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Craft Paper Punch Basics

Updated on September 14, 2018
linfcor profile image

Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.

Getting Started With Craft Punches

I love paper punches ! I have a passion for them. I use them on my scrapbook pages, my greeting cards and on lots of other paper craft projects. They are lots of dimension and bling to all my crafts. There are so many choices for paper punches and each has it's own use ! Shapes help you create the sweetest little embellishments for your scrapbook pages and greeting cards. Larger shapes such as circles, rectangles and squares help you make journaling spaces, mats and backgrounds for all kinds of paper crafts. Edge border punches are probably my personal favorites. You can make borders, edges, titles, and lots more. The newest punches are the all over the page punches. You can create a paper that adds lots of design

The best thing about paper punches is that they don't use any electricity and they are very portable. They also store easily even in the smallest craft spaces.

If you are just starting out with punches, invest in a few simple shapes like squares and circles. Get a few small button punches like a butterfly. Get a hole punch , It's very useful to make holes for tags and such. I have several in different sizes. I would also invest in a flower punch. I use those a great deal. Once you have the basics, add to your collection. There are so many options

Single shape punches are ones that make a specific shape. They can be in any size or shape, but they create only one shape

Punches Vs Cutting With An Electronic Cutting Machine

  1. As products have developed, electronic machines such as the Cricut and the Scan N Cut have taken over in the sense that they can cut multiple cuts of the same image in different sizes quickly.

So the question is, are paper punches still relevant to paper crafters? My opinion is that they are still very useful in any craft space where paper projects are being done.

  1. They are reasonably priced. I started out with paper punches way before I invested in my Cricut machine. Lots of people may not be willing to pay the price for such a machine. paper punches are a lot more reasonable in price. You can often get them on sale.
  2. They don't use electricity. The only energy they need is pressure from your hand to punch or squeeze to get the shape. If you are going to a crop or class, you may not have access to an outlet.
  3. They are portable. If you are going to a crop or class, they are easy to pack and take with you.
  4. They don't require a craft mat or other tools to create the shape. All you need is some paper and the punch

Shape Punches

Shape Punches : There are hundreds of shape punches that can be used for embellishments. You can use them just about anywhere. Have a glue pen handy to adhere them. Or you can run them through a zyron machine. You can also make confetti with them for parties. Shapes come in so handy ! I love the ones that punch out flowers and leaves. Use them on your scrapbook papers and on your cards. The larger shapes make perfect sense for just about any card or scrapbook project.

EK Success 54-30035 Tools Punch, Flowers and Leaves, Large, Old Package
EK Success 54-30035 Tools Punch, Flowers and Leaves, Large, Old Package

I love this punch because you get a combination of flowers and leaves that are martched perfectly in size. This punch makes a complete project in one punch.


Lever punches are ones where you push the lever down to create the punched shape. They are very easy to use. This type of punch may not work with heavier paper unless it is made with metal rather than plastic.

Circle Punches

Circle Punches: Create doilies, create bags and paper crafts These punches make perfect circles. They come in different sizes, so you may want several

Uchida LV-MGCP-65 Clever Lever Mega Craft Punch, Scalloped Circle, Punches 2.5-Inch
Uchida LV-MGCP-65 Clever Lever Mega Craft Punch, Scalloped Circle, Punches 2.5-Inch

This lever punch is great for making a scalloped circle. Use it to make banners, signs and a whole lot more


Punching different size squares that are 3” or smaller can create great embellishments. You can layer them, use them for tiles or journaling and the outer piece that remains can be used as frames

Corner Punches

These punches make a nice edge to your project. I like the corner rounder . it's one that you will use a lot on your cards and scrapbook pages. It's also useful on edges of photos to give them a nice rounder corner. It makes your images look softer.

Martha Stewart Crafts Corner Punch, Rounder
Martha Stewart Crafts Corner Punch, Rounder

Everyone should have a rounder. You can use them to round off cards, mats and more. This is a basic punch that has multiple uses


Three In One Corner Punches

This type of punch has three corners that you can use to give very decorative edges to your projects

Fiskars 3-in-1 Corner/Border Punch, Heritage
Fiskars 3-in-1 Corner/Border Punch, Heritage

I am very into corner punches. They add so much dimension to your projects. They can be used on almost any paper project that you might be making, Think about cards, photos, and tags


Edge Or Boarder Punches

Edge Punches : What a thrill it is to work with edge punches. Where can't you use them ! I use them on scrapbook pages for titles, around the edge of background layover pages, for photo mats and for journaling. What else can you do with them? When I make greeting cards, I use them to edge and add pieces. In paper crafting , you can use them to make wreaths and other projects where you just need that special touch.Border punches can punch a continuous border along any length of paper by making the first punch, then sliding the paper along in the punch to match the white printed design on either side of the punch base.

Martha Stewart Crafts Deep Edge Border Punch Embroidery (42-70048)
Martha Stewart Crafts Deep Edge Border Punch Embroidery (42-70048)

Border punches have to be my personal favorite. There is so much design in these punches. Each of the punches has a guide so that you know how to move the paper to create a perfect border. This punch has unlimited uses !


All Over Punches

All Over Punch : Create unique papers by taking a simple piece of cardstock and punching a pattern. You can also make scrapbook blocks, titles and tags

Martha Stewart Crafts All Over The Page Punch, Starry Sky
Martha Stewart Crafts All Over The Page Punch, Starry Sky

All over punches allow you to create custom papers. You literally can punch anywhere on a project ! Your imagination can develop multiple uses for this decorative punch


Craft Punch Basics

Craft Punch Tips

  1. Start with a few basic shape punches. Things like squares and circles will be used over and over again. They are good basic investments.
  2. Flip the punch over so that you can see where you are punching
  3. If your craft punch jams or locks up, try putting it in the freezer for a little bit. The cold may shrink the metal just enough to release it. Once you get it released, punch a piece of waxed paper several times to lubricate the punch
  4. When starting to work with a new punch, punch a few pieces of scrap paper before you start on your project. There might be some lubricant left over from the manufacturer
  5. The more intricate the detail in a punch, the more force that will be needed. Use a solid surface when punching
  6. Use the right material for each punch. Very few punches will cut fabric. But you also need to think about the different types of paper. Not all cardstock, for example will cut in each punch. Follow the manufacturer's direction when choosing paper
  7. Layer different types of boarder punches in different width paper to add depth to your projects
  8. If you are using a small punch, punch more than you need for your project and save for later use
  9. Never throw away any small pieces of paper that you have left over. Even the smallest piece of paper can be punched, I keep my scrap paper in a file by color.
  10. Invest in a hole punch, it's a handy tool to have
  11. Store your punches in a dry place to avoid rusting

How To Sharpen Paper Punches

How To Store Your Craft Punches

My favorite way to store craft punches is to get a closet door organizer and hang it over my craft room door. The sections are clear, so that I can see what I have. They are really easy to find and they come in terrific designs and colors.

You can also hang curtain rods on the back of a door. That idea allows you to see what you have.

You can also use small shelves to store your paper punches.

Another idea that I recently saw was to use an old VCR storage unit to hold your punches

To avoid continual jams with your craft punch simply ensure that your punches are free of any excess card stock between punches

One Last Craft Punch Idea

Practice different techniques and punches. Make cards or pages to show your technique or punch. Make notes on what you did and what punches you used. It's a great reference tool and saves you time later

© 2014 Linda F Correa

Se would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and insight on the paper punches that you use

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