10 Essential Tools for Rubber Stamping

Reported by Cassandra Darwin

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I have been stamping for more than 15 years and while I have seen techniques and trends come and go, there are a few basic tools that every stamper needs to have.  I’ll start the list with six “must haves” and work down to the “nice-to-have” tools.

Stamps: There are three basic kinds of stamps available today: wood mounted rubber stamps, cling rubber stamps, and clear stamps. It doesn’t matter what kind you have, but make sure that you have a good variety that includes sentiments and images that you will want to use more than once.

Ink: There are more types of ink than I have time to discuss, but I’ll stick with two basics – dye and pigment ink. I like to have both types on hand because they each serve their own purpose. Dye inks are great because they dry quickly and are pretty inexpensive – I prefer Tsukineko Memento dye inks. Pigment inks take longer to dry, but will stand the test of time if you are working on archival projects. I find that the pigment inks are usually a bit more crisp when working with detailed stamps – Versafine by Tsukineko is a great option.

Cardstock: I consider this a “tool” because it really does make a difference when you are selecting a type of cardstock to work with. Smooth vs. textured will make a big difference. And if you plan to use markers or watercolors with your stamps you need something with enough weight so it doesn’t start curling up (specialized watercolor paper works the best). I buy Neenah brand cardstock by the ream, and usually stick with the “Environment” line because they have the most recycled content in their stock. I also recommend having a good selection of patterned papers on hand. Layering the patterns with your stamped images really gives add the perfect amount of dimension to many projects.

Paper Trimmer: I have had the same two Fiskars trimmers for about 10 years and they are great. I actually prefer the rotary trimmer (orange) because the cuts don’t leave indents on the back side of the paper like the purple blade trimmer does. I started with a small 8″ trimmer and would not recommend getting one of those since so many of the great patterned papers that you will want to use are usually 12″.

Detail Scissors: I started with one pair of detail scissors and kept trying to find the perfect pair. I would say overall I use the nonstick Cutterbee Scissors the most (black and yellow). All the others are great but serve somewhat specialized purposes.

Adhesives: This is another category where I have become a collector. I think you could get away with two types though – a tape runner (or double-sided tape) and glue dots on the roll. The tape runner is my go-to for almost everything. I even use them to get in small places when I have detailed die cuts. The glue dots are extra sticky (great for buttons) and also give a hint of dimension if you don’t want to keep the dimensional foam dots on hand.

Markers: I have two types of markers in mind that should be on the “nice-to-have” list. Copic markers are awesome for shading and coloring stamped images. They are pricey and you have to have a few of each shade to get the best effect though. I am new to the Stampin’ Up! markers, but I am hooked on these as well. You can use them to color images which is great, but I like them to use as ink on stamps. You just use the marker to ink up the rubber stamp (as many colors as you like), huff on it a bit to moisten the ink, then stamp on your card stock.

Paper Punches or Die Cuts: Punches and die cuts add a lot of great shapes and cutouts to your projects, but they can quickly start to get expensive and take up space. So start with the basics – like a heart punch for Valentine’s cards or a label shape die that you can use over and over again.

Scor- Pal: I resisted getting one of these for a long time. I got along fine with just a bone folder, but once I had the Scor-Pal it changed everything. The score lines are so crisp and even, adding a professional finish. Right now I have my eye on the Martha Stewart score board, because it has more scoring lines at even intervals.

Heat Gun & Embossing Powders: I have had my trusty heat gun the entire time I’ve been stamping and it does a great job, albeit a noisy one. This tool is the only way you’re going to get good results with embossing powder on detailed images. And while I do not emboss most of my projects, there are just sometimes when you need that extra special touch. I also use the heat tool for speeding up drying time on distress inks, and to heat-set stamped images when I want to color them in with markers.

And a bonus essential for rubber stampers!

Embellishments: I guess these are more of a supply than a tool, but it’s the most fun thing on the list. You can use anything you have on hand to add to your rubber stamp projects. I like ribbons, buttons, twine, fabric scraps, die cut felt flowers, glitter, sparkle sprays, washi tapes…the sky is the limit here.

