16 Essential Tools for Your Craft Arsenal

Reported by Sarah Moore, Founding Editor

It’s difficult to be a crafter ready to craft, if you don’t have the right tools.  I’ve made a list of 16 essential tools every crafter must have.

1. Detail Scissors

You need these for detail work- cutting out small items.  They’re also great for ribbon with an adhesive back; because of the Teflon blades, the adhesive won’t stick.

I like a couple brands, but I really like the EK Success Honey Bee Non-Stick Craft Scissors.  They have Teflon blades and a sheath cover, so they are perfect for sticking in an apron pocket or taking to a crop.

I also like Westcott’s 6″ Titanium Precision Scissors.  They have a nice wide handle so they are easy to hold. They, too, are non-stick, and they have a sheath with a lanyard, so they are designed to take on the go!

2. Fabric Scissors

The best fabric scissors on the market are Gingher 8-Inch Micro-Serrated Edge Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears.  Be sure to dedicate the scissors to fabric only.  You don’t want to be cutting paper, or heaven forbid wire with these scissors.  I just keep mine hidden away, but you could tie a ribbon with the label “Fabric only or face Mom’s wrath” on them.  These shears will cut fabric like a hot knife through butter.

3.  Standard Paper Scissors

You really want to have at least 3 pairs of scissors.  One for detail, one for fabric, and one for paper.  Invest the money in a ergonomic pair with non-stick blades like Westcott Non-Stick Titanium Bonded Scissors. They have non-stick blades that are perfect for cutting duct tape or adhesive-backed materials.  I use an 8″ pair that is perfect for most tasks.  They even come in pink!

4. Teflon Bone Folder

You must have a bone folder, so you mind as well get the best one.  A Teflon Bone Folder won’t leave any shiny marks on your paper.  One down side: you can’t score effectively with a Teflon bone folder.  I use a paper trimmer with a scoring attachment for that, or a traditional bone folder.  I also love the Teflon bone folder because it’s flexible and feels so good in my hand.

5. Small Paper Trimmer

There are several that I have tested and used, and I always seem to rely on my Fiskars SureCut Paper Trimmer.  I like how easily the cutting blade swaps out for a scoring blade.  It’s accurate, small, stores easily, and is perfect to take to crops.  Another trimmer that’s worth the cash is Martha Stewart Simple Paper Trimmer.

6. Electronic Die Cutting Machine

It might seem like an extravagant purchase, but this tool can be worth its weight in gold for the über crafter. The ability to cut out letters alone makes it worthwhile. I use mine mainly for card making and kids crafts: Invitations, envelopes, paper-dolls, signage, vinyl, and home decor.

The key to using your electronic die cutting machine and getting the most out of it is to keep it out and accessible.  Spend some time really learning to use your tool. Play with it.  And watch some tutorial videos on YouTube.

And which die cutter to buy?  I have a Cricut Expression 2.  I love it.  I decided to get a Cricut because I’m not so great with photoshop and technology (I know… I’m a website owner who’s technology impaired, sad really).  Anyway, the Cricut cartridges are adorable, they fit my style and needs.  I buy cartridges when they are affordable.  Michael’s usually has a few sales a year when cartridges are $39.99 and I wait for those.

If I was more savvy I’d own a Silhouette CAMEO.  You can use your own designs on the Silhouette, true type fonts and whatnot.  Our reporters who can use the Silhouette Cameo love it.

7. A Printer and Scanner

Crafting in a modern world takes some modern tools.  It’s essential to have a photo printer for scrapbooking. But so many crafts today are photo crafts.  I know my Pinterest albums are filled with crafty projects using photos.  I use my scanner a lot to scan images out of old books for collages, and with mixed media being so popular I tend to do this quite a bit.  In this day and age you also want to be able to print from your iPad or iPhone, so look for a printer with those abilities.

Printers we love: the Epson Artisan 837 Color Inkjet Wireless All-In-One and the Kodak All-in-One Series.  The Epson printer prints high quality photos, it’s a wireless printer that supports printing from your iPhone or iPad.  The Kodak printer features low-cost ink but still prints a quality photo.

