Thursday, October 21, 2010

DIY Demystified-Things Things That Cut: Using the rotary trimmer

My rotary trimmer and I go back a long way; we've had some good times and some tough times but I wouldn't trade it for the world. This is the most frequently used tool in my arsenal of "Things That Cut" and I'm happy to share my 15+ years of experience in this short video tutorial. Even if this seems like a no-brainer for you crafty folks, I included some tips specific to invitations that I learned even this year. It's the first in the series, and don't worry Katie Couric, I'm not quitting my day job. ;o)




I use the rotary trimmer a lot in my studio. It’s good for cardstock and paperstock, makes fairly precise measurements and is easy and quick for projects with 100 pieces or less. There is a base or platform with standard inch and centimeter measurements at the top, with some handy guides throughout.

The blades are held in place here and as you can see are very easy to switch out. I use the straight cut blade the most, obviously, but there are other good options available like a scoring “blade” that will make a crease where you intend to fold and that reduces the cracking that can happen on cardstock, a perforating blade if you want to do a tear away piece on your invitation, and some decorative edges like a scallop or ricrac cut.
You can trim paper and cardstock of course. I’ve had some marginal results with translucent vellum. Sometimes that’s better done on a professional electric trimmer that you find at print or office shops like Kinkos. Start by lifting the cutting bar and position your cardstock along the top edge at your measurement. Now after about 10 years of using these, I didn’t discover until this year that you should cover the actual line of the measurement you want. I never knew if you were supposed to split the difference or go up to but not over the line etc. That’s why I said this tool is fairly precise. There’s always room for human nature here.
After your cardstock is in place, hold it firmly with your left hand, drop the cutting bar down and make one swift and firm movement from the bottom to the top. Then lift the bar, shift the cardstock to the next measurement and make another cut. This is a backing or reveal for a 5x7” invitation, so the final trim size is 5 x 7”
When you are designing your invitations, remember that you can fit 2 to 4 or more copies on one page and reduce your paper waste, make fewer cuts and print fewer pages. You can see that I’ve done that here. There are two invitations on this page, I haven’t used any crop marks because I know what the measurements are. For a 1/8” reveal or border, I’ve designed the invitation part to be 4 ¾ x 6 ¾.
For some people, they have what I call a waverly line and that comes from pressing toward your body when making that cut. If that’s happening, just be conscious of even pressure from the bottom to the top.
If you didn’t get a clean cut, you can reposition it and trim again. You can’t do this if you are using a decorative or perforated edge because the cuts won’t line up perfectly with the last ones and you’ll have something that looks like your trimmed it with your teeth.
As you move through your project, you may notice that the trimmed edges are getting fuzzy. This can be quickly remedied by rotating your cutting bar here. Just lift it out and switch sides. You can do this twice on each of the 4 sides. These cost about $15 to replace and you can get them at craft stores where they sell the rotary trimmers.
 Hope that was helpful for you! It does take some people more practice than others but I think you’ll find this a good tool to have around! As usual, if you need more tutorials or have any questions or need event inspiration just visit my blogsite at margotmadisoncreative.com!

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