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16 Essential Tools for Your Craft Arsenal

Reported by Sarah Moore, Founding Editor

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program.

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?

Scrapbook Adhesive E-Z Runners

Reported by Samantha Piette


Today I am reviewing three different types of adhesive made by 3L – Scrapbook Adhesives, the Permanent E-Z Runner, the Temporary E-Z Dots, and the Permanent E-Z Vellum Runner.

These adhesives are affordable and easy to find. I recently purchased a few different varieties to test out at my local scrapbooking store as I had heard from a few people that they really liked them. I was especially interested in testing out the vellum adhesive.
One thing I noticed right away that I really like about the 3L – Scrapbook Adhesives brand is that a portion ($0.04) of your purchase of the adhesive is donated to the Make A Wish Foundation.

Permanent E-Z Runner
I’ve provided both the front and back view of the packaging for each of the different products in order for you to be able to get all the information possible about the different types of adhesives.

The permanent adhesive is pretty straight forward as far as an adhesive runner goes. There is 33 feet of adhesive per package, which is less than the other types of runners I am reviewing.

Just hold down the runner to the paper and pull back. You may need to adjust the angle of your wrist at first until you get the hang of it, but it’s very easy once you have tried it once or twice.

The permanent adhesive comes out in small white strips and is easy to maneuver around corners or in arcs. The adhesive is also very tacky and difficult to pull back up after it is applied. It is definitely permanent and does a good job at adhering heavy cardstock or small pieces of chipboard.

Temporary E-Z Dots

The temporary adhesive runner comes in 49 feet of small dots and is actually removable in two different ways. First, the dots are tacky, but you are able to easily adhere elements to your page and then pull them up again and move them around. Second, if you apply adhesive somewhere you do not want it, you can just rub the dots right off the paper.

Applying the adhesive to cardstock. (The dots are clear so it’s a little difficult to see in the photo. compared to the permanent adhesive which is white.)

Rubbing off the dots worked like a charm. It was really simple and the adhesive came off the cardstock without leaving a mark at all. I’m very pleased with these results and, all you need is your finger to rub them off.

Permanent E-Z Vellum Runner

The vellum adhesive also comes in a 49 foot length and, like the red E-Z Runner, is permanent. The package includes application tips for vellum, which I found very helpful. They recommend that when you are finished applying the adhesive, that you slowly pull the applicator away from the vellum. If you pull it away too quickly it can cause the adhesive to become stringy and glob at the end.

Here I applied the adhesive a few different times to the vellum to test whether or not it made a difference when pulling the applicator away. It definitely made a difference and is a really good trick to make it more difficult to see the adhesive through the vellum.

I then flipped the vellum over and applied a good amount of pressure to the vellum to stick it to the cardstock. It was actually pretty hard to see the adhesive through the vellum, though, not impossible. This photo represents how much the adhesive shows through very well.

Using all of these adhesives I made this scrapbook page about a trip my husband and I took to Washington D.C.

The vellum die cuts (the flourish and the parentheses) are both adhered with vellum adhesive. The photos and photo mats are applied with temporary adhesive. And the chipboard letters and flowers are adhered with the permanent adhesive.

The only issue I found with this is that the permanent adhesive didn’t work well on the small flowers because the strips were a little too wide and the flowers a little too small.

The vellum adhesive actually worked better than I had hoped and I can’t tell where I put the adhesive down on the die cuts at all now that they elements are all on the page. I’m very pleased with these results and think this may be my new primary vellum adhesive.

Pros:

  • Affordable price ($5.99 each)
  • Different types of adhesive are color coded (permanent = red, temporary = green, vellum = purple)
  • Vellum adhesive really works and it is hard to see through the vellum embellishments
  • A portion of every product price is donated to the Make a Wish Foundation

Cons:

  • Adhesive runners are not refillable
  • If you accidentally try to use the runner upside down you could pull the tape in the wrong direction which causes it to be loose and there is no way to advance the tape in order to fix it
  • Some patience required when using the vellum adhesive since pulling away too fast can cause the adhesive to become stringy at the end

Have you ever tried Scrapbook Adhesive’s Tape Runners? Do you have a different vellum adhesive you would recommend?

