Upcycling advice: how to punch out discs?

We’ve had an email from Kenny that I’m sure some of you will be able to help with:

I teach art in Glasgow and I’m trying to find some way of punching disc of various diameters (eg.10mm 15mm 22mm 30mm) out of recycled plastic, fabric, paper etc. to make jewellery. Any suggestions?

The ring-binder size metal ones, like one in the picture, work fine for small circles, but only small discs about 5mm in diameter. I tried using fancier shaped/bigger hole punches with thin plastic but because the ones I had were designed for thick paper/card, the plastic kept gumming them up. Alison Bailey Smith has more luck than me with that sort of thing though and recommends a particular brand of hole punch – X Cut.

Are there any alternatives to using punches? What are the options for bigger circles? Anything quicker/more accurate than just cutting them out with scissors?

Punching holes in fabric other than felt (and the like) may cause a fraying problem, which might ruin/reduce the lifespan of the garment. Any ways around that or other advice?

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9 Responses to “Upcycling advice: how to punch out discs?”

  1. HuntingWabbits says:

    They have punches like these at craft stores in the US, like Michael’s. They cut out really nice shapes, butterflies, flowers, hearts, dragonflies, I’ve even seen a howling wolf one. Not sure about circles though.

  2. Kara says:

    If you’re going to be doing a lot of circles or any other shape, it’s worth investing in a die cutter. Many of them are sturdy enough to punch through light sheet metal and fairly heavy plastics, as well as cardboard and fabric. If you starch fabric before punching, or if it’s a tightly woven fabric, there is minimal fraying while stitching or gluing. If you’re only working with fabric or other lightweight materials, scrapbooking punches are less expensive and come in a huge range of sizes.

  3. I have had a great deal of luck with the X-cut range and also another range that has a heavy duty lever that you fit various punches into and I do have a round one for this. Don’t go with anything too light weight as it will not cut. A die punch/cutter onto a hard but absorbent surface may do it too.

    I have wrecked a punch by using it for too thick card so it may be something you have to factor in as you experiment. I am planning to take the punch to pieces and rig up something so I can use it with a hammer so at least it is not £10 down the drain.

    If the pressure is directly above where the cutting is then it seems to work better or the heavy duty lever system.

  4. Hello again, further to the details I told Kenny by email. If you are forcing a punch to work harder that it is meant to by cutting plastics etc, try to go for a simple design, circle is perfect. It can’t cope with any details.

    Here are the details of the lever punch

    CP-A Mega Punch Aid Carla Craft (lever) http://www.crafttownhobbylandusa.com/proddetail.php?prod=MegaPunch

    40 mm disc
    45mm scalloped edge disc

    I bought mine locally and I think the lever was between £15 and £20 and the punches about £9.99 each.

    • Beth Fisher says:

      do you know where in the uk i can buy one of these? i’ve been looking online but can’t find them.

      thanks Beth

  5. Paul Cardall says:

    I’m looking for something similar! These die cutters mentioned, can they punch though sheets of magnetic paper?


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