Sunday, 21 February 2016

Measure once, cut ummm twice?

As a quilter, one of the most important and frequently used tools is the rotary cutter. It’s a rather humble, low maintenance thing - a new blade every now and then, and it will last for years without thinking too much about it. I always keep spare blades for those blade-changing-emergencies which typically happen at night or on Sundays. Blades are rather expensive so I will stack up on boxes with 5 or 10 blades when possible.

The last time I changed the blade, which I admittedly don’t always do when I should, something strange happened. I was happily cutting scraps when I noticed some weird mm-wide strips on my mat. Whaaat? Were my hands trembling? Did I suddenly suffer from double vision? After making sure that my hands were indeed steady and my vision uncompromised, I had a closer look at the blade.

See the white there? Yup; I had put in two blades by accident. There is oil or something between the blades so they had stuck together and as I was cutting, the blades came apart and made two cuts. When I removed the extra blade, I found all of this built up between them.

I’ll pay more attention when I change my next blade, which will be soon as I ruined a brand new blade on my new curved ruler. While I had understood that you can use a 45mm cutter with the ruler, it hurt both the blade and the ruler. Besides, the curves turned out less than perfect which was kind of the reason why I got the ruler in the first place – to get perfect curves. I knew I had a 28mm cutter somewhere and did a quick search.

Within a few minutes I had located no less than 8 rotary cutters, two of them unopened, and a circular one

A comfortable cutter makes a lot of difference to my hands, so I’m always on the lookout for the best one. So far I have tried quite a few types (pictures borrowed from online shops).

This 45mm Olfa is the one I use the most. I love how the blade retracts as you loosen the grip, and I automatically press the safety button when I put it down.

It travels in a box which was a gift from our guild - makes me feel better about packing a razor sharp object in my luggage.

This Kai was my first. I only have the straight blade and have mostly been using it for cutting paper the past few years, but I’m sure that a new blade and a drop of oil would have it up to speed again.

I have these in two sizes although I’m not sure which brand(s) they are. There are several of the orange types around and I’m quite pleased with the ones I have, particularly the shape and material of the handle.

I have this purple 45mm Olfa (the orange was not available) and have used it a lot. It’s a great cutter.

I have not been too comfortable with this 45mm Kai as I feel that I have to apply extra pressure to make the cut. That being said, I have friends who love theirs.

The circular Olfa cutter is great for bigger circles; not so good for small ones. I have had it for years and have just started using it.

This Fiskars was one of the unopened ones, but I hear great things about it.

This EZ cutter came in a goodybag with the 45mm head. It did not work for me at all. I usually sit at the table while cutting, so it may be an angle issue.

Now I am curious, which rotary cutter do you prefer, and why?


  1. Hi Nina Lise! Great post! I have the purple Olfa, my first cutter and I'm happy with that (as I haven't tried others). I have also one small olfa cutter but haven't used it much. If I get the Quick Curve ruler, I hope I can use my cutters. x Teje

  2. I like the Fiskars the best. The handle is comfortable and the bigger blade allows for going through multiple layers. I like a smaller one like the olfa for curves. I also dislike the retractable one you dislike for the same reason.