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Old 07-14-2013, 08:37 AM   #1
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Default Using a scalpel to trim stamps? Questions.

I know I've got a few threads going on this unmounting project, but I keep running into questions.

Currently I am using my Tim Holtz kai style scissors to trim my stamps. They work well, but you can really only do straight cuts, which is fine when you are trimming your rubber before mounting it (all the cuts would then be straight), but doesn't work as well when you are unmounting wood mounts, which are often already trimmed with curves. Hard to get into those curved areas.

I would love to try a hot knife, but I think it would be a mistake. It just seems too dangerous for a klutz like me.

Several of you have said you prefer a scalpel for trimming. So I am wondering whether it allows you to trim curves better than scissors. Also, which size do you buy?

This is all based on my assumption that while a scalpel would require more care to use than scissors, it wouldn't pose as much danger as a hot knife.

Thanks. For being patient with my gazillion questions.
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Old 07-14-2013, 11:20 AM   #2
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My own personal take on curves (and I trim all my stamps with a scalpel) is that I make a lot of small straight cuts . A large open curve is no problem at all to just freehand with the blade, but for anything fine, making a lot of smaller straight cuts reduces the risk of under-cutting. This is just me, other people may do it differently. Can you not do curved cuts with the scissors? That's the only reason I've been thinking of getting them - but there are always other things higher up my priority list.
Size? A lot of people swear by the more pointy one (#10 or #11, I think), but to be honest I just get whatever is in stock in local stores, and if it's not always the same, it doesn't bother me.
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Old 07-14-2013, 11:34 AM   #3
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Thanks for this, Sabrina. The scissors work well, as I said, but doing curves with them is tricky unless the curve is, as you say, a large open curve. But even more annoying are those spots where you have what I can only describe as a flat-bottomed "V". In other words, where you can cut in on either side, but you are still left with a small straight cut to make between the two cuts. If it's a short cut, it's very hard to get the scissors in there.

But I do like them. Probably because they are such a safe way to work.

I'm going to get some scalpels and try them out. They have them on Amazon in the 10's and 11's.
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Old 07-14-2013, 10:40 PM   #4
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I use scissors to trim the bare rubber and a hot knife to trim the foam mount after that. The hot knife will not melt through the rubber, and using force to cut the rubber while the knife is hot is way too dangerous for me.
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Old 07-18-2013, 08:30 AM   #5
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I tried out the scalpels and once I got the hang of using them, they did work extremely well. I would say, Sabrina, that if you are using scalpels and happy with it, I wouldn't hurry to get the TH scissors. The scalpels outperformed the scissors in almost all cases IMHO. Even on a long straight edge, like on a square stamp, it was easier to run the scalpel along the edge of the rubber than to cut it.

Of course, the easiest stamps to mount were the new bare rubber I trimmed myself. Those I could trim using straight cuts. The ones I unmounted from wood were harder, because they had so many curves, Still, I didn't do too badly with them. I really love the neat look of stamps that come already mounted on cling, but can't argue with the savings when you do it yourself, and some companies only offer bare rubber.

Now I have to get brave enough to put them closer together on the cling sheet. I'm still leaving myself too much room and wasting material. !

Esther, do you get a lot of fumes using your hot knife? That was the other reason I hesitated. But mostly it is a safety thing. I know the knife gets very hot.
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Old 07-18-2013, 09:19 AM   #6
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Scalpels & Blades is where I buy all mine. They do a great 'starter pack' with a No3 handle, that gives you a selection of blades that you can try out to see what works best for you. My personal favourites are a No11 and No6 blades. 11's are a long diagonal blade, 6's a curved blade. Wouldn't use anything else but a scalpel, for almost all my cutting/trimming. Blades are sharp, and not expensive. I think most craft knives have disgracefully priced replacement blades, which encourages people to use them past their best.
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Old 07-18-2013, 02:24 PM   #7
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I found someone who sells the handles and blades here in the US. Your vendor seems not to ship outside the UK, Shaz. I just bought a pack of 10 disposable #10's, to try them. But buying a handle and extra blades makes sense, now that I know I'll use them.

I an definitely sold on them for trimming. My scissor are excellent for trimming the rubber before placing it on the cling, but the scalpels cut the cling much more precisely.
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Old 07-18-2013, 04:37 PM   #8
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I make sure to work in a ventilated room. Plus I modified a soldering iron to use an exacto blade and it is 40W so it doesn't get too hot.
When I cut, I don't bend over the table which helps not breathing in the fumes, if any. I hold up the pieces at eye level and hold my blade level so I could get a squared off edge on the cling.
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Old 07-18-2013, 05:31 PM   #9
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I envy you that you can use one! I have watched them used on YouTube videos and you can get such perfect trims!
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Old 07-19-2013, 05:05 PM   #10
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Sorry, Rachelrose, I didn't check the shipping info. Actually, now you mention it, I think there may be some sort of International law regarding the shipping of blades. I ordered some tissue blades for trimming polymer clay a while back, from Hong Kong,and they came with the export label listing them as something completely different, I've forgotten what, but it definitely wasn't blades!But at least it gives you an idea of the handle size to buy, lol.
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Old 07-19-2013, 05:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shazsilverwolf View Post
But at least it gives you an idea of the handle size to buy, lol.
Exactly! I found a source that has exactly the handle and blades you mention, plus a lot of other ones, very reasonable prices! So thanks!
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