“ Brand: Hobby craft „
* Prices may differ from that shown
===The monster returns===
On the 25th of December 2012 I proposed to my partner Allan and he had the good sense to say yes. Since then I slowly and surely reviewed everything I had used in making the scrapbook that I used to propose with as well as engagement gifts and shops where we got our rings. I thought it'd be a long time till I had to mention it again in a review. Thanks to finding a venue that will be half the price and twice as nice as other places, I've had to start thinking about the wedding a little sooner than I expected. Mostly it's organised now (as Allan's cousin expected it would be since two men are organising it rather than one bridezilla) so I get to start thinking about the invitations. Being that I'm a little creative and a wee bit handy, I thought I'd take a bash at making the invites myself instead of spending hundreds of pounds on them. The first thing on my shopping list at that point was a Paper Cutter (or guillotine).
===Why on earth?===
I fully admit that cutting things in a straight line is not up there in my list of things I can do well. I figured I'd probably save a lot of money in getting a "machine" that can do it for me so as to cut down on the waste paper and time spent trying to get a perfect cut on about 200 invites. My first (and only) point of call was my local Hobby Craft store as online searching had proven fruitless and too expensive for anything that looked decent. Hobby Craft had three guillotines to choose from that day, one was too small, the other one had a machete type handle that I simply didn't trust to cut properly. The one in the middle turned out to be exactly what I had in mind.
===What does it look like?===
The base is black plastic and is covered in a white grid that is split up with centimetre boxes and each side has a ridge to push the paper against to ensure a straight cut. There's a ruler printed on it up both sides too. The grid also has lots of different lines on it indicating where to put your paper if you want a certain sized cut (like A5 or Photo sized with numerous different photo measurements on the board). It can be a little confusing to start with so probably best to start off by cutting a few different bits of paper to get an idea of where to put everything.
There is a metal bar that runs across one side with a little moveable shuttle that slides along it. This shuttle is the cutting blade. Just underneath the bar you'll see a plastic strip designed for keeping the paper held down while you cut. The blade will always slice it on the outside edge of this plastic plate. To make a cut, make sure the cutter is at one of the edges of the board and slide your paper under the plastic guard. Holding the paper in place, put your hand on top of the cutter-shuttle and firmly push down and move the shutter from one side to the other. You should now have a nice clean cut piece of paper.
I never actually noticed the extra features on this till I got home and looked at the box more in detail so I was pleasantly surprised. First off, there is an extendable section hidden under the main measuring board. It swings out on a hinge and means you can measure larger pieces of paper with less fuss. It's a little redundant for me since I don't need to cut or measure larger pieces (and the cutter is not much wider than A4 anyway) but it could be very handy for other crafters. One downside is that the measurements on the extra board and the main board have a gap between them of blank black plastic which means if you want to be awkward and have something measure into the gap between them, you're flying blind. Not an issue for me though.
The next extra is that the board has its own little corner cutter. On the left hand side of the board there's a silver section that you can line up the corners of your photos or papers in. Push the silver section down and it will cut off the corners leaving you with a rounded corner. There is even a mini waste paper bin under this section that will catch and store all the little bits of cut corners. You can remove this section from underneath the board to empty it too. I was quite impressed with this as it can really make photos look a lot nicer when you are mounting it in a book. A very handy little thing.
Lastly, under the cutting board you'll find you have an extra strip of black plastic/rubbery stuff. If you look closely at the bit the blade of the shuttle runs over, there is one embedded in the board already. It's basically a cutting mat so that the blade doesn't get wrecked. Cutting mats take all the flack which means you're likely to need to replace the mat before you replace any blades. Having a spare one is always a plus and it clicks neatly into the underside of the board until you need it!
===1,2,3,4 tell me that you love me more===
As well as all the fancy extras on the board, I hadn't realised till I studied the box further that the cutting-shuttle has more than one blade in it. I was fascinated and had to try them all out straight away. There is a see-through blue plastic "lid" on the shuttle that can be lifted open to reveal a bright orange cog wheel. This wheel selects which blade you want to use. It can only be moved when the shuttle is at either side of the cutting board. Each notch has a little picture on it to show you what the blade you've selected does and you'll feel the blade click into place as you turn the notches so it's easy to set.
===Straight as an Arrow===
This was the blade that I bought this for. The picture shows a sheet of paper that has been cut in half. As you may have guessed this blade is a simple straight cut. It'll glide through your paper like butter and leave you with a very clean and straight cut assuming you've line it up properly.
===Folding under pressure===
The next little picture will show you a piece of paper folded in half. I was baffled as to what this one did till I tried it. It basically scores the paper so that you can fold it along a straight line. I'd urge that you be careful with this one as the blade can still cut through the paper depending on how hard you push down. Be gentle with it and it'll leave you a little score to work with. I suspect this would have come in handy while I'm folding a tonne of paper in half to make a greeting card shaped wedding invite if I wasn't already a dab hand at folding stuff in half and giving it a sharp crease down the middle. I do it almost every day at work when I'm fiddling with paper. Others who aren't a dab had at this will no doubt find it much more useful.
The picture you'll come to next will show you a piece of paper with a dotted line on it. I have to hold up my hands here and admit that Allan and I both got incredibly excited by this one because, quite frankly, we are geeks. This blade lets you create a ridiculously professional looking perforated line along your paper. We've already decided that we'll be sending out menus with the invites and when we saw this function we decided it would be really cool to have a tear off slip that people can send back with their orders/rsvps on. Yes. I know. We're sad. I'm not sure I care though. I tried it out and it looks great. Tearing it gives you the same satisfaction you get from any other tear off slips. In fact, I may have to perforate some paper just so I can rip it apart. There goes my "less waste paper" idea.
===Straight as a Circle===
This blade alone has made the whole thing worth it. Again, one I didn't realise it had till I looked at the box when I got it home, this one cuts in a wavy line. Rather than having the whole invite straight edges, I've opted to use this one to give the invites a little bit of variety. I've mounted some blue card with our invite text on black card. The blue card is wavy and the black card is straight. It just makes the whole thing much nicer to look at and I'm really glad I picked this one up just for this as it really has made the invites look that much more special.
===Gripes and groans===
I have a couple of gripes about the cutter. First gripe is that when you are cutting smaller bits of paper, the ridges along the sides don't run right up to the blade and sometimes that means they aren't held straight for the cut. As well as this if you use the curvy blade, it's really hard to make the paper line up straight which can lead to a little bit of wonkiness at times.
To add to these problems the plastic strip that holds the paper down doesn't really do a great job and its so big it gets in the way when cutting. There is a measurement for cutting name cards on the board but I'm at a loss as to how you could use it as its under the plastic holder meaning you cant hold the paper in place and the cutter just pushes it squint before or during cutting. As long as you are cutting a piece of paper bigger than about three inches turns out great, but anything under that becomes really fiddly and/or squint. The corner cutter sometimes suffers from looking a bit squint too though this can be remedied by simply putting the paper back into it.
This cutter is currently in Hobby Craft for £29.99. There are cheaper versions and there are much more expensive versions out there but this seemed to be what I needed. That and most reviews of the cheaper ones suggest that they are terrible and not worth the cheaper price. So while I still think £30 is maybe a touch on the high side, considering it will save me paying £100 for invites, it's sure to be a good investment.
All the extras make this a good buy for crafty people. It makes cutting and sizing a hell of a lot quicker than scissors would. The only downside is that occasionally the cut isn't always as straight as I would like. It is, however, always a clean cut if that's what you've selected. I know for a fact my wedding invites wouldn't look half as pretty if it wasn't for this nifty little cutter. Four stars out of five from me.