Today I’m back with a post about my tools. Very often I get e-mails asking about what tools I use for my papercuts. Below you can see them. I also need to say that if you ever wrote me an e-mail and never heard back from me, please, Oh please! (as Diego says) don’t be mad at me please. Sometimes it is not possible for me to respond to a large number of e-mails individually. But I hope that this post answers some of your questions.

For my one-color-only, flat papercuts, I just use my X-Acto knife with a #11 blade, a cutting matt underneath the paper for protection, a pencil for drawing the design and an eraser to correct the drawing if necessary.

But for making more complex pieces I use mostly the tools that you see in the picture below:

Tools copy 700

View this photo in a larger size.

Here is the list:

1- I use both sides of this wooden tool for shaping paper.

2- Metal dentist tool for shaping paper as well.

3- Computer mouse pad for supporting the paper during the shaping or embossing process. A mouse pad has proven to be the best support for shaping my papers so far, because it has a nice cushioning surface that allows the paper to gently expand as you press it down with any of the tools that I show you here.

4- Another wooden tool for shaping paper.

5- Ball stylus tool for shaping and creasing paper.

6- Another wooden tool for shaping paper.

7- My favorite tool for shaping paper! I can do all the work of paper shaping with that single tool. Unfortunately I have no idea where I got it from or even when. I have had it forever. A few months ago it got lost and I almost called 911, I can’t live without it. I did a little Internet search and found it here where it’s called Maxon #3 Burnisher. I don’t know exactly what this tool is originally designed for.

(But you could use about anything for shaping paper. A small metal spoon works nice; use the handle as well as the round part. Just make sure to apply the pressure on the paper gradually, moving the tool in circles. Before I mastered this I had to practice it a lot, there is no formula in particular, you just need to do it a lot and observe how the paper behaves. The paper itself will “tell” you what to do. Up to this day I haven’t found a single book explaining how to do this. I had to teach myself how to do it. If I were going to teach anybody my technique I would need to do it in person. Or I would need to write a whole book with lots of detailed pictures. One day I will offer classes, when the kids are a little older and one day I will also write a book on paper “sculpting”).


This is just a random picture to make this post it less boring 🙂

…now let’s continue…

8- Small protractor for drawing curves.

9- Needle for poking holes on paper. I just took a regular sewing needle and glued it between two pieces of card to make it easier for me to manipulate. You could also make a polymer clay handle.

10- Small triangle ruler.

11- X-Acto knife with a # 11 blade for cutting paper. I replace the blade as soon as the sharp tiny tip breaks. That way I don’t have to make lots of pressure with my hand which keeps my wrist relaxed and healthy.

12- Pencil with soft lead for drawing on paper.

13- Tweezers for handling small pieces of paper.

14- Syringe where I keep my Acid-free glue.

One of the questions that I get asked the most is: What type of glue do you use for your papercuts?. I use several, as long as they are pH neutral. Right now the one that I’m using in this project is a PH Neutral Bookbinding adhesive from a brand named LINECO. See the picture below. I just place a little bit of it in my plastic syringe. The syringe has a tiny aperture for applying the glue, that gives you lots of control over the amount of glue to use. I recommend you to use as little glue as possible on your paper. A tiny miniature touch of it will do the job. I keep the tip of the syringe closed with a bead made out of putty, which is some kind of soft polymer material that never dries, it looks like chewing gum. Chewing gum could be a good substitute by the way and it’s easily found in different flavors and shapes in supermarkets and other places :). Also, if your child or you, or even your pet gets chewing gum on the hair here is a genius way to remove it.


…the list goes on…

15- Regular ruler.

16- Miniature precision scissors from here.

17- Small scissors.

18- Small size scissors. (my favorite). They’re so nice and sharp.

19- Large scissors.

20- Bone paper folder.

21- Retractable owl. It has the same use as the regular needle to pock holes.

22- Eraser.

The tools number 13, 20 and 21 have little faces on them. That’s not mandatory for you to do. I make little faces for some of my tools because that humanizes them and I love to think that my tools and I together form a team. Sometimes when I am not feeling like working I look at them and they look back at me with their little eyes like saying: Come on Elsita! Do you want us to lay down here on this table forever? So, the bottom line is that little faces on tools are great motivators.

Before I forget, I also get many e-mails asking how many times I have cut myself with the X-Acto knife. I have identified a whole group of fellows who are really afraid of knifes. Here is my answer: I have got cut zero times. Yay!! I will keep my fingers crossed so I never get cut by the X-Acto knife. Well, I don’t think that it’s a good idea to keep our fingers crossed while using the X-Acto knife. But as an alternative we could cross our toes. I think that the key is to keep our 5 senses awake and the table always organized. Using a retractable knife helps too.

I hope that this post was helpful and that you didn’t fall asleep.

See you tomorrow!

Elsita 🙂

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