I'd like to make my own perforated edges on paper, so I can tear certain designs instead. I don't like the odds of tears when I just fold back and forth, and I don't want to use cutting in this case.

I'm making some small books and I want to take my printed pages and make them easy to tear out. But some pages might have tear-out shapes, as well.

Is there a tool I can use to easily make perforations instead?


A sewing machine without thread does a great job at making a perforation in most paper. Depending on the settings it can be rather coarse, or quite fine. Much of this will depend on what stitch types your machine is capable of. I would not use your nicest needle however, as it will most likely wear prematurely.

Otherwise, there are purpose built perforators available for ordering online, that work much like a rotary paper cutter, with the obvious difference that they do not completely sever the paper.

  • 1
    I would have answered the same, that's how I used to make my own stamps as a kid. – Ji Ugug Aug 25 '16 at 20:10

A pattern tracing (or roulette spacing) wheel. Every sewing box that I ever inherited from lil old lady seamstresses had one. It's a wooden handle with a spinning gear type mechanism at the tip. Never used it for sewing but it makes perfectly perforated lines. Well, I guess not as perfect as the ones on stamps and such but close, especially seeing as they are less than a few dollars. I see that there's expensive machines that do it for you. Try the sewing store first.

  • I think I have one of those! – Web Head Nov 13 '16 at 15:35

If you have the budget you can invest in a cutter/plotter. I use a Craft Robo for my papercraft projects, even though it's a bit old now. (Silhouette Cameo is newer model and I imagine there are other similar products out there).

They work similar to a printer in the sense that you install a driver and send a file, but imagine the print head is a tiny cutting head. It can cut but also perforate: you can also control how deep the cuts are.

If you send it a dotted line it will create perforations for you. You can initially use a test page with different cutting depths and different distances between the dots to see what works with your paper thickness.

  • I've seen those! Can you design your own shapes, or have to buy modules? – Web Head Aug 27 '16 at 1:03
  • Of course you can design your own shapes. The Graphtec cutters ship with a piece of software that has some basic drawing drawing tools allowing your to make your own designs. Personally I use a Illustrator and plugin called Cutting Master. It's an older version that came free with my Craft Robo. Disappointingly, newer versions of this plugin require a license paid separately. Doing a quick search I see Inkscape has a plugin called InkCut which should be similar – George Profenza Aug 27 '16 at 8:41

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