not as accurate for small, short cuts, or feel it takes up too much room, is too heavy to be a portable take-along, and potentially too dangerous. Others love it as their primary trimmer. It is limited to only making full cuts, from one end of the paper to the other. The one pictured is a combo trimmer that has a rotary trimmer on the other side. The 2 sides also can come apart. I don’t have a guillotine cutter.

timholtzscissors

Along with your paper trimmer, you will also want a good, sharp pair of scissors. To get started, a pair of 8″ basic paper/craft scissors will be fine. Later, you may want to add a pair of precision or specialty scissors, such as the Tonic Studios Tim Holtz non-stick short blade scissors, or Cutter Bee precision scissors. Some people also enjoy having various decorative edge scissors.

There will no doubt be times you will be glad to have an X-acto knife and mat, for cuts your trimmer can’t do, or do well. I also prefer to use my large rotary cutter (and a mat) for cutting thick materials, like chipboard.

In addition to cutters, you will also need measurers. A regular ruler is a necessity–I like my metal X-acto ruler, and perhaps not a necessity but very handy, a centering ruler. A centering ruler has 0 in the middle and then goes out both ways, and is very handy for lining up all the things you want to center on a page or project.

msscoringboardCutters and rulers are very familiar to you, but above I mentioned 2 things that may be unfamiliar to you, scoring and a bone folder. Scoring prepares paper for creating even and crisp folds, without the paper cracking. Although scoring can be done with some trimmers, or even a ruler and bone folder, most paper crafters use the fast, easy and most accurate way, a scoring board. A scoring board has narrow channels–for making straight crease lines on your paper to fold on, at measured distances for making all your lines quickly and accurately. You make these score lines with a bone folder, a tool with a blunt pointed end for scoring and smooth edges for making your folds crisp and sharp after you fold your scored lines, without marring your paper. The score boards I’ve seen all come with a bone folder. You can also buy bone folders separately, if you prefer a different style. Some people also use a stylus for creating their score lines on a scoring board.

I own the Martha Stewart Scoring Board pictured. I like that it has scoring channels every 1/8″, and the envelope tool for lining up your paper to make diagonal scores. It also has a compartment for storing your bone folder. Tip! I ran colored permanent markers down various channels at the measurements I use most often, to give me quick to find visual guides.

Our last tool today is a non-stick, heat resistant craft mat. It will protect your work surface from adhesives, heat and ink. These are different than cutting mats, and are usually made of silicone or teflon material. They work great for protecting your desk from the heat of glue guns or embossing heat guns, and wipe up clean from gluing/taping/mod podging and stamping/inking. I prefer silicone as it’s non-toxic.

These are the basic tools you’ll need for paper crafting. Other tools are specific to specific types of work you do in paper crafting. I will cover those as I cover their area of technique. So to get started, 5 basic tools are needed. You may even already have 2 or 3 of them. You’ll need a paper trimmer and scissors, a ruler, a scoring board and a craft mat, add that to you basic supplies of paper and adhesives and you’re ready to get paper crafting.

Now that we have the basics covered, I’ll be back with add-ons, for other techniques and embellishments you may want use, in the Papercrafting Supplies 201 series.

 

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Check out more DIY projects on Kathy’s blog at Teaching Good Things.


 

Papercrafting Supplies 101: Adhesives

Papercrafting Supplies 101: AdhesivesAdhesives are something I learned a lot about early on in album making. I had been fine with my basics for cardmaking and other paper projects I’d been doing over the years, but once I started making albums I learned that you really need to use good, scrapbooking-specific adhesives if you want these things to stay together through much handling.

Like papers, you use different types for different things, but three basics will see you through most needs. Also like paper, you want photo safe, acid free products. Adhesives made especially for scrapbooking/paper crafting are best.

1) Double-sided Tape Runner. For just adhering layers–paper to paper or paper to cardstock– that will not be getting much wear/any movement, a tape runner works fine. I have used various brands of the small “snail” type runners and they are ok for light duty (especially in card making and such) but for those that plan to do much paper crafting, I highly recommend a Scotch ATG (Advanced Tape Glider). Those little snail-type runners go through tape really fast, and the ATG is much more economical. The quarter inch size (pictured below) is what you will use most (maybe only. It’s all I have.) ATG tape also works (holds better) than most small snail-type runners I’ve used, but those can be used in a pinch.

