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Old 01-29-2013, 11:54 AM   #1
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Question Need help from craft knife users!

I admit it: I am craft-knife-challenged. As you can see from the attached photo, I have accumulated (through purchase and gifts) quite a collection of them, and I still can't get them to work right! I know it must be me!

My question is--what is your xacto/craft knife secret? I cut out a lot of my colored images using fussy-cut scissors, but there are some sections where the scissors just won't go. Every time I try to use a craft knife, I end up shredding the cardstock!

What works best underneath--glass, a self-healing cutting mat, or foam? I've tried using swivel blades, sharply angled blades, slightly angled blades, and flat blades.

Please share your craft knife PAPER and CARDSTOCK cutting secrets with me so I can stop hanging my head in shame and frustration.
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:29 PM   #2
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My biggest tip is: change the blade more often! I actually made this a crafty resolution a couple of years ago - as the saying goes "it's not worth spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar" (perhaps that's peculiarly English!).

Blades are really not expensive and as soon as you fit a fresh one you realise how much easier a clean and controlled cut is. My dad always taught me that a really sharp knife is safer than a slightly blunt one too as you're less likely to try to force the blade to do something or to skid off the piece and into the fingers of your other hand.

Other than that, I think for me it's pretty much a case of holding it with much same grip as I would a pen or pencil and to use only light pressure. If you press hard you're more likely to tear or drag the paper (and it's probably an indication the blade is getting blunt if you feel you need to press harder!).

I tend to use a glass mat when I'm cutting with a blade - I just got a cheap kitchen worktop protector (make sure it's smooth rather than textured). I find a blade tends to snag more if I use a self-healing mat.

I tried one of the finger-tip style knives but really didn't like it much - I use a plain old-fashioned Swann Morton scalpel with a 10A blade.

HTH!
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:38 PM   #3
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Although I don't use a blade that much anymore, I have to agree with Joanne. A sharp blade and a glass cutting mat, for me, means a more successful and precise cut. If I'm doing a free hand cut, I prefer a straight blade. If I'm using a template, I prefer a swivel blade.
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:09 PM   #4
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In addition to the tips already mentioned, when you are going around a curve, turn the paper instead of your hand and blade. That's what I do when using scissors to cut intricate shapes, and it works very well.
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:14 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tips so far. The age/use of the blade doesn't seem to matter. I have problems even with brand new blades.

I tried a glass mat before, but I will try it again. Maybe I was using too much pressure.

Is there a particular shape of blade that works best for you?
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Old 01-29-2013, 03:31 PM   #6
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I just changed out my craft knife blade and wowzer what a difference. Cutting paper was like putting a hot knife through butter.

I tend to use the self healing mat. My other bit of advice would be to not be afraid to use the blade to score and then cut through especially with cardstock. Also I use scissors to cut the image until I need to switch over to my blade.

I think there is a knack to it. I would stamp and cut some scrap paper to get the feel and the result I liked then I would move onto cardstock.
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Old 01-29-2013, 04:11 PM   #7
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I agree wjth what the others have said above. Sharp blade is key. Move (turn) the paper, cardstock, etc as you cut rather than trying to contort your hand to go around curves. Also I always cut out from corners. Don't try to cut in one continious motion. If that makes sense. I prefer the x-axto knives that use the #11 blades. Looking at your pic, I believe they are the 3rd and 6th knives from the left. With the silver one being my favorite. Practice is also important to getting a good cut. I prefer to use a knife for all my cutting. I've been using one years. I can't cut for squat with scissors! hahaha
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Old 01-29-2013, 04:13 PM   #8
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Also, something to keep in mind is the nature of paper fibers, particularly when cutting on a curved line. The fibers will cause the blade to go offline, especially while using a dull blade. It's similar to having your hand bumped by an affectionate cat's head while trying to cut: the cut gets skewed. It's happened to me several times, with a dull blade or a new one. As I tried to continue cutting the line (after shifting the paper around), the blade met resistance (paper fibers) and with a little more pressure: boom! The blade continued in the same line it had been instead of making the curve.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:10 PM   #9
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No hanging your head in shame. I think using a craft knife is a hard skill to master. I was so proud of myself when I learned.

I use a cutting mat for most of my cutting. I have used a glass mat. Like cat_woman I prefer a swivel blade when using a template. For the most part I use a #11 knife when freehand cutting.
I always change the blade frequently. Think of it like this you don't want a surgeon using an old blade during surgery. Your paper is your patient.

