Top 5 Craft Tools You Must Have in 2023

July 26, 2023 by Marjorie R. Rogers, MA (English), Certified Consultant

Crafting, once a realm dominated by hand tools and age-old techniques, has undergone a radical transformation over the years. This evolution has been shaped not only by innovations within the crafting community itself but also by technological advancements that have trickled down from broader industries. Remember the days when a simple pair of scissors, a ruler, and some glue were the primary tools in a crafter’s arsenal? Those days seem almost quaint when we look at the high-tech gadgets that modern crafters have at their fingertips.

As we journey through the 21st century, it’s evident that technology has intertwined itself with our creative endeavors, adding depth, precision, and flair to the things we make. Crafters are no longer limited to the constraints of hand tools. With the rise of digital platforms, software, and innovative machinery, the DIY and crafting landscape now encompasses a vast range of possibilities. 

From intricate designs made at the push of a button to real-time project visualizations, technology has not only expanded the horizons of what we can create but has also made crafting more accessible to a broader audience. The days ahead look promising for craft enthusiasts as we delve deeper into a world where imagination meets technological prowess.

1. Laser Engravers

Crafting, once characterized by hands-on tactile experiences, has welcomed a powerful member to its toolbox in recent years: the laser engraver. As its name suggests, this tool uses lasers to engrave or cut a design onto a variety of materials, and its introduction into the crafting world has marked a significant shift in how we approach design and creation.

The benefits of integrating laser engravers into crafting endeavors are manifold. First and foremost, precision is the name of the game. Traditional hand-carving or cutting methods, while imbued with a certain rustic charm, cannot compete with the pinpoint accuracy of laser engravers. Whether you’re looking to etch intricate patterns on jewelry, engrave detailed graphics on wooden plaques, or cut delicate lace patterns into paper or fabric, laser engravers ensure that every curve, line, and dot is exactly where it needs to be.

Beyond precision, versatility is another standout feature. Laser engravers are not limited to one type of material. Wood, acrylic, leather, glass, fabric – the list of materials that these machines can work with is extensive. This multi-material capability unlocks a realm of possibilities for crafters, from personalized leather wallets and bespoke wooden signs to etched wine glasses and customized fabric patterns. And it’s not limited to desktop or floor, now we have plenty of options of portable laser engravers, which you can take it wherever you want.

Moreover, the efficiency of laser engravers cannot be overstated. Projects that might have taken hours, or even days, using traditional methods can now be completed in a fraction of the time. This speed doesn’t compromise on quality either. With laser engravers, crafters can produce consistently high-quality pieces in bulk, making it an invaluable tool for those looking to turn their crafting hobby into a business venture.

To illustrate the potential of laser engraving in crafting, consider the following projects: personalized bamboo cutting boards with engraved family recipes, acrylic ornaments with intricate holiday designs, leather bookmarks stamped with inspirational quotes, or fabric patches cut into detailed shapes for unique clothing customization. The potential is vast, making laser engravers an essential tool for modern crafters.

2. Digital Cutting Machines

Crafting often conjures images of scissors, paper, glue, and other hands-on materials. But in this modern age, where technology has permeated even the most traditional of hobbies, digital cutting machines have made a grand entry, reshaping the landscape of what’s possible in crafting.

These machines are the epitome of modern crafting efficiency. 

At their core, digital cutting machines are designed to cut materials with incredible accuracy, based on digital designs. Gone are the days of manual tracing and cutting; these machines, often controlled by user-friendly software on a computer or tablet, do the hard work, ensuring every cut is clean and precise. Their capabilities aren’t limited to just paper – they excel in vinyl cutting for stickers or decals and can even tackle fabric, offering a boon to quilters and apparel designers alike.

What has particularly propelled digital cutting machines to the forefront of crafting is how they’ve revolutionized paper crafting. Intricate card designs, elaborate scrapbooking layouts, and detailed paper sculptures are now tasks that can be tackled with ease. They offer a level of detail and sophistication to paper projects that was previously achievable only by the most skilled of hands or with industrial-level equipment.

Vinyl cutting is another domain where digital cutting machines shine. Whether it’s for creating custom decals for home decor, personalized stickers, or even intricate designs for apparel, these machines handle vinyl with precision. The result? Professional-grade projects that are both durable and visually striking.

Meanwhile, the realm of fabric projects has also been touched by the magic of digital cutting machines. Quilters, for instance, can cut exact shapes and patterns without the tedious process of manual cutting. Apparel designers can experiment with unique patterns, knowing that the machine will reproduce their digital designs flawlessly on fabric.

Modern digital cutting machines also pride themselves on their user-friendly interfaces and software. Brands have recognized the need for intuitive systems, ensuring that even those new to the world of digital crafting can get started with minimal hurdles. Software enhancements have paved the way for easier design imports, real-time editing, and even simulated project previews.

In essence, the era of digital cutting machines signals an exciting time for craft enthusiasts. Offering a blend of traditional creativity with cutting-edge technology, they embody the future of crafting, opening up avenues of exploration and innovation like never before.

3. 3D Printing Pens

Imagine picking up a pen and, rather than scribbling on a piece of paper, you start drawing upwards, sideways, and in spirals, constructing objects right before your eyes. Welcome to the world of 3D printing pens, where the boundaries between two-dimensional sketching and three-dimensional creation blur, offering crafters an entirely new domain of artistic expression.

Bridging the gap between traditional crafting methods and innovative technological tools, 3D printing pens have rapidly become a beloved gadget among DIY enthusiasts. These pens are a handheld version of the more extensive 3D printers. 

Instead of writing with ink, they extrude heated plastic that cools and solidifies instantly, allowing users to create structures in the air or on surfaces. The fluidity with which one can shift from a flat design to a three-dimensional figure is mesmerizing and empowers artists to visualize and craft in ways previously thought impossible.

