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Button Makers

Our Button Makers are available. Please sanitize after use. Cleaning equipment will be provided to you.

Pricing and Policies

Where are the button makers?

The button makers are in the Scholar Studio, across from the library's front doors.

How big are the buttons?

The button makers in the Scholar Studio can make 1", 2 1/4", and 3" buttons. Your image needs to be slightly larger than the finished button size. The necessary image diameters are:

1" --------- 1.313"
2 1/4" ----- 2.625"
3" ---------- 3.451"

How do I make sure my image is the right size?

Use our Word templates! We have a 1” button template, a 2.25” button template, and a 3” button template to help you size your graphic. Just change the fill in the circles to “Picture” and select your image. Not sure how to do that? You can read this guide to learn how to fill a Word shape with a picture. When placing your image, please note that the edges of the circle won’t be visible in the finished button.

How much does it cost?

Materials to make standard 1”, 2.25”, or 3” pin-back buttons or 1” magnets are 50¢ per button/magnet.

How do I pay?

You can pay for plastic bags of button parts at the Circulation desk. Each of these bags contains of all the materials you need to make a single 1”, 2.25”, or 3” button or 1” magnet. We accept CatCash, regular cash, and checks. Please return your empty plastic bag to the container on the table so that we can reuse it.

Can I make things other than buttons?

We also have magnets available that can be used with the 1” size buttons. Just tell the Circulation desk you want supplies to make a magnet. The button makers can also be used to make keychains, magnets, bottle openers, jewelry, pocket mirrors, and other items. These items require alternate materials that you must supply yourself — the library only has materials for 1” magnets and standard pin-back buttons in any of the three sizes.

What if I want to bring my own materials?

You are welcome to bring your own materials to create buttons, magnets, or other items. We strongly recommend that you use materials from American Button Machines, but 1", 2 1/4", and 3" button parts from most other manufacturers will work.

What's a circle punch?

A circle punch is a cutting tool designed to let you efficiently cut out appropriately sized circles for making into buttons/magnets.

Instructions

Pieces
In the bag:
  • button shell (metal piece without a pin in it)
  • mylar (circular piece of clear plastic -- feel for it in the bag as it may be hard to see)
  • [2 1/4" or 3"] pin-back (metal piece with a pin in it)
  • [1"] collet (metal ring)
  • [1"] pin (vaguely buckle shaped wire piece)
On the machine:
  • lower dies (round metal dies that can rotate back and forth)
    • pick up die (shallow, on the left)
    • crimp die (deep, on the right)
  • upper die (round metal die on the top)
  • handle (the handle-shaped part)
 
Button Maker Steps
  1. The shallow die on the left side is the “pick up” die. First place a button shell (sharp edges down) in the die, then place your image on top of that, and finally put the mylar on top. Orient your image so the top matches up with the black mark on the die, like in this image.
    Top of button maker
  2. The deeper die on the right side is the “crimp” die. Place your pin-back or collet (metal ring) in this die with the sharp edges up. If you’re using a pin-back, place the pin along an imaginary line between the two black marks on the die. If you’re using a collet, the orientation doesn’t matter.Inside of button maker
  3. Rotate the dies clockwise until they stop. The pick up die will be at the back of the machine.
  4. Pull the handle down towards you as far as it will go, then lift it up to its vertical position.
  5. Rotate the dies counter-clockwise until the crimp die is at the back of the machine.
  6. Bring the handle down and up again.
  7. Rotate the dies back to where they started and take out your button. If it’s a 2.25” or 3” button, you’re done. If it’s a 1” button, either insert the magnet or wedge the pin into the collet and rotate it until it is oriented correctly.
Tips
  • Don't use cardstock, fabric, or other thick materials. Standard printer paper is best.
  • Only insert one sheet at a time into the circle punch. Using multiple sheets at once can damage the cutter.
  • If you're printing your button graphics, use the button size templates to ensure your image is the right size for your button. The paper circle needs to be slightly larger than the button you're making.
  • Trim your paper into a strip the width of the Circle Punch.If you arrange images vertically, you can feed a strip of paper through the punch for more efficient cutting.
  • Double check that you only have one of each button making part. The button shells and the collets both like to nest together, and placing two into the button maker at once can damage the machine.
  • Be careful! The circle punches have sharp blades, and the button makers press down with significant force.
  • Please return your empty plastic bags to the Circulation desk so that we can reuse them!

For more in-depth instructions, visit American Button Machine's Learning Center.

1. Slide your graphic between the top plates of the punch.Circle punch machine

2. Make sure it's positioned the way you want it. Your image should fill the entire circle in the top plate. (If there is a bit of a white border, that’s okay.)

3. Push the handle down as far as it will go. See the picture for the correct direction – if it’s very hard to push down, you might be pushing in the wrong direction.Circle punch with handle pressed down

4. Reach under the machine and poke your beautiful new circle out from the bottom with your finger. The 1" circle punch has a small metal piece that you push up instead, since the hole is smaller.Removing graphic from circle punch machine 

5. Pull the handle back up and release it.

6. Slide the excess paper out or slide your strip down until your next image is lined up.

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