While writing a chapter about quilling tools, I realized it's been ages since I last discussed them in a blog post. I've always been a firm believer in using the most hand-friendly option, whether that means finger rolling, a needle tool or slotted tool. The decision varies from quiller to quiller and each person must make their own choice. My favorite might not be yours, yours might not be mine, and that is perfectly okay! I'll be focusing on slotted tool options in this post.
Most find the slotted tool to be incredibly easy to use compared to a needle tool because it grabs the end of a paper strip and holds it firmly while a coil is rolled. However, the tiny center crimp (1-2 mm) that the slot produces is generally frowned upon by quilling purists. The crimp can be lessened by making sure to slide the strip just barely into the slot and never so far as to bend it back on itself. To produce a coil without a crimp, one must finger roll or use a needle tool, corsage pin or any other slim, stiff wire substitute.
As a former needle tool enthusiast, I'm happy to report the standard slotted tool has evolved in recent years and there are now a few types available that produce remarkably small crimps. That said, don't throw away your standard slotted tool as it is still useful when making folded roses and fringed flowers. My lime green tool came with the ever-popular Klutz book/kit Twirled Paper from Scholastic.
This image shows four slotted tools, each with a representative coil.
And below is a close up image of the four coils in the same order as above.
Stripe for nearly a decade. It produces a very tiny crimp. In all that time I have purchased only three, two of which are still fine. (I needed to have a spare on hand while doing wedding work.) The first one broke after several years of heavy use and a few unfortunate drops. The trick while using it and any fine-tip model, is to not push it past its limit. If your method is to roll a coil and then roll it even farther/tighter in order to snap off the crimp, you can expect a fine-tip tool to break. If you are not in Japan, I recommend placing an order by contacting Stripe owner/quiller Motoko (Maggie) Nakatani directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org The cost is $24 plus $3 shipping. PayPal is accepted.
The ultra-fine tip slotted tool by Paplin and Lake City, available from many online suppliers, produces the next smallest crimp, but not a perfectly round coil. It is the lowest priced fine slotted tool at about $4, and the wooden handle is comfortable to hold. I do wish the ultra-fine slotted needle was inserted farther into the wood as it would provide more leverage and the tip would be less likely to bend/break.
The Ultimate Savvy Slotted Tool from Quilled Creations (about $10) was released this past year. I was excited to order one thinking it would be just like my favorite Japanese tool. While the barrel looks very similar and the wide handle may prove to fit easily in your hand, the crimp it produces is not quite as small as the super-fine or ultra-fine tools, but the coil is round like the ones produced by the Japanese and standard tools.
So which tool should a new quiller purchase? There is no easy answer... for example, some say slotted tools are not as comfortable for them as finger rolling, and I know a needle tool enthusiast who has quilled with a corsage pin for decades without complaint.
I use a needle tool for some projects, the Japanese slotted tool for others, and the standard slotted tool at times... in fact, both the needle tool and Japanese slotted tool were indispensable while making projects for the new book. Luckily, none of these tools are outrageously expensive and all should last a very long time when handled with respect. Perhaps give each one a try to determine your favorite.