13 Must Have Scrapbooking Tools (And A Few More You'll Want)

When I first started scrapbooking in 2011, I was overwhelmed with the products available. I didn’t know what half of them did, didn’t know what I needed, and ended up spending a lot of money I wouldn’t have needed to spend if I had known then what I know now. Since then, I've tried tons of products and found out which ones I have to have within arm's reach and which ones end up gathering dust on the shelf.

It took a long time, many {many} trials and errors, and lots of research to find the best tools for scrapbooking. There are tons more products available, but these tools are the basics that will give you the ability to create the widest variety of projects.

In the hope that I can save you the time, money, and frustration that I wasted, here's a list of the 13 best scrapbooking tools that will have you scrapping like a pro in no time.

Alphabet Punch BoardWe R Memory Keepers Alphabet Punch Board

If you're ever frustrated that you don't have the letters you need in your alpha stickers, you'll get plenty of use out of We R Memory Keeper's alphabet and numeric punch-board. I love it because I can create custom titles on the fly, like on my Magic! layout.

You also have the flexibility to use coordinating papers to match your scrapbooking projects exactly. It's also a great way to use your paper scraps. We R Memory Keepers also makes a frame punch board, which is fun to use. There's a small learning curve, but if you cut your pieces to the precise size (1.5x2.5 inches) you'll have no problem.

Prima Marketing Comfort Craft Distressing Tool

Prima Marketing Comfort Craft Distressing Tool
Prima's Distressing Tool is one of my favorite go-to tools. I use it on almost every project to add interest through dimension and texture. The tool has a rough and fine rasp surface; metal distressing brush and edge scraper and bone folder fixture. I use it to distress the edges of my papers, like you'll see on my Ampersand layout, as well as my photos. Use the rasps to distress the surface of papers, like you'll see on my Treasure the Moment layout, which created a snow-like background (if you're using a white-core paper). This technique is perfect if your scrapbooking style is shabby chic, grunge, or vintage, but you'll find it handy for any style. There is no other tool that will give you the look of a pro like this tool. My only regret? That I didn't buy it sooner.

Mcgill Paper Blossom Tools

Mcgill Paper Blossom Tools

If you've ever wandered the aisles of you favorite scrap store, you know flower packs are expensive. I love making my own flowers. You can see examples in lots of my work. Before I found these tools, I used the end of a paintbrush with varying degrees of success, but these tools make creating realistic flowers a breeze. You can also use the smaller tools in place of a die pick on intricate dies if you don't have a die pick tool.

The best part of this kit is the reverse tweezers. I use them all the time when heat embossing chipboard. With fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel, I have a hard time maintaining pressure with a normal tweezers, which has led to more than one dropped chipboard, but these tweezers take all the work out of it. There is a second kit that includes a paper roller and piercing tool. I use both kits frequently, and they come in handy for more than just making flowers.

Heat Embossing Kit

Heat Embossing Kit

If you're new to heat embossing, try this kit. It's inexpensive and take the intimidation out of learning a new skill that looks complicated but really isn't. This kit includes everything you need to get started. If you want to do larger pieces, like chipboard, you'll definitely want to invest in an embossing pad like VersaMark's clear ink pad

For stamping, you might also like the Inkadinkado Embossing Magic powder pouch to keep your projects clean and crisp (it keeps the embossing powder from clinging to your paper where you don't want it). The "magic" powder makes sure your embossing powder doesn't stick where it isn't wanted.
I asked Santa for a Big Shot last year. I must have been a good girl, because it found its way under our tree. The beauty of the Big Shot is that it's far less expensive than die cutting machines that use cartridges. The dies are generally inexpensive (a few dollars for a set of thinlits). A die tool like Spellbinders Craft and Die Tool is useful for intricate dies. The best part is using scraps to turn into beautiful foliage or pieces to turn into handmade flowers, besides creating perfectly sized photo mats.
Paper Trimmer
My first cutter was 9 inches. Why? I don't know. There was a time when I didn't research my purchases (perhaps why I'm now creating this post). Choose the 12 inch trimmer if you're creating anything larger than a mini album (and even then you might find yourself wanting to cut 12x12 paper). This cutter will cut about 7 sheets of standard paper, and 3 or so pieces of cardstock. It works for stuff around the house, too. It's great for cutting coupons, mailing labels, photos, etc. There is a guide so you get perfect cuts. A truly indispensible tool, and truly a must-have.

