Paperboards and paper cutters for cartonnage box making and related cr - Colorway Arts

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Paperboards and paper cutters for cartonnage box making and related crafts

Do you have a beautiful stash of fabrics that you could use to make wonderful unique handmade gifts while taking a break from your sewing machine? Yes, I mean, using the fabrics with no-sewing required and in a fun way creating fabric boxes, books, covers, albums and so many more one-of-a-kind sturdy fabric projects! If this sounds great to you, take a look how simple the materials you will need are and how fun it can be!


The technique I'm talking about is called Cartonnage - the art of box making! It's one traditional method that started in France long ago (around 1889). Since then, it has widely spread around the world, and it's lots of fun making!

Nice to meet you, I'm Claudia Squio, Cartonnage designer and teacher from ColorWay Arts! I love sharing my passion of making fabric boxes with so many fabric lovers! I'm the author of the book "Cartonnage Basics & Beyond - the complete guide for fabric box making" and I teach local and online classes and I have been guiding a wonderful community of Cartonnage lovers inside our Joyful Cartonnage Club.

To make cartonnage projects, you need simple materials, most of them the same you would use for making books or making handmade albums. The base of the projects are paper boards - a thick board called chipboard, poster board and sometimes kraft paper, construction paper, copy paper. With tons of fun we glue the fabric on those pieces of paper and build our boxes. And guess what? We use Elmer's Glue All - and yes, great glue, as thousands of fabric lovers are proving by using it since I started sharing my passion (my first class was in 2014 - so long time).

When making the boxes, one can start from a DIY kit with all those cardboard pieces already precisely precut in the required sizes. We have over 80 different DIY kits to choose from in our website (from a large variety of prices starting from $10). Otherwise, one can start from the scratch, cutting their own papers following my designs, or learning how to design their own project to fit their needs. 

I'm writing this post in March 2023, and we are in the middle of one of the best weeks for us cartonnage lovers! Our Cartonnage Club Open House, where I open doors to one of our courses for a limited time, for everyone that want to have fun gluing with us, or just see more details about this technique. And one of the questions I always receive is what is the best papers to use and how to cut them! So, to answer this question, I had a LIVE video on March 22, 2023 where I shared lots of details about those paper pieces we need and, I compared some of the paper cutters most loved by members of our club that are already creating amazing projects! So, click in the video below to watch it, I'm using the Rotatrim, Carl Cutter and the newest one Tim Holtz cutter in this video and I'm cutting chipboard 50, 80 and 100 pts. You will see in the video that for making boxes I strongly recommend using 100 pts, or 2 layers of 50 pts. Then, grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the video:

In the video above you will see that there are chipboards of different thickness, and as I said, my favorite for box making is 100 pts (2.5mm). Where can you get them? You can find some on Amazon (click here for my Amazon suggestions), you can also find Standard board on Hollander's website clicking here. Other craft shops like Hobby Lobby, or even Dick Blick will have. We have a Facebook group Cartonnage Fabric boxes where you also can ask other cartonnage lovers for suggestions of resources, also great if you live in another country. 

Now remember, if you start from the scratch, you have to have appropriate tools to cut your papers as 100 pts (2.5mm) is a thick board! Then you also have to be patient and learn how to use the tools. It requires practice and in the above video I'm sharing my ideas on those cutters, when one is better than other? It will depend of what are you using  them for!

Also remember, you can certainly use DIY kits to make it easy, and especially if you are starting, to feel if making boxes and gluing fabric is for you or not ok?

Now, let's see a summary of my paper cutters comparison I shared in the video:


- it cuts beautiful up to 75 - 80 pts chipboard

- it cuts in just one cut, so for thicker papers it will require more "pressure"

- it's the heaviest between the ones I have

- has different sizes and prices (as March 2023) can vary from $138 - $355

Carl Cutter:

- it cuts beautiful up to 100 pts chipboard (I haven't tested more than this, it may work too - I will test soon)

- it requires several passes to cut thicker boards, but as mentioned, it will have a clean cut

- it does not require "pressure" to cut, instead it will be several passes

- it has a great "locking" mechanism that hold the papers in place when cutting

- has different sizes and prices (as March 2023) can vary from $113 - $129 (12 in - 18in)

- tested and approved by many cartonnage lovers in our Club

Tim Holtz new cutter:

- this cutter was just released by Tim Holz this month - small and very light cutter 

- as Tim demonstrated in his video, it cuts a variety of papers and other materials for mixed media, cardmaking, etc

- my favorite benefit is having a scale on the right side of the cutter that allow us to measure directly and cut thin stripes of papers (up to 3cm in that scale) - only cutter I'm aware that has this great feature!

- it cuts in just one cut and only up to 50 pts chipboard (don't use it for thicker than that.... see my live video that is not worthy trying!)

- there is only one size (12in) and price as March 2023 is $99.9


So which one is better? My answer is.... it depends.... depends what are you using it most for. What is the space you have in your house for it? 

So, if you are just using for thin papers or making our boxes out of layers of 50 pts, then the new Tim Holtz can be a great way to go. But if you already know that you will need thicker boards, want to cut directly 100 points, then, from those that I tested I would say go to Carl Cutter. 

And if you are using or are aware of other cutters that I didn't mention here, let us know in the comments, I may review more cutters in the future.

Plus, here are some resources for you to know more about box making:

- Click here to see the Blog Post I mentioned in the video where I turned my kitchen into a lab to understand the difference in acidity of different chipboards and glues

- Click here to join our FREE online workshop(available until April 4, 2023). With this opportunity you will be able to learn more about cartonnage, try one of the courses of our Club and feel if that's for you or not!


And, click here for more information about our Cartonnage Club- a great community of fabric/paper lovers where you can have lots of benefits (discounts to purchase kits, fabrics and other products), and unlimited access to 20+ online courses that will guide you to make over 60 different projects, plus learn how to make your own sizes. Always more projects added, as the Club is dynamic! We also have a special community and monthly Zoom meetings for connections and fun time! Read all the information, choose your plan according with the benefits you want, and let me know if you have any questions!


 - Click here for my Amazon suggestions of papers, cutters and other craft materials I usually use.

 Well my friend, hope this post was helpful, know that I'm available to answer questions, and if you feel that gluing fabric and making amazing boxes is for you, we are here, join our group, become a member of the Club, join one of our local classes!

I hope to see you around, and as I always love to say.....Happy Gluing!!

Until next time, much love,



1 Response

Marty Greiner

April 04, 2023

Thank you for the video and all the useful information. In reading reviews on Amazon several people noted that the Carl cutter doesn’t cut the material square. Have you encountered this?

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