Buttons, Badges & Pins - People Power Blog

  • Robert: I am wondering if there is an adjustment I can make to use photo paper (thick) in a button maker. I would use photo paper exclusively so it could be set up once and left that way. Right now I have some of the badge parts inc machines. Thanks for you help
  • The Button Guy: Hi Robert First thing is size? What size photo buttons do you want to make? Depending on size you may just need to cut your image slightly smaller. That could mean buying a graphic punch sized for photos. Depending as well on what make of button maker you have. The manufacturer can reset some of the sizes, tolerances on your machine but this may be more expensive than just getting a photo button maker, ready sized for photos. So let me know the button size and I’ll let you know what you need to do.
  • Robert: I have a 1 3/4x 2 3/4 oblong model 700 maker from badge parts inc. Is the work on the machine something I could do? I’m pretty handy and have access to lathes, mills etc. Thanks
  • The Button Guy: I do not have a 1-3/4” x 2-3/4” oblong machine from Badge Parts here and I know Joe at Badge Parts does not make all his machines standard so I do not know the exact size. But you could ask Joe at Badge Parts if he can reset the machine. A simpler and cheaper solution is to change the cut size of the cutter. This you can test with scissors. Cut your photo paper so it is not the normal size you would use for a button but cut it smaller so the paper fills the front of the button but does not fold around the back. Experiment with this and you should find the size you need. You want to fill as much of the front of the button as you can but not go around the back. The mylar which is normally the same size as the button image will be larger in this case. The mylar will hold your paper in place. Then make or get a die maker to make you a die that cuts the special size and you’re done. With my 1-3/4” x 2-3/4” oblong machine I can put quite thick paper, even fabric in it anyway but as I say it’s a different manufacturer and possibly a different size.

The two photos show the same button maker. The first shows a circle cut for a photo button.  The second shows a circle cut for a standard button.

circle cut for photo button

  • The Button Guy: Generally speaking button makers can mostly make buttons with relatively thick paper but seeing as most photography is digital today and can be printed on standard 24 lb paper it is quite rare these days to find specially sized photo button makers and photo circle cutters. In most cases as I mention above the solution is just to cut the paper smaller than the mylar so that the paper does not need to fold around. Thicker paper tends to tear on the edge as some fabric does when it is pressed around the button. Sizing the image to the front of the button will normally solve the problem. There are some “specially” sized photo cutters or graphic punches that do just that. They are available for 2”, 2-1/4” and 2” x 3” buttons.

Note how this circle fills the full die whereas the photo button cut above only fills the inner circle of the button maker. This is the same button machine.

circle cut for a standard button

  • What the smaller cut size of a PHOTO CUTTER does is match the inner circumference of the button maker allowing you to still centre your image.
  • There are also some photo button makers in 3”, 3-1/2” and 4” but my advice would be to print your photos on thinner paper and get standard button maker/ cutters. The special photo papers are covered up by a layer of plastic anyway. So there is no great advantage and they are certainly more expensive than standard papers. The best paper for button making is ultra white 20 lb paper.
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Have you considered giving a button maker as a gift this year?  Christmas, graduation, birthday, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or whatever the occasion, a button making kit will be the gift that inspires!

Button makers are ideal gifts for kids, teens and young adults because, unlike most fads and toys, they will last for years and keep their appeal through the ages and stages of your child’s development. The button designs may change, the button machine just keeps on pressing buttons.

 Children are fascinated by the idea of designing their own buttons.  What better than a creative gift?  Their first button making experience was often at a children’s party or school event but that’s not the same as owning your own button press. Once they see their artwork transformed into a wearable pin or stickable magnet, they’re hooked and can’t get enough. Making buttons encourages young children to be creative and to hone their design and aesthetic senses.

creative gift idea christmas gift, present

Older children love the idea of being able to wear a message they have designed. It gives them a way to tell the world who they are and what they like. As teens move through the school and university system, button makers move with them. Having the ability to produce ‘campaign’ materials for a variety of projects is a bonus during those stages when being included is so important. Button makers become part of social events that encourage teamwork, creativity and collaboration.

 To top it all off, button makers are not expensive relative to their value: a good quality, solid metal machine and circle cutter costs less than $500 and comes with a starter kit with usually more than 500 buttons. After that, button parts are relatively cheap (less than 10 cents a button) and you never need to buy batteries! If given a minimum of care, the machines will last for years and produce thousands of buttons.

holiday gift idea

There are cheaper options, I have seen kits for $189 like this one on Button Giant: $189 button maker kit  This kit works well but this is a hobby kit, if you can stretch to $300 you can get a metal machine that will work in elementary school and then still keep on pressing when your kids in University. $500 gets you the full enchilada.

There are few toys that match button makers for sturdy construction, ease of use, educational and social value, and affordability. Think about getting your kids into button making this year!  A memorable Christmas gift, graduation gift, birthday present or holiday surprise. Whether for Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, a Bar or Bat
Mitzvah, birthday, Christmas or New Year,  button maker is the perfect creative gift.

what to get my kid for christmas kwanzaa, Hanukkah, birthday present

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Melissa: Are you familiar with the Artec Button Maker? I can't find anything about it anywhere...excepts its listings on ebay. Thank you!

