Monday, January 14, 2008


left to right. mechanical pencil, x-acto retractable razor knife, stainless mess hall knife, bone folder, steel burnisher, Starrett dividers.

These are tools that are always out when I'm working on books. Sometimes when I'm only drawing I have them out just because I like them so much. Other tools like brushes, needles, and pallet knives have special jobs and come out when needed, but the above tools are always at hand. Of particular note is the dinner knife and burnisher. The knife has a long, unserated cutting edge that is sharp enough to leave a clean cut when going through a folded sheet of paper but isn't so sharp that the cut wanders from the fold in the paper. Find the knife you like, and it will make a permanent move from the kitchen to the toolbox. The steel burnisher is from E.C. Lyons's line of printmaking tools. I use the burnisher when the bone folder is too big for a burnishing job. Nothing beats the burnisher for precise scoring of paper and cardstock. Need to insert a dab of glue into a corner or under a loose edge of fabric--the burnisher gets the job (tiny painting knife might do the glue job better, but it is usually still in the toolbox). Be careful when first using the steel tool on paper and fabric. It is not forgiving. The price of precision.

I prefer to buy a tool once. I consider the higher cost of good tools a professional investment. The saying about getting what you pay is especially true for tools. I stamp or etch my good tools with the statement--stolen from eb.


  1. thank you for sharing this about your tools. i don't have anything nearly as precise as the burnisher in my toolbox, i must investigate.
    also, the kitchen knife is a wonderful idea...i'm off to test a few of my own

  2. Instead of a steel burnisher, I like to use a microspatula . I bought it from a scientific instrument supplier instead of an art supply place and it was the same tool but several dollars cheaper.

  3. I agree with you on the microspatula, Ruth. I used those in my book binding class. I never got them, because I already had the burnisher and small painting knife. People seem to like that Hollander place. I just noticed that they are on one of my regular routes.

  4. I don't know what I'd do with out my bone folder...just LOVE it!!!!


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