Craft Punches - Use , Care and Repair

Before I got my Big Shot, I had a serious addiction to buying punches as you can see in this drawer packed full of punches!
Craft Punches
And I think because there are many posts on my blog dedicated to punch-craft, if you google Punch craft tutorials you will find quite a few links leading to this blogI get a lot of mails asking for guidance on punches  so here is a back to basics post  focusing  on Craft Punches

What is a craft Punch?
I think all of us are familiar with the 2 hole punch we use to punch holes on papers to file them...well craft punches are just more sophisticated version of that.

Here are some projects made using Craft Punches:
Cascading Card with Martha Stewart Heart Border Punch
Cascading Card
and Matching Hinged Gift Box with the 
Martha Stewart punch around the page Vintage floral punch

Fancy Fold Pop Up Card 
Pop Up card
which folds flat like this showcasing Martha Stewart daisy border punch
 Pop Up Card 
Flower shaped baskets made using the We R Memory keepers Flower Punch Board
Flower Punch Board basket
Huge Paper Daffodils made using the Flower Punch Board
Paper Daffodil

You  Can click on these links : Punch craft flowers and Punchcraft tutorials to see more projects using Punches
Tips on Using Punches
Using Punches is so easy you dont require any special skills but here are a few tips and tricks to get the best out of your punches

Surface to Punch

  • Try to keep the punch on a hard surface[ not on your bed] while punching
    Optimal Punching Action
  • You will get the best force with the least effort if you place your punch- paper on a sturdy table and use the palm of your hands to apply pressure on the punch [ arms extended with elbows only slightly bent so that you can exert the weight of your body and not strain your hands] 
  • If you have a lever punch you can hold it in your hand and punch but if at all it gives you trouble go back to punching on the floor or a table exerting pressure using your hand from above!
  • Paper to Use for Punches

  • A mistake most beginners make while using punches is assuming all papers will work with punches
  • The thickness and texture of the paper are important considerations for using punches 
  • Some punches work only with thin paper while some work better with thick paper like card-stock. 
Comparison of Punch Bunch and Martha Stewart 

  • Some punches will work best only with punch-craft paper. Most Punch Bunch , Jef Punches will not punch Card stock.
    Punch Bunch Craft Punches on card stock- poor punching!

