There's a saying in England (and probably a whole host of other places too):
A bad craftsman blames his tools
I can think of two possible meanings for this:
- A bad craftsman refuses to take responsibility for their own mistakes, blaming them instead on an inanimate object which can't refute the claim. Failing to admit responsibility for, and hence learn from, their mistakes will just make matters worse.
- A bad craftsman buys cheap, sub-standard tools, and hence it genuinely is the tool's fault when an error is made.
When you're trying to do a complex job I think the quality (and applicability) of your tools can be a key factor in your success or failure. Good tools can make an awkward job faster, more reliable and lead to better quality.
On that note I thought I'd share with you what I use in the production of Border Reivers, what works, and what doesn't. First up, cutting tools.
I use a Mapac self-healing, non-slip cutting mat that's slightly larger than A3. I've had it (and used it) for many years and it's starting to get to the point where it's a bit dilapidated. It's still really good though, and manages fine. When I come to replace it, I'll likely get an A2 mat, as the smaller one is just a bit too small for some of the jobs I have to do - I end up having to rotate the mat so I can cut along the diagonal. In addition, I use a X-Cut craft knife with snap-off blades. The blades are impressively sharp (as my left index finger has repeated proved) and the snap-off blades make for a quick replacement as my cutting requirements blunt blades very quickly. Finally I have three cutting rulers, a plain 30cm steel rule, a rubber-backed 30cm aluminium ruler with steel cutting edge and a 80cm rubbed-backed aluminium ruler with steel edge. The rubber-backed rulers are great for preventing slippage, however the steel cutting edges don't touch the surface - leading to a slight burring of the cut edge. The steel rule gives a great quality and more precise edge due to being flush with the surface, however it is prone to slippage. Rulers of different lengths are essential as I need a long one for long cuts, but that is too unwieldy for the shorter cuts. Ideally I'd like a really decent rotary guillotine like the Rotatrim my Dad has. Too expensive for now though, sadly.
Next up a long-arm stapler:
I staple the rulebooks to hold them together, and since they are made from A4 folded in two, I need a stapler with more than 15cm reach. This was surprisingly expensive, but it's just what I need.
Last up the bloody expensive corner rounding tool:
For Border Reivers I need to round 20,000 corners. When you've this many to do you really don't want to be pissing about with hopeless little craft corner punches, or a pair of scissors. Trust me. So I splashed out on this tool, the cheaper of the few I found on the internet. It's a great tool, you slip the cards against the guides, hold them in place with the guide, and then use the handle to punch the corners off. It does a great job, well worth the house I had to mortgage to pay for it.