Agate Folders

Stone folders ~ not bone folders

Notes on folders ~ creasers ~ burnishers ~ for papercrafters and bookcrafters

Craftspeople creating items using paper often employ a small folder to make a firm crease or to score thicker materials. The most common tools for this are made from wood or bone ~ both of which are fairly soft and easy to shape [124744].

Here I write a few notes on folders ~ particularly those made from the very hard stone ~ agate. Tools to work with agate are very specialized ~ and are likely to be found only in rock-cutting workshops.

For many years my favourite folder has been made of stainless steel folder [124745]. Because I am always losing or mislaying my folders I tend to have several in use at any one time. Invariably I have one in my pocket ~ and in my jacket pocket ~ and (probably) one in the pocket of the trousers that have gone to the laundry bin.

A year ago I added a couple of agate folders to my creaser collection. They are now fairly easy to obtain since modern cutting equipment enables quarry workers to shape the lumps of millenia old rock which are dug out of the ground at various locations around the World. I find my agate folders as useful as any other tools for normal tasks ~ but they are marginally better in several ways. (Note the use of plurals in that sentence. At any one time I have several 'in use' ~ or mislaid.)

Small agate folder
A small agate folder ~ 8cm ~
I would suggest this a bit short for normal use

Agate folder
A large agate folder ~ 13cm ~
I would suggest this a bit long for normal use

Agate folders are readily available nowadays and have some novelty value. The cost is about twice that of a good bone folder, but currently they are available for less than £10. This makes such a stone folder an ideal ~ and probably surprising ~ gift for a fellow craftsperson. Agate folders are lovely to look at ~ being a natural item ~ and they really are a pleasure to handle and use.

Several agate creasers~folders
Folders of different sizes ~
Browns and greys are the most usual colours ~
More exciting colours are used for jewellery and ornaments

These stone folders are as useful as any other but have several advantages which are worth mentioning ~ their relevance depends on your style of working.

I read and kept a note ~ from somewhere (with apologies for failing to acknowledge the source) ~ that

'Agate has the power to harmonise the positive and negative forces that maintain equilibrium in the universe. It is also known to cleanse and stabilise the aura ~ stimulate and strengthen our analytical capabilities ~ encourage us to think clearly and concentrate on daily activities.'

This balance of the yin and yang is important for some people ~ another good reason for having some agate around ~ preferably in the hand and in daily use.

Agate is very hard. This means that it will take a fine polish and once shiny it will stay so. There are few everyday substances that will scratch agate - even the hard steel of a craft knife blade will not mark a true piece of agate. On the Mhos scale agate is rated at six ~ nearly two stages higher than ordinary steel ~ at four. [112331].

Bone folders are made from otherwise unwanted thigh-bones of cattle they are objectionable to vegans. Stone folders are environmentally friendly ~ although the dust produced in making them is not a good thing to be inhaling. Cutting and grinding is usually done with a gentle water flow to minimise airborne dust. The water is contaminated with dust of naturally occuring origin.

Cleaning an agate creaser
Yesterday I was gluing and creasing. ~
Today there is a crust of dry glue stuck to the agate folder. ~
The muck can be scraped away by a craft blade ~
without fear of scratching the agate

Modern material science has produced chemicals ~ resins and such like ~ that can resemble many materials. Faux agate is onesuch ~ it is not as hard as the real thing. I have no experience of it and so cannot write notes on it. I do know that some ~ usually cheap ~ plastic folders melt under the frictional heat as they do their job.

A plastic folder with melt marks
A plastic folder shown after some use creasing papers. ~
Friction has caused the folder to melt in places

A steel folder opening staples
I sometimes open stapled booklets with my steel folder. ~
An agate folder would work just as well ~
it will not be scratched but it might break under the strain

A drinks container being opened with steel folder

The ring ppull on this can had broken. With a steel folder in my pocket it was easy not to go thirsty! I would not have risked doing this with an agate or bone folder!

We have a sister site that sells agate folders ~ amongst many other items ~ [124761] and they can also be obtained from the craft shop Etsy [Etsy].

Agate folders are suitable for polishing paper ~ or pressing down pasted papers. The pointed end can be used for delicate polishing ~ of many other materials as well ~ scratches in gold and silver can be squashed out. The flat ~ but rounded ~ surfaces are ideal for this [112336] .

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Last updated 2022~1126/1114
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