Beginner's Guide to Papercraft: Cutting, Scoring, Folding
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. What is papercraft?
  2. Tools needed for papercraft
  3. How to cut paper
  4. How to score paper
  5. How to fold paper
  6. Safety tips for papercraft
  7. Simple papercraft project ideas

If you've ever marveled at intricate paper sculptures or delicate origami cranes and wondered, "Could I make something like that?", you're in the right place. This beginner-friendly guide will walk you through the basics of how to papercrafting, transforming a simple sheet of paper into an extraordinary piece of art. From cutting to scoring to folding, we'll cover it all. So, grab your paper and tools, and let's get started!

What is papercraft?

At its core, papercraft is the art of creating three-dimensional objects from paper. While it might sound straightforward, the world of papercraft is amazingly diverse and encompasses a wide range of techniques and disciplines. Here are a few of the most well-known:

  • Origami: The ancient Japanese art of paper folding. No cuts, no glue, just folds. The results can range from simple paper cranes to complex geometric shapes.
  • Quilling: This involves rolling thin strips of paper into coils or scrolls and arranging them to create decorative designs.
  • Papercutting: As the name suggests, this discipline is all about cutting paper. Artists use knives or scissors to cut intricate designs from a single sheet of paper.
  • Pop-up books: A childhood favorite for many, these books use paper mechanics to create 3D scenes that "pop up" when a page is opened.

Whether you're interested in crafting small gifts, creating stunning wall art, or just picking up a fun hobby, understanding how to papercraft can open up a world of creative possibilities. So, ready to dive into the wonderful world of papercraft?

Tools needed for papercraft

Before you start your papercraft journey, it's important to have the right tools at hand. This doesn't mean you need to rush out and buy a suitcase full of supplies. In fact, you probably already have some of these items at home. Here's a list of the tools you'll need:

  • Paper: Sounds obvious, right? But not all paper is created equal. For starters, try cardstock or origami paper. You might also explore different textures, weights, and colors as you advance in your papercrafting skills.
  • Scissors: A good pair of scissors is crucial. You can use regular household scissors, but for more intricate cuts, consider investing in a pair of precision tip scissors.
  • Craft knife: For those detailed cuts that scissors can't handle, a craft knife is your best friend. Remember, safety first! Always use a cutting mat to protect your work surface.
  • Ruler: A metal ruler helps you make straight cuts and can also be used for scoring paper.
  • Bone folder: No, it's not made from real bones! This tool is used for scoring and folding paper. It creates crisp, clean folds without damaging the paper.
  • Glue: Stick to a simple glue stick for most projects. For more complex structures, you might need a stronger adhesive.

Gather your tools and let's get ready to learn how to papercraft! Remember, the goal is not perfection, but creativity and fun.

How to cut paper

So, you've got your tools ready and you're all set to dive into the world of papercrafting. But wait, let's start with the basics. How do you cut paper the right way? Well, here are a few pointers:

  • Plan your cuts: Before rushing in, always plan where you intend to cut. You can lightly sketch your cut lines with a pencil, ensuring accuracy and a better final result.
  • Hold your scissors or craft knife correctly: For scissors, your thumb goes in the smaller hole and your middle finger in the larger one. Your index finger rests on the outside of the blade for control. For a craft knife, hold it like a pencil, but don't grip it too tightly—you don't want your hand to tire!
  • Cut with precision: Keep your cuts smooth and steady. Rushing can lead to mistakes or rough edges. Remember, practice makes perfect.
  • Respect the grain: Yes, paper has a grain! It’s easier to make a clean cut if you cut along the grain, rather than against it.

So, there you have it—a quick guide on how to cut paper for your papercraft projects. Remember, it's okay if you don't get the hang of it right away. As with all things, it takes time to master, but soon you'll be cutting like a pro!

