Basic and Cool Tools for Scrapbooking
Just as in any profession, having the right tools is necessary to get the job done correctly and efficiently. Even though we’re not talking about a “profession” per se, the same goes for any hobby we may enjoy or pursue. Think about the woodworker and all the many tools he/she needs to do the job. It’s certainly no different for scrapbooking.
This is not to say that the job can’t be done without every single tool and/or all of the bells and whistles. We can begin scrapbooking with the very basic tools and build up as we go along. It may be more time-consuming with just the basics, but we all have to start somewhere, right?
Back to Basics
If you’re new to scrapbooking, here are the very basic tools you need to begin.
A very sharp pair of scissors is necessary, even if you have a paper trimmer, which we’ll talk about next. In fact, having a couple of pair of scissors are a great addition to the tool kit – one should be able to cut through various types of mediums, and one should be a small, pointed pair for “fussy cutting.”
The Tim Holtz Non-Stick Titanium Scissors by Tonic Studios is hands-down the best pair of scissors you can own for scrapbooking. The non-stick coating minimizes adhesive buildup, the micro-serrated cutting allows for extra grip, and the Kushgrip handles are a comfort to the hands.
My favorite scissors for “fussy cutting” are the Fiskars Non-Stick Detail Scissors (No. 5). The high-grade, stainless steel blades stay sharp and cuts all the way to the tip. The non-stick feature is a must when working with adhesives, and their precision to cut tight details is phenomenal.
Scissors can get the job done when necessary, but a paper trimmer should be your first “major” purchase when it comes to tools. A paper trimmer makes cutting straight edges a breeze. Paper trimmers come in a wide variety of styles based on what you need it to do – from cutting photos to cardstock to even cutting through cork board.
When first starting out, it’s best to stay with a tool that’s simple and portable. If you’re making 12” x 12” pages, make sure the trimmer has a swing out arm to accommodate 12” papers. There are several brand names of trimmers out there, including Fiskars, which is what I started out with. They have a durable personal trimmer with their patented TripleTrack cutting blade.
Different adhesives serve different purposes, and it’s good to have a variety in your tool bag, such as a tape runner (and refills); a liquid form, such as a glue pen or tacky glue; a roll of 1/8” or ¼” high tack double-sided tape; glue dots for flowers and bulky embellishments; and foam tape, which is used to provide some dimension to your page. For a more in-depth article on adhesives, click on Creative Fabrica’s “Explore the Variety of Adhesive Types for Paper Crafters.”
Album and Page Protectors
Once you’ve created your pages, you need a place to store them from collecting dust or getting damaged. Most, if not all scrapbook albums come with a few page protectors, but you may need to purchase more to fill up your book.
There are a variety of page protectors to choose from. The “plain” protectors hold whatever size scrapbook page you’ve designed, such as 12” x 12” or 8.5” x 11.” Other protectors come with pre-made pockets to hold various sizes of photos and/or scrapbook paper. Some of the pre-made pockets are perfect for 5” x 7”, 4” x 6”, or 3” x 5” photos.
Scrapbook albums are generally either post-bound, 3- or D-ring albums. The post-bound albums are secured with posts and are expandable by purchasing post extensions. However, it’s difficult to add or remove pages from a post-bound album, and the posts have been known to come unscrewed.
The D-ring albums can usually hold several more pages than the post-bound (before expanded) and are easier to work with when adding or deleting pages.
Miscellaneous Basic Tools
- Paper Piercer – these are great when a hole is needed to insert a brad on your page
- Corner Rounder – offers another option to square/rectangular photos
- Tweezers – especially handy when trying to place pearls or rhinestones on to your page
- Ruler – even though your paper trimmer has a built-in ruler, having a 6-inch or 12-inch ruler comes in handy for measuring out title or embellishment placements
- Stapler – a small or mini stapler is a different and unique way to attach embellishments
- Red Eye Pen – get rid of those red eyes on printed photos
- Pencil – to mark measurements or place holders on your page that can easily be erased
- Non-Stick Craft Mat – protect your workspace with a silicone mat
- Adhesive Eraser – removes leftover tape residue from your projects
Now that we’ve covered the basic tools, there are some really cool tools to add to your repertoire. If you attend crops or scrapbook with friends, experiment with their cool tools first to see if it’s something you’ll get plenty of use out of before splurging.