8.  Great White Cardstock

Every crafter deserves bright white Cardstock that is perfect for printing on, stamping on or drawing on.  We love Papertrey ink’s white cardstock, Stampin’ Up! Cardstock in whisper white and Cryogen White Iridescent 80 lb.

9.  Quality Adhesives

Buy an ATG gun, now.  This adhesive tape gun is also marketed as the Scotch Advanced Tape Glider.  Now available in pink.  It’s a little complicated to load, but we have a great video on YouTube to help you.  You can stick almost anything with this adhesive, but it is best for adhering paper to paper.  It really sticks, and your pretty cards won’t fall apart after you’ve sent them.

Looking for something a little more portable and also easy to use?  The Xyron Mega Runner is only $24.99 and it has a refillable cartridge of 100 feet of adhesive. It’s smaller than an ATG Gun and sticks very well.  Perfect for cardmakers and scrapbookers.

If you prefer a liquid adhesive you should try Scotch Quick Dry Tacky Adhesive.  It’s perfect for paper, won’t bubble or buckle.  I use it for small embellishments and fabric too.

For most crafts we still love Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue.  It’s thick and holds great.

For jewelry, metal, plastics and other odd materials I use Amazing E6000.  A couple of downsides: it can yellow, and it has a strong odor.

And you must own a Hot Glue Gun.  I like the Imaginisce I-Bond Cordless Hot Glue Gun. But any cheap hot glue fun will work in a pinch!  I also prefer a high temp gun or a gun with two settings.

10.  Mod Podge

If you don’t have a large bottle of Mod Podge then you just aren’t crafting hard enough.  I like a matte finish because the glossy can sometimes feel tacky even after it dries.  Buy a big bottle and keep it handy. Other brands or “make it yourself decoupage” do not compare.

11.  Fiskars Fingertip Craft Knife


Commonly referred to as an “exacto knife,” we like the Fiskars brand best because it is so ergonomically friendly, easy to control, and affordable.

12. Cutting and Scoring Mat

Many companies make a great cutting mat or a great scoring board.  We like the Scor-Pal Score Board Paper Crafter Tool with the cutting mat sold separately.  The cutting mat fits right into the scoring board and is easy to leave out on your craft table.  Another alternative is the Martha Stewart Score Board and Envelope Tool.  Also sold separately is their 12″x12″ cutting mat.

13. Cardboard Pattern Sewing Cutting Board

Perfect for a small space, when you need a place to cut a pattern out, piece a quilt or just make a mess.  A large collapsible board like this is really handy and very affordable.

14. Jeweler’s Pliers

Need to open a jump ring?  Make a bracelet or a pair of earrings?  You need some Needle-nose pliers and a way to cut wire.  You can buy a small set of jewelers pliers for about $30. Jewelry expert Margot Potter recommends this set of Blue Sparkle Round Nose Pliers by Beadalon.

15.  Adhesive Eraser Block

Scrapbooking a page and make a small mistake with your ATG gun?  That adhesive isn’t going to remove itself!  You need a remover block, a small gummy eraser that lifts the goo off the page.  Xyron makes a great one!

16.  Crop-A-Dile

Sometimes you need to punch a hole into chipboard, metal, leather, foam, rubber or vinyl.  A standard hole punch can’t do the job.  What we love about the Crop-A-Dile by We R Memory Keepers is that it gives you two hole sizes.  Plus it sets eyelets.  We love multi-function tools!

So what do you think of our list?  What tools are in your craft arsenal?


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19 Responses to 16 Essential Tools for Your Craft Arsenal

  1. Avatar
    Gina February 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Don’t forget Kraft cardstock! Also a paper piercer! I can’t live without mine!
    Great job on the list!

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    Die Cut Lady February 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    You hit the nails on the head. I have almost all of these tools in my craft room!!!I would have to add some spellbinders dies to that list, I can’t live with out them.

  3. Avatar
    Lysa February 17, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    Oh I love your list. Can we add just one more … INK! even if you are not a rubber stamper everyone should have a black stazon pad and refill along with one sea sponge. You’d be amazed just how many uses it has!

