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What side do you punch the cardboard from?

I used to punch from the pattern side and now I punch from the back side.

Is there an actual best way to punch?

I push from the front, then when/if that doesn’t work, from the back. Then frown when it tears a bit.

I haven’t found a really good way.

IME, when a punch fails, usually the printed paper layer on the back stays intact while the cardboard separates. Therefore I punch from the front first, so that the printed part of the counter will end up too large with a bit I can trim off, rather than too small with an unsightly gap.


My assumption is that the strongest grip is on the back side so it’s best to push from that side so you get the most force on the strongest side.

But who knows!

Is it weird to use an x-acto knife and carefully cut?


I have tears more often when I push from the front so if I think about it, I push from the back. Most of the time, I’m too excited for the new game to think about it.

No, it’s not weird in the slightest! I use one (well a bushcraft knife, but only because it’s what I have to hand) ever since my copy of ghost stories ended up looking second hand before its first play!

I push from the front. Pushing from the back is more prone to rip in my experience.

The back is cut to a lesser extent so pushing from the front ‘reinforces’ the stress from the cut fissions. Pushing from the back means the stress in the card tries to ‘find’ the cut, which is likely to cause the back paper to rip out or even separate a bit from the token if the cardboard isn’t properly compounded. If there’s a rip when pushing from the front it’s likely to go out and away from the token, push from the back and the rip is likely to travel inwards onto the token.

But there’s definitely a huge range in quality of cardboard and cutting between games.


I would punch from the side the punch pressed through. You know the slight curve from the press? Down on that through.

Hypothetically tho. My hubby (Comaestro) enjoys the punch out process. And I get tv control, so win-win.


Oh no, I learned something about myself when I saw this thread and went “yup, I’ve got some strong opinions here”. +1 to pushing from the front (the not-flat side), because the other side is much more likely to tear. No knife though, I generally jab the small tokens out in rapid succession with a finger.


There is a best way to punch, and it sounds like RogerBW, KIR, superjaz, and mapletea know it too =)



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I think it would be fun to have a poll on this! :smiley:

  • Punch from the Front.
  • Punch from the Back.
  • Punch “Freestyle”.
  • Cut with a Knife.
  • Make someone else punch for me.

0 voters


At the time I’m writing this, no one has selected “Make someone else do it” in the poll, but I kind of secretly want someone else to do it sometimes.

(Remember, this is coming from a guy who’s spent hours happily, nay, joyfully, putting stickers on Catacombs disks, punching out The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Tsuro, and a bunch of chits for two D&D board games, and so on).

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These poll results are closer than I would have suspected.

I want to revive this old topic, I don’t think 19 people is statistically significant for @UllinBethalto’s poll.

I’m just gonna say it, I voted “from the back” because you’re less likely to tear art from the front. Of course, that doesn’t count if bits have art on both sides, then I’d go with “freestyle.”

I’m still enamored with “make someone else,” I mean, isn’t that what we have children for?

Voting preference submitted. I think I’ve only ever punched from the front. I was punching out the tokens for Sidereal Confluence a couple of days ago and briefly thought about punching from the back but for some reason it just feels like it would increase the chance of tearing. That’s not based on any personal experience though.

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We do have a variety of unpunched games, and two children coming to visit in a couple of weeks… :thinking:

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I voted from the front, because about 90% of the time, that’s the best and safest way to do it. The front surface receives the best compression and the most complete cut, so it’s usually more robust (though usually more important to protect). This means the backside, which is more prone to separation, has less opportunity to do so, being reinforced by itself.

I try to assess the cuts on a given punch board before having at it though. Some bad cuts will need a knife. Some will need careful, incremental pushes. Mostly I try to punch by striking them quickly, but I learned recently that you have to know your surfaces too. Treasure Island got scary at a few points due to the resilience of the lamination.

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Has anyone tried just smacking a sheet flat against a table just to see what comes loose? We all keep on getting pieces that are already loose after shipping, after all, and those loose ones usually look dandy.

OK, next time I get a game with a lot of die-cut fat cardboard pieces, I’m gonna try this. I will report back here if it works or is a colossal failure (may take some time, next game isn’t expected for a month or so).

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