Everyone who makes putz houses or glitter houses is faced with one particular challenge - cutting out windows and doors. If your house doesn't light up you don't have to worry about it too much. But if you want windows that let the light shine through, you have to make interior cuts on your house. So this post has tips on how to make Putz house windows, specifically how to cut them out when you cut them by hand (meaning without an automatic cutting machine like a Cricut or a Silhouette).
Mark the location of windows and doors with a custom template
One of the best tips I've learned about cutting out windows and doors is to use a specific template to mark the opening. I have several templates of doors and windows in various sizes that I use to mark where I want the door or window to go.
Best way to hand cut windows and doors accurately
This method on the Cardboard Christmas forum described by one of my Putz-making friends works by using a push pin to mark the corners. You then make several passes with a craft knife to complete the cuts. It's very impressive and quite precise.
Use Arbor Press to cut out windows and doors
Truthfully, though, I have to admit that I use a different method to make Putz house windows. I use an arbor press which seems a little like cheating because I don't cut the windows out by hand. A reader asked me about the set-up and I thought other Putz house makers might benefit from seeing how to cut out the windows and doors using this tool.
First, here is the set-up of the arbor press and the stand. My brother made a plywood stand to surround the base of the arbor press which supports the white polyethylene cutting board effectively. It also has 2 cubbies where I can store the dies I use and toss the cutouts that I might use later on some other paper craft.
Anatomy of an Arbor Press
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The 2 main pieces you need to know on an arbor press are the rotating lever arm on the right and the ram - the square vertical piece that applies the pressure. This particular arbor press is a one ton arbor press because it applies one TON of pressure - clearly sufficient for cutting through a couple of layers of cardboard.
You can find the arbor press online or at a tool store like Harbor Freight tools. You can also use a drill press, but the ones I saw were more expensive and my brother won't let me use his. The dies I use come in a set of 39 dies which can be purchased inexpensively.
Use a plastic cutting board to cut on
Choose the size die you want to cut out a window or door
Apply pressure by rotating the lever arm of the arbor press. The force is transferred to the ram and then the die to cut through the cardboard
The arbor press makes nice cuts through the cardboard
Various commercial dies are available for different shapes
One of my readers asked about finding these dies online. I just googled them and they can be a little challenging. First, they are leather craft dies which might surprise you. And they come in a set of 39 (which helps you find them). Here is a link for these leather crafting dies on Amazon. One thing nice about this Amazon photo is that it shows you how to use them with a mallet so you don't need an arbor press like I use.
After I got a second set of dies from Amazon, I realized that the sizes aren't always exactly the same. But they still work for me.
Here's a list of the Tim Holtz windows from the Village Dwelling series:
- Village Dwelling die (the square window)
- Village Manor - the window with the base, my very favorite window
- Village Bungalow - has a window with shutters
- Village Surf Shack - window on the left in the middle photo
- Village Bell Tower - rounded windows
That's the overview of using an arbor press to help you with your putz-making process. If you are making lots of houses or have arthritis in your hands, I think it is clearly worth the investment. But if you only make a few every year or you make your houses from card stock, it's probably not worth the money. In any case, I hope this gives you some information you can use.
Stay safe. Drink lots of water. Sunscreen always.
Happy Fourth of July.