Let me know what you think. Do you already have the essentials?  Did I miss something on this list?

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12 Responses to 10 Essential Tools for Rubber Stamping

  1. Avatar
    Elaine A February 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Hi Cassandra –

    I would agree with your list. The only things I would add are the following: A craft knife, a self-healing craft mat with grid and a steel edged ruler, like Tim Holtz’s ruler. Sometimes you just need that craft knife and ruler for certain projects. And using self-healing craft mat makes it easy. I also sometime use the craft mat when I want to make sure that my stamping is straight.

    Elaine Allen

  2. Avatar
    blurooferika February 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I use the Scotch ATG tape gun for 85% of my adhesive needs and I love it. It lasts a long, long time so it’s economical, plus it’s fun to use. As a card maker, I prefer the 1/4″ inch width to the 1/2 inch.

    For ribbon, paper rosettes, etc, I swear by Fabri-Tac by Beacon Glue. For buttons and heavier metal things or applications where I need a little time before the adhesive sets, I recommend E3000. It’s potent stuff (strong and smelly), but it holds like nothing else.

    Did you mention pop dots/foam pads for that 3-d effect? I use them on almost every card.

    For those out there who are just getting into paper crafting, I would also recommend a pair of reverse-action tweezers (to hold paper when you’re heat embossing or small beads and bits and pieces when you’re glueing things down).

    * We R Memory Keepers Corner Chomper rounder

    * We R Memory Keepers Cropadile big bite for setting eyelets and punching holes through anything.

    *I splurged and bought a Rotatrim 12-inch cutter and LOVE it. V. pricey, but it can cut through 3-4 sheets at a time and is accurate to the quarter mm. I never get wonky cuts (which I got often with my Fiskars trimmer/scorer.

    *shape cutters and most punches (buy an electronic die cutting machine or a Spellbinders Wizard instead and your cupboards will thank you);
    *too many decorative edge scissors;
    *eyelets in every color under the sun (white, black, and silver or gold will do you fine); or
    *paper sold by the bulk (I have so much paper in dated pastels).

    Happy crafting!

  3. Avatar
    RachelB February 21, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    A pair of reverse-action tweezers is a good complement.

  4. Avatar
    c.darwin February 22, 2012 at 6:17 am #

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  5. Avatar
    c.darwin February 22, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    I don’t have the reverse tweezers – thanks for the tip! And a corner chomper is on my paper crafting wish list.

  6. Avatar
    debb February 22, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    Great list- and fun to look at too! I would add a non stick craft mat (because I am sooo messy but because it protects your work surface too!) and a foam pad to do your stamping on (in case your surface is not perfect!).

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    Julie February 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Great list, I agree with all of them. I would add a ruler and definately ribbon.

  8. Avatar
    Beastybunny February 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    Great list and bang on.

    I would elaborate on the markers a bit more, though. They are like the ink pads. There are water based and oil based. Stampin’ up markers and the new Distress Markers are water based and are great for coloring stamps, coloring in images or even water coloring. Copics are oil based and I would necessarily use them on my stamps. I suppose you could but then you would need a harsher cleaner to get the stamps clean.

    • Avatar
      Rebecca Ednie February 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      Copics are NOT oil based. They are alcohol based. I’ve never heard of an oil based marker except maybe paint pens. Totally different.

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    Nana Jo February 22, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    I agree with all of you and have all of those items – scary isn’t it? Don’t tell my husband -lol.

    mmlmn at polarcomm dot com

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    Rebecca Ednie February 22, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    I think a great liquid adhesive is essential. And so is a gridded acrylic block for clear stamps or a stamp positioner for wood ones. Gotta keep those stamps straight and/or make lining up solid and outline images easy!

  11. Avatar
    KanataNewf March 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    missing and one of my must-haves? A die-cut machine (i.e. Cuttlebug, Cricut) and dies (Spellbinders, etc)