Using an X-acto® Knife

Whether you’re making cards, album pages or other paper-crafting projects, an X-acto® knife is a great tool to have on hand. An X-acto® allows precise cuts and it’s perfect for basic techniques as well as paper engineering.

Use a Ruler

It’s a good idea to use a ruler as your guide for straight cutting. Hold the knife similar to how you hold a pencil, placing the flat part of the blade (not the point) against the edge of the ruler. Knives with smaller blades allow you to cut in tighter places and give better control, but you may need to adjust the angle you hold the knife for the best cutting.

What Pressure?

You don’t need to press very hard to achieve your cuts–in fact, applying too much pressure can break the blade. Just apply enough to cut through your paper. For best results, you’ll want to change the blade on your knife often, depending on how often you use it. If your blade is dull you have to apply more pressure, and you’re more likely to cut yourself as a result.

Take Your Time

Another safety tip is to avoid getting in a hurry. Always take the time to set up your space for cutting. When you cut in a hurry you can easily makes mistakes or hurt yourself. Avoid trying to cut through too many sheets at a time—your knife will cut through two sheets of cardstock, or a closed card, but don’t try to do more than that at once.

Storage Tips

Storage is also very important—store your knife with the cover on, or if you have a retractable X-acto®, make sure the blade is retracted to avoid injury. Also, be careful not to leave the knife laying on your work surface or out in the open where small children can find it. If you’re planning on traveling with your knife, remove the blade if it isn’t retractable. Store the blades in the case they come in for safety.

Other Tools

A few necessary tools to have for using an X-acto® are a cutting mat (preferably one with gridlines to help you make straight cuts) and a metal cork-backed ruler. The metal prevents you from cutting through the ruler, and the cork back will keep it from slipping.

Other Uses

An X-acto® knife isn’t just for cutting! Use the knife tip to pierce small holes for inserting brads, or use the knife to arrange small pieces on a project.