I really do love a great bargain. I stop at yard sales, go to thrift stores, and always check out the clearance section at a store. I regularly do my grocery shopping at Meijer, which is dangerous, because they don’t just sell food. They have a craft section. I almost always allow time to check it out. I know I often end up buying something on clearance that maybe I really don’t need, but I figure someday I’ll use it, whether it’s beads, paint, dye, scrapbooking paper… My 6-year-old daughter loves looking in that section with me. It makes her look forward to grocery shopping! We’ll sometimes spend more time in that section than we do shopping for food!

A few days ago I headed over to the craft department clearance section, which is usually at the end of the aisles, and found a some items I couldn’t pass on—some beads (for making jewelry, someday) 75%-90% off, and polymer clay in fall colors (darker green, brown, rust) 80% off. Had to grab those. Then I ventured down the aisles, looking to see what else was on sale or new that I just had to have. I found they had put a whole bunch of crafting tools on clearance to make room for new merchandise. Most of the stuff was pretty well picked over (frown), but look what I scored:

Martha Stewart Crafts circle cutter on clearance

Did you see that price?!? In case it wasn’t clear, let me magnify that:

clearance price tag - $4.49

Yup! I’ve been eyeing this tool or one like it for a while now. I’ve seen the punches, but then you have to get one for each size. And have you seen the prices on those?!? Yikes! So when I saw this I got so excited. The guys watching on their security cameras must have gotten a good chuckle, because I’m pretty sure I did a little happy dance.

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Here’s a link to the product on Amazon:

Martha Stewart Crafts circle cutter on Amazon

At $11.35 (as of this writing), this was the cheapest I found online at any major retailer. Most were $15 and up.

circle cutter closeup

It comes with 3 blades, and they can be stored in the handle of the tool, which is a nice feature. You put the blade in one of the slots based on the size you want, and then turn the tool, almost like a crank. The blade is double-sided, so you can turn it either way, using either hand (I’m a lefty, so I notice these things). The blade itself swivels on the handle, so you don’t have to twist the tool as you rotate. It takes a little practice getting the feel for using it, using the right pressure and rotating it, but once I got the hang of it, I loved it. Have you ever used Spirograph as a kid (or adult)? It’s kinda like that. In fact, I bet I could use this with a pencil or pen to draw circles instead of cutting. There is an excellent video showing how to use this on the Amazon product page.

inserting blade into circle cutter

rotating blade in circle cutter

One drawback I discovered, as others have noted in reviews I’ve read, is that it isn’t easy to use with a small scrap of paper. Instead of having a stylus point in the center as with a compass, you put pressure on the round outer frame to hold the paper firmly and keep things from moving as you cut. If your scrap is smaller than this frame, you’ll have to tape down the scrap to keep it from moving. I’d recommend double-sided tape, because if you put the tape on top of the paper, the circle cutter template could get caught on the edges of the tape as you try to rotate it.

I did a quick test on a piece of office paper. I made several concentric circles, starting at the smallest (1 inch diameter) up to the largest (5 1/2 inches). I did all of this without lifting the cutter frame, just moving the blade to different slots.

concentric circles

On the first one (the smallest circle) and the last one (the outer circle), I wasn’t applying pressure evenly enough and didn’t have the best results. The innermost circle wasn’t completely cut through, so if you zoomed in you’d see a little imperfection where I ripped it from the next circle. And on the outermost one, I noticed it before removing the cutter, so I went around again, but I must have moved the frame slightly because I got a separate little sliver scrap. But I think I’ll have consistently better results with practice, taking my time, and with a better setup (at my work table instead of this mat sitting on my bed because my work area was piled high with other craft projects, recent fabric purchases, dolls to fix, and clothes to mend!).

I haven’t tried it on cardstock yet. I don’t have any projects underway right now to put it through the paces, but as soon as I do, I’ll give you an update with my more detailed review.

What great bargains have you found lately?

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