156aThe Punched Paint Chip Cards article has been widely passed around the Internet in the last two weeks, apppearing on Folding Trees, the Craft magazine blog, Whipup, One Pretty Thing, and dozens of other paper and design related blogs. As a result, it’s received a lot of comments, including this one from Molly:

I bought a punch a couple of years ago and it would barely cut typing paper. Of course it was a cheapie. Before I pay a lot more I need some advice on what to get.

Being a frugal girl myself, I also own a wicked stash of cheapo punches. I don’t think they’re any worse at cutting than more expensive ones—but all punches, regardless of cost, require a little TLC occasionally. Here are a few things you can do to keep your paper punches in good shape:

Does your punch seem a little dull? Is it not punching as cleanly as it used to? Maybe it just needs a little sharpening, which you can do at home. First, get yourself some aluminum foil from the kitchen. Just a small piece will do. Fold it in half, then in half again to create four layers.

Stick that folded piece in your punch, and punch a couple of shapes from it. Do maybe half a dozen or so. Believe it or not, that will sharpen up your punch a bit. I was skeptical the first time someone told me to do this, but I tried it, and it works like a charm.

Does your punch stick, and not pop back quickly? It needs a little waxing to make it slide more easily. Find some waxed paper. I buy mine at the grocery store. It’s the transparent paper with wax on both sides, not to be confused with freezer paper. Again, tear off a small piece of the waxed paper, and fold it into four layers.

Punch through the folded waxed paper half a dozen times. You’re waxing up the edges a bit, which helps encourage the punch to spring back quickly.

Now, about your punching technique. I hear a lot of people saying they don’t have strong enough hands to make a punch go through heavy items like paint chips. There are a few things you can do to help your poor, aching hands:

First, always punch on a hard, flat surface. Don’t hold the punch in mid-air, or press it between your hands.

Next, position yourself so you can press straight down with the heel of your hand, and put your body weight behind it. That means finding a low table or chair, and not using your hand strength to punch, but your body weight. Yes, those extra holiday pounds will finally come in handy here!

There you have it: the sum of my paper punching wisdom.