Top

Tag Archives | Coluzzle

Circle Cutters – A Comparison

If you are going to cut a circle, you want to make sure that it is a perfect circle. Even if you trace a perfect circle, it is challenging to then cut exactly on the lines, all the way around. So for circle cutting, the best way to go is to purchase on of the tools on the market to help you cut that elusive, perfect shape.

I have over the years purchased four different circle cutters, and will share my view of them here. They are:

For all tools except the Coluzzle, you’ll also want to invest in a glass cutting mat. The self-repairing cutting mats will work okay, but you can sometimes end up with skips.

For this review, we’ll start with the simplest tool, and work our way up.

Coluzzle
The Coluzzle is one of the original circle cutting tools; it’s been around for many, many years. The Coluzzle system requires three items: the plastic cutting template, the “Guarded Swivel Knife,” and the “Easy Glide Cutting Mat.” They are all shown below. The resulting circles range in size from 7/8″ to 4-3/8″; the cutting channels are in fixed, 1/4″ increments.

The template has laser-cut channels, into which fits the cutting tip of the swivel knife. The paper or card stock to be cut is placed on the special cutting mat (it’s a foam-like material, spongy to the touch), and the template placed on top of the paper. You guide the swivel knife through the channel that represents the size circle you want to make. The swivel is a very nice feature on the knife: you don’t have to contort you wrist and forearm to make it all the way around. Be sure to keep the knife perpendicular to the template, or else it will cut into the plastic and get stuck.

Because it is a one-piece template, however, there are two places in each cutting channel that are not cut, in order to hold the template in one piece (see below). As a consequence, after you have used the swivel knife, you still have to use some paper snips to release the finished circle from the sheet of paper.

A close-up view of the coluzzle template.

This little piece must be snipped to release the circle.

Coluzzle also now has many, many templates for all kinds of shapes and images. They range in price from $7.49 for the circle template shown here to $19.99 for full alphabets and other more complex shapes.

Coluzzle Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Light weight and portable
  • Transparent plastic makes placement easy
  • Templates available for all kinds of other shapes
  • Nested templates allow for precisely sized mats to layer.
  • Can be used on scraps of paper.

Cons

  • You have to keep track of 3 different things: the template, the swivel knife, and the special cutting mat.
  • An extra snip with scissors or a hobby knife is required to release the circle.
  • The size of your circles is limited to the sizes in the template.

Fiskars Circle Cutter

This is a compact circle cutter, with a clear base that makes it easy to align and place your circle where you want it. It will cut circles from 1″ to 8″, and any size in-between as it has no pre-set increments. It comes with two blades, and refill blades are available.


The cutter is placed in the center of your desired circle. The size is obtained by adjusting the arm (with sizes listed in both inches and centimeters) and locking it in place with the finger wheel. You push down on the orange knob at the top, which presses a rubber foot onto the paper, and holds it in place while you turn the arm to cut the circle.

 

Circle cutting with the Fiskars tool.

It has a $21 MSRP, but I’ve seen it as low as $11.99, so shop around.

Fiskars Pros

  • Light-weight and portable
  • You can store the cutting blade in the tool, protected, for travel.
  • By design, it holds your paper in place while you cut.
  • You can make any size circle between 1″ and 8″.
  • Works well on scraps of paper, since it holds the paper in place at the center of the circle that is being cut.

Cons

  • You have to simultaneously apply pressure to the center, and over the blade, all the way around the circle to make sure it cuts all the way through, all the way around. I’ve been frustrated by this more than once.
  • You cannot see the center of your circle, so if you want to cut around a specific image, you’ll have to do a little measuring, and perhaps make light pencil marks to make sure your desired image is centered in your final circle.
  • Setting the size is not a precise exercise – it may be a little challenging to get exactly the size that you want.

Curvy Cutter

This is a much more elaborate tool that consists of 5 pieces: two cutting rings, two positioning guides (to determine size), and the cutter itself. The cutter is purchased separately from the template. The cutter ranges in price from $7 to $15, and the circle template from $12.95 to $17.99, so it pays to shop around. They are both readily available at many sites on the internet. There is also an oval cutter, and a rounded square. And of course replacement blades are available. The circles range from 2-1/4″ to 7-1/2″.

Curvy Cutter cutting rings, positioning guides and cutting tool.

The cutting tool sits in a track on the template; you choose which track based on the size of the circle that you want to cut. The positioning guide allows you to choose your circle size. Once the cutter is in place, you simple swivel it around the template, in the track, to cut your circle. (Sounds a bit complicated? Yes. That’s probably why EK Success has a PDF file to show you how to use the Curvy Cutter).

Circle cutting with the Curvy Cutter.

Curvy Cutter Pros

  • Cuts large circles (up to 7-1/2″).
  • Other shapes (oval and rounded square) make it somewhat more economical, because the cutting tool works with all of them.
  • Open design makes it easy to center your circle.

