The Coluzzle cutting system is one of the most versatile and innovative tools in the paper crafting industry. But some people find it downright intimidating. And yet your Coluzzle allows you to create evenly spaced borders and mats in a variety of templates, as well as custom envelopes, cards & tags, creative lettering, and other page accents. You can even combine the standard templates to make new shapes.

Using your Coluzzle is easy when you keep these tips in mind:

Step One: The first thing you’ll want to do is take off the plastic film from *both* sides of the template. This very thin covering is just for protecting the templates from scratches that could occur during shipping.

Next, it really helps to clean your channels, even with a brand new template. Hold the template up in the air, so you can see through it. Then run the dull (non-cutting) side of your blade through the channels.

Step Two: Place a rubber mat on your work surface to protect it from cuts. Place the Coluzzle Easy Glide cutting mat (which looks like Styrofoam packing material) on top of the mat. Your photo or paper goes on top of the cutting mat, and then the Coluzzle template of your choice goes on top of that, carefully placed where you want to cut.

Step Three: Now you’re ready to start cutting. Hold the cutting knife in the textured area between your thumb and pointer finger. This finger placement will help make sure you keep the knife straight up and down (perpendicular to the cutting surface). One of the most common mistakes is to try to hold the knife as you would a pencil, but this can make the blade break and won’t allow for easy cutting.

Find the straightest point on your template (the point that is curved the least), and carefully place the tip of the blade in the channel. When you insert the blade, make sure not to nick the sides. If you get a nick, you can sand it out with very fine sandpaper, but it’s important to do your best to prevent them in the first place.

Now simply let the blade do the work. The channel will guide the knife naturally and will steer itself around small curves and corners. At 90 degree angles, it helps to reinsert the knife and cut from the other direction. A

s you let the blade slide through the channel, keep your wrist still. In fact, the Coluzzle website advises users to imagine the wrist in a cast. Lift your elbow off the table and move your arm from the elbow, as though you are moving a gearshift. Try not to twist your wrist or your fingers. Instead, pull up the blade and start again. If your blade isn’t sliding easily through the channel, clean your template again, as described in Step One.

I’ve marked each channel in my nested templates with a different colored maker, so I can more easily tell which channel I’m using. Other paper crafters number the channels or color every other channel with a marker.

I also use my Coluzzle to save on cardstock. You can cut mats and save the center for other items on the page.

When you are finished, store the Coluzzle on a flat, even surface. And don’t leave your templates in a hot car. Heat can warp the plastic.