Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crop-A-Dile II "Big Bite" Grommet / Eyelet / Snap Setter

So I guess I never mentioned that I decided to join in on this sew-along:

It was kind of a last minute decision, anyway. I've got lots of corset materials back home; I've patterned a few, and I've started constructing even a few more, but I've never finished one!   I figure this might help me do that, and maybe it will spur me on to sew more.... like that billionth cincher pattern I've made.

Any-who, how does that relate to the title of my post?  Well, I had bought this oversized "Crop-A-Dile" a little while ago:

I figured now was the time to figure out how to use it--after all, I needed to make a simple lacing strip for my corset mockup, right?  Since there's not many comprehensive reviews about this product when using it with heavy-duty grommets and fabric, I decided to write down my thoughts.

You see, it's a scrapbooking tool--you find it in the scrapbooking section of your arts and crafts store--but it markets itself as a tough product that can easily slice holes through things like fabric, cork board, and vinyl; and can set grommets, eyelets and snaps in almost all of the same.  But most people online seem to be using it for a simple scrapbooking tool, and I really wanted to put it to the test!

I mean, it's not a new idea for garment making--if you were a professional corsetmaker or leather-worker, perhaps, you'd have a $150+ high-quality product like this one from The Crop-A-Dile, on the other hand, sells for $40 retail at places like Joanns, where you can easily get  40% off (plus an extra 25% off) if you wait until the right time.  At around $15, I figured I could live with the disappointment if this didn't work. 

First of all,  I get it out of the box and.... oh, where's the instructions?

The Crop-a-Dile II "Big Bite"

You see, the plastic holding the setter itself has a nice, easily open-able perforated line.  But the instructions?  They're in that little triangular spot in the bottom that the arrows in the picture are pointing to.  That isn't easily noticeable or as easily opened!

I have to say it cuts pretty well--that's one of the main problems I have with grommet setting.   I would not use the hole punches for heavy duty corset making, but for fashion garments it would be pretty awesome.  The only qualm I have is that it leaves fabric tags like so:

The Crop-A-Dile II "Big Bite" Hole Puncher

You know, like when you have an old fabric punch that only punches 95% of the circle?  But that's very easily clipped away.

The main problem scrapbookers seem to have with this tool is that it is finicky with what metals it likes--it totally crushes cheap, soft metals.  I was wondering if I would have the opposite problem; would this be tough enough to splay two-part rolling/flare grommets that are even harder than scrapbooking grommets--and even harder than playing fashion-garment grommets?  Crop-A-Dile says it can do many kinds, and many different sizes of grommets, after all.   I'd say that's only a partial truth:


Here's the results of the first testing.  (By the way, you can click on any of the images for a more detailed view, as well!) The ones on the right (in green) I tried to set solely with the Crop-A-Dile II.  Well, they rolled/flared a little bit, but there's a whole lot of distortion.  The ones on the far left (in red) were set with a combination of light hammering and then the setter, just to see if there'd be an improvement.  You can also see a bit of crushing in those, too.  The middle blue one is solely hammered just for comparison.

In the front view, you can also see a bit of distortion in the green grommets, if you look very closely:


So I guess the setter is strong enough to handle these things?!  But it just doesn't handle them right!

After thinking about WHY it doesn't handle them right for a while, I came to this conclusion: my grommets are a size too big.  I have size 0 grommets--in the wire-gauge world, that would be SMALLER than a size 00.  In the grommet world, I guess that's different. Now, if the Crop-A-Dile lived up to its expectations, it SHOULD set grommets that are bigger than the 1/8 and 3/16 dials on the setter.  But  here's the thing: the "bigger than 3/16" dial on the setter is a generic one.  It's not very well shaped! Maybe if I were using it for scrapbooking, it'd be fine, but it doesn't stand up to large sized high quality grommets. And I think that's the problem. 

PS: Now curiosity is going to get the better of me, and I'll probably end up buying some 00 rolling grommets, so I can update again later on. I also have some fabric-store cheap grommets to try out, but I think those will work fine, too, considering it could mash these considerably harder ones!)

PSS: That blue arrow in the last picture?  It shows that no method is infallible!  When hammer-setting my grommets, accidentally mashed my hammer down on my fabric instead of my hand held grommet setter, and made a nice, weak, gaping hole.  Oops.


  1. Thanks for writing this! I've been trying to find something I could use for bookmaking and bagmaking, but with your results it looks like I might just as well stick with hammered eyelets and get the normal cropodile for the books.. Shame- I was hoping it would do the job.

  2. I also bought a Crop A Dile "Big Bite" about a year ago, thinking it would be good for riveting tasks. It is great for punching, but if the tool really can attach snaps and rivets (which I doubt) they should have provided better instructions in the box as well as online.