  • If a Punch doesnt work on one type of paper try it with another thicker or thinner. Here you can see the same punches demoed above giving beautiful punched designs when I used them on thin smooth Punchcraft paper 
  • Punches on Punchcraft paper
    Martha Stewart Daisy Deep Edge Border Punch
  • Martha Stewart Border , Corner, and Punch around the Page Punches work beautifully with card stock and in fact don't work so well with thin or cheap quality paper
    Martha Stewart Beaded ruffle border Punch
Papers to avoid with Punches
  • Handmade Paper - The fibers in most handmade papers don't cut well with punches.And not only punches many dies too dont cut well with handmade paper
  • Glitter Paper
  • Adhesive Backed Paper- you can use them with punches but adhesive can jam your punches so it is best to avoid.
  • Specialty papers like Thai paper , Metallic foil covered paper
  • Corrugated Paper
    Papers not to be avoided in Punchcraft
  • Fabric lined paper
  • Ivory Card stock- even Martha Stewart Punches dont punch ivory card stock though normal card stock punches easily with Martha Stewart Punches
  • Foam - to punch foam only use punches specially designed for foam otherwise your punch can jam hopelessly!
Storage of Punches
    • Store your punches in a dry place not subject to lots of humidity to prevent them from rusting
    • Store your punches neatly arranged in a draw or box and not in a bag--well if you are wondering what is the problem with bags or throwing all your punches together...I once damaged a particularly loved punch by putting it in a bag along with some other punches and I was dismayed to find some plastic parts of  the punch broke due to all the jiggling around it was subject to and it stopped working!
    • Store your punches away from dust - I have seen many crafters from foreign countries proudly displaying their punches in the open. This is not a very good option for Indian crafters as most of us stay in places with a dust problem! Store in small / large plastic style cupboards or plastic boxes or cupboards.
      Craft Room Cupboards
    I am lucky to have a hubby who not only tolerates but appreciates my crafting hobby and last year he designed cupboards for my craft supplies.
    Punch Storage
    He actually measured the height of my largest Martha Stewart Punch to design  perfect sized cupboard draws  to store my punches!
    Care  of Punches and How to keep your Punches in good condition
    If you are a seasoned crafter you must have read about the Aluminium foil tip to sharpen a punch ...well I had heard of it but was frankly speaking apprehensive to try kitchen aluminium foil or tin can [ suggested online!] on any of my beloved punches!
    I was thrilled to try out the Punch Revitaliser Kit by EK Sucess 
    The kit is quite small and handy and has
    1. several sheets of Wax paper 
    2. Aluminum foil sheets
    3. A silicone Lubricant
    How to sharpen your punches?
    Just like we can sharpen our kitchen knifes when they blunt with use we can sharpen our favorite punches too.
    I tried out the Aluminium foil sheets in the EK Sucess Punch revitalizer kit and I dont know if I am biased but I think after I punched the aluminium sheets with the punch and then tried it on paper it did create a more sharp edge to  the punch out. 
    Sharpen Punch with Foil
    My only gripe is that the Aluminium foil sheets are actually not very large so you need to be rather nimble in holding it while punching through the sheet.
    How to smoothen the  action of a Punch?
    Now the wax paper in the kit was something I loved and did notice a marked difference in action of the punch.
    Punch wax paper
    I am demoing the wax paper with a Punch Bunch punch. [My MS punches all punch smoothly as long as I use quality paper with them!].
    This particularly old leaf punch of mine has been vigorously used and doesnt punch smoothly.
    Punch wax paper
    I punched a single sheet of wax paper several times with it and I was pleasantly surprised to notice a marked difference in the ease and smoothness of the punching action!
    Smoother punching action
    You can also apply a few drops of the lubricant on the under-surface of the punch and let it rest for some time [ works in the same mechanism as oiling metal  parts of machinery!]
    Lubrication of Craft Punch
    Special tip from Shalini [owner of Crafters Corner] on solving Punch Problems : Humidity can play spoilsport while using punches. If you have any difficulty in punching a paper you could previously punch the fault may not be with your punch but the paper which had become damp while stored in our climate. You can iron / air dry the paper and try again!
    What to do if you jam up a punch ?
    Anyone who has used punches for some time would have had a jammed punch at some time or the other.
    Why does a punch jam?

    • A punch will jam if you dont exert enough pressure while punching and the partially punched paper catches in the punch mechanism [ hence the importance of using the punch on a hard, even surface and exerting adequate pressure with your palms!]
    • It will also jam if you try to punch through a thickness of paper too thick for the punch [ best solution to this is prevention!]
    • Trying to punch certain types of paper like handmade paper , adhesive paper and other papers listed above can jam up your punch
    • It may have more tendency to jam if it has not been used for some time [ punch parts are metal and just like any other machinery which has not been used for some time a punch needs a bit of lubrication to spruce it back to life!]
    • Ironically if you use a particular punch continuously too it has a tendency to jam [ solution to this is a bit of lubrication in between  batches of extensive punching projects!]

    How to release a jammed punch?
    If your punch jams up and the top punching mechanism does not bounce back to its normal position here are a few things to try

