Making order counters

Use thick cardboard to make it easy to pick up the counters. I use 1.5 to 2  mm thick mat board that is used to frame pictures. It is sold at craft stores but scrap cut-outs can often be bought cheaply at places that frame pictures, but any thick cardboard will do.

Tips: Use a spray adhesive (e.g. Bison spray adhesive, 3M 45 or Super 77, Loctite High Performance Spray Adhesive, etc.) to glue the printed sheet to the cardboard. Follow the instructions on the can and work in a well ventilated environment and use a protective mask. You can use other adhesives, such as PVA glue or even wallpaper paste, but make sure the entire surface is stuck to the cardboard. You don’t want individual counters coming apart after cutting. After gluing place weights on the surface (e.g. a stack of books) to keep everything pressed together and allow the glue to dry thoroughly. Be careful not to inadvertently glue the weights to the counter sheet.

Hand cutting

You can cut the counters using a steel ruler and a sharp knife, such as a hobby knife or a box cutter. Do not try to cut through the cardboard in one go, but use several cuts as this is more precise and much safer. Make sure your knife is very sharp. Replace the blade when it gets dull.

You can make things easier by cutting in a specific order as illustrated below. De red lines are cutting lines, the order indicated by the numbers. (The images show fewer counters for clarity.)

First cut mostly through the card leaving the back in one piece. Do this in one direction, still keeping everything together and aligned. Also leave most of the outside border intact for the same reason.

Dashed red lines, cuts 1-9.

Then cut all the way through sections of all the cuts in the same direction.

Solid lines, cuts 10-18

Next cut apart a section of the counters by finishing the cuts in the other direction. You can cut through the full width of the sheet, or leave the sides intact for additional stiffness.

Solid lines, cut 19-22.

Again cut sections of the strips apart (cut 23-31) and cut off the counters (cut 32-33). Repeat until you have cut through the whole sheet.

Paper cutter

If you have access to a paper cutting machine able to handle the thick cardboard, you can use that. Be careful as this is usually a guillotine type and potentially dangerous. It is easiest if you can cut the sheet into strips across the different orders (along lines 1-9 in the figures above). Then, align all strips back up so they form into a sheet again. You can use one of the side strips to align the ones with the counters. Then tape them together outside the counter area with sturdy tape. This will allow you to align all strips at the same time along the cutting fence and cut whole rows of counters in one go. Again you can collect the counters after cutting each order type.

Tip: if you have difficulty aligning the cut accurately, take two sticky notes, such as Post-it notes and put them with the sticky side up underneath the bar that holds down the paper during cutting, with the rest sticking out underneath the cutting blade. Put one at on each end of the blade. Cut the sticky notes using the cutter. The notes will now stick to the bar and extend to the cut line. Slide the counter sheet underneath the sticky notes and they will show you exactly where the blade will cut.

Heavy shears

If you have a pair of heavy shears, capable of handling heavy card, such as tin snips, you can use those as well, but be careful as they have a tendency to deform the counters. You might have to straighten them out after cutting.