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Vendor Spotlight: Glue Arts: Ribbon Adhesive, Adhesive Squares, Glue Rings & GIVEAWAY

Reported by Beth Silaika

In my eternal quest for the best in adhesive, aka the sticky stuff, I was fortunate enough to be selected to review the Glue Arts products: Ribbon Adhesive, Adhesive Squares, and Glue Rings. I received a box of the items and immediately tore into them to use on my latest card.

I started with the Glue Arts Ribbon Adhesive. It is always challenging to make the *perfect* bow. Sometimes I enjoy making “cheater bows” on my cards (putting down a layer of ribbon and then creating a perfect bow/knot and adhering it to the ribbon strip with adhesive). This Ribbon Adhesive product appeared to be a good way of creating those “cheater bows.”

I gathered up my stamps, paper and the new adhesives to test drive! I quickly stamped the images on the card and set aside the main image.

The Ribbon Adhesive comes on a cardboard spool covered with a thin green plastic starter sheet. I carefully peeled away the green sheet to reveal a clear sheet of plastic with a fine strip of adhesive. The roll states that Ribbon Adhesive is “40 feet of continuous 1/8 inch wide line of Adhesive.” It claims that the ribbon will “lay perfectly flat, permanently!”

I rolled out the desired amount. The adhesive is *VERY* sticky and you can see the clear adhesive on the transparent plastic film.

I grabbed a width of some ribbon to go with the project I was creating. I placed the back of the ribbon upright on my work surface.

Next, I place the clear film with the sticky portion atop of the ribbon and press it in place with my fingers.

I use my Scor-Pal tool to “burnish” the adhesive into place.

I carefully lifted the plastic film off the ribbon.

The adhesive has successfully adhered to the back of the ribbon! The coverage was not even, but there seemed to be enough adhesive to do the job.

I slowly placed the ribbon on the location where I want to put it on the card. I press down with my fingers to secure it in place.

I flipped the card over and folded the remaining edges of the ribbon over the back of the card. I put a little pressure and the ribbon was securely placed where I wanted it to be.

Now that the ribbon strip was done, I was ready to add the “cheater bow” portion to the card.

I decided to try the Mini Adhesive Squares to adhere the bow to the strip of ribbon.

The Mini Adhesive Squares are permanent, double-sided adhesive squares. It claims to bond “most any” item to “most any” surface. There are 350 3/16″ clear, permanent bonding adhesive squares on each roll. Again, the roll comes on cardboard and comes covered in thin green plastic starter film. I peeled away the green starter film to reveal the small adhesive squares.

The small pieces of adhesive are visible on the roll and you can easily tear away the desired length of the roll for your project. I needed only one piece of adhesive for the back of my bow, so I didn’t tear away the paper.

I tied a small piece of ribbon in a knot, then trim the edges in a V-cut. On the backside of the knot, I placed that little adhesive by putting the knot right on the roll of Mini Adhesive Squares.

With some firm pressure, I placed the knot right on the ribbon strip! It quickly stuck to the ribbon. There is no problem with even coverage of the Mini Adhesive Squares. They are small enough to go on your ribbon knots, buttons and other small items (such as dew drops, gems or other embellishments). Be careful as the roll can unwind and the adhesive can get on your work surface or crafting tools.

Those Mini Adhesive Squares worked so well on the ribbon knot, I decided to give them a whirl with my buttons for the project. It is always challenging to find something with enough strength to hold a button in place on my projects. I also don’t want to wait a long time for something like liquid glue to dry. I was able to use these small adhesive squares on the back of the button and the bonus feature of being clear allowed me to easily use the adhesive without fear of anything showing through the button holes. You would be able to use these squares on clear buttons without fear of the adhesive showing a big gloppy mess!


The buttons went on easily and stayed in place with just a little firm pressure.

