Want to Make a Zine? These are Great Zine Making Tools to Get Started
Kim Rounsefell·March 30, 2021
You may have noticed the amazing array of eclectic zines surfacing on social media. Perhaps you've been to a zine fair and thought to yourself, "I'd love to make my own zine one day."
Zine-making is a beautiful and self-care activity. You don't need to convince us, that's for sure! It is the ultimate in DIY self-expression, and there are very few rules, rights, or wrongs when it comes to making a zine.
But sometimes, that can be the difficult part of getting started. Where do you begin when you're spoiled for choice and topic options?
Let's begin with the tools, shall we? That way, you've got everything you need at your fingertips to make your own zine creation. Read on to find out useful tools to help with making your own zine and the tools we can't live without!
Zines are typically a physical piece of work so starting off with paper is pretty important! Depending on what you want to achieve with your zine will depend on the type of paper you choose to use.
A standard copy paper (20lb weight) might suffice for a zine that has mostly writing or words on the page. If you don't what too much show-through of the words on the other side of the page, go for some paper that's a touch thicker, like a 24lb or 28lb paper, this just refers to the weight of the paper and you'll see this information clearly marked on the paper packaging.
If you're considering making art or comic zine that uses lots of thick black ink and lines, use to 28lb paper-weigh or even heavier. For example, in our blank zines, we use 40lb paper to withstand glue from collage or paste.
The thicker the paper, the more expensive it is to buy, which might also be an essential consideration. As you do more zine-making, you'll figure out what paper weight works best for each project.
The size of the paper you use is another factor to consider. I typically stick with standard letter or A4 size paper. This allows me to make ½ hand ¼ size zines quite easily.
Cardstock is a thicker paper stock that is great for zine covers. I use these a lot because I can print my zines in black and white, which is more economical but still have a nice bright cover!
There are also just so many colors to choose from too! Look for the words "Cardstock" on the packaging, and I tend to stick with 65lb. It gives enough flexibility to work with without being too stiff!
In essence, having a guillotine can help you cut paper quickly and in straight lines. While this tool is handy and makes this work much quicker, it's not a necessity. I use them a lot because many of my zines are smaller quarter-sized zines, so I use them to cut my letter-sized paper in half. Guillotines are available in any craft or stationery store, and they're not overly expensive.
A quick tip: If you need to sharpen the guillotine blade, use some aluminum foil, cut through it a few times, and voila! A sharp edge again.
4. Long Arm Stapler
A long-arm stapler is just a stapler with a long arm on it. It comes in useful if you're making a saddle-stitched zine (folded zine stapled together) because your typical-sized stapler will not be long enough to reach the center. Also available at stationery stores.
It goes without saying, a ruler for measuring is a handy tool to have. I also use my ruler with my trimming knife when tidying my zines' edges—no need to get fancy. Any straight and sturdy ruler will do this job! There's a good chance you'll already have one of these floating around.
6. Craft Knife
Although craft knives are also an optional item to have, I can't live without my craft-knives and have a few lying around. These include a xacto, or retractable knife. Perfect for trimming the edges to tidy up a zine, cutting paper to size (if you don't have a guillotine) making shapes with paper.
Just like the ruler, these are handy to have around, and no doubt you may have a pair lying around the house somewhere. I use scissors for cutting scraps of paper, collage. You can use scissors in place of the guillotine and craft knives too.
8. Bone Folder
By far, the bone folder is my favorite zine-making tool! A bone folder is a compact plastic tool with a pointy edge used for smoothing and scoring. I use mine every day! It gives a lovely crisp fold, and it comes in handy if you're planning on making a folded zine or a saddle-stitched zine.
A bone folder is nice to have, but I guarantee once you've used one, you won't look back!!
9. Pens & Pencils
The need for writing implements will depend on how you're planning to construct your zine! Some zine-makers create zines digitally using graphic-design software and tools.
Others prefer the traditional zine-making method, i.e., Handwrite, collage, draw, and then construct this into a zine template to photocopy.
If you're going to make your zine the traditional way, pens and pencils are a must. No doubt you'll have a few odds and ends lying about. I recommend a graphite pencil for drafting, a fine liner pen for outlining, and coloring pencils for the finishing touches.
Check out Pencil Revolution, a website and zine series devoted to paying homage to the humble pencil showing that the traditional analog communications are the way to go, and testament that you can make a zine about any topic your heart desires!
10. Other Nice to Haves
Great news, all those paper scraps can now be put to good use. This is where it's good to collect little offcuts of paper, clippings from magazines, decorative pieces you like. Store them in a shoebox to use as decorative borders, collage, or lettering in your zine.
I have a few different-sized shape punches that come in handy to add a little extra flair to your zine. Pick these up at a local $2 store and experiment with them in your next zine.
Small but valuable for minor mistakes, broken pencils, or putting those decorative paper scraps to use. Cheap and cheerful is the go here.
Ready to Get Started?
Zine-making is a therapeutic activity that anyone can try. It makes a lovely self-care practice and is an excellent way to reflect on those things in life that are meaningful to you. There's minimal experience necessary to get started. In fact, youtube videos are helpful for ideas!
Let yourself dabble and experiment with some creativity. There's no good or bad write or wrong with zine-making. The more you explore and experiment, the more ideas will flow. With these tools at your side, you'll have plenty of options to create your very own zine.
The most important part is to have fun!
The next step is to work out what type of zine layout you'd like to make! If you'd like a bit of a helping-hand, checkout or ready-made blank zines and self-care zine-making kit too.