How to score paper

Now that we've mastered the art of cutting paper, let’s move onto the next step in our how to papercrafting journey: scoring. What's scoring, you ask? It's a technique used to create a guide for accurate folds in your paper. Here's how you do it:

  • Mark your fold lines: Just like cutting, scoring also requires a bit of planning. Use a ruler and pencil to mark where you want the fold to be.
  • Get your scoring tool: You can use a dedicated scoring tool, like a bone folder, for this. If you don't own one, no worries – the back of a butter knife or an old ballpoint pen that's run out of ink will do just fine.
  • Score the paper: Place your ruler along the line you want to score. Then, run your scoring tool along the ruler, applying consistent pressure. You want to make an indent, not cut through the paper!
  • Check your work: After scoring, gently fold the paper along the line to make sure it folds neatly and accurately. If it does, good job! You've successfully scored your paper.

There you have it – the basics of scoring paper for papercraft. Remember, practice is key. The more you score, the better you'll get at it. So, don't be afraid to make a few mistakes along the way!

How to fold paper

Alright! We've cut, we've scored, and now it's time to fold. Folding might seem like the simplest step in our how to papercrafting guide, but it's more than just bending paper in half. Let's do it right:

  • Align your edges: Before you make a fold, make sure the edges of your paper align perfectly. This is important for neat and precise folds.
  • Start the fold: Gently bend the paper along the scored line. Start from one end and work your way to the other, making sure the paper doesn't slip.
  • Smooth the fold: Once you've made the initial fold, use your fingers or a bone folder to smooth out the fold. This will help keep it crisp and flat, which is especially useful for complex papercraft projects.
  • Double-check your work: After you've made the fold, check to make sure it lines up with your design. If it doesn't, don't worry. You can always adjust and refold.

And just like that, you've folded your paper! Remember, each fold brings you one step closer to your final papercraft masterpiece. So take your time, be patient, and enjoy the process.

Safety tips for papercraft

Now that we're getting the hang of how to papercraft, let's talk about safety. Yes, even in the world of paper, it's important to stay safe. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Be mindful of sharp tools: Whether it's a pair of scissors or a craft knife, always handle sharp tools with care. Always cut away from your body, and keep your fingers clear of the cutting edge.
  • Keep your workspace tidy: A cluttered workspace can lead to accidents. Make sure to keep your area clean and organized, putting tools and materials away when you're done using them.
  • Take breaks: Crafting can be fun and relaxing, but don't forget to take breaks. Stretch your hands and rest your eyes. Your papercraft project will be there when you get back.
  • Store materials properly: When you're done for the day, store your materials in a safe place. Keep sharp tools out of reach of children and pets.

There you have it! With these safety tips, you're all set to continue your papercrafting journey. Always remember, safety first!

Simple papercraft project ideas

Alright, now that we've covered the basics of how to papercraft and talked about safety, it's time to put those skills to use. Here are some fun and simple papercraft project ideas to get you started:

  1. Personalized Greeting Cards: Why buy when you can make your own? Create a unique card for birthdays, holidays, or just because. Play around with different types of paper, folds, and cuts to make it truly one-of-a-kind.
  2. Origami Animals: Origami is the art of paper folding, and what's more fun than creating a mini zoo right at your table? Start with something simple like a dog or a cat, and then move on to more complex creatures.
  3. Handmade Bookmarks: If you're a book lover, this one's for you. Create custom bookmarks with your favorite quotes or illustrations. Not only are they functional, but they'll also add a personal touch to your reading time.
  4. Paper Flowers: Flowers that never wilt? Yes, please! Paper flowers can be as simple or as intricate as you want, and they make a lovely gift or home decor.

These project ideas are just the beginning. The world of papercrafting is vast and full of possibilities. So, what are you waiting for? Grab some paper and get crafting!

If you enjoyed this beginner's guide to papercraft and want to expand your skills further, we recommend checking out the workshop 'The Art of Paper Cut' by Mar Delmar. This workshop will teach you the techniques and intricacies of paper cutting, allowing you to create more intricate and detailed papercraft projects.