The Button Guy: The Artec Button Maker is something I have not heard of. I looked at the ebay pictures and I see it has the standard dies and base of any of the run of the mill Chinese button makers with a fancier handle. This probably means that whilst they call it a 1-1/4” it will in fact be a European size 38mm machine. If this is the case the biggest issue is the button parts tend to be expensive. Whilst I have never tested this particular machine it looks identical to Chinese button makers I have tested (apart from the handle) and the other issues are you see it has a white plastic base for the dies. This will wear and after a while often does not line up with the top die anymore. These machines certainly do not have the longevity of a solid metal made in USA button maker which usually will still be good in 20 years.

But back to the main issue: Expensive button parts but not only that, the Chinese button parts are a bit cheesy, very light metal, plastic backs for some sizes, stick on pins sometimes, depending on size and generally just not as cool as your standard Made in USA button. Note the white plastic backs in the photo! The difference in quality of the keychains, fridge magnets and mirrors etc these machines produce are worlds apart. But none of these are included in the kit anyway.
So if you want a low volume hobby kit it could be an option but then when I look around you can get a T150 machine that takes standard, low cost buttons for under $200: http://buttongiant.com/collections/frontpage/products/2-1-4-t15o-button-maker-hobby-kit-circle-cutter-250-button-parts-and-free-sample-pack
But if you’re more serious about button making I would recommend an all metal American made machine but you will need to spend $300 or more!
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Hi Vlad

Yes you can make buttons without mylar.  But not all fabric is suitable for making buttons.  You need fabric with a high tensile strength.  Otherwise tearing can be a problem, buttons tear at the edge.

The only way to go is to test a piece of fabric.  The button making process does not put alot of pressure on the fabric so I don’t think that’s a problem, but like I say……TEST a piece of the fabric that is less important.  Use a piece of mylar as a guide for cutting your fabric with scissors unless you have a rotary cutter.  Graphic punches that often come in button making kits do not work with fabric.

Let me know how it goes.

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What's a good button maker machine and how much paper does a button magnet / fridge magnet hold up on the fridge?


Kim: Thanks for your website. Still need help. Looking for a nice machine that I would use mainly for fridge magnets. Also what magnet to use that will actually hold a piece of paper like on the fridge. Have had some that can't do it.

The Button Guy:
What size magnets are you making? Even if you are undecided, give me an idea. The 1” round machine is small but with a ceramic magnet will hold up to 7 letter size photocopy sheets on a fridge. Whereas the standard 1” sticky back magnets will only hold 3 letter size sheets on a fridge. But you may be talking 2-1/2” x 3-1/2” so let me know a size.

Kim: Thanks for such a quick response. I am thinking larger buttons like the 2 1/2".

Magnet button maker    The Red and black machine is great for magnets.

The Button Guy: 2-1/2” has magnets and holds 7 sheets of letter size paper on a fridge. This is with the 4.5mm improved magnets from Button Giant. The standard 3.3mm magnets that most vendors have hold 4 sheets. (Will vary a bit according to fridge). Here’s a link to the parts page for 2-1/2” on Button Giant. http://buttongiant.com/collections/button-parts-for-button-making/products/everything-for-your-2-1-2-button-maker They have 2 button maker kits: http://buttongiant.com/products/2-1-2-button-maker-kit-500-button-parts-includes-free-sample-pack Or with the graphic punch: http://buttongiant.com/products/2-1-2-button-maker-kit-graphic-punch-incl-500-button-parts Let me know if you have further questions.

magnet parts for fridge magnetsceramic magnets for magnet buttonspeel n' stick magnets for button makingflatbacks with magnet for fridge magnets, magnet buttons

Kim: Thanks Button Guy

The Button Guy: No worries and here's a link to a YouTube video: How to make a button magnet

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Before you open up your graphic punch to fix a paper jam try this:

All you normally need is a strip of aluminum or tin. It should be less than 6 mil thick.  Ideally 6” to 12” long and not more than 4” wide.   Pass this through where the paper normally goes.  Move it back and forth and clear out the paper that’s stuck inside.  Use the front edge to push out remnants inside.  You should hang on to that piece of tin.  You may well need it again!!
As for opening up the graphic punch, this will void any warranty!

repairing a circle cutter, how to unjam a graphic punch.       graphic punch repair & maintenance

But if you must:  Use a 3/16 hex key to remove the top 4 bolts. This separates the top from the base and the punch mechanism.  You should now be able to separate the top and bottom plate and get at any paper remnants.

I highly recommend using a piece of tin first and not opening up the graphic punch.   Cheers,  The Button Guy

 The Button Guy
Button Making Antipreneur!
Checkout the blog: http://TheButtonGuy.net


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Making Pin-back Button designs with MSWord #1 - How to design a Simple Text Button using templates

Button making is easy.  Design is not and a good design makes a button.  A button with a great slogan but poorly designed will not work.  Focusing on the design of a button is important and I would recommend using Photoshop, Illustrator, Gimp or any real graphic design program.  But we are not all designers and sometimes you have to use something like Microsoft Word.

This video shows you how to setup a simple button design using MS Word.  There are 3 videos in the series.

Other videos in this series:

#2 - Making Pin-back Button designs with Word #2 - Using columns to centre graphics  link

#3 - Making Pin-back Button designs with Word #3 - Adding images and graphics link

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