Scotch CAT Advanced Tape GliderScotch CAT Advanced Tape Glider

Easily the most used tool in my arsenal of scrapbooking tools. Every papercrafting project will undoubtedly need some sort of adhesive, and this tape runner makes it so simple and fast. There are more expensive tape runners, but I've never felt the need to upgrade. This one is a little on the large size, but it's worth the space on your desk for the convenience and speed of applying your adhesive. 

Martha Stewart Scoring Board

Martha Stewart Scoring Board

This scoring board was one of the first things I bought when I started scrapping. It's indispensable for card making (you can make both cards and envelopes with perfectly straight, easy-to-fold, crisp lines). 

Plus you can make your own embellishments like accordion flowers or journal pockets. For a first investment into scrapbooking tools, this one offers a lot of versatility. 

Tidy Crafts Tidy Tray

I wasn't sure about these trays right away. I actually returned them, then re-bought them a week later. I missed having them! Use for embossing powder, glitter, prills, beads, and more. The funnel end makes it easy to get your materials back into their containers. 

My tips for using the tidy tray for embossing powder or glitter is to first use the Inkadinkado Embossing Magic, or in a pinch use a dryer sheet, to reduce static cling. A medium sized paintbrush is also useful to get every last bit of your powder or glitters.

Cutting Mat

Self healing Cutting Mat for scrapbooking
Cutting mats come in a huge variety. I've tried a few, and this is my favorite. They are the perfect way to measure and line up your elements (using an extra-long transparent straight-edge like Fiskars Acrylic Ruler). You can choose from a variety of sizes. I use an 18x24, which is adequate for my needs, and anything of a deeper length would not fit on my desk, though wider wouldn't interfere. However, working with 12x12 papers you shouldn't need to go as large as you would for quilting. 

Create a Sticker Machine

Create a Sticker Machine Xyron
My latest investment is my own sticker maker. I plan to do whole post on how fun this is. I had no idea I could make my own stickers without spending a ton of money. The price of this machine is a few cups of coffee, and how much fun is it to make your own stickers? That's like your little kid dreams come true (or am I the only one who hoarded stickers, showing signs of my future passion for scrapbooking)? 

Tracing Lightbox

Tracing Lightbox
Back in art school, one of the things I always wanted was a lightbox. Maybe I was just a broke college kid, but back then it seemed like they were insanely expensive. I was shocked when I finally looked into them and found them so reasonably priced! I had drawing in mind for this purchase, and I was pleasantly surprised to find how many uses there are for scrapbookers, too. Make your own embellishments, sketch out designs, use for calligraphy, stamping, dry embossing... While a lightbox isn't part of every scrapper's toolbox, I love having a variety of tools available so the only limit is your imagination.

Laser Square & Mat

Laser Square Mat Layout Level for Scrapbooking

If you're serious about making perfect layouts, the laser guide is the ultimate in precision for arranging your elements. Also use it when you're writing, especially directly onto your background, so you don't end up with the dreaded arcing text. 

Bonus: Since I don't [yet] own a Cricut, I didn't include it in the list, but a scrappy friend of mine brings hers to crops, so I've experienced it firsthand enough to have Cricut envy. The amazing thing about the Cricut is that you aren't limited to dies; you can upload and cut your own artwork for complete customization. There are also a ton of files available through Cricut Access. For the serious crafter, a definite must-have.

The Best Machine for DIY Projects

Have I missed one of your favorites? I'm always on the lookout for amazing tools to add to my scrapbooking tool kit, so let me know!

1 comment

Thanks for all your kind comments!