Thursday, January 25, 2018

All you need to know to buy the Perfect Paper Trimmer!

ETA: This was my editorial article which was published in Our Idea Book Issue 3, which came out in November. If you haven't got the Issue 3 or any previous ones as yet, please do grab a copy, there is lots more amazing articles in the book .Buy here .

       Of the many tools in a paper crafters kitty, one of the most important is a paper trimmer. Without it, your papers are wonky, the matting is never straight, and as such you waste paper trying to get it perfect square or rectangle.

And always I have found questions, which one do I buy? How do I select from the many many trimmers, the perfect one.

First let me tell you about the types of trimmers that are available and then I shall tell you how to choose one based on your needs. 

1.       Simple Blade Trimmers:

Image from Google Image Search

    These are the most widely available trimmers. They are the most economical when it comes to price and are definitely most portable. They are made usually of lightweight plastic. These are recommended mostly when you are traveling for crafting retreats.
The blade is situated in a track or grove on the trimmer which you just have to slide up and down to cut the paper.
These are useful for light weight papers and cardstock.
The only downside is the constant replacement of blades. As soon as the blade starts getting dull, the cuts will start feathering. 
Recommended brands ( I personally do not like any of the blade trimmers) : Fiskars SureCut

2.        Guillotine Trimmer:

Image from Google Image Search

These trimmers have two long steel blades which act like scissors. One blade is fixed on the trimmer, while the other is fixed to a handle which moves up and down. In a scissor both arms move, here only one arm moves.
These are heavier and sturdier to use. It gives a cleaner cut and the blades usually are self-sharpening. With every paper cut, when they slide against each other, they self-sharpen.
These are good for any cardstock, multiple sheets of printed papers, Glittery paper, foam, light weight chipboard (Max1- 2mm thick)etc.
Cutting heavy chipboard will usually displace the pivot of the cutting arm and your cuts will go wonky or be off by a millimeter or more.
These need to be handled safely in case kids are around, due to the cutting action.
Some trimmers do have a handle lock, but not all. 
Recommended brands :Tonic (Most recommended) Swingline, Xcut, Dahle, 
(I will not recommend the cheap China made ones since there is no guarantee to the straightness of its scale..The arm may cut well, but if the scale is wonky, you papers will be too)

3.       Rotary Trimmers:

Image from Google Image Search

Image from Google Image Search

These trimmers have a rotary(round) blade which slides up and down a rail at the edge of the trimmer. The blades are housed in plastic carrier so it is impossible to hurt yourself while cutting papers.
These are most sturdy form of paper trimmers as well being able to cut multiple sheets of paper at a time, including heavy chipboard.
Blades do not need to be replaced as often as in Simple trimmers. Some are self-sharpening when the blades are at the edge of trimmers, eg :  Cutterpillar, Rotatrim.
These are sturdier than all other trimmers. The blades that come housed on two rails are the highest quality in Rotary trimmers as the blades have more stability while cutting. 
Recommended brands: Fiskars Procision, Cutterpillar, Dahle, Rotatrim, Carl, Fiskars Surecut rotary trimmer.

4.       Trim and Score Board
Image from Google Image Search
 These are the new types of trimmers, which have a scoring board built into the trimmer thus eliminating the need for an additional scoring tool. However, most of them are the simple blade type trimmers and thus need a blade replacement every 3-4 months depending on usage.
These are advised only for travelling or for crops. Not recommended for regular usage.

How to choose the right paper trimmer SIZE
1.    Size of material to be cut
·         Are you a paper crafter, a scrapbook maker, a mixed media artist, a quiller?
Do you need to cut 6x6, 12x12 sheets or bigger than that?
·         If you make only cards and cut smaller than A4 size papers, a smaller trimmer would work fine. Generally smaller trimmers are 8.5 x 5 inches
·         If you have to cut 12x12 sheets for scrapbooks, quilling strips, looking at a 12x12 trimmer or a trimmer which has a foldable arm would be good option for you.
·         If you use papers bigger than 12x12, you need to get trimmers which are bigger in length. Trimmers go upto 15 inches, 18 inches, 24 inches and more. The width of these long trimmers may stay about 12 inches. These are usually commercial paper trimmers, used in offices or Book binding stores for cutting bulk papers quickly.

2.       Look at the space you have
           Sometimes spaces are a big constraint. 12x12 trimmers take a large footprint in your room.
If space is an issue, you can go for foldable trimmers or smaller trimmers which have extendable arms.
Foldable trimmers are full 12x12 and fold up in half from the 6 inch mark.
The extendable ones are about 12x 6 and have extendable arms upto 12 inches.

How to choose the type of Trimmer – Blade, Guillotine or Rotary.

1.       Look at the material you wish to cut
·         If you are going to cut only cardstock paper, patterned paper or quilling strips, a simple blade type cutter should work for you.
·         If you have to cut heavier cardstock, glitter papers or mulberry papers or thin chipboard about 1-2mm, you will need a guillotine cutter.
·         If you have to cut more sheets of cardstock, heavier chipboard upto 4mm..prefer a Rotary trimmer. They cut chipboard the best. 

2.       Frequency of cutting
It also will depend how much cutting you do. Are you a crafter who does crafting for bulk order or a hobby crafter who needs it few times a week?
·         If you do bulk, you can definitely invest in the heavier and higher priced rotary trimmer variants as they have sturdier blade and last long.
·         For a hobby crafter, the mid-range trimmers will work well, especially Guillotine style trimmers.

 3.       Budget
I have put budget as the last thing to look for, because when you need quality tool and something that is long lasting, don’t look at the budget. Get something that is sturdy and long lasting and it will pay for it itself in the long run.
Economical trimmers end up costing you much more than they are actually worth. Either you need to keep replacing blades or the grove wears off and then you end up spending more on replacement parts ultimately costing you much more than what you paid for it.
Major differences between Blade, Guillotine and Rotary Trimmer

Blade Trimmer

Type of blade
Thin V shaped blade in a plastic holder
Long blade along the cutting arm
Round blade in plastic casing
Life of blade
3-6 months
Lifelong (Self sharpening)
Lifelong (self-sharpening)
Frayed edges
Yes, when blade starts getting blunt
Cutting into middle of paper
Materials it can cut
Plain paper, patterned paper, cardstock.
Plain paper, patterned paper, cardstock, heavy cardstock, glitter paper, foam, handmade paper, thin chipboard (1-2mm)
All of the guillotine Plus heavy chipboard 2-4mm
Weight of the trimmer
Lightweight, portable
Heavy, needs dedicated space in the room.
Brands available
Fiskars, Martha Stewart, We are Memory Keepers, Cricut, American Crafts etc.
Tonic Studios, Fiskars, Martha Stewart, Swingline, Dahle, Deli (made in China) etc
Cutterpillar, Fiskars, Dahle, Rotatrim, Carl, X-acto, Wescott etc.

To sum up:
  • Any serious crafter needs at least 3 trimmers in their arsenal. 
  • A sturdy rotary/guillotine, a portable trimmer for crops/traveling and one mini guillotine trimmer for cards or small papers.
  • Regular care and making sure that you don’t forcibly cut more papers or thicker cardstock on your particular trimmer will extend its life immeasurably. If used well, your Guillotine and Rotary trimmers can last you for over 10 years without any replacements. 
I do hope this post has helped you narrow your choices and pick a good trimmer. 

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