Cons

  • You should cut your circle from a large piece of paper, because the gripper feet are outside of the cutting radius. If you try to cut a circle from a scrap, the paper moves around with the blade. Of course you can use temporary adhesive to hold the paper to the glass mat.
  • Storage is a problem. I’ve not figured out a good way to store it, other than to keep it in the packaging that it came in. And that’s not simple: it is about 14″ square!!
  • It is not straightforward to locate the right track for the cutter, and it can be awkward to keep the cutter in the track.
  • Cuts only in pre-defined increments.
  • You have to keep track of lots of pieces!

 

Circle Scissor Plus

Interestingly, this is also made by EK Success (I wonder if it is intended to replace the Curvy Cutter?!). This cutter consists of two pieces, the base and the cutting handle. There is also a drawing handle which can hold a pen or pencil for drawing circles, if desired. (It adjusts to hold pencils of various sizes, too). You dial in any size circle that you wish to cut, from 1″ to 6″. EK Success has provided an instruction sheet for this product, as well.

The base unit sits on top of the paper you intend to cut, and you dial in your desired circle size. The cutting handle swivels as you turn it around the base unit, making it easy and comfortable to operate.

Circle Cutting with the Circle Scissor Plus.
Cutting handle for Circle Scissor Plus.
Circle drawing handle, with pencil (pencil not included).

Prices on the internet range from $23.95 to $29.95.

Circle Scissor Plus Pros

  • Cuts relatively large circles, up to 6″.
  • Cuts any size circle desired; there are no fixed increments.
  • Easy to operate.
  • Draws perfect circles, in addition to cutting them.
  • Open design allows you to center your circle easily.

Cons

  • You should cut your circle from a large piece of paper, because the gripper feet are outside of the cutting radius. If you try to cut a circle from a scrap, the paper moves around with the blade. Of course you can use temporary adhesive to hold the paper to the glass mat, if desired.
  • You have to keep track of two/three pieces: the base, the cutter handle, and the drawing handle.
  • Compared to other tools, it is relatively expensive.

What is my overall recommendation, you may ask? I would have to say the Fiskars Circle Cutter. It cuts up to 8″ circles, you can make any size that you like (i.e. there are not fixed choices), and by its very design, it holds the paper in place while you cut. Finally, it is also lightweight and pretty compact, making it easy to carry with you to crops or classes.

There you have it. Have you used any or all of these? Or do you have other circle cutting tools to share? Let us all know!


A Look at the Coluzzle Cutting System

Reported by Kristine Fowler

While perhaps, a little intimidating at first, the Coluzzle Cutting System by Provocraft is definitely my all-time favorite cutting system. With the Coluzzle, you can cut shapes and designs quickly and accurately without going through the painstakingly cumbersome ‘trace and cut’ method of days gone by. While it’s not a ‘new’ tool, it’s one I tend to rely on time and time again.

The system if composed of 3 basic pieces.

Guarded Swivel Knife
Easy Glide Cutting Mat
Template

Starter sets, like the one shown above which contain 2 Templates, the Guarded Swivel Knife, Easy Glide Cutting Mat and box-cutter style craft knife are available at Discount Scrapbook Supplies {a.k.a The Memory Keeper} for $24.99 CDN.

At first glance, the swivel knife may resemble a traditional craft knife (or X-Acto blade). The primary difference however, is that the blade on the Coluzzle is designed to swivel rather than remain static, making it possible for the blade to turn corners and cut templated curves. The mat is made of foam and is approximately ¼ inch thick. Due to its thickness and density, the mat keeps the blade from hitting your hard work surface, allowing you to make a cut without a great deal of pressure. The templates are made of a sturdy transparent plastic and have ‘channels’ that guide your blade to make the cuts.

Most of the Coluzzle templates contain a series of nested shapes – giving you a variety of different sizes and/or styles of shapes to choose from. For example, the Nested Oval contains guides for 8 different sizes of ovals, the File Folder gives you 7 folder options of differing size, tab style and tab position, and most of the alphabet templates not only give you the letters, but also a shadow shape to cut making matting individual letters a breeze. The nested nature of the templates helps keep the size of the templates to a minimum (increasing portability), and makes the system quite economical in the long run. You can use the nested shapes as they are to create evenly spaces borders and mats for your basic shapes and once you get the hang of it, you can even start combining the basic templated shapes into new shapes. You are limited only by your imagination.

One more word about the templates before I go on…when you purchase them, there is a thin plastic film on BOTH sides of the template that must be removed before you start cutting. The film protects the templates from scratches and damage during production & packing, but it will catch your blade and possibly cause it to slip if not stripped off. I have spoken to many frustrated Coluzzle users who complain about excessive catching and slippage, only to find that they have not removed this plastic film. Believe me, removing it makes a BIG difference.

