Over the years I’ve used clear Contact Paper and Lamination Paper to “laminate” things for our homeschool. Lots of people have told me how “easy” and “frugal” it is to do it yourself.
HA! It’s not easy or frugal when you constantly get bubbles and wrinkles, or when you accidentally get the second side of the “laminate” stuck to everything BUT the project you are working on. Plus, if you have pets in your house you might have any number of things stuck inside with your project.
I also tried a Xyron 900 that cold laminates things. Great in theory, but terrible in the execution. I have heard that there are other people who don’t have any problems, so maybe it was just me. 🙂
This year I broke down and bought the Scotch Thermal Laminator for about $25 from Sam’s Club. I have been in loooooove with it since we got it! We are using workboxes in our homeschool this year, so I’ve been laminating lots of little things like box numbers, grids and other miscellaneous items. I’m also laminating the Story Disks that come with Five in a Row.
My laminator uses pouches which means one edge needs to be sealed, and that end goes into the machine. I’m a bit of a cheapskate and really don’t want to buy pouches in all different sizes, so I just cut my large ones down to the size I need. I try to use a sealed edge if I can, but I also try to cut it in such a way that I have large enough pieces to use later for other projects.
Some laminating tips:
- Read the manual. Seriously. It may be boring but it’s always a good place to start.
- Make sure your work surface is clean. If you’re doing it on the dinning room table, you WILL get toast crumbs in your project if you don’t wipe the table down first. 🙂
- Always, always wait until the “READY” lite comes on. Your project will come out funky if you don’t. I have to wait 5 -8 minutes for mine to warm up.
- Make sure you pick the right setting for the thickness of your laminate. (3 or 5 mil)
- 3mil pouches are thinner than 5mil pouches. 3mil will probably work for most of your needs, but if you need something to stand up to heavy-duty use, consider picking up a pack of 5mil to have on hand. Alternatively, you could laminate your project with 3mil, cut it out, and laminate it *again* with another layer of 3mil. I would test this out on scrap materials FIRST.
- Always insert your pouch seam first. If you have cut a large pouch down for a smaller project, make sure your edges line up PERFECTLY or it might catch on the rollers.
- Or you can make a “carrier” out of a piece of printer paper. Fold it in half and insert your project into the valley of the fold. Then run the carrier and project through the laminator closed edge first. If the project doesn’t seal completely the first time, run it through again without the carrier.
- Always leave about 1/2 inch margin around your project, especially if you will be cutting it out afterwards. You will need to leave at least 1cm to 1/2 cm around the object otherwise the laminate will peel off. Also be sure to cut out all your small items BEFORE laminating them.
- Let your item lay flat to cool for a moment before handling
- Square and rectangular items always have sharp corners, I use my scrapbooking corner rounder to soften those sharp edges.
- Sometimes thick items don’t laminate fully the first time. Rotate your project and send it through again.