Xyron(R) Sticker Makers are the bomb! Their sticker makers come in 1.5”, 2.5”, 5” width sizes, which means that machine accommodates embellishments up to that specific width. Their 9” wide model in called Creative Station. Sticker makers are especially useful when adhering individual letters, small embellishments and ribbon. You can even create stickers out of clip art you’ve printed from Creative Fabrica!
Photo Sleeve Fuse Tool
This fuse tool uses heat to meld together plastic. When used on your page protectors, you can create photo “pockets” to match the size of your photos, or to create a pocket to hold memorabilia. You can even create a waterfall of photos to add to your page.
Frame Punch Board
Create your own decorative frames in a variety of sizes and shapes with the Frame Punch Board by We R Memory Keepers. You can cut frames from 2” to 12” in size and widths from ¼” to 1” with this cut and punch system; even create Instax and Polaroid style frames!
Cinch Bindery Tool
The Cinch book bindery tool allows you to create custom mini albums, family recipe books, planners and journals! Bind together anything you can think of such as envelopes, pocket cards, memorabilia, decorative paper, or page protectors to create a unique gift.
Die Cutting and Embossing
Die cutting machines can be used to make a wide variety of items, such as stickers, envelopes, stand-up cards, gift tags, treat bags, party favors, shaker cards, pillow boxes, and more. Die cutting machines are hugely popular right now and are used by card makers, scrapbookers, paper crafters, quilters and general crafters.
Dies are metal-shaped objects with a raised, sharp area for cutting. The shape of the die is the shape that will get cut out on your paper. Dies come in a wide array of sizes and styles, including, but not limited to basic shapes, words, sentiments, animals and food shapes.
Die cutting involves cuts to paper while embossing is molding the paper to a specific design that dimensionally alters it. Embossing folders and die cutting go together because you need a manual die cutting machine in order to use special embossing folders. The pressure from the die cutting machine presses designs into your cardstock so you have embossed (raised) and de-bossed (recessed) patterns.
Some manufacturers combine embossing and die cutting in one single folder that completes both actions when cranked through the machine. That means that the embossing folder will press a pattern or design and cut out specific pieces for a really unique design on your paper.
Manual Die Cut Machine
Manual die cutting machines are operated with a crank or lever and use specialized metal shapes to cut paper (and other materials). As the paper and metal die pass through the machine’s rollers, it applies pressure, and the die cuts the paper or other material into the shape of the die. The most popular manual machines are made by Sizzix, We R Memory Keepers, and Spellbinders.
Electronic Die Cutting Machine
Digital die cutting machines are powered by electricity and are controlled by computer software or cartridges. The blade that cuts the paper is inside the machine and the cutter connects to your computer through a USB port or Bluetooth technology.
Cartridges come pre-loaded with images or you can purchase digital files through various websites, including Creative Fabrica, that you want the machine to cut out. The most popular digital die cutting machines are made by Silhouette and ProvoCraft’s Cricut.
Experiment, Share and Have Fun
The above list is nowhere near all the tools that are out there for paper crafters. We didn’t even touch on inks and stamping, which is a whole other world of tools entirely! The bottom line is to experiment and grow your toolbox as your budget allows.
Before the pandemic, scrapbookers got together with friends and/or attended scrapbook retreats, also known as crops; and it is during these times that we share our knowledge with each other. Scrapbookers love to share their supplies and tools with one another, which is a great way to see if a tool “works” for you.
If you don’t have the ability to get together with friends, there are oodles of videos available on how to use the different tools, so you can get a feel for how to use it and what you can do with it. Regardless of how you experiment, have fun and be sure to share your passion with others!