Essential tools to have in your craft closet, punches can create the same shape identically, over and over.
Punches make crafting easier while regulating your results for a more polished and professional finish.
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A traditional hole punch–undoubtedly a standard in your school pencil box–is an endlessly useful tool. You can add holes to panels of a garland to neatly string ribbon, or add a hole to a favor tag, for example. Limited by a short reach (usually 2-inches), they work well for making precise holes close to the edges of paper. We punched a Bauhaus-inspired design into the above treat bag toppers with three hole punches: a rectangle, and 1/8-inch and 3/16-inch circles. Instructions for making your own treat bags can be found in this project.
Must haves include:
The 2-inch reach of hole punches can be limiting at times; holes can be added anywhere on a sheet of paper easily with a screw punch. The screw punch is like a drill, using interchangeable multiple-sized bits to punch holes into paper. After selecting the appropriate bit for the size hole you want, simply position the punch, and with your whole hand on top of the tool press into the paper. The tool screws as it is pressed downward, making a perfect circular hole. You will need to use a self-healing cutting mat while screw punching lest you mar the your work surface. It is a good idea to frequently dismantle the bit and knock out the punched holes.
We like to use a screw punch to prepare holes for stitching embroidered paper, for example. A screw punch is necessary for adding holes to a spine when making a program.
Punched holes can be finished and protected with embellishments, known as eyelets and grommets. Similar in appearance, eyelets are one piece while grommets have two pieces. The grommet, also referred to as an eyelet and washer at times, will provide a finished look on both sides of the hole. The embellishments come in a wide range of colors to enhance your projects.
Both eyelets and grommets need to be set with a specialized tool. The brand we use is available in two sizes: a short reach version and the long reach, the latter is shown above. Both tools work the same way. After making a hole in the paper insert the eyelet barrel through the hole (add the washer to the opposite side if necessary), then place the eyelet into the setter and squeeze.
Undoubtedly, you have seen the pretty circles staked in cupcakes. Cupcake toppers can be cut with ease using a circle punch: 1-inch punch for mini cupcakes, and 2-inch punch for regular cupcakes. You can also punch a pretty garland in a flash. The shapes can also be layered to create unique crafts. And as explored in this project (shown above), you can still use circle punches in unexpected ways.
The circle punches on the market either have two handles that you squeeze together or a lever that you push down. The two must have sizes:
The technique below features a lever punch, but the concept is the same for the punch with handles.
Cut the paper into strips. You need to cut fairly close to the shape you are punching out.
Grab your circle punch and turn it over. Pull the plastic catch up, or remove it entirely, so you can see the metal die.
Insert your strip of paper into the slit with the design facing upwards. The slit is at the side opposite the lever. Center the design in the middle of the cutting area.
Squeeze the lever and the bottom of the punch together. The circle will pop out. Then move the strip to the next circle you wish to punch.
CORNER AND EDGE PUNCHES
You can dress up an invitation or a card by rounding the corners, a quick and easy task when done with a corner punch. While there are numerous intricate corner punches to get your creative juices flowing—hello Art Deco—by far the most versatile is the 1/4-inch round corner punch.
Definitely don't let round corners be the end of the story. There are numerous punches on the market that can elevate humble squares and rectangles. Pretty designs like this concha or this coat of arms can turn a square into a pretty coaster, for example. A cascading scallop punch inspired the fiesta-themed pieces above. And 3-in-1 punches, like this sweet punch, offer more bang for the dollar (one design is used on the yellow card above).
The versatility of corner punches becomes apparent when you use them in different ways. For example, small decorative medallions can be made by cutting down paper into small squares, a 1.5-inch square worked for our Martha Stewart Craft punches (sadly they are no longer manufactured—RIP). Or try folding paper to create additional corners for punching, as shown on the fuchsia garland above.
The corner is punched simple by placing paper in the punch and squeezing the handle or lever. Before you begin, cut down your card into a rectangle - a good task for a paper trimmer.
Grab the corner punch
Place the square corner into the punch, pushing it against the two perpendicular pieces of raised metal
Squeeze the handles until the corner is cut.
While slowly changing out every plain lampshade in my household for more colorful options, it occurred to me that it would be fun to make my own. Again continuous border punches came to the rescue! This scalloped punch made the project a breeze.
Straight-edges are so square! Why not invigorate your cut-outs with a continuous edge punch? In an effort to make a gallery wall more cohesive, we added decorative borders to mountings for black and white photographs and colored photographs. Instructions for making the frames can be found in this project.
LEFT: These floral corsages utilize eight different punches.
ABOVE TOP: A series of award ribbons made with these novelty punches: starburst, hexagon, scallop, triangle, and flag. In addition, small, medium, and large circles make an appearance. Instructions for creating the award ribbons can be found in this project.
ABOVE BOTTOM: The rectangular postage stamps are no longer manufactured, but there is a small scalloped square punch available.
An endless supply of novelty punch shapes are readily available. Some are quite practical, like the one that punches a perfect gift tag every time. There are hearts and hexagons, scallops and snowflakes, balloons and buttons, and so many more. Our favorite is the postage stamp punch, in small and large, that unfortunately isn't made any longer.
The real fun begins when you start to layer shapes, colors, and materials, transforming the parts into something new entirely. The floral corsages above utilize eight different punches. Some are obvious, others like the balloon, are less so. Instructions for building the corsages can be found in this project.