Tips & Tricks: Keep your blades sharp

Replace your crafting blades often! Pazzow!

Anyone who has watched more than two minutes of the Food Network has heard Rachel Ray excitedly yelling extolling the virtues of a sharp knife. A sharp blade, she screams at you, is actually safer than a dull one.

It seems counterintuitive, but if I had my own TV show about cooking or bookbinding, I would be doing the same. But all I have is this crummy blog, so I’m screaming it here:


Using a dull blade means that you have to work harder and exert more force to get a clean cut. The more force you are exerting, the more pressure is on your blade–pressure that has got to go somewhere, and too often straight into your finger.

Using a fresh crafting blade will keep your projects neat and your fingers safer.

I use a few different blades: X-Acto knifes, rotary cutters, and scalpels. The lifespan of any blade depends on what I’m cutting. When I cut book board, which is heavy and thick, the blade dulls quickly. For cutting single sheets of paper, however, a blade will last a lot longer. If you notice that you are having to use more force than before, it’s probably a good time to move on to a new blade.

The cost of replacement blades varies, depending on the tool you are using, but buying in bulk can save you some serious dough. I usually buy mine from Amazon, just because it is so easy. Some of my favorites (all with free Amazon Prime shipping) include:

  • 100 pack of #11 scalpel blades. These are razor-sharp and pretty tough, not to mention dirt cheap at about $.20/blade. Just make a one-time purchase of a handle and you are good to go!
  • X-Acto Blade Dispenser, 15 count These blades come in set of 15, for those who aren’t ready for the commitment of buying/using 100 blades. The dispenser is also great for keeping spare blades neat and ready to use. You can also get a set of 100 blades.

I also buy my rotary cutter blades off of Amazon, but the price and amount depends on what brand you use. Fiskar blades do seem to be cheaper and Amazon Prime-friendly, but I haven’t tried them and can’t recommend them.

Not only will keeping your blades fresh mean cleaner cuts, it will also save you a lot of swearing and anger. There is nothing worse than bleeding all over the book you’ve been so lovingly crafting.

I’ve had more than my fair share of nicks and cuts, and I have to say that Rachel Ray, girl, I am behind you. And that is a proclamation of agreement, not of my bodily location. Believe me, hun, if I was behind you, you would be able to tell from all the heavy breathing.

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