Saturday, December 15, 2012

Product Reviews: Fiskars AdvantEdge Punch System

For today's reading and viewing pleasure, I wanted to review a crafty device I recently bought: the Fiskars AdvantEdge Punch System.  Behold!!!!

So what is it and what does it do?  It's a glorified edge punch; like an edge punch on steroids with intricate removable cartridge punches that allow you to cut all sorts of fancy patterns into paper.

Here's a picture of it when it was fresh out of the box and ready to go for its first run!

It's kind of like a paper cutter, but a punch.  So you load the cassette into the holder (the cassette is the gray box with the flower pattern displayed), then slide a piece of paper in between the metal clamps.  Push down the lever and it cuts out the flower strip for that section.  Now here's where it gets different from other edge punches.  Instead of having to slide your paper to line up for the next section to cut, you slide the cartridge while the paper stays stationary!  And you don't have to guess about where to move it to or line it up because the track has little grooves that the cartridge slides and locks into.  All you have to do is slide it till it clicks and you're automatically lined up for the next punch.

Here's a close up of the cartridge:

If you look at the top of the picture, you can see the little grooves in the white part of the track that the cartridge snaps into as you scoot it along.

And here's a picture of the finished product:

Don't you LOVE that flower pattern?  It's my favorite (called Flower Garden) and it comes with the machine.  

If you want to see the machine in action, check out this Youtube video and then we'll get down to the nitty gritty pro's and con's (in my opinion).

I'm very appreciative of this video and it's actually part of the reason why I bought the machine.  But a clarification or two based on people's comments of this video: it is not hard to use.  Some said that it looked really "stiff" to use or required super-human strength, but I didn't have any trouble with it.  I'm not a bodybuilder and I didn't find it any harder to use than any other craft tool that requires lever-pushing or hand-cranking.  Some people also questioned the sturdiness of either the machine or the table because it looked a bit wobbly.  This machine is quality and is pretty solid, so it's more hardcore than it appears in this video.

Now for the pro's and con's.  One pro that was mentioned in the video is that you can use other smaller Fiskars punch cartridges in it if you use the orange adapter.  I don't have any of these other punches, so that didn't affect my decision to purchase.  What I like about it is the ease of sliding the cartridge and having it lock in place so that your pattern lines up easily.  Two thumbs up for that design.  

Another pro is how wide the borders are.  The flower one I punched out was about 2 1/2 inches thick.  I also like how this machine punches the decoration on both edges of your paper; top and bottom rather than just the top like most edge punches do.

Con's (I won't call them con's because I genuinely like this product, so let's call them "considerations").  The first consideration would probably be price.  The punch machine (which includes the Flower Garden cartridge) will cost you a hefty $49.99 plus tax.  I waited until there was a killer sale at JoAnn's and scored it at 85% off (they had a 60% off sale on all Fiskars products and I combined it with a 25% off your entire purchase- including sale items- coupon).  So I got mine for under $20.  But you really have to think hard if you have to pay full price.  And the cartridges are pricey, too!  One cartridge will run you $29.99.  But again, if you use a sale coupon on them, you can get them for half that price.  And I will say that the cartridges are seriously sturdy!  There's nothing cheap about them at all.

The second point to keep in mind is this machine's size.  We all know how our crafty space is at a premium and this machine is approximately 17" long by 8" wide.  It takes up the same amount as a paper cutter, yet you probably won't use it as often.  If you have a place to stash it, go for it.  But if you'll have to leave it out on your work space all the time, you'll really want to decide if the space it takes is worth it for how often (or not) it will be used.

The third thing to consider is that at present, there's not a huge variety of big cartridges.  As far as I could find, there are only about eight of these big new cartridges besides the one it comes with.  And if this system doesn't catch on and it's dropped from production, then that's all there will ever be.  The crafting/scrapbooking market is brutally competitive and always changing, so products do come and go pretty quickly.  Is it worth it to pay that much for a system that you might potentially only buy two or three cartridges for?  Again, that is something to think about.

Despite all of these considerations, the bottom line is that I'm impressed with this machine, I'm glad I bought it, and I'm looking forward to incorporating these decorative borders into some of my projects.  If you can get it for a discount, I'd recommend it because of its ease of use, its durability and the width of the borders it cuts.

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