I lined up the buttons on the project by pressing the back of the button right on the Mini Adhesive Squares. It was very quick and there was no waiting time for the glue to dry! I am very impatient, so this was a big selling feature for me!

If the Mini Adhesive Squares worked this well, I needed to try out the larger Adhesive Squares and the Glue Rings to put the remainder of the card together.

I started with the Glue Rings, which is a roll of 25 feet of continuous adhesive. The adhesive comes on a thin strip of shiny paper with multiple sticky dots. According to the package, the Glue Ring “seals itself and will not unwind”. The instructions explain to press it directly to your card stock or paper, peel it and then stick it to anything.

I decided to use the Glue Ring to adhere the black layer of card stock to my white card base. I unrolled the Glue Ring and placed it directly on the black card stock. It didn’t unroll, which was wonderful.


I pressed down and then peeled back the white paper roll to reveal the adhesive. There was still some on the paper, so I placed it on another section of the card stock and then peeled away to remove the remainder of the adhesive. I hated to waste good adhesive! I had to do this repeatedly because I could not seem to get all the adhesive off, even with several attempts.

After using a couple of strips of the adhesive, I pressed the black card stock to my white card base. It stuck very well. I was pleased with the firm hold!

Next I turned to the larger Adhesive Squares. This cardboard roll has 300 half inch clear adhesive squares on the roll. It is double-sided adhesive with permanent, instant bonding.

It was labeled as “super-sticky.” That sounded like a challenge!

I peeled away the green protective starter film to reveal the first clear one inch square. I ended up getting more adhesive on my fingers than I got on the card, and nearly stuck my finger to the card. There is no dispenser, so while unwinding the roll, my finger rolled over some of the clear adhesive; my fingers were soon covered with rolled-up adhesive squares. Instead of wasting them, I put them in random locations on the back of the card layer.


I used several squares on the back of the card layer to ensure even coverage. This was strong stuff! It was a little messy without a dispenser.

Now that I had ample coverage, I was ready to flip it over and carefully place it atop the card base. I didn’t want to press down prior to making sure it was lined up precisely because the bond was permanent. When I was sure it was exactly where I wanted it to be, I gave the layer a firm press with my sticky fingers and the card was complete!

I wanted to give the “cheater bow” one last test — I held the card by the bow and gave it a firm shake. The bow was strong and held well. The buttons didn’t drop off the card either!

The card withstood the shake test without any problems! The adhesive was very strong and I was impressed with the stickiness!

Pros:
  • The adhesive is sticky. It has a strong bond with even a small amount of adhesive.
  • the items are inexpensive, which is a great value for the money.
  • there is not a lot of excess packaging, which makes the items “green” and good for the enviornment
  • the items are acid-free, and that is wonderful for scrapbooking and paper crafting
  • the bonding is permanent and strong
  • the Mini Adhesive Squares are very strong and you can use them on many surfaces. They apply to your surface quickly and they bond instantly, which is great if you are in a hurry
Cons:
  • the lack of dispenser on the Ribbon Adhesive and (Mini and Large) Adhesive Squares is a problem for keeping the items neat. The rolls unwind and the adhesive gets on your fingers, work surface and crafting supplies
  • there is not even coverage. The Glue Rings seems to waste a lot of adhesive because it does not all come off the roll
  • The large Adhesive Squares are VERY sticky, difficult to evenly place and when you hold the packaging they get stuck to your hands
  • the Ribbon Adhesive is a great way of placing ribbon on your paper creations, but the coverage is not even. Luckily, the bond is extremely strong.

Have you tried these products? What do you think?

GIVEWAY!
Glue Arts is giving one lucky reader a giant prize basket of over $70 in their products! To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling us what you are currently using as your favorite adhesive and what you love (or hate) about it. One comment per person, per Vendor Spotlight: Glue Arts article, please. You have until Friday, April 30th 6pm CST to enter to win this awesome prize basket.


And Glue Arts is offering all Craft Critique Readers 15% off all their products! Just enter code CRCTQ-15 at check out and don’t forget to take advantage of their Free Shipping for orders over $40.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!