Martha Stewart Border Punches by EK Success

Reported by Kristine Fowler

Now I’ve got a lot (and I mean a lot) of tools in my craft closet, but until very recently I owned only one, yes you read that correctly, only one, craft punch. That one punch, a 1 1/4 inch circle by McGill Craftivity, I bought years ago for a very specific reason and unfortunately once that job was done, the punch sat, mostly unused, aside from perhaps a half dozen times. Sad, I know, but true. Until recently, I felt I could live without more punches since I was under the impression that they were over-priced tools with limited usefuless.

Fast forward….to sometime in the last couple of months. I saw this card, by Maile Belles on the Cards Blog and I was immediately compelled to go on the hunt for a border punch. I thought the card was so simple, yet extremely elegant, and that the scalloped border on the embossed panel was a key element in pulling the whole design together. Although not specifically listed in the card recipe – I decided that a border punch would make this design super simple to replicate…and so, I shopped. Not knowing exactly what I was looking for, or having any real experience with punches, I headed out blindly to see what I could come up with. After about 1/2 an hour, I came home with the Martha Stewart Embossed ZigZag Edge Punch by EK Success.
Now let me tell you a bit about it — it is probably one of the coolest punches ever (to me anyway, but as I said, I’m not a punch junkie). From the name, you can tell that it does two different things at the same time. It punches and it embosses. How cool is that? Here is a sample of how I used it:

(paper & images (c) CTMH Co.)

I think you can see the embossed edge on this one pretty clearly, and don’t ya just love the little holes? I don’t know about you, but I think the fancy zig zag does a lot to ‘step-up’ the basic card design.

Here’s another one – although the embossed lines aren’t quite so pronounced when you work on lighter weight paper. I used it on only a small section, rather than a span the entire width of the card.

(paper, embellishments, rub-ons & images (c) CTMH Co.)

Probably one of my favorite features of the Martha Stewart border punches is the way cool alignment guide, which enables you to get a perfect continuous punched border. I don’t think that this alignment idea is unique to Martha’s punches, but it sure is a big help. I took some pictures so that hopefully you can see what I mean.
In this one, I’ve already punched once, and I’m getting ready to line up against the alignment guide (the silver pattern on the base of the punch) so that I can continue my design:

Here it is all lined up for the second round:

And here I’ve taken the second slice, pulled out the paper and voila! It’s completely lined up resulting in a continuous zig zag. There is absolutely no guesswork here – and I love that!

The other really nice feature is the design of the handle. I found that the punch can either be used with it sitting flat on the table pushing down on the handle, or it’s light enough that you can pick it up and punch ‘in the air’, using your thumb for pressure. How you use the punch would likely be a matter of preference, but for me on the table is just fine.

So, since I like the Embossed Zig Zag so much, I decided to pick up another one of Martha’s punches: The Double Scallop. It works essentially the same way, and has the same alignment feature, but only cuts, doesn’t emboss.
Here is a sample of what I created with the Double Scallop. This time I used the punch to dress up an otherwise boring bottom panel of a card. I layered the panel tone-on-tone, and sanded the edge of the scallop a bit just to give it some pop. I really love this look.
So what’s the bottom line?

  • clean cuts each and every time
  • easy to use – doesn’t require a great deal of pressure
  • strong enough to punch through a couple of layers at one time
  • easy alignment system for perfect borders everytime
  • no sticking


  • a bit pricey for a tool that does only one thing (but I’m over it!)
  • limited availability
  • there is no tray on the bottom of the punch to catch all the little bits — this can catch you off guard initially, and you can wind up with a mess of teeny tiny little circles all over the place like I did.

I will definitely be adding more Martha Stewart border punches to my tool supply as time goes on – do you use them? Or will you? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

{And Maile, if you’re reading this — thanks for enabling me — even though you surely didn’t intend to do so when you created that gorgeous card!}

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19 Responses to Martha Stewart Border Punches by EK Success

  1. Avatar
    Tracey August 24, 2009 at 9:08 am #

    I actually have had the opposite experience with Martha Stewart punches. I have purchased 2 of them (one from Walmart and one from Michaels) and both have had to be returned due to issues. One was the zigzag actually and all of the little prongs were not there so some of my holes were missing when I punched. They sent me a replacement one and it seems to work okay. I just recently bought the Doily Lace punch though and can’t get it to punch through cardstock although it will punch computer paper fine.

    I have to say I am not impressed with the punches and don’t think I will be purchasing more. It’s sad really since I love the designs they have.

  2. Avatar
    Kristine August 24, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    Thanks for your input Tracy – it seems the jury is truly out on these tools. Previously on Craft Critique, we had one reporter (Julie Campbell) who loved them just as I did, and one reporter (Megan Lock) who had a similar experience to yours and was unimpressed. It sounds like maybe there are quality control issues here at the manufacturer level (EK Success). Great Comment!

