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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?

CHA Winter 2012: Spellbinders

Reported by Sarah Moore, Founding Editor

When Spellbinders has a new release, everybody stands at attention.  This season’s release does not disappoint. It’s innovative and simple to use!

The new “Cut, Fold, Tuck Dies” are lovely, and create beautiful results!

Like the other dies they are embossable.

Just fold and tuck and voila!

Check out these amazing designs!

Even prettier in foils!

And double sided embossable folders!

Just flip over to emboss a different design!  Two designs in each folder!

And amazing samples in this booth!

Check out the website to see more new designs by Becky Fleck, Julianna Hudgins, Donna Salazar, Samantha Walker, and Nina Brackett.

What do you think of the new Cut, Fold, Tuck dies?  Will you be adding these to your collection?

CHA Winter 2012: Westcott Scissor Mouse

Reported by Sarah Moore, Founding Editor

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

I must admit, I was concerned when I saw this new product from Westcott. I love their trimmers and scissors, but I have used “quick cut” tools like this before with great disappointment. Usually they catch on the paper, don’t cut straight, or only work with a cutting mat. This tool, on the other hand, does NOT disappoint.

The Scissor Mouse is the size of a computer mouse. It’s easy to handle and comes in 5 colors.

Cutting paper is a breeze with the Scissor Mouse! You do not need a cutting mat. The paper is grabbed by a little tab under the tool that cuts the paper.

The front of the tool has a measuring guide that is very accurate. Just line your measurement up with the edge of the paper and push straight. You can cut narrow strips with ease!

Use the Scissor Mouse to cut any lightweight papers. This would be a perfect tool for the Quiller who needs to cut multiple narrow strips. Or great for making paper beads.

What do you think?  Would this be a tool you’d like to add to your craft arsenal?