    • Place the punch on a table/ floor and try punching through the jammed paper exerting enough pressure through your palms with arms extended at the elbows [ so that your body weight exerts its force too]- you can try this several times
    • Give a gentle bang on the side of the punch - please exert due caution and dont be too rough and do try this as one of your last resorts only! I have actually had success in releasing a few naughty punches using the good old hit!
      Hit Punch on side
    • Use a pencil with eraser on top / any rounded thin but strong object to push back the plunger of the punch back up from the under surface of the punch.
      Blunt object to Push plunger from beneath
      If you have room on the under-surface of your punch this will be quite easy!
      Blunt object to Push plunger from beneath
      Be especially careful about your fingers while doing this as punch metal parts are sharp and you can cut your fingers!
      Under-surface of Martha Stewart Punch
      Choose an object which is not too big but can give you enough force to push up the plunger part of the punch. If your punch is a delicate one like the snowflake design shown above this technique is not going to be difficult!
      Jef Snowflake Punch
    • Try prising the jammed paper bits using a forceps /fingers /anything else !
    • I read on the net many crafters advising to put the jammed punch in the freezer to contract the metal and help release the jam but I think this is best kept as a last resort as the freezer is a damp area and the metal mechanism of your punch can rust if you subject it to such a moist environment!
    • If nothing else works and you lose all hope try opening it up - but a word of caution the spring mechanism inside many punches are dicey and tricky to reassemble and some punches are not easy to open up!
    • Some punches have screws to help open them up while others look impossible to open without hammering them apart!
    Now summing up - How to keep your Punches in good condition
    • Dont punch thick/specialty papers with it
    • Lubricate it to keep it punching smoothly
    • If you are going to carry around your punches, take care that they dont bang around and damage each other![pack well]
    Martha Stewart Daisy border Rosettes
      If you have a good quality punch it will be so easy to quickly make some "wow" projects such as these huge paper rosettes .      
    Frozen theme Party with Huge Paper Rosettes
    I used the MS Daisy fan deep edge border punch to make the paper rosettes as part of the party decorations for my daughter's Frozen themed birthday celebration recently.


    1. Wonderful writeup on punches. I have quite the collection of punches. I store the majority of my punches in Rubbermaid containers sorted by theme. On the outside of the plastic I have the punched images taped on so I know what is in each container. I did have a problem with a Martha Stewart punch that broke. It was a corner Autumn leaf punch. Phoned Martha Stewart company and they replaced my punch after emailing them a photo of the broken punch. I have not bought many punches recently because with the Cricut I can create an image in a small punch size.
      "Sunshine HoneyBee"

      1. Thank you so much Melissa...Here in India since we have to import the punches its not very practical to get it replaced by the company which manufactures them so we have to learn how to care and repair them ourselves !

    2. Wow, what an amazing and informative post, Sonia!! I have a bunch of punches that I haven't used in forever. I love the projects you posted to showcase the punches!! They are all gorgoeus!! And what fabulous cabinets in your craft room!! I would love those!! Thank you for taking the time to post all of this awesome information - you are amazing!! Have a great day :)

      A Mermaid's Crafts

    3. Love all your punches! I store mine in a clear shoe rack hanging in my craftroom. I don't use them as often as I should!

    4. Hi Sonia

      What gorgeous cards and projects you have made love to see it and all those punches.
      thanks for the comment on my house mouse card
      Gr Karin

    5. What a great post. I too became obsessed with punches and have so many. It is frustrating when they won't punch, but your post puts all that into perspective! Love the projects you have made with your punches. I am so jealous of your wonderful storage cupboards your husband designed!

      Thanks for stopping by today and leaving a comment on my House Mouse Pop Up book card.


    6. Fantastic post and projects Sonia. Thanks for the info on punches. I have dozens but they rarely get used these days..Loz

    7. Hi Sonia what a wonderful post and I love that you have given us some punching tips.
      Your work is absolutely stunning.
      And thank you for your lovely comments on my blog.
      I am now your latest follower.
      Debs xxx

    8. This is a really great blog post Dr. Sonia, so informative and helpful. You have a great treasure of punches and have made so many beautiful projects. Keep going! NancyD

    9. Excellent post, Dr Sonia. Thank you so much for sharing.

    10. A great post Sonia, all the projects are beautiful
      Kevin xx

    11. Very informative post! Thank you for all the info! I have a collection of punches and I hardly use them any more after dies came along. However, every once in a while I do like to use my punches and I appreciate these tips - thank you!

