Craft Tool of the Week: Crafting Knife

Hobby KnifeOkay, so there are like billions of gadgets, gizmos and tools out there aimed at crafters….and also some very handy items hiding in plain sight you may not have thought of for crafting.  Each week or so, I’ll share with you some of my favorite tools for crafting plus review new ones I’ve never used before.

My favorite tool of All Time Ever is the mighty glue gun (you can read more about that here) and if I had to choose a second favorite, it might be the crafting knife (a.k.a. Exacto Knife, a.k.a. Hobby Knife, a.k.a. Utility Knife, a.k.a. Boxcutter) …but who’s got time to go ranking every craft tool ever? Plus I don’t want to hurt any of their little tool feelings, even thought they’re like children: you say you love them all equally but you know you have a favorite…

So back to the crafting knife. Wicked sharp and extremely useful for

A) cutting detailed shapes

B) cutting cardboard & foam

C) cutting detailed shapes in o cardboard & foam.

If you’ve ever attempted to cut even simple shapes from cardboard with ordinary scissors, you know how difficult it can be to get clean edges without bending the stiff cardboard- never mind the cramping and occasional blisters because cardboard does not heart scissors. Like at all.

Not only are crafting knife blades super sharp, they’re also perfectly shaped to maneuver around curves and corners, they down on hand cramping (especially when you’re working with cardboard or foam) AND they have replaceable blades so you don’t have to worry about getting them sharpened or ruining the blade.

Here’s some things to remember when working with a craft knife:

  • They are SUPER sharp. Was I clear about that?
  • Always make sure the blade is locked in place
  • Never attempt to cut something without scrap cardboard or a cutting mat underneath
  • Children should be supervised unless you prefer your children with less than ten digits or otherwise maimed

TIP: When cutting cardboard or other tough/thick materials a “sawing motion” is often more effective than a “slicing” motion.

Here’s why:

  1. When you slice you are applying force in a linear direction. If you get stuck, have to apply extra force  and your hand slips, the follow through is likely to intersect with a surrounding person or object. When you are sawing you are applying force downward so that if your hand slips or you have to apply extra force, you are more likely to hit your mat or scrap cardboard.
  2. Cardboard, especially, has a grain. When you are slicing, it is very easy for your blade to get caught in the grain and stray form your desired cut.  Sawing eliminates this problem.

I recently used my craft knife this weekend, making some awesome creepy carousel unicorns for Halloween (more on that when they’re finished) and took the opportunity snap a quick video of my sawing technique, which you can check out on my Facebook page! Cuz I’m nice like that, 🙂

Now go get yur craft cutting on!

Ps. You can find crafting knifes (knives? Whatever…) at plenty of major retailers. I even took the liberty of picking out some good ones for you online at  Walmart, JoAnn’s Fabrics, and Home Depot. Michaels Crafts also has great ones… but their website is very nearly, almost entirely, useless. So they miss out on a link.

How To Spot Treasures in Trash!

IMG_1138Ooh I scored me some awesome trash today!! Yeah, I know, not the most glamorous thing to get all hot and bothered for but, for realz, trash is a crafter’s best friend. Whenever I have a major crafting project coming up, like Halloween, I make a point to try and look at my trash in a whole new way before I toss it out. Newspaper automatically gets saved for papier-mâché projects, but I’ve discovered phone book pages work just as well. And since the dickweeds in Phone Book Land have completely fucking ignored all our requests to stop delivering them, I guess it works out.

Another great treasure is from the most super coolest gift ever: a 31″ giant Darth Vader doll action figure my man bought for me. Sometimes he is just such a guy  and brings home flowers, which is totes sweet, and sometimes he’s Super Boyfriend and brings home friggin’ Darth Vader! But I digress…

Vader’s packaging would make an excellent stand for a sign, if I laid it flat it could be a good angle for a display, or maybe I could weigh down the bottom and use it as a base for afore mentioned papier-mâché sculpture…lots of possibilities there!

Also exciting is a piece of very dense, flexible, non-corrugated cardboard that was included in the packaging of a duffle bag. What will I use that for? I have no fucking clue. But its soooo bendy!!! I’m sure it will come in handy for something.

And that’s really the point: learning to look at things with a creative eye and staying open to possibilities. It’s kinda like beer goggles, but for trash. If you’re not already a trash digger like me, it might be hard at first. To help you out I made a list of items I always think it’s worth saving when you know you have big crafting projects on the horizon. So put on your Trash Goggles and enjoy!

  1. Cardboard boxes, duh. Even if you don’t use them for a craft they’ll be handy for staying organized.
  2. Newspapers & phone books for papier-mâché.
  3. Wrapping paper & paper towel tubing.
  4. Shoe boxes.
  5. Buttons, trims and scrap fabric from old clothing.
  6. Trash bag twisty ties.
  7. Wire hangers (Mommy Dearest be damned!)
  8. Interesting cardboard, styrofoam or plastic packaging pieces.
  9. Spare metal pieces (for example curtain rods or nuts & bolts).