We’re pretty crafty folks — Sedagive? does a fair amount of knitting, sewing, and crochet. She also does “repurposing,” where she takes an old item and then incorporates it into something new. She’s sort of like a Horadic cube. I recently started making handmade 1″ pinback buttons. There is a fair amount of paper / fabric cutting in the latter two endeavors.
I also attempt to reduce paper use by cutting scraps into note pads. The house has several strategic stockpiles of 3″ x 4″ note pads around the house in case we need to write our final words during the zombie apocalypse. You never know, we might get trapped in the downstairs bathroom and need to tell our tale.
Anyway, regular hand scissors will do a good job at these tasks. At some point I realized my cuts weren’t straight, and after using the guillotine-style paper cutter I remembered how awesome it was to use a paper cutter at the library back in school.
I started doing research on paper cutters (also called bypass trimmers), and I wanted to buy the best one possible for $50 delivered or less.
Here’s my review of the Fiskars 12-inch guillotine paper cutter.
Features and Build Construction
This paper cutter is supposedly made entirely of post-consumer resin waste. That’s nice, I guess, but it’s not the main reason I bought it. The reviews on Amazon were good, and it provided the most features and the blade quality was supposed to be very good for the price range. The Fiskars trimmer was $35.00 shipped via Amazon Prime.
The cutter is very light, I’d estimate less than two pounds. This is a bonus if your craft area doesn’t have a lot of room and you need to move the cutter around.
The Fiskars trimmer has a buttnest of measurement lines and grids on it. For my uses this isn’t super important, but if you are trying to make measured cuts this may be helpful to you.
There is a plastic guard at the end of the paper cutter near the blade. It’s removable; something I’m considering doing since the strips I cut are just narrow enough to get caught underneath the guard.
The guillotine cutters I used at the library when I was in school had pretty hefty blade locks on them. One lock style was a rotating flip like an old window latch. The other style was a metal hook / armature that held the cutting arm down with tension.
The Fiskars trimmer has a pretty gimmicky locking mechanism. You pull the blade away from the cutting board in order to clear a plastic peg. I don’t think this is particularly effective for keeping very small children from freeing the blade. If someone tries to lift up — and only straight up — then the plastic tab may be effective. However I think most kids may jerk on the handle, especially after trying to lift the blade up to no effect. If this happens, the natural motions of struggling with the blade may enable it to pop free.
Kind of defeats the purpose of the safety. :\
Anyway, I don’t think it’s a problem in our house, as all smallfolk who come close to the cutter will know not to mess with it. However, if you’ve got a curious two or three year old you may want to consider a model with a more robust safety mechanism.
Like I said earlier, the trimmer is very light. While this is good for moving the cutter around if you need to store it, it doesn’t help stability. The base is not weighted at all, and I have to apply some pressure on the cutter with my left hand while cutting to keep everything stable. This may be a problem for more precise cuts or when you are cutting smaller objects. When I’m down to the last strip of button paper the far left edge of the trimmer elevates a bit.
That would be manageable if there wasn’t a major problem with the Fiskars cutter: something is off with the guides or the top of the unit. The trimmer won’t cut a straight line if I put a piece of paper up against the top of the cutting board. That either means the grid marks on the cutter aren’t perpendicular, or that the top of the unit is askew. It isn’t noticeably crooked or anything, but it clearly doesn’t cut straight.
I print cut marks on the button sheets, and using the top of the cutter as a guide is instrumental in making consistently straight slices. Unfortunately I have to eyeball it now, and I never get a perfect cut.
I have adjusted my print sheets to include “fudge room” in case I don’t cut perfectly straight, but if you have precision work this isn’t the cutter for you.
After I get everything lined up, the cutting blade has been very sharp. The cuts are crisp. I am also happy with the motion of the cutting arm; it’s smooth without being too light. I want to make every cut deliberately, and I feel that the Fiskar trimmer strikes a good balance between an easy pull and a blade that’s too loose.
Lastly, the arm is slightly spring loaded. I don’t really care about this feature. I think it’s a holdover from the “real” cutters with big metal arms. The heavier arms could be tiring to lift over and over again if one was cutting a ton of paper. I don’t see myself doing this, but at least the spring in the Fiskar unit is mild as opposed to the big ass SPROINGGGGGG of the cutters I remember using.
There are a few 12″ cutters in the $35 – $50 price range. The units with heavier bases got bad reviews for bad blades. The Fiskar unit had good blade reviews, but I think it’s a little too light and stability is a problem. Of course, the bigger issue is the askew measuring grid and/or the crooked top of the unit.
I’ll keep the Fiskar cutter, and for now the shortcomings are manageable. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to my pals, especially if you need to produce consistent, precise cuts quickly.