Friday, May 23, 2014

Getting out the Tidbits - Designer Tips!

Tidbits.  You know.  Those tiny little pieces of paper that get stuck in your intricate cutting dies.  Well the Design Team got started on that topic today and we burned up Yahoogroups with some great ideas and some perhaps not-so-great ideas for getting those bits out (depending if you don't mind whacking your dies or leaving residue on your paper).

It all started with the fun video from Karen Burniston where, aside from the cool card she made, she shared a tip about placing your "full" die down on dryer sheets and running the die through your machine again.  It's like magic!  All the little tidbits come off on the dryer sheet.  The part about the dryer sheets happens at about 5:30 in the video.  If you're sensitive to smells, you might want to avoid this technique - maybe find the unscented version.  Our Robyn Josephs says yes, it took out all the pieces, but then she couldn't get the pieces off the dryer sheet to use it again.

Of course Spellbinders has their new tool which I have not tried yet, but seems there may be a learning curve to get the best results.  Still, worth a try! Here is a link to their video about the new tool.  It works in open dies.

Here are some other suggestions:
  •  I always use my awl and have become very fast at poking! The awls may be found on the Quietfire website here. The medium awl is the perfect size for the holes.

  • Robyn Josephs uses a baby toothbrush bought at a dollar store.  She thinks the bristles might be a bit harder in the cheap brushes.  She says they only cost a buck and she can choose her colour!
  • Of course we were all trained by Spellbinders to use wax paper in our dies.  It helps A LOT!  Place the wax paper between the die and your paper before you put it through your machine.
  • Jutta uses baking parchment in the same way as wax paper.
  • One designer uses a pillar candle and rolls it across the top of their die.
  • Kathy Jo sprays her new dies with Pledge, lets it sit for 10 seconds and then wipes it off.  If the pieces still stick, she drops the die on the floor (flat side down). I have been known to use the "Whack" technique myself!  It wasn't completely successful....
One thing about using wax paper, or dryer sheets or anything with a waxy surface to release the little bitties in your dies; the wax can transfer to your paper.  Jutta's noticed a sheen, Sherry has noticed that the residue will mess up your images if you're trying to colour with markers or inks.  (Although it could give you a great distressed look!)

As a calligrapher, I prefer leaving nothing on the surface of the paper or it will be impossible to letter on.  (So do the lettering first should be the lesson here!)

Hope this has given you some ideas and might help save time cleaning your dies - find what works best for you!
Happy creating! Feel free to share your "Out damn tidbit, out I say!" technique in the comments! (With apologies to William Shakespeare!)


  1. Hi - I make a 1/2" ball of ATG tape and gently press it into the spaces with the stubborn tiny pieces left behind and it almost always get them out. It stays sticky for a long time.

  2. thanks for the recap. I got some new ideas here. I watched the spellbinders clip and I wasn't very impressed with it. I may have to do a hands on to see if I think it'll work for me.

  3. I purchased the new tool and the mat from Spellbinders and I love it! I was skeptical, but used it twice on some very detailed dies and it worked like a charm! I am now a firm believer!

  4. Because I'm lazy, I'll probably try the Spellbinders tool when I find a good sale. Seems like the easiest way.

  5. I have used wax paper, Tim Holtz Craft Pick, & a toothbrush. I'll probably just keep on using these methods.

  6. I use an awl now - like you, Suzanne, I've gotten pretty danged quick about it, but it's a pain in the tuchas! As for a sheen from the waxed paper, which I also use, I learned a long time ago - stamp first, cut second. It's a lot easier to line up the die so the stamping is where you want it, than it is to stamp an already cut piece as nicely as you want. At least for me! Am looking forward to the new Spellbinders tool when it comes out.

  7. A friend of mine just bought the Spellbinders tool in one.. and doesn't like it. It works, but she has issues with her hands, and the tool is too heavy for her to use.. her hands and wrists were hurting while trying it out. For myself, my technique is to rub the die with a used dryer sheet, then run the die normally. As long as there is some stuff on the dryer sheet, it works pretty well.

  8. Lot's of good suggestions here. TFS every one!


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