  3. Avatar
    Clare (Littlebear) August 24, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    I love my Martha Stewart punches. I have three and they all give a really good clean cut.
    Clare x

  4. Avatar
    Axes DesigNs August 24, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    Thanks for the input! I don’t have Martha’s Border Punches 🙁

  5. Avatar
    Conniecrafter August 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm #

    Oh I love my MS punches and Fiskars too, they are a terrific way too add more texture and design! There are quite a few more I want to get too 🙂

  6. Avatar
    PattiM August 24, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    I have 5 of the Martha Stewart punches and only had a problem with one. It wouldn’t punch completely through. When I turned it upside down, I found something placed inside the punch making it hard to punch all the way through. But once I removed it, it worked fine… I’m on the look out for the new loop de loop punches. (straight & corner) I’ve been stalking Michael’s with no luck.


    (Pattie’s passion)

    I Scrap So All Moments Are Remembered!

  7. Avatar
    Lesley August 24, 2009 at 3:18 pm #

    i love punches when they offer versality. ive just invested in a martha stewart 3 xbutterfly punch and was amazed at its stability and easy of use, even with such intricate designs. i always find it tricky lining up the border punches tho, but that could just be my dodgy alignment

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    Bogner's August 24, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

    I have 5 MS border punches now to go with all my other punches! I haven’t had any problems as of yet… knock on wood! I just bought a new holiday one (drippy goo) and was surprised because the sides of the border fold up to allow for better storage! It is neat! I love the border punches and all you can do with them. As for price… if you can get a Micheal’s 50% off coupon, it does help with the financial issues.

  9. Avatar
    Kristine August 24, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

    Bogner – Thank for mentioning the fold-in sides of the newer Martha Stewart punch design. I noticed that in the store and on but forgot to mention it in my article. Since I only have 2 punches right now, storage for me is not such a problem, but if you have a bunch, definately the newer style fold-in sides takes up way less space!

  10. Avatar
    ellen August 24, 2009 at 5:09 pm #

    I am not a big fan of Martha Stewart craft products (other than her glitter) but I LOVE the cards that you created. I am going to purchase one of the punches that embosses and maybe I will slowly become a fan!! Thanks for another wonderful craft idea!!

  11. Avatar
    SueB August 24, 2009 at 7:41 pm #

    I’ve picked up a few of the MS (and Fiskar’s and EK Success’) border punches and love ’em – I’m trying to add them to my collection using 40% off coupons from Mike’s. So far, so good! I’ve only had to exchange one so far as it wasn’t punching good.

  12. Avatar
    Anonymous August 24, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

    I LOVE my Martha Stewart punches as I find their designs are so unique…mind you that being said..the intricate designs are not great lovers of heavy cardstock..but do work with most pattern papers.
    I wish that the shipping to Canada was abit more reasonable on the MS website and I would order directly from them versus buying them from Michaels. There’s a new loop border punch and I’m having a heck of a time trying to get my hands on one locally…off I go in search..
    Sheri L in Vancouver, BC

  13. Avatar
    Cherie August 24, 2009 at 8:58 pm #

    I recently invested in a couple of the new sets of MS Punches. The fall leaves and spider web & the greatest of all is the corner punch that goes with each one. It really makes it so-o cool when you can go around the corner with the same punched out design. I love em!

  14. Avatar
    Anonymous August 24, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    I have had two Martha Stewart punches that also were not good. I had the scalloped lace one. I used it to make about 120 garduation open house announcements. It stuck on the cardstock & the handle would not punch through. I had this happen to another punch as well. I had purchased them both last year so no receipt to get them exchanged. Both were purchased at Michael’s. So i am a bit disappointed in her Punches.

  15. Avatar
    Rebecca Ednie August 25, 2009 at 12:37 am #

    I have several MS border punches. My only disappointment was that the more intricate punches will not punch through heavy weight cardstock. That sucks!

  16. Avatar
    Camille M. September 2, 2009 at 7:45 pm #

    I love punches…but have found the MS screw punch to be the one I use most for its versatility. It’s a little pricey @ $24.99 but I used a coupon for 1/2 off at the craft store.

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    *reyanna klein* September 6, 2009 at 10:39 pm #

    I have one of hers currently (the zigzag one like you!), but I would love to have the loopy one! SO cute!!! Thanks for the review. 🙂

  18. Avatar
    Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 4:19 am #

    I’m a big fan of MS punches ! I have several in my collection, actually I have more MS punches than any other punches. I loooooove them ! I’ve only had 2 that didn’t work properly and exchanged them at M’s. I’ve been punching like crazy with my MS punches as I’m a teacher and punched lots and lots of shapes and borders and my students uses them for cards, decorating compositions, etc. I also love EK Success punches but find that the MS punch easier.

  19. Avatar
    Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 4:19 am #

    Oh and one last thing, I always punch through CS with my MS punches (Bazzill, etc) and have had no problem.