2) Strong Double-sided Tape. For adhering pieces that are going to get movement/wear, you want something stronger than a tape runner. You need something that is really going to hold for hinges and binding, chipboard, box making, and such. You don’t want your albums or boxes falling apart. My favorite super-sticking double-sided tape is Scor-Tape, because it can be torn rather than cut, making it fast and easy to use–and economical too.  But I also use Terrifically Tacky (a red line type) because I got a SUPER deal on it in various sizes. Wonder Tape from Ranger would be the same red line type, but I’ve never used that brand. Like ATG, the size you will use most is probably the 1/4″, but I like having the 1/2″ and 1/8″ on hand because I use them sometimes too. I also have 1 1/16″ of Terrifically Tacky that I use sometimes, and will probably get 1″ Scor-Tape when I run out of that. Scor-Tape is much cheaper to use than the red line tapes (unless you get a buy 1 get 4 free deal like I did.)

Papercrafting Supplies 101: Adhesives3) Wet glue. There are some times when you just need a glue adhesive. Tapes are great for most things, but for adhering the insides of pockets (you don’t want your tags and such to stick in the pocket) and when it’s hard to get a precision alignment (tape is stuck for good once it’s stuck,) a quick drying wet glue comes in really handy. Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive is my fave. It is a strong permanent glue that dries quickly, but gives you enough time to reposition if necessary. It is photo safe, acid free, and a little goes a long way. And it doesn’t leave wrinkly papers like most wet glues–perhaps largely because you need so little. Tombo Mono Multi Liquid Glue is also a popular one with scrapbookers, but I’ve not tried it.

Like the papers, these 3 basics will take you far. They may be all you need–or you may want or need other special adhesives at times. Again, I’ll mention one more that you will probably want to have, but isn’t absolutely necessary at the beginning. There’s a good chance you may already have it.

A Glue Gun. There are times, especially when adding embellishments, that a glue gun is the best tool for the job. I prefer a high and low temp one–the low being great especially for laces, ribbons, and such. This is a tool you’ll use for much more than just papercrafting. I’ve used Stanley and other brands before, but am currently using a 40 watt dual temp Surebonder (below).

Other specialty adhesives that you may want for embellishments and dimensional  layering are foam adhesive dots/squares and glue dots. Magnetic discs (by Basic Grey) also stick things together in papercrafting, usually as a closure for an album itself, or interactive parts inside an album.  Duck Tape is another specialty adhesive, used sometimes as a spine for albums.

 


 

Papercrafting Supplies 101: Papers

I am far from a Papercrafting “expert” but, as perhaps someone a little further on the journey than you, I thought I’d share some of the Basics needed to get started, for the complete newbies. This will be a series of posts, each focusing on one type of supply.

The obvious first is Paper. Generally there are 3 basic types you’ll need. Quality (and thickness) varies from brand to brand. There are also other variations and specialty papers that you may want to use, but certainly don’t need to get started. The one thing you do want to look for in all your paper crafting papers is “Acid & Lignin Free”.

Paper Crafting Supplies: Paper - from Me & My House1) Patterned paper. This is your pretty paper used for decorating your paper projects (cards, albums, tags, altered items, etc.) You can buy individual sheets, but much more popular and economical is to buy “stacks”, pads of various coordinating papers. Usually the thickness is about the same as copy paper, but sometimes almost like a card stock. Most patterned paper is only printed on one side, but double sided is also available (mainly from the big names). Double sided is more expensive, but very helpful perhaps even necessary, for some projects. Usually you want standard 12″ x 12″ (again the most economical). Other sizes are available, 6×6″, 8×8″, and others, more rarely. Occasionally you may want these for the smaller designs on them and/or already precut to the size you want or less waste.

