Whether you’re a scrapbooker, origami artist, card-maker, or you dabble a bit in all things paper craft, you’re probably somewhat familiar with the vast selection of paper crafting tools on the market, from ink and stamps to embossers and vinyl cutting systems. You could spend a fortune buying kits and gadgets and sets galore, but still not have one of everything. And chances are you’d never use half of it.
So what gear do you really need to get started working with paper?
Most crafters agree that the most essential tools needed for basic paper crafting (aside from paper) include a quality pair of scissors, a paper trimmer, adhesive, rulers, a cutting mat, and a bone folder. Having a paper craft knife is also an important tool to have in your craft collection. This cutting tool is essential for precision cutting, scraping, and handling.
What makes these tools essential is their simplicity and usefulness, and how often you’ll reach for them in the course of just about any project. Some of them even do double duty.
Let’s talk a little more about each tool, and why it’s necessary to have them in your paper crafting toolkit and why:
The craft knife is a little tool with big potential. A craft knife has a fixed blade that will cut a wide variety of materials—delicate lace and mulberry paper, vinyl, cardstock, and leather.
Some craft knives go even further by offering additional safety features like finger-friendly ceramic safety blades; textured, ambidextrous handles; and a weighted, no-roll design for stability.
If your craft knife is compatible with interchangeable blades, your toolkit should also include:
- A rounded-tip blade for cutting felt, leather, Washi tape, cardstock, and stencils
- Pointed tip for materials that require a sharp point to initiate the cut
- Chisel blades for light chiseling and shaping matte board, cardboard, cork, balsa wood, and rubber
It’s a great choice for paper crafters because it offers accuracy and precision for fine details.
You’ve probably got a pair of general-use scissors in a junk drawer that can cut paper. But it’s totally worth investing in a separate pair of sharp, paper-cutting scissors, ones that are specifically designed for craft paper and paper products. If you plan to do a lot of cutting by hand, look for scissors that have an ergonomic design or comfort grips.
A guillotine paper trimmer, or paper cutter, is a tool that has a base, usually with measurement markings, and a long, sharp blade on a hinge with a handle. You may remember this device from your elementary school days. It’s useful for cutting larger sheets, or a small stack of paper.
A rotary paper cutter is a handheld tool that features a rolling blade and cutting mat with a measurement grid. You can use both types of cutters to cut or trim paper, cardstock, photos, and other materials with straight, precise lines.
Whether you’re arranging photos and embellishments on a scrapbook layout design or making your own paper envelopes, you’ll need different types of adhesive for most paper projects. Your paper-crafting toolkit should include double-sided tape, foam adhesive squares, glue dots, a hot glue gun, school glue, a glue stick, a heavy-duty tape runner, and regular clear tape.
The ruler is not just for measuring. You can use a ruler for drawing and cutting straight lines, creating shapes, lining up text or page elements in a straight line, along with taking measurements. Experts recommend having two types of rulers, a sturdy metal ruler and a clear acrylic ruler.
A cutting mat is essential if you’re using a craft knife. It protects the surface of your desk or table, and the sharpness of your cutting tools. They come in different sizes and include grid lines for measuring. They’re usually easy to clean, and resist glue and paint.
Although at one time they were, in fact, made of animal bone, today’s bone folders are typically made out of plastic or Teflon. They look a bit like men’s shirt-collar stays, with a wide end and a pointed end. Bone folders are designed to help you make sharp folds or creases, without leaving behind a shine or residue on your material.
Crafters who work with paper are a creative, detail-oriented bunch. A quality final product is important, as is having the right tools for the job. Over time, you’ll almost certainly discover other useful tools and gadgets for your crafting projects. However, these seven craft supplies are a great place to start in making sure that your paper crafting toolbox has the bare essentials.