Frugal Friday - Tools

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hello!  It's Frugal Friday!!!  If you are new to Frugal Friday, click here for the first post introducing the series.  So far we've covered PAPER, INK, STAMPS, and EMBELLISHMENTS.  Today we are talking about TOOLS.  


Before we get started I wanted to share a comment I received regarding last week's embellishment post.  Frann shared:
"Dana, I love your Frugal Fridays. I have one suggestion regarding embellishments. I never buy paper flowers. I have many flower punches, which of course never get used up. I make my flowers from vellum, cardstock, printed papers and even from aluminum soda cans. It's easy to chalk, ink, layer and shape them--endless variety!"
Thanks so much Frann!  Great point.  I thought of this when I was writing the embellishment post but was thinking it might fit better with the TOOLS post.  So, we'll definitely be talking about that today.  By the way, I can't tell you how much I love getting comments!


Okay, let's talk about tools.  We all use tools to create our cards.  Whether its a pair of scissors or a fancy die cutting machine, tools can be dirt cheap to super expensive.  Today I'll share my "must-have" tools with you as well as a few items that I think are "good-to-have".  I've also bought a few items that I never use and I'll let you know about those too.  


My "Must-Have" Tools:


Paper Trimmer- I mentioned in an earlier post that I have a Tonic Paper Trimmer.  As paper trimmers go, this one is on the more expensive side BUT, I searched to find a good deal.  I think I ended up paying around $26 buying it online from JoAnn's using a 40% off coupon and received free shipping.  That was a good deal since the Fiskar's (or similar kind) one costs around $20 and you need to buy new blades every few months.  Since I make cards almost everyday this was a good investment.  The only drawback is that I still use my old Fiskar's paper trimmer to score my cards.  On a side note, to get the most out of my card stock, pretty much all of my cards are standard A2 (which is a piece of 5.5" x 8.5" card stock folded in half) or 4.25" square.  Using these two sizes you can get 2 cards out of one sheet of card stock.  Using the 4.25" size you will have a  strip of paper leftover to use to make embellishments.  
X-Acto Knife- This is one of those tools that I purchased and thought "How did I ever make cards without this?"  I mostly use the X-acto knife for applying rhinestones and pearls to cards.  I use the point to pick the jewel off the backing sheet and to then place it exactly where I want it.  I'm also a big fan of the pearls and rhinestones that come glued in a single line.  When I want to use those individually, I simply slice the glue with the knife and apply like normal.  As far as tools go, this one is dirt cheap.  I bought it for $2.50 at Wal-mart about a year ago and bought a pack of 5 refill blades about 3 months ago (about $2).  I've only had to replace the blade once, I don't even remember why, but I do know that card making was not involved! 



SU Mat Pack & Paper Piercer- If you are not familiar with the Mat Pack, it is pack of three 4" x 4" squares.  One is a paper piercing pad that protects your table when you are paper piercing, one is a template for creating perfectly spaced holes when you are paper piercing or positioning brads or eyelets, the last one is a hard mat to protect your table when you are hammering eyelets.  I very rarely use eyelets, so I don't have much use for the last one.  I will be honest with you.  The only reason I initially purchased the mat pack was because I wanted to be able to create faux stitching on my cards.   Now I use it all the time.  I use it a lot to space brads and rhinestones along with faux stitching.  I'm sure there are other piercing template out there, but I'm not aware of any by name.  But I do love the SU one. 


Fine/Micro Tip Scissors- This is another one of those "why in the world didn't I buy these sooner" kind of items.  I used general kitchen scissors for a while and then bought a pair of smaller, but not fine tip scissors.  Finally, this past Christmas I asked for a pair that had a fine tip.  Boy has that made all the difference cutting out images.  I'm no longer intimidated by cutting intricate shapes.  Don't ask me why I asked for these as a Christmas gift when they turned out to be only $7 (with a Michaels 40% off coupon).  
Stamp-A-Ma-Jig- This is a "must-have" item only if you use wood mounted or cling stamps.  A stamp-a-ma-jig is a tool that allows you to position a stamp exactly where you want it.  When I started out, I couldn't tell you how many cards I ruined because I put the sentiment stamp on last and crooked!  If you don't know how a stamp-a-ma-jig works, here is a great video from Kristina Werner.  
T-Square Ruler- When I finally broke down and bought a ruler (about $2) I found myself reaching for it all the time.  I use this in so many ways, trust me, you will too.


My "Good-to-Have" Tools:


Punches- You can absolutely make beautiful cards without using any punches, but they are a wonderful item to have.  I have made a few judgement errors when purchasing punches in the past.  I have a few punches that I have never used.  The ones I find that I use the most are of a heart, butterfly, snowflake, scallop edge, and circle.  I would not recommend buying any punches that are square since you can easily cut those on your paper trimmer.  I only have one flower punch, but those are great to have to make your own flower embellishments.  


Circle Cutting System- I have a Coluzzle, which I don't think is available any longer.  They have much nicer ones out now that cut from very small to very large circles in tiny increments.  This would replace any circle punch you have.  My Coluzzle works just fine (and it also cuts ovals) although the increments are not what I call tiny.  If I find a good deal on one of the newer circle cutting systems, I'm going to get one.
Die Cutting Machine & Dies-  I have a Cuttlebug and I love it.  I was able to get mine for around $40 and I contemplated buying it for quite some time.  I didn't use it a lot in the beginning, but when I discovered Spellbinder Nestabilities that all changed.  I love nestabilities dies, but they are quite expensive.  I only have three shapes.  However, they are a good investment since you can use them over and over for all eternity.  Stick with simple shapes that you know you will use often.  I really like the Cuttlebug, but any die cutting machine will do.  I'm also in love with embossing folders and thankfully those are relatively inexpensive.  I have been drooling over the Papertrey Ink flower dies.  Those would be great for making your own flower embellishments as well.  Those are definitely on my wish-list. 


On a side note, I have contemplated getting a Cricut or something similar.  I was finally able to use one in person not too long ago and feel that I wouldn't get enough use out of it to justify the cost, much less the cost of all those cartridges.  However, I am in love with what I've read and seen about the Silhouette.  If I ever get a personal cutting machine, that will be the one I get.  It is very expensive (like $300) so I'm not holding my breath.    


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Well, I think I've rambled enough for one day!  I would love to hear what tools you think are a "must-have".  Also, we only have one or two more weeks of Frugal Friday posts and I would love some input on what other topics you would like to discuss.  As always, I love hearing from you!

Have a great weekend everyone!!!




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3 comments:

Susan July 16, 2010 at 2:21 PM  

overstock.com has an extensive collection of Nestabilities. Great prices & inexpensive shipping make it a go-to source for me

Rachel July 16, 2010 at 2:27 PM  

How fun Dana! I want to see your whole craft space too!

ddsharp50 July 16, 2010 at 5:47 PM  

I LOVE my top note die cut from Stampin'Up. I use it all the time and it makes everything look so fancy. It is one of my favorite purchases, I felt like I really got my monies worth on that.
Thanks for all your ideas and information. It is great.--Diane

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