Cutting Tips

Are you cutting challenged? Cutting doesn’t have be such a challenge—especially when you have a few tips up your sleeve.

Take Your Time

Remember the old adage, “measure twice, cut once”? It holds true for paper crafting too. Slow down and take your time. And the more you practice, the better you’ll get—and the more familiar you’ll become with your cutting tools.

Long Straight Lines

For long cuts, personal paper trimmers are perfect. In one quick stroke you can cut a nice straight edge, perfect for cropping a photo, creating a mat, or trimming down a paper up to 12” long.

Most trimmers come with built-in swing-arm rulers to help you measure and align. (Look at your trimmer—sometimes people own a trimmer for years before they discover this!) Trimmers also have a firm straight edge at the top and bottom for you to align your paper against. If your cutter is bending or tearing the paper rather than cutting through it, you need to replace the blade.

Although personal trimmers are great for most straight-line needs, they do have their limitations. Because of the width of the ruler the trimmer’s blade is in, it’s very difficult to cut papers that are an inch wide or less. Trimmers are also hard to use to cut off any less than 1/8" of paper. For small cuts like this, use an X-acto® knife with a straight-edge ruler and cutting mat.

Cutting Small Shapes

To cut out small shapes or intricate designs, a pair of small 5" scissors work perfectly. To get close on intricate designs, it’s best to cut in from one side, then turn the paper and go in from the other side. This technique is easier than cutting in from one side and having to turn small corners with the scissors. Small intricate pieces can easily be bent this way.

Cutting Circles

Larger scissors (8 1/2") are ideal for making longer cuts when cutting circles larger than 2” or so. Try using the back part of the blade rather than the front tip of your scissors. This produces a better, smoother cut because you won’t have to actually lift your scissors to complete the cutting, meaning less chance for leaving small points in your circle.

To cut circles with ease, hold the paper in your left hand and turn it while cutting with your right hand (the opposite if you’re left-handed). You’ll naturally need to turn the paper faster than you cut it to keep up because of the long blade. Practice is the key!

X-acto® Knives

For some cuts, X-acto® knives and straight-edged rulers work best. For example, trimming a narrow piece off the edge of a paper—if the cut is smaller than 1/8”, it’s too small for a personal paper trimmer. X-acto® knives also work great for templates. Trace a template design such as a Diamond Fold, then use the ruler and knife to cut it out.

Buying and Caring For Your Scissors

Always invest in a reputable brand of scissors; typically, cheaper brands don’t last long. The scissors should cut very smoothly with no hang-ups or dragging and not be too loose or too tight. If you cut surfaces that are glued or sticky, swipe a moist baby wipe over the blade to remove the residue from the scissors and keep them from sticking. You might also opt to keep an older pair on hand to use for the gluey pieces or other craft uses, and save your “good” pair for the “good” tasks!