The benefits of 3D printing pens are manifold. 

Firstly, they introduce a layer of depth and dimension to projects that flat mediums simply can’t achieve. Crafters can now embellish their artwork with raised patterns, create standalone 3D objects, or even integrate them into mixed media projects. The possibilities are as vast as one’s imagination. For instance, a simple hand-drawn butterfly can suddenly flutter off the paper, its wings delicately arched and body casting a tiny shadow.

The material science behind these pens is also a marvel. While most 3D printing pens use thermoplastic filaments like PLA or ABS, there’s a growing range of material options available. Some pens now work with wood-infused filaments, metal composites, or even flexible materials, making the creation spectrum even broader. These materials come in a plethora of colors, further enhancing the creative potential.

Lastly, while the concept sounds futuristic, 3D printing pens are surprisingly easy to use. They are designed with ergonomics in mind, ensuring that holding and maneuvering them feels as natural as using a regular pen. Many come with adjustable speed and temperature settings, allowing crafters to work at their own pace and comfort. A short learning curve means that even those new to the 3D crafting scene can quickly pick up the basics and start creating.

In summation, 3D printing pens are not just a novelty but a revolution in the crafting arena. They encapsulate the essence of modern crafting—where age-old artistic visions meet groundbreaking tools, offering crafters an expanded canvas to unleash their creativity.

4. Smart Sewing Machines

Once a staple in nearly every household, the humble sewing machine has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years. From manually operated treadles to the electric machines of the 20th century, sewing machines have consistently adapted to the demands and desires of their users. Now, in the age of digital revolution, they’ve taken another quantum leap forward, morphing into what we now call ‘smart sewing machines’. These machines marry the art of sewing with the precision of technology, propelling the world of fabric crafts and fashion design into new realms of possibility.

At the heart of this evolution is the integration of digital capabilities. Modern smart sewing machines are equipped with LCD touch screens, akin to a tablet, which not only display stitch settings but also provide tutorials, offer design visualization, and facilitate easy switch between functions. Gone are the days of fumbling with dials and manual adjustments. Now, with a simple touch or swipe, crafters can navigate through a multitude of options, ensuring that their vision is stitched to perfection.

One of the standout features of these advanced machines is automatic threading. This might sound simple, but for anyone who’s spent minutes (or longer) squinting and trying to coax a thread through a tiny needle eye, it’s nothing short of miraculous. This feature, along with automated tension settings, ensures consistent stitch quality, which is especially beneficial for beginners.

But the marvels don’t end there. Many smart sewing machines offer pattern downloads, allowing users to select from vast online libraries of embroidery designs or stitch patterns. This is a game-changer, especially for those keen on intricate embroidery but lacking the design skills to create patterns from scratch. Furthermore, stitch customization capabilities mean that users can modify existing patterns or even create their own unique designs, making each project truly one-of-a-kind.

The implications of such advanced machines extend beyond mere crafts. In the world of fashion design, these sewing machines are invaluable. Designers can experiment with intricate stitch patterns, precision embroidery, and other detailing techniques that would have been incredibly time-consuming or even impossible with traditional machines. The ability to visualize designs on the screen before committing them to fabric can also save costly material wastage.

In essence, smart sewing machines represent the fusion of age-old craft with contemporary technology. They retain the essence and soul of sewing—a craft rooted in history and tradition—while infusing it with precision, versatility, and efficiency that only modern technology can offer. As we stitch our way into the future, these machines promise a fabric of possibilities limited only by one’s imagination.

5. Augmented Reality Crafting Apps

When most people think of crafting, they conjure images of hands-on, tactile experiences—gluing, stitching, cutting, and molding. However, with the rise of augmented reality (AR) technologies, the crafting world is being expanded and transformed in ways once reserved for science fiction. Augmented Reality, with its ability to superimpose digital information onto our real-world environment, is now carving out its niche in the universe of DIY and craft enthusiasts.

The primary allure of AR in the crafting domain lies in its visualization capabilities. Before investing time and resources into a project, crafters can now use AR apps to visualize the end result. Whether it’s visualizing how a handmade piece of furniture might fit in a room, or seeing how different colors and patterns might come together in a sewing project, AR removes the guesswork and offers a clear, augmented vision. This not only aids in planning but also dramatically reduces the chances of costly or time-consuming errors.

But the benefits don’t stop at mere visualization. Advanced AR crafting apps also provide interactive tutorials. For instance, if someone’s trying their hand at knitting or crochet, AR apps can overlay patterns and step-by-step instructions directly onto the yarn and needles in real-time, guiding the user’s hands through each stitch. This interactive mode of learning, compared to simply watching a video or reading a manual, can accelerate the learning curve for beginners.

Crafting with AR: Standout Applications

Several apps have emerged as frontrunners in this augmented crafting revolution, each catering to different crafting niches.

For home decor enthusiasts, apps like “CraftView” let users visualize how DIY furniture or art pieces will look in their living spaces, offering various design templates and color options.

In the realm of scrapbooking and card-making, “ARtful” is a popular choice. It allows users to design digital scrapbook layouts or cards, visualize them in a real-world context, and even add digital elements that come to life when viewed through the app.

For the sewing and fashion design community, “StitchSight” provides real-time pattern overlays, helping users cut fabrics with precision and visualize various design alterations before making a single stitch.

About Author (Marjorie R. Rogers)

The inspiring mum of 6 who dedicates her time to supporting others. While battling with her own demons she continues to be the voice for others unable to speak out. Mental illness almost destroyed her, yet here she is fighting back and teaching you all the things she has learned along the way. Get Started To Read …