  4. Avatar
    debb February 18, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    oh dear, I think I need to go shopping……

  5. Avatar
    Candice Windham February 18, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    I can’t work without ScraPerfect’s Perfect Crafting Pouch and Best Glue Ever. If you rub the pouch over vellum, glossy paper (even Bumpy Basketball paper), ribbon, fabric, metal, leather,etc. You can stamp or print with your ink jet printer without fear of bleeding.
    The Best Glue Ever’s name says it all. This glue grabs quickly and adheres paper beautifully. It remains tacky when dry, so it’s great drawing and/or writing on cardstock, then foiling or dusting on a little PearlEx.
    Love all their products…and don’t get me started on their Embellie Jelly!

  6. Avatar
    Chris February 18, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I’m always using the We Are Memory Keepers Corner punches and the Paper Gator that can do multiple cuts when I work on larger projects. I love using the Sizzix Big Shot that can be used with all dies. Copic markers are a must in my arsenal for coloring, shading and spraying with a compressor. All these tools are making me want to get craftin!

  7. Avatar
    motherloves3 February 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    I love your list and have most of them. Love my tape gun and Cricut.
    motherloves3 at hotmail dot com

  8. Avatar
    orfanannie February 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    I think that if any starting crafter had just the things on your list, she/he would have the tools to make just about anything! I do agree with Gina about adding Kraft cardstock and a paper piercer (although I’ve used a push pin more than once!). A very good, complete list of crafters tools. Thanks

  9. Avatar
    sharon g February 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I love your picks. I’m glad that you featured adhesives. I’m always looking for adhesive that STAYS stuck.

  10. Avatar
    Rebecca Ednie February 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    I love your list but I think you could really use lists for different crafts. Ie: one for fabric crafts, jewelry… Sure some will be overlaps but someone who makes jewelry will never need a pattern board and a quilter never needs jewelry pliers! I’d also add the Glue Glider pro to the adhesives list as well as Rangers matte and glossy accents. And a self healing cutting mat is an obvious requirement to go with the Fiskars craft knife!! And a good clear quilting ruler which many use for paper crafting was missing.

  11. Avatar
    Angela B. February 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    I agree with the entire list, but would be lost without my Olfa rotary cutter! Even use it to “clip” coupons. So much faster than scissors.

  12. Avatar
    Nana Jo February 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    My most used tool that you missed is the kraft knife, I need it at all times to pick up a piece of paper.

    mmlmn at polarcomm dot com

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    Kathy February 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Almost every one of your pictured tools is in my scrapping arsenal! I would add a good pair of tweezers (Mrs. Grossman’s are the best, but no longer made for some reason), a Basic Grey magnetic mat, and the Tim Holtz non-stick mat!

  14. Avatar
    buddz February 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Thanks for a great article, Sarah! You list the essentials and (for me) the dream items for Someday.

    Another great product that I never ever could do without is the EK Success Glass Mat! It’s a must for cutting (with the Fiskars’ Fingertip Knife) and an easily washable glue/paint/paste work surface. (I don’t know why I waited so long to buy it.)

  15. Avatar
    Restaurant Bruges February 20, 2012 at 2:17 am #

    really a beautiful and a amazing post i love it a lot

  16. Avatar
    Silver Jewelry Jaipur February 20, 2012 at 2:20 am #

    nice products i really love it a lot

  17. Avatar
    Peggy in Mentone February 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    I cannot do a card with out a very pointed type of tweezers. I have several pairs but the pair I like the most is a surgical pair that is so sharp that if I miss and hit my finger it draws blood. The other thing I didn’t see was a manual diecutter. I think the Bigshot is the most versatile and I like its heft and weight. I use my big shot for every card I make. I like shapes around my stamped images. I agree it isn’t essential for a stamper but I can’t imagine not having one. I think different widths of Score tape are needed for making pockets for gift cards or sometimes adhereing to a embossed surface. Otherwise you pretty well covered all the bases. GOOD job!

  18. Avatar
    Bev March 9, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    Great List. You did a great job with this. The only thing that I would add on top of those mentioned in other comments, is a Heat Tool. Mine is always on the go for one thing or another.Thanks for the Review.

  19. Avatar
    Traci DeGolier May 28, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    I have an ATG gun, but have not really developed a fondness for it. I can’t seem to get the tape to stay on the rollers. It always wants to creep off. Any suggestions??