Cutting Class

If you have been paper crafting for a while you have probably made quite an investment in cutting tools. When starting out one might assume that a nice pair of scissors will do. But there are many different tools that have an array of features that make paper crafting easier, and often more fun! Some devices are made out of sturdy materials so they will last a long time but also makes them expensive. We hope to provide some insight on what to buy and when in order to avoid overspending on equipment you may not need…yet.

Beginner

At the beginning stage, there is a lot to learn about paper, ink, stamping techniques and adhesives used in projects. It is great to learn the basics of composition and design when starting out. Whether making a card, a banner or a paper flower arrangement, most of the learning curve is with the basic layout, color theory, and form. No matter the layout or project, you are probably going to need to cut the paper.

Drawing representing a basic paper trimmer.

Get a perfect edge of the perfect size (almost) each and every time! (User error does cause some heartaches.)

Besides a good pair of scissors, a basic paper trimmer and a few fun punches will be a great start. A trimmer allows accuracy in cutting measurements and straight clean lines. Once a few projects are made using a paper trimmer,  it is hard to go back. Many come with a slide style blade, but there also are guillotine styles. Another beginner essential is a paper punch. These heavy little devices offer basic shapes such as a circle, heart, star or a hexagon and can keep anyone busy for a long time. With a basic punch, the beginner can go crazy on creating paper garlands, adding dimension to a card design or making labels for other projects. 

They are kinda like the ole’ office supply hole punches on steroids.

$ – Paper trimmer $10-20. Do some research and go ahead and get a nice one. This device will be one of your most used tools no matter how long you’ve been playing with paper. Be sure to get one that offers replacement blades. Punches vary from $5-20 each. Beginning investment can range from $35 -$75.

Intermediate

Once the beginner has developed a strong foundation in layout and a working knowledge of materials then it is time to kick it up a notch with more complex designs. One way to do this is with a die cut machine. Die cuts come in basic shapes, basic words and alphabets, as well as more complex designs like flower sets, animal shapes, box templates, edge treatments, etc. The die and paper run through a die cut machine which may be manually cranked or electronic. It acts much like a punch creating perfect shapes. Die cuts can be much more delicate than punch shapes and you can find die cuts that do some really amazing tricks! Using die cuts can be quite joyful, but the price is significant. Once you are ready, invest in the machine and build your die cuts over time. As with punches, think about the variety of uses you will get out of each die when deciding on which ones to purchase.

Hand drawn image of a hand crank die cut machine.

You can get a workout while you create!

$$ – Die Cut Machine $50-$150. Again, do some research and get a nice one. One machine should last you for years. Wait for a sale or a coupon and pick one up. $15-30 for each die set. Your investment could easily reach $100-$200 quickly.

Advanced

Plotting and crafting meet at last! What takes someone from an intermediate to an advanced crafter is debatable. Since the digital machines are the most expensive, we reserve the price point for the advanced level with the confidence that anyone can make millions of great projects without spending at this level. While digital cutting machines are designed for easy use, we feel the advanced crafter will have the background and experience to get the most out of the flexibility and precision the plotter style machines offer.

Hand drawn image of a digital cutting machine.

It’s like having your very own crafty robot.

$$$ – Digital Die Cut Machine $200-400.

Whether you are just starting in paper crafting or have been crafting for years, we hope this review has helped provide guidance on purchasing tools that will match your needs. Of course, buy whatever devices you wish especially if you are on a Treat Yo Self mission! We recommend the above “levels” for the amount of use one can get before moving on to the next purchase!

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