I’ve been junk journaling for a few years now and have had the opportunity to try a lot of different junk journal tools and supplies over that time. There have been lots of hits and misses over that time, and I’ve managed to whittle my tools and supplies down to tried and true favorites. The kinds of things that sit on your desk or within arms reach while you’re working and the kinds of things you use very carefully to make sure you can use up every last piece or drop because it works that well!
Understanding that everyone junk journals differently and has different preferences for the styles and techniques they like to use, I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you all today in hopes of helping you find some new favorites or things to try out! I mean, half the fun of junk journaling is the new tools and supplies, right?
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Tools for Cutting
When I first started out making junk journals I purchased a cheap Fiskars paper trimmer like this one. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like making journals or not, and I didn’t want to spend more than was necessary. It absolutely did the job I needed it to do for those first few journals, but after awhile the blade needed to be replaced and I grew frustrated with only being able to trim a few pages at a time. (If you know me, I like making journals that are 150 pages + so that takes a loooong time with a basic trimmer).
But I still didn’t want to get a more expensive upgrade because craft supply money is precious and there are so many other things to buy! Eventually though, a sale came around and the Fiskars rotary trimmer was marked down. I got it, and honestly I don’t know why I didn’t get one sooner! It made things so much faster and I saved money by not having to constantly replace blades.
I still recommend getting the basic model if you’re looking for junk journal supplies as a beginner, but if you know you love making junk journals, it’s well worth the investment.
The other thing I always have sitting at my desk is a pair of good scissors. I have some for cutting fabric that I inherited from my mother that are amazing stainless steel beauties that will forever remain fabric scissors of course, but the pair I keep by my desk still needed to be good. For those I use the Tim Holtz non stick scissors and snips. I use them for fussy cutting, quick trims, ribbon snipping, you name it. I probably abuse them a bit if I’m honest, but they have held up so well.
Glue & Adhesive
In truth, I have a lot of different kinds of glue that I use in my projects. Which one you want to use really depends on what materials you’re crafting with and what you are trying to accomplish. My tried and true that always sit at the edge of my desk though are Fabri-Tac and permanent crafter’s (or scrapbook) tape.
Fabri-Tac is incredibly strong and acid free. It’s a go-to for tougher projects and when I’m trying to adhere pieces to my fabric cover.
I’ve used a couple of different kinds of tapes but the Tombow MONO Permanent is one of the best out there. It’s good quality and better yet, it’s PAT tested. (If you’re not sure what PAT tested is, head over to the post on frequently asked junk journal questions for more information.)
Paper is, of course, another essential element of any good junk journal. Having the right stuff can make or break the printables you’re using and the journal you’re making. While sometimes you don’t have a choice in your paper (if you’re making a truly junky junk journal and using junk mail and other bits and bobs), when you do have a choice or when you’re using printables to create pages or elements in your journal I recommend investing in something above and beyond run of the mill (punny!) computer paper.
Thicker pages stand up to ink better, tear less, and last longer because of it. I regularly use Neenah Paper for my printables because it’s excellent quality. One of my favorites is their linen paper. I love the texture and it adds something extra to your journals.
I also really love using card stock for pages where I plan to add pockets and tucks. It’s a lot sturdier and will stand up to the glue better than thinner papers.
If you’re making junk journals with precious photos or other items that you want to last, I highly recommend getting paper that is acid and lignin free. If you want to make archival junk journals, we’ve got a guide to archival junk journal supplies that can help you get started.
If you’ve been in a junk journal group lately or the comments section under a video about printables, you know people have strong opinions about which kind of printer to use and which kind works best. I know that I spent A LOT of time researching the printer I wanted when I realized how often I was using it and that I needed to upgrade from my standard house office printer.
My best piece of advice to start with is to find a printer with a tank or reservoir system. Printers that use cartridges will cost you a ton of money if you plan on printing lots of printables and ephemera. They have very little ink and cost a lot of money.
There are some programs out there now where they will send you a new cartridge in the mail, which makes things a little bit easier, but I still recommend the tank system. In my experience, it’s been much cheaper and easier.
Personally, I use the Canon Pixma MegaTank. The prints it creates are gorgeous. The ink lasts forever. I filled it over a year ago, have printed hundreds and hundreds of pages, and haven’t had to refill it yet.
Printables and Ephemera
And of course you know I love printables. Etsy is full of them and there’s always a new one to try. They’re especially great for seasonal journals and themes. I love that I can reprint and use them in my journals more than once, unlike the paper packs you can get at the craft store. Not to mention you can adjust the size and dimensions on your printer to have them exactly how you want. Just make sure you read the restrictions. Each shop has its own rules. Some allow you to use the prints in journals you sell and others do not, while some have limitations on the amount of copies you can make with them.
There are lots of great places to find ephemera. We have our own junk journal resource library here at Compass and Ink that’s free to sign up for, but there are lots of libraries and other sources you can find too. Check out our guide on where to find free printables and ephemera.
Everyone has their favorite tools, and I know this can be highly subjective – especially depending on the kind of journal you make. But I have some that are my tried and true favorites that make my journaling that much better.
One of them is a bone or teflon folder. When you’re trying to get good creases in your tuck spot folds or as you create your signatures, they can be a huge help and are well worth the investment. I have two that sit at the side of my desk all the time.
A Crop-a-Dile. We used to hand punch our eyelet holes and eyelets for creating closures on our journal. It was time intensive, and if you weren’t careful you could damage the journal in the process. I am sure there are people out there very skilled at doing this, but I wasn’t one of them.
I worried about buying a crop-a-dile though as it seemed like a nice-to-have rather than a need for what I was doing, and as I’ve mentioned before I can be really stingy with my craft money. I eventually broke down and bought one though, and I’m so glad I did. It has made things so much easier.
A good awl is another element I always have at my desk. You can use push pins or needles or any number of other instruments to get the job done, but having a good awl is easier on your hands and it gives you a better result since that’s what it was designed for.
A scrapbook project holder is a huge help to keeping your projects together. If you’re anything like me, I have multiple journals and projects going at any one time. This usually meant having a pile here, a pile there, a pile everywhere. It looked chaotic and often felt that way too. So I invested in several of these project boxes which helps me keep each project contained with all the signatures, ephemera, ribbons and other elements I’m putting together. If I don’t finish, I can put it up in a neat container on the shelf and return to it later.
Another one is a washi-tape organizer. I had washi tape EVERYWHERE in my craft room. In drawers, on shelves, scattered about my desk. I could never find them, and even when I could find them I was never able to get a good overview of what I had and what I wanted to use. Organizing them in one of these containers made it so much simpler.