Tools of the Trade

January 13th, 2009

Since I do a lot of craft projects, I have collected quite a few tools that I use almost on a daily basis. Many of them are fairly basic but I thought it might be helpful to create a master list of some of my favorite and most useful tools. I’ve included links to each of the products so you can easily find out where to buy them or get more information.

The X-acto Knife is an absolute MUST for any crafter. It gives projects a much cleaner, straighter and finished cut than scissors. Of course an X-acto can’t be used without a Self Healing Cutting Mat or Metal Ruler. Your counters and table will thank you! A Bone Folder is a handy tool that helps make sharp creases in paper as well as score or help rub things down after glue has been applied.

From left: 1.Alvin Cutting Mat 2.Metal Ruler 3.Bone Folder 4.X-acto Knife

My second most important tool that I own is my Fiskars Rotary Paper Trimmer. This thing is a dream! The blades slice through paper in no time and if you have a lot of cuts to make it can really speed up the process. The best part of this tool are all the different blades you can buy. My favorites are the Straight BladePerforating BladePinking Blade and Scoring Blade. The perforating blade creates a series of small cuts along the paper so that it can be torn; much like how stamps used to be. The pinking blade creates a decorative scalloped edge on the paper. And the scoring blade scores the paper so the paper will fold perfectly.

From top: 1.Rotary Paper Trimmer 2.Straight Blade 3.Perforating Blade 4.Pinking Blade 5.Scoring Blade

I have an arsenal of hole punches and decorative punches but the ones I use the most are the simplest. The Hand Held Circle Punches in sizes 1/16, 1/8, and 1/4 inches are great to have around; perfect for stringing a ribbon through a gift tag or adding a decorative border to a piece of paper. My Rounded Corner Punch is also one I use very often. It’s so easy to use and adds the perfect finishing touch. An Eyelet Setter is another tool that helps add a little extra to a project. This assists in setting eyelets for decoration or joining pieces of paper together.

From left: 1.Hand Held Punches in 1/16, 1/8, and 1/4 2.Rounded Corner Punch 3.Eyelet Setter 4.Silver Eyelets

Circle Cutter is great to have on hand when you need to cut out a perfect circle. The Guide helps you align where you want your circle to be and then the tool cuts it out. Takes a little practice to get the hang of it but it really comes in handy when I’ve got a round thing to cut out.

From left: 1.Guide 2.Circle Cutter


For projects that I do on my computer I typically use Adobe Illustrator CS4 (Mac)Adobe Illustrator CS4 (PC); it’s defiantly an advanced program but worth the effort to learn. It’s perfect for creating vector art and layout design. My Epson Printer is also a lifesaver. The quality on these machines amazes me every time. This particular one has some extra features that are really cool to have like a built in CD printer and a scanner.


From top: 1.Adobe Illustrator CS4 2.Epson Printer

I’m always on the hunt for new finds so I’d love to hear if you have any great tools that you can’t live without. Leave a comment below and include a link if you have it. Have fun and good luck!

13 Responses to “Tools of the Trade”

  1. rachel Says:

    hey Kathleen, just discovered your blog! I’ll definitely have to look through it more later & add a link to it from mine 🙂

  2. Melissa Says:

    I just discovered your blog, too. Thanks, Twitter!

    We have a lot of tools in common! Although, I’m curious about CS4, how does it rate to CS3? I’m hesitant to make the upgrade.

    My favorite tool is my tephlon bonefolder. It cost like $20 for the thing and it’s money WELL spent. I had previously bought a cheapie from a local craft store, and it burnished my paper [when I didn’t want it to], melted when I tried to score paper and was just a plastic-y cheap mess. Since the Tephlon bonefolder has lower coefficient of kinetic friction, it doesn’t burnish and smooths paper like a dream.

  3. Kathleen Says:

    It has quite a few handy new features like multiple art boards and better gradient tools. Here is a list of some of the new things. Wether they’re worth an upgrade is the $200 question. If you use it daily then I’d say yes, but if you only use it for the occasional card then CS3 is probably more than enough.

  4. Terri Says:

    Can’t believe I never knew about the fiskars paper cutter with blade options!! wow that just opened my world!
    thanks for a fun site to keep me inspired at work!

  5. Rotary Tools Says:

    your blog is very nice and informative.please keep it up.your tools are universally used for detailed and precise woodworking, auto detailing, model making and jewelry work.

  6. rachel best Says:

    I’m glad I saw this post, I’ve been in the market for a new printer, and the one you mentioned looks like it could be just the solution. The paper trimmer looks like something I should own too. Thanks!

  7. Your Reader Says:

    Wow! Thank you very much!
    I always wanted to write in my site something like that. Can I take part of your post to my blog?
    Of course, I will add backlink?

    Regards, Timur Alhimenkov

  8. Kathleen Says:

    Of course! Thank you and hope it’s helpful!

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  10. Liz Says:

    So glad I found your site. Found this post very useful. Any books you’d recommend to learning Illustrator?

  11. Dianne Says:

    Thank you! Very informative. I was just curious, could you share your recommendations for glue?

  12. Kathleen Says:

    Hi Dianne, I don’t know why I didn’t think to cover this but thanks for asking! For projects that need a super hold and that are flat (like a poster to foam core) I ONLY use Super 77 Spray Mount. This can be sprayed on and dries quickly so it needs to be applied within a few minutes. It’s not repositionable so be sure you know where you want things to lay. For craft projects I typically use Scotch double-sided tape. This can be found on large wide rolls and this is what I prefer to use. It’s not as thick as what you typically find in drugstores so it makes a smoother finish.

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