Tim Holtz Retractable Craft Pick, by Tonic Studios

Reported by: Dana Vitek

I am not a paper-piercing-kind-of-girl. My first paper piercer (it came in the Making Memories tool kit that everyone and her sister has) met its untimely end during the installation of my sliding-glass door (it seemed like a good idea at the time). I don’t think I ever actually used it for its intended purpose. But that didn’t stop me from replacing it with the snazzy Tim Holtz Retractable Craft Pick the last time I was poking around my local stamping store (pun intended). Clearly, I have issues.

I volunteered to write this review so that I would HAVE to use it for its intended purpose: piercing paper. As it turns out, I already had a number of paper piercing templates that I bought in the ‘before time,’ when I actually thought I might possibly be a paper-piercing-kind-of-girl. I did mention I had a problem, right?

I unwrapped the template (yes, still in its original packaging), slapped it down on some cardstock and went to town. Poke, poke, poke. Kind of addicting, like bubble wrap. Luckily, I moved my Silpat out of the way, and was piercing on this foam mat thing I have.

Anyway, I dry embossed the snowflake, and then poke, poke, poke, and then I used my emery board to expose the white core of the cardstock:

Here’s the card, in all its poky glory:

(Cuttlebug Snowflakes embossing folder, American Traditional Designs piercing template PC-204 (discontinued), cardstock by DCWV)

So, getting back to Tim’s Retractable Craft Pick. It has a number of features that distinguish it from the other varieties out there, most notably, its retractability. This is HUGE in my house, because I have the dreaded sneaky kid infestation in my craft room. It starts in the early morning hours, and I have to make extra sure that all of the dangerous stuff is well out of reach. Having the pick retract into the plastic housing means my son would have to work too hard to inflict damage, and might move on to something less challenging. Seriously though, I love safety features that are built in, so I can’t lose them.

Also cool is the plastic loop on the top, that, if I were organized, I would attach it to a lanyard-thingy and hang it around my neck, so I couldn’t possibly lose it on my workspace when I just set it down 5 seconds ago (Tim? Have you been watching me craft?!).

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?


  • Retractable, and therefore safer, and as I always say, “Safety First!”
  • Variable length stabby part, and I love versatility.
  • Tapered stabby part, so you can make tiny holes with the tip, or wider holes by stabbing deeper, and I don’t like where this conversation is headed.
  • Plastic loop for carrying or wearing, if you’re cool like that.


  • I’ve heard complaints about the stabby part retracting during use. That didn’t happen to me, but as I mentioned, I haven’t been using it very long. I will be vigilant, and guard against this potential trouble.
  • It’s red. Red is my son’s favorite color, and he’s like a magpie when it comes to spotting red things in my craft stash. But, it’s not really Tim Holtz’s fault that I need a nanny. I do, however, prefer pink things.

I bought my craft pick at White Swan Rubber Stamps in Historic New Castle, Delaware, home of tax-free shopping. You can also find it online at these retailers: StarLit Studio,, and It retails for $5.00, and I think it’s well worth it. Will I use it more often now that I have gotten on the paper pierceing train? Probably. But I won’t be using it when we replace the windows.

What do you use for paper piercing? Have you upgraded to the Tim Holtz Retractable Craft Pick, or are you sill using “Old Rusty” the trusty thumb tack? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Dana Vitek

Dana Vitek is a craft-‐‑supply hoarder with an obscenely understanding husband. She works full-‐‑time as a geologist, and spends her free time sort of paying attention to her two kids, reading a lot, and crafting. She's a crocheter, but not a knitter because knitting seems way too complicated. She's a card maker, but usually only 10 minutes before a birthday party. She cusses at her sewing machine. She has at least 12 different types of glue, but can never find the scissors she wants when she wants them. Dana started writing and editing for Craft Critique in 2008. She is perhaps best known for her Mother of All Black Ink Tests, and her annual April Fool's posts. She blogs extremely irregularly at Stamping Science.

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10 Responses to Tim Holtz Retractable Craft Pick, by Tonic Studios

  1. Avatar
    Nevis November 13, 2008 at 9:25 am #

    Is there not also a retractable craft knife in this set? I like the retractablitiy because while I don’t have kids I have a curious pug and he’s always getting into my scrapping supplies.

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    scrappymomtotwins November 13, 2008 at 3:21 pm #

    There is a set of 3 things in this style–the piercer, the knife, and what I call the distresser, for lack of a better word. I keep all 3 on a ring attached to my crop bag. I also have 2 additional piercers.

    Oh, and did I mention that I don’t do paper piercing?

    Why then, you might ask, do I own 3 of these little suckers? 2 words: GLUE BOTTLE. Yup, NOTHING is better for opening my various clogged up glue bottles! (I realize that ain’t Tim’s orginal intent but it makes Me VERY happy). Pins were never long enough, plus I have trouble grasping some small objects, so using pins to unstop the bottles just wasn’t working. These things, however, ROCK. Love love LOVE them.

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    Robyn November 13, 2008 at 7:12 pm #

    Own paper piercers aka Stabbers in my circle of paper artist friends…..yes, 3…two of the old MM ones…. one that came with my tool set and lives in the front of my top drawer, then there is a duplicate that is stuck into a Styrofoam thingy on my desk top and another MM one that has a cover that resides in my teaching kit for travel. Do I paper pierce…NO…. not at all…but this is one of my favorite tools for cleaning out applicators for glue, stickles, anything that might be needing to get cleaned out…. to adjusting the placement of paper before I add the sticker right there final hit with pressure rubbing the by jeepers out of it don’t you dare move! Hope you have enjoyed my feedback…..;0)
    The crazy lady in central Maine with way too many stabbers! LOL

  4. Avatar
    Carrie November 13, 2008 at 7:23 pm #

    This post was amusing as well as informative!!! 🙂 I have the Heidi Swapp petite paper piecer because it was cheap (like $1?) but the problem is that I keep losing it too. No fancy loop on that one 🙂

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    Karen N November 13, 2008 at 8:11 pm #

    I love the way you write – humorous and chatty! Can you tell me where you got the snowflake you “poked?” I love snowflakes…Also how did you get the Cuttlebug snowflakes to contrast on the background? I am kinda new to using the Cuttlebug, but since I LOVE snowflakes….I also enjoyed your pumpkin posting.

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    Sarah Moore November 13, 2008 at 8:43 pm #

    I really live the piercing element on this tool… I just used it for the first time last weekend, and I loved how you could make different sized holes depending on the depth in which you poke it through the paper.

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    Hayley G November 14, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    Love the review, I’m sold. I’ll pick one up the next time I’m at a LSS. Funny post too, thanks for the giggle.

  8. Avatar
    jerseytjej November 15, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    Great review and I am adding it to my list of stuff I NEED because it has that cool loop on it!

  9. Avatar
    Lita November 19, 2008 at 12:29 am #

    I bought this pick awhile ago, but it ratratcted often whilst I was using it so I moved on – I now have the Hiedi Swapp Petite Piercer and love it. It is tiny and easy to lose, but I either keep it in the little phone pocket of my Tool Tote or in my chic stand.

  10. Avatar
    SpAzzGiRL November 20, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    Love this little tool! The retractable nature has prevented me from stabbing myself at least 75% of the time. (This feature works best if you actually retract the thing before putting down.)