Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tools: Some of You Might Find This Strange

You may or may not know that I came to cardmaking via bookbinding. If you've ever gotten serious about bookbinding yourself, you understand completely why Omnigrid quilting rulers (in various sizes), a craft knife, and cutting mats (in various sizes) are essential tools in my paper crafting studio.

If you've never gotten into bookbinding, however, these tools might seem a little strange, especially when you learn that I've never made a quilt--or even a quilted table runner--in my life.

Bookbinders need to cut paper and book board at precise right angles and precise measures. They often work with giant sheets of paper that won't fit into a standard 12" rotary or guillotine paper trimmer. Omnigrids are incredibly useful for these circumstances, especially when combined with long metal rulers and box cutters for heavier jobs.

These days, my six-inch Omnigrid square works perfectly for most cardmaking needs. Any time I need a mat (for those rare layered cards) or to cut a piece for white-on-white layering (much more common), I reach for the knife and Omnigrid. The cutting mat (a large one, though not my largest!) lives permanently on my desk. The see-through design of the Omnigrid is perfect when I need to cut a strip with a sentiment and want even borders surrounding it, for instance.

A word of warning: knives cut paper, but they also cut fingers. In 13 or so years of using these, I've only nicked my finger nails a few times, but as long as you keep your fingers away from the edge, you should be okay. Also, after 13 years, you don't want to start to feel over-confident, brag on line that you've never cut yourself, and then find yourself at the ER getting stitches. How embarrassing!

Thankfully, this hasn't happened yet, although I don't want to get cocky. Pride goeth before a fall...and I don't want to get stitches.

Anywho, these are useful tools I work with all the time. It's easy to take such unglamorous items for granted, but seriously, they make my crafting so much easier.

Just remember to keep your fingers safe.

Oh, and if the knife rolls off your desk, don't reach to catch it. Let that puppy hit the floor. 'Cause you know you'll get stabbed and might get blood on your card stock, which will ruin it.

It would, after all, be weird to try to make background paper with real blood stains. Right?


  1. This sounds like a tool that has great possibilities. Do you happen to have a video showing a visual person like myself how you use it to cut mats? Thank you.

  2. HA! Finally :) -- You enabled me to get one of these - however, being left handed cutting knives don't like me, so, its a dust collector now -- the tools we think we will use....

    1. I'd forgotten that lefties have a hard time with these.

  3. Ah, so THAT's how one cuts a parent sheet. I can't go to The Paper Source because I can't be trusted in the Parent Sheet section. And it's no use trying to avoid it, as all the stores I've been in have them on the first floor, and you have to walk through them to get to the other stuff. It's a conspiracy, I tell you.

    But I always have to cut "about" 12"-strips of paper off so I can use my paper trimmer. The secret it out! Still not buying one, because I no longer buy parent sheets, but now I understand. :)

  4. I have a condition that makes my fingers split and bleed-one year I did cards in sepia ink for Christmas so that the blood (tiny amounts) did not show. True story!

  5. I have been using this technique for cutting for the last 20 years. I have never found an affordable paper trimmer that cuts straight. I use the OLFA 6 X 6 grid because it is clear with thin black lines which seem to help me better than the Omnigrid. I have the grids in all sizes and I don't quilt either. I do find that I prefer a #16 blade since it is flat instead of pointed. I buy them in a pack of 100 through Amazon. I tried and tried to get my friends to use this system to no avail. I didn't know that anyone else cut this way. I feel that Type A perfectionism requires this method.
    Have a great evening.

  6. Hi Susan. I have been following your blog for several years and have always been intrigued by your use of a quilting ruler. So much so that I did purchase one a year or so ago. But as with the first commentor above, I cannot get my head around how you do it:-)

  7. Dear Susan,
    Please could you tell me the manufacturer of your cutting mat. I was all set to order one from Amazon UK when I read a review saying that it shouldn't be used with fixed blades. I want to use it for book-making, so don't want to use a rotary cutter. You obviously use a craft knife with yours, so that make would be OK.
    Many thanks. Gill


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