    12. You ROCK the punches! Thanks for all the tips!!!!!!

    13. A very informative post on punches. Love the pretty projects that you do with punches. I have a drawer full of punches that need to be used more often!!
      Happy Crafting!

      1. Yes Glenda I think once we get into die cutting punches often take a back seat

    14. this is a very informative post Sonia!! thanks for sharing it!! And your husband is so sweet to do that... and the decoration is very beautiful.. Hope to see more about the decoration :)

      1. Yes Berina...am still organizing the birthday crafts photos...will share more details soon

    15. Thank you for all the wonderful tips. I live on the coast in the US so also have humidity problems. I think I need to give some of my punches the wax paper treatment. :-) Hugs!

    16. i received a martha stewart pnch in a gift bag but it got jammed the first time i used it. so its just gathering dust now. Will try out this trip - thanks

      1. Oh that is so sad. Martha Stewart punches are one of the best out there!

    17. Hi Sonia!
      Thanks for your sweet comment :-). Your projects made usIng the punches are Sooo beautiful! Such a detailed post on punches!
      Thank you so much for sharing. Your storage cupboards are really beautiful and looks well organised. Really sweet of your husband to do that. Why don't you give us a craft room tour? It will helpful for us ( I really mean it:) )

      1. Hehe Sarah my hubby loves designing work in carpentry and I tease him he is in the wrong profession! And Yes I will surely share my craft room pictures...many people having been asking me to do so. Right now it looks like a semi hurricane hit it after all the crafting we did for my daughter's birthday party!

    18. It's a lovely post Dr Sonia. Who woudn't love punches and when they trouble we don't know how to repair them.. this post is so informative n helpful.. :)
      Rosettes are gorgeous Dr Sonia..
      Btw you have a nice collection of punches and congrats for the new space for your craft items.. :D

    19. Such great tips for the punches, I will have to say the Martha Stewart is my favorite to use

    20. Really great post Sonia!! :) I love how you store you punches!! Yay for organization!! I keep mine in an over the door shoe rack! It's gotten so full though that I've stored some on shelves now! LOL!! I love your beautiful projects you've made using punches and your wonderful tips!! Thanks for sharing!

    21. What a super informative post Sonia TFS.
      Julie x

    22. Thanks for all the great tips on the care and usage of punches. Years ago I used adhesive backed glitter foam in a favorite punch. :( Really bad idea. It has never been the same since and I have tried lots of remedies, including the EK Success punch repair kit. Live and learn.

    23. I have to say, one of my favorite parts about your informative/tip posts is that I get to enjoy so much crafty inspiration. :o) Without exception, I love every project you post! I'm so appreciative of the time you take to help others and share the wisdom you've acquired. I love rosettes, but haven't made one in so long... I too especially love MS punches for them. Yours are so beautiful! Everything you make is gorgeous and brings a smile to my heart. I hope your weekend is filled with happiness. :o)

      Hugs and blessings,

    24. Thanks you for this wonderful information's on punches. I do have a lot of punches and I will try some of your ideas and how to care for your punches.
      Hugs, Pat♥

    25. Thank you for sharing your awesome knowledge on the use of punches, your storage is fantastic so are the amazing projects that you have created, wonderful post
      lorraine x

    26. A brilliant back to basics post Sonia, thank you for the information.

    27. Absolutely brilliant post! I've got a eksucess punch that doesn't work very well at all so I'll try the wax paper as the foil has made no difference. Thanks for the help :) Debra x

    28. my comment is not visible.. :( writing again
      I do not have any puches as of now... but still loved your post... and no doubt you inspire me Ma'am... all the posts are really amazing... Thankyou for sharing all these with us.. and thank you for sharing the storage.. :D
      Waiting for the stamp storage now... ;)

    29. Amazing information on punches!! I love all your projects. They are all unique and wonderful. Thank you for sharing so many tutorials which helps a lot during crafting.
      I am a new craft blogger..still to progress a lot. Do visit my blog



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