1. A Rotary Paper Trimmer
You need a paper trimmer that can handle a 12×12 sheet of paper. Bypass or guillotine style trimmers tend to be huge, and they pull the paper as they cut, resulting in crooked lines. The cheap track trimmers dull after just a few uses, resulting in ragged edges. Rotary cutters stay sharp longer, cut straighter, and come in handy-dandy folding models that can be tucked into a drawer when not in use.
2. The Scotch ATG
The ATG is the mother of all tape runners. You’ll quickly learn that those little one-time-use tape dispensers run out within about 3 layouts. For the same price as one of those, a roll of ATG Gold tape will last you a whole album. And the tape holds better. And glides on more smoothly.
And it’s pink, because girlie. The red and yellow versions are exactly the same, just with 100% less sexism.
3. Beacon’s 3-in-1
While we’re on the subject of adhesives, you’re going to need a good glue, and Beacon’s is the best craft glue out there. It’s the same consistency of hot glue, with better hold and fewer burnt fingers. Perfect for attaching dimensional embellishments like flowers and buttons.
4. Foam Dots
Last adhesive, I swear. The best way to add dimension and interest to a layout is by popping photos or embellishments up off the page. Get the square ones, as the round ones just give you fewer dots and a whole lot more waste per page.
5. A Scoring Board
This thing does everything. Okay, actually all it does is score paper. But with that one function you can make cards, envelopes, boxes, and embellishments. Or you can add texture to your pages. You will find all kinds of things to score once you have this in your life.
6. A Steel Ruler
It’s boring, but it’s one of those things you’ll find yourself reaching for constantly, especially early on when you’re afraid to glue anything down for fear it’s not perfect. 12 inches is fine, but 18 will also cover diagonals on a 12×12 page with room to spare.
7. A Damn Good Pair of Scissors (or 12)
You’re definitely going to need a pair that are super-sharp, fine point, and nonstick. You may also want a pair that have longer blades and a more comfortable grip. And a pair of super-tiny spring-action ones. And a pair that are strong enough to cut through metal. You know, just in case.
8. A Die Cutter
Around the time you buy your third pair of for-crafting-only scissors, you’ll start drooling over die cutters. This will open a whole new can of worms called dies and embossing folders, but it’s totally worth it. And your wrists will thank you.
9. A Corner Rounder
Pretty self-explanatory. If you want rounded corners on your photos or other elements, you’re going to need a punch. 1/4 and 1/2 inch rounds are the most common sizes, and many punches do both.