  • Beginners: Start with a stack of 12×12″ patterned paper in a design you love.
  • Tip!: You can get larger stacks of more varied paper very economically – especially because many of the big name craft stores carry their own lines and put them on sale at 50% off regularly. 180 sheets for $9.99 is common.
  • Tip!: Save your scraps. Most, even small ones, can be used in other projects.

Paper Crafting Supplies: Card Stock - from Me & My House2) Card stock. This is what backs your pretty patterned paper to give it more sturdiness. You’ll use it for your card bases, your album pages, tags, etc. There are different weights, you’ll usually want something fairly sturdy, 65# or more. Card stock comes in both 12×12″ and 8.5×11″. Generally the 8.5×11″ is fine (and cheaper) for card making and mini albums. The 12×12″ can be useful for some things, and necessary for others (like creating full size album pages.) The 12×12″ comes in more colors, various textures, and sometimes prints. Basic black, white, and “kraft” tan or brown are good for many things, but you’ll want more variety eventually, if not right away.

  • Beginners: Start with a pack of varied basic/neutral colors card stock. 8.5×11″ is fine.
  • Tip!: Greeting cards are generally made from a half sheet of 8.5×11″ card stock. Which way you cut it in half determines which side your fold will be on.
  • Tip!: Save your scrap strips. Most of them will be big enough for hinges in albums.
  • Tip!: Manilla card stock is perfect for making your own tags (much cheaper). File folders work great for this.

Paper Crafting Supplies: Chipboard - from Me & My House3) Chipboard. Though not really “paper”, chipboard is the type of very dense (not squishy) cardboard you use in paper crafts for album covers and other things that you need to be very sturdy. Medium weight chipboard will be appropriate for most of your uses. It doesn’t come in the variety of colors as card stock, usually just black, white, and kraft (tan). But that isn’t a problem, because usually you will be covering it with patterned paper, card stock, or paint/ink. Because the edges show on many/some of the projects you do, you may want to eventually get all 3 colors, but many people just use kraft. (I tend to use black and white more.) Like card stock, chipboard also comes in both 12×12″ and 8.5×11″. (The grey paper to the left is Grungeboard, see below.)

  • Beginners: Start with a pack of medium weight chipboard, which ever color you prefer. I recommend the 12×12″ as being a bit more versatile with less waste. But depending on what specifically you are making, that may not be true for you.
  • Tip!: Sometimes there is a price difference for the various colors. Unless you particularly want a specific color, get whichever is cheapest, though black may show through light colored papers. Grafix is a well known brand.
  • Tip!: If you get packages by priority mail, you can save the boxes and use them in place of chipboard for most small albums that have completely covered covers.

That’s it! Just 3 types of paper stock will get you started in making beautiful albums, cards, tags and other paper crafts.

Tyvek: I want to mention one more type of paper though, because I find it very helpful for keeping my albums secure. Tyvek is a plastic-y paper that large envelopes, like priority mail envelopes, are made of. It is great for reenforcing spines and hinges of albums. You need just a small strip for each. You can buy Tyvek envelopes or recyle ones you get mail in. I highly recommend it for album making, but you don’t have to have it.

Some other specialty papers you may want down the road are:

  • Grunge paper and grunge board–“Grungepaper:  a compressed, flexible, thinner sheet of dingy material that can be punched, painted, inked, sanded, die-cut, or grunged.” It is very strong, so great for spines and such. It’s other properties make it great for dimensional die cuts and more. Grunge board, as expected, is thicker than grunge paper. (See in the Chip board pic above.)
  • Vellum–True vellum is a parchment made from calf skin. Vellum paper you find in the stores mimics this, in a smooth translucent paper that is inexpensive.
  • Acetate–a thin, clear plastic (like transparencies are made of.) Used in papercrafting for making clear pockets or covering other designs with a protective, but see through cover.
  • Foil, Watercolor paper, and other specialty papers may also be used for certain projects. But loke the other specialty papers in this category are not necessary for getting started, unless you are wanting to do a specific project that calls for them.
  • Mini albums are also sometimes made with envelopes (of various sizes), notecards, and paper bags–and even empty toilet paper rolls.

I tend to buy whatever I find on sale at a great price that I like. But do you (that already are paper crafting) have a favorite company? If so, what is it and why do you like it best?