How to Score Paper

When working with thicker paper stocks, it’s often necessary to score materials before you can fold them. So what is scoring? Scoring creates a line in the paper which guides the fold. By learning how to score paper, you can reduce cracked and sloppy creases and give your materials a professionally finished look. There are a few different methods used to accomplish this. Here’s how to score paper.


First, you can use a dull knife, such as a butter knife or the dull side of a cheese knife, and a ruler. Press the ruler down firmly at the place you want to fold. Then take the knife and draw a line, staying right next to the ruler. You want to press down firm enough to create a valley in the paper deep enough to allow the paper to fold easily.


Another option is to use a bone folder. This is used in the same way as described above, simply switch the knife for a bone folder. These are found in craft stores, usually in the papercrafting section, next to the cardmaking supplies.


For a more professional look, you can add a scoring blade to your paper trimmer. Many rotary trimmers offer interchangeable blades that can score and perforate your papers as well as add decorative edges. A great device for this is the Swingline SmartCut 12″ Dial-A-Blade Plus rotary paper trimmer. This device is perfect for scrapbooking, cardmaking, and other paper crafting applications. Without changing the blade cartridge, you can switch between straight and wave cuts as well as scoring and perforating.


Finally, larger scoring jobs require dedicated scoring machines. Some paper folders include this as an option. But basically you can choose between devices featuring a rotary scoring wheel or a pressure crease. Rotary scoring machines work similarly to trimmers including a scoring blade. Basically, you pull the scoring device over the page to create an indentation, allowing you to fold easily. Compression scoring machines offer higher quality results but take longer to complete. As the name implies, they press a crease into the paper instead of impressing a line.


Now that you’ve heard about how to score paper, here are a few tips for when you do. First, be aware that thicker papers will need a wider score. When making your mark, know that a correct score will result in a ridge on the inside of the paper. This minimizes the stretch of the paper fibers. If you’re making your scores by hand, it’s worth noting that this is difficult in very high humidity. When folding cardstock, your documents will have a more professional look if the final crease is parallel to the paper grain (if there is one).


One last thing about scoring paper. If you go through all the work of scoring your paper before you fold it, make sure you burnish the finished product to further seal your crease. Burnishing is extremely simple and only adds to the finished look of your project. Simply take a firm, dull implement, such as a pen, and use it to press firmly on your crease. The thicker the paper you use, the more important this final step is. And that is how to score paper.


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