You know those questionnaires where they ask you what would you take with you if you were stranded on a deserted island? I was pondering the same thing on the weekend – what are the five craft tools that I simply could not do without?

On top of the pile is a Ranger nonstick craft sheet. This huge 15 x 18 craft sheet is not only basically indestructible but it also protects my work surface. You can pour hot stuff on it, you can heat emboss on it, you can paint on it and nothing gets through and nothing sticks. The craft surface is a great one to use if only to protect your own work surface but it’s also a great surface to use more actively.

Instead of wasting paper palettes or plastic tubs for paint palettes I just pour the paint onto the nonstick surface using it as a small palette. It’s not expensive and it’s probably the best investment you’ll ever make in a single work surface.

Of course that begs the question of how you clean the work surface? In addition to a scraper to scrape of the big gobs of muck on it, I use baby wipes. These are soft enough to use so they don’t irritate your hands and yet they clean everything from ink off rubber stamps to paint spills and stray embossing powder and glitter. I buy a big tub of baby wipes and then the refill packs to keep them topped up. Tim Holtz swears by the Costco ones because they’re scent free – which is pretty funny because he loves smelling inks and other things… I don’t mind the pretty scented ones.

I never thought I’d say this but my Crop-o-dile is my new “must have” craft tool. I don’t know how many hole punches I’ve butchered trying to punch holes through surfaces that really shouldn’t have been punched with a standard punch. The Crop-o-dile makes mincemeat of these and will punch through coasters, chipboard and even some light composite boards. It can also be used as an eyelet setter and makes two different sized holes. It’s extremely robust, very smartly designed and, unless you want to continually buy new hole punches when you destroy old ones, it’s a must have for your craft room.

I’ve tried just about every glue and then some. I have probably eight or ten glues on my counter ranging from Fabritac fabric glue through to paper glues. One glue however has surprised me with its strength, clarity and overall workability. I wasn’t expecting it to be anything more than just another average glue but it’s far from that. Anita’s Tacky Glue goes on white and dries clear. I’ve used it to adhere polymer clay — although E6000 probably does a better job – it does a serviceable job on clay, paper, fabric, wire and just about anything else you can imagine. It sets fairly quickly so it’s easy to use when you need to hold something in place until it’s dry because you won’t be sitting there for three hours waiting for it to set up. It also comes in big bottles, it’s inexpensive and the nozzle doesn’t clog so it’s unusable.

The jury is out on my last must have of five favorite tools. I love my Heat It embossing tool. It’s smart, easy to use and doesn’t blow everything everywhere. I also love heat set paints so the Ranger Dabbers are on my must have list of craft tools. Any paint that I can heat to set so that I can get multiple layers of paint built up in a very short time has to be a good thing. I also love my Glaze Jellyroll clear glitter pen – you can draw glitter accents onto absolutely anything and they are subtle, not in your face, so it’s a cool tool too.