The Pick Punch looks just like any old paper punch at first glance, however upon closer inspection you’ll notice the great big plectrum-shaped hole in the bottom. With this little gadget you can take almost any piece of flat plastic material and turn it into some custom guitar picks!
We featured the Pick Punch in our Xmas Stocking Fillers article last year and I have to admit that I almost instantly wrote it off as a fun, novelty item. But once you start to see the possibilities for custom pick creations it quickly becomes a very useful (and incredibly addictive!) tool. Read on to find out how…
What’s In the Box?
Inside the attractively designed box you’ll find the Pick Punch, ready to start pumping out custom plectrums. I also picked up a small selection of plastic sheets from the Pick Punch website to get started with, as well as a sanding block for shaping and buffing the picks – these are an extra purchase, but very inexpensive.
The punch itself is very heavy and feels incredibly well built and solid in your hand. When you first see the size of the hole on the bottom you really wonder how on earth it manages to cut such a large area from your material.
The plastic sheets are all of a similar thickness, but are of varying colors and opacities. Pick Punch sell a variety of different plastic sheets directly from their website should you need a good supply.
The sanding block has each side numbered from one to four, with side one being the roughest and four being the finest. So the idea is that you start buffing your pick on side one and then gradually move through the grades down to side four. By the time you reach the fourth side you should have a nice smooth bevel to your pick. More are available to purchase from the Pick Punch website – I found that mine lasted for roughly 20 picks.
How Does it Work?
Simply place your material into the slot and push down – bingo, out pops a pick! The material you use is dependent on what the punch dimensions can accept, and your imagination (and common sense!). Food containers, old credit cards, cardboard – almost anything is fair game. Source some delrin, tortex, polycarbonate sheeting or similar and you can make a pick which is easily as good as any of the big name brands.
The slot which you can insert your sheet into is roughly 2mm tall, so that is the absolute maximum thickness of material you can use. There is no set rule for what types of materials you can try, but the general idea is that if you really need to force the punch down hard, don’t risk it! I managed to use a ~1.5mm sandwich box lid but I think I was pushing it there!
Once you have your pick you simply take the sanding block and buff the edges to make a nice smooth bevel. Or leave it rough depending on your own preference.
There’s only so many picks you can make out of old credit cards before you start craving more, so why not try getting a little creative? I think this is where the Pick Punch really shines and becomes more than just a novelty item.
For example, you can take two transparent picks and sandwich something in between them to make a truly custom creation. I picked up an A4 sheet of 0.75mm clear polycarbonate sheeting and had a little fun. You can fire some custom graphics in there, magazine cuttings, pressed flowers – I even tried one with some of my own hair (although that was disgusting and will never see the light of day). Take a look below to see a few picks I managed to cobble together.
With two picks sandwiched together I was making some pretty meaty 1.5mm beasts (3mm with the sandwich box lids!), but you could easily keep adding plastic to make them as thick as you’d like. With a little patience (and a lot of sanding!) you could create something to rival the 11.85mm Insanity pick from V-Picks.
As long as you’re willing to put a little effort into making these picks they are easily as good as any other I’ve tried. In fact I’ve been using my home-made picks almost exclusively for the past couple of weeks! After I got the hang of it I found that each pick would take roughly 10 minutes to complete – here was my workflow:
- Apply a small dab of superglue to the center of the image
- Place the pick on top, making sure the glue pushes out to the edges of the pick
- Once dry, cut out the image and repeat the gluing process on the back
- Buff with the sanding block
Here’s a little tip if you intend on trying this yourself – buy a plastic sheet with protective film on both sides! Obviously a problem that comes with messing around with superglue is that things can get messy rather quickly, so the protective film will keep any glue from touching the pick face and clouding the image. It will also protect the pick face when you’re buffing with sandpaper.
Once you’ve used an entire sheet you can take it down to the World Air Guitar Championships and sell them to the competitors as air guitar picks. Check out the seven beauties I made below, using the finest of Scottish air.
There’s something inherently satisfying about playing guitar with a pick you created yourself, especially when it has your own custom image/graphic inside. At first I thought this would just be a fun, novelty item, but once you get into it the Pick Punch quickly becomes a useful tool to have around. After you have bought your Pick Punch you potentially have free picks for life, and beautiful customized ones at that!
As a user of Jazz style picks I was pleased to see that the company has also recently introduced a new model which produces these smaller sized picks as well. I can definitely see myself picking one up!