Paper punches are a wonderfully versatile tool to have in your paper crafting arsenal. They come in an endless variety of shapes and sizes (a few examples are in the photo at left).
All you have to do to punch a shape is to slide the paper into the punch, and press down on the handle -- what could be quicker and easier than that?
Paper crafters tend to save every little scrap, and it really makes sense when using punches as you can use both the positive (the punched out shape) and negative (paper from which it was punched) images from the punch in your paper crafting designs.
Look at objects as a collection of shapes and you'll discover new ways to use your punches. For instance, the bare tree punch in the photo above was used to make our Holiday Wreath photo cards. Several heart punches placed together in a circle can make the petals of a beautiful flower. Finish it off with a small circle punch for the middle of the flower.
In addition to the table top shape punches, you can also get hand punches (like the ones in the photo at right) in a variety of shapes and sizes. Small punches like the blue star punch are very inexpensive, but are somewhat limiting because of their short reach. Punches like the purple handled pair are more versatile because they have a longer reach, allowing you to reach further in towards the center of the paper.
Corner punches are another handy tool you'll find yourself using again and again when paper crafting. The corner punch in lower left hand corner of the photo at left (made by Fiskars) can make three different corner punch designs, depending on which direction your insert your paper into the punch. The blue and orange punch in the center (also by Fiskars) is a photo corner punch. When you use this tool to punch your corners you can insert of the corners of a photo or other artwork through the punches in order to hold it in place on the page without any adhesive. The orange corner punch at the top of the photo at right (made by EK Success) is a convertible punch. With the orange guard in place, it's a corner punch. Slip the guard off (as it is in the photo) and you can also punch the straight sides of the paper. Like the punch below it, you can also use this design to hold photos or other artwork in place without having to use glue.
Border punches (like the ones in the photo at right, made by Fiskars), are a wonderful tool that creates intricate cut out border designs on your paper. The grids on the punch make it easy to line up the design, so you get one continuous border that can run as long as your paper. The part of paper that gets cut off at the top is also a usable border element for your paper crafting projects, so you get two borders from one punch -- a bonus not advertised on the package.
Paper Punch Tips
- In order to keep your punches sharp, use them to punch through aluminum foil from time to time.
- To keep the punch parts moving smoothly, use the punch to punch through some waxed paper from time to time.
- In order to keep the punches working properly, check to make sure there are no small pieces of paper stuck in the punch before punching your next image.
- Use your punches upside-down in order to see where you are placing your punches on the paper (remove the paper catcher guard if your punch has one).