Pros

  • Portable and Lightweight – As a cutting system, the Coluzzle takes up very little real estate in your work space or crop bag.
  • Transparent Templates – Because you can see through them, the templates make it easy for you to cut exactly what you intended {If you’re a scrapbooker and you’ve ever mistakenly cut a photo off center, or worse – accidentally cropped someone out in whole or in part, you’ll appreciate this}.
  • Variety – A quick visit to coluzzle.com reveals that there are 58 Coluzzle templates currently available. They are divided into 5 basic categories (Nested Shapes, Alphabet Templates, Shadow Shapes, Cards & Envelopes and Boxes) so there is something that should appeal to all paper crafters. Personally, my all time favorites are some of the basic shapes – Nested Circles and Ovals, but I’ve also had a great deal of fun creating projects with the Coluzzle Stampendous Purse Template, the Nested File Folder Template and Tag Templates too over the years.
  • Inexpensive – As I mentioned earlier, various starter sets are available for purchase which include one or two channeled templates, the Easy Glide Cutting Mat, a Swivel Knife, and a Craft Knife. At my local scrapbook store, The Memory Keeper, these starter sets are $24.99 – a reasonable investment. Templates vary in price but basic nested shapes tend to start around $10 and go up from there. Alphabets and some of the more complex bag & box templates are more expensive and can usually be found in the $20-$30 range. At these prices, it’s easy to add new templates to your library as you need them. Replacement blades are available for around $6, and replacement mats if necessary can be purchased separately as well for around $4.

Cons

  • Takes Time To Master the Technique – If you’re like most people, this will not likely be a tool that you pick up and are immediately successful with. You will need to practice moving the knife through the channeled templates. The trick is to NOT treat the knife like a pencil which is guided by your wrist. With the swivel knife, you need to keep your wrist steady and guide the knife instead by rotating your arm from the shoulder. This will allow the blade to travel smoothly through the channels and ‘swivel’ around corners/curves as it was designed.
  • Nicked Templates – If your blade happens to ‘slip’ when moving through the guided channels of a template and creates a nick in the channel, using that template again will prove difficult. For some reason, the blades always seem to find those nicks again and follow them. If the nick isn’t too deep, you can try sanding it out with fine grit sandpaper, but if that doesn’t help, you may unfortunately need to replace the template. Keep in mind that blade slippage is not an indicator of poor product design. Generally, slippage is the result of a dull blade, or of forcing the knife around corners/curves rather than simply letting it swivel through them.

Here are a few of pages from a mini-album that I’ve been working on – all tolled it is 10 pages that will be held together with a binder ring. I am using the Coluzzle Nested Circle Template to cut not only the shape of the pages, but many of the photos, mats and embellishments too. If you look at the page on the left, you will also see that I used my Coluzzle to cut only a portion of a circle from the blue paper and adhered it to my page as a border. I can honestly say that if I had to ‘trace and cut’ all of these pieces that I would never have tackled this project at all.

Suffice it to say that I can’t say enough good things about this handy tool. It is definitely a must-have for me. What about you? Please share your thoughts!

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

Another Coluzzle Review

Reported by Heidi Kingery

I have a special drawer on my stamp table that is dedicated to my Coluzzle. I have almost 10 templates and I can’t tell you how many times those little guys have come in handy! Before the die cut machines had the nested dies available your options were to either trace a coffee can lid and cut it out yourself (usually wonky if I might add!) or to get yourself a Coluzzle template. That’s wasn’t a hard choice for me since most couldn’t even tell what type of shape I tried to cut out when they looked at it. “Wow honey, that’s a nice…..umm…..heart?” {grin} But Coluzzle saved me and I have leaned on it ever since. Although, at first there was a little user error, I quickly got the hang of it and after that it was smooth sailing.

What you need to start out is the Coluzzle self healing cutting mat, the swivel knife, possibly the scoring knife, and a template. It’s also helpful to have a Sharpie on hand whether it’s just a black one or several colors. Since they are nested, it is easy to cut the wrong layer because there are 2 breaks in the shape where you have to lift your blade. If you mark every other layer with your Sharpie it is much easier to go back to the right one when you lift your blade.

One of my favorite templates I have is the purse template, which gives you the option of making 4 different sizes of purses. All you need to do is grab a cute piece of double sided paper (or adhere 2 sheets together as I have done before), cut it out with your swivel knife, fold it in the right spots, and there you have it! You can even use a slit punch on the inside for a perfect way to give any girly girl a gift card!

With my example I cut out a sheet of white felt, ran it through my Sizzix using a Cuttlebug embossing folder, and added some embellishments. When you open it, you will see that I put in a Hello Kitty sparkle chap stick. Cute huh?

The basic shapes also come in very handy. For me, the circles are the most used. They are great for paint can lids, ornaments, and CD labels (like mine above). But wait, there’s more! They have almost 20 different nested basic shapes along with alphabets, box and bag templates, and some adorable flower and tag sets. You can find the basic shapes for just under $6 per template here. Although I have never ordered from them, I do have to say that they have a very good price on their site for Coluzzle items.

Now, while I do love the templates I could see how the small templates (like the flowers and petals) and the alphabet templates could be a little harder to master. I currently don’t have any of those but could definitely see myself with them in the future.

If you have the Coluzzle, especially an alphabet or more detailed template, and want to share your opinion with us, please leave a comment and fill us in!

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