questionswhat's the best starter in-home button maker?

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If you just want to try button making, but you think your family will get bored of it the Badge-A-Minit 2 1/4" Starter Kit is on sale for $29.95 plus free shipping. It's been a while since I bought my machines, but that's probably one of the cheapest machines out there.

Here's the problems with it:
* 2 1/4" isn't really the small buttons that are trendy now. (If you're interested in things like making family photo buttons, though, bigger may be better.)
* I used this type of press a long time ago, and remember it being really awkward. It worked, but it's definitely not as nice as the other presses and you may end up with more ruined buttons on your way to making a good one than with other machines.
* Badge-A-Minit refill parts tend to be more expensive. They also have their name stamped on the back of some of the parts. You can get around both of those issues by ordering compatible parts from another vendor.

(Continued in next post.)

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Badge-A-Minit also makes another, better, plastic machine called the bench press. You're looking at $100 & up for that type of starter kit. One of the nice things about that version is if you want to be able to make buttons in several sizes it's probably one of the cheapest ways to do so. (Not that it's cheap-cheap. Add in a couple button sizes and the BAM starter kit goes up a couple hundred dollars in price.)

I used one of the plastic bench presses for a long time. It was fine. It worked. But now that we have a decent metal machine, no one really wants to use the plastic one any more.

You can buy the metal machines from BAM, but if you're going to spend that much I'd recommend opting out of the BAM world entirely. Google up places like Dr. Don's and American Button instead. Depending on the kit, you'll spend about $300 but they're just better machines and you may get more/better supplies in the starter kits.

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As for circle cutters... Technically, you could cut all your circles out with scissors. Practically, that's a horrible idea if you're making more than a few buttons (or aren't a good cutter).

If you get one of the starter kits, whatever circle cutter that comes with it should be fine.

If you buy a circle cutter on your own and want to keep it cheap, you can check a craft store & hope they have a cutter or punch that works for your size button. Some of the craft circle cutters are awful, though, so you could end up buying several to find one that's okay.

If you decide to spring for one of the more button-centric circle cutters, you'll probably be choosing from either the rotary type or punch type. Rotary is adjustable-size and good for cutting out of the middle of a sheet of paper. Punch is more accurate but is fixed-size and you have to cut your paper into strips first.

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Thank you for the awesome answer(s) :) My only regret is being able to + it just once :)

I'll do some more research, and may post additional questions. Thanks for the head start!

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@drfaulken: @rainbowshark gave you excellent information, and I'd like to second what s/he said. I used the hand-held Badge-A-Minit system for a while long ago, and although it was slow and a little awkward it was sturdy and easy to use. At that time I was running a political-action organization which sold buttons to help support the cause, so I'd often have volunteers come in to make up up 50-75 buttons. By that time, I'd graduated to two of the plastic BAM bench presses. The circle cutters I got from BAM worked well.

I especially enjoyed the ability to whip out 20 buttons relatively quickly when I needed something very topical for a meeting of some kind. Printers are so much more sophisticated these days that you can easily make whatever you find or create into a suitable badge with great fonts, graphics, and photos.

(cont'd)

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@drfaulken:

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I think your first consideration should be how many buttons will you need to make at a time and how often you'll want to make them. If you're talking about a handful or two at a time once a month or so, I'd really suggest you go first with the handheld BAM model, mostly because it's fairly inexpensive yet well made and reasonably easy to use. It's probably worth it to "road test" the starter model with an eye toward upgrading if/when you think it's necessary.

(I used the BAM stuff from about 1980 to 1992 or so, and I still have it stored away in my attic somewhere. This conversation tempts me to dig it out and create holiday badges for my co-workers. Hmmmm. . . )

Edit: I just looked at the BAM site: I'm pretty sure I paid $30 for the handheld model I first purchased back in 1988 or 1989. That was a fair chunk of money back then, so for a starter kit it's an even better deal today than I expected.

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Hi everyone,

I just wanted to update this post after doing some research, and talking to the wifeypants about how much we expected to use the button maker.

We really want to make smaller buttons, and I was looking at the Model 875 from Dr. Don's:

http://goo.gl/Ki63v

However the starter kit with 500 buttons and the circular cutter is quite a bit more than the $30 2 1/2" from BAM :D

So my follow up question is: is the press something that one could buy used, or are we better off buying new?