Here's one of my favorite tutorials for cutting-

http://www.annabondoc.com/blogs/blog...n-x-acto-knife

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It's similar to having your hand bumped by an affectionate cat's head while trying to cut: the cut gets skewed.
You have one of those too! !
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:19 AM   #10
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I have better luck with the cheaper knives. Like, 99 cent knives. I use a self healing mat but am looking to try a glass one. I can now cut straight with my knife without a ruler (can't cut straight WITH a ruler). For me it was just practice and lots of it!
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:59 AM   #11
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You have one of those too! ![/QUOTE]

I used to...2 cats - one of each gender - who lived for 17 years each (ten years apart), insisting on testing how much of a "Richter Reading" they could get out of me on my projects.

Like cat_woman I prefer a swivel blade when using a template.[/QUOTE]
Well gee, if you two are going to cheat...

I recall from some paper lace/incire/cut 'n' fold website several years ago, that for most paper projects, use #11 craft blades and for metal templates (or short cuts) use a #16 blade. X-ACTO Replacement Blades for Carving and Utility Knives | X-ACTO

If you go to your local hardware (I know that Orchard/OSH definitely has them), you can get a small box of 100 for about $13 dollars (don't hold me to the exact price as I haven't purchased them for quite awhile). Use your 15 - 20% off coupons to get them even less expensively.

Here's the product from the website:
American Line #11 Hobby Knife Blades (oops! They're $14.99. You can also get a 5 or ten pack of the #16 blades, but I really can't remember their cost.
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Old 01-30-2013, 03:00 AM   #12
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Practice! I've had good luck with self-healing mats and thicker is better for me so I can use more pressure. It just takes practice.
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:35 AM   #13
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I completely agree with the above advice to make sure your blade is sharp and I also use a self-healing cutting mat. You'll also have more control if you use a good sharp blade because you won't have to press too hard. Like my dad has always said about kitchen knives -- a sharp knife is safer than a dull knife!

I have used X-acto knives for >35 years and I always suggest the #16 blade:

16-blade.png

The blade gives you more control and also helps when you use it for separating and placing things like the little sticky rhinestones.

Another great knife tool that I love is the Xcalibur retractable blade, and all of the features are included in this graphic:

xcalibur.jpg

I know others who have trouble with the X-acto will sometimes get better results with a rotary cutter.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:35 AM   #14
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Thank you all for sharing your cutting knife secrets.

Phantom--thanks for posting the pics. I, too, have a retractable x-acto knife. I love being able to reach into the container where I keep my most essential stamping tools and not having to worry about accidentally slicing myself.

Re: cats head-butting hand--I have four (cats, not hands). Luckily, only two try to "help" with stamping. I have to be very careful about leaving projects out because one occasionally likes to shred paper/cardstock with his teeth.

I think I need to 1) buy a box or two of refill blades, 2) get out both my glass mat and self-healing mat to practice on and 3) lock myself in my craft area and not come out for food, water, or bathroom breaks until I can cut decently with a craft knife.
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Old 01-30-2013, 11:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueheron View Post
I think I need to 1) buy a box or two of refill blades, 2) get out both my glass mat and self-healing mat to practice on and 3) lock myself in my craft area and not come out for food, water, or bathroom breaks until I can cut decently with a craft knife.
And after all that, the paper fibers will get you!!!!
Seriously, don't go nuts trying for perfection. These are hand-crafted projects, after all. A good metal ruler helps, too, but even they will slip on occasion.

[/QUOTE] Re: cats head-butting hand--I have four (cats, not hands). Luckily, only two try to "help" with stamping. I have to be very careful about leaving projects out because one occasionally likes to shred paper/cardstock with his teeth.[/QUOTE]

Your cat was trying to help with distressing and texture! A real Craft Cat! Awwwww....
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Old 01-30-2013, 11:46 AM   #16
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Sometimes you can find a good metal straightedge that is cork-backed. If you can't (the only one I have is 18" which is a little long for papercrafting ), you can put masking tape on the back of your straightedge to make it less likely to slip.

(Another reason to have a cork/masking tape layer, especially if you like to add hand-drawn lines or frames to your card design: Having that layer creates a sort of bevel and ink from your marker/Copic multiliner won't wick under the straightedge and smear.)
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:08 PM   #17
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Thanks, Phantom. I have a cork-backed metal ruler which is 6" long (found it at a university bookstore--a good source for reasonably priced art supplies for us small-town people who have to drive 120 miles to get there). So far, most of my craft knife cutting involves curvy places (between flowers, under arms of people, fur around animals, etc). A straight edge doesn't work for that kind of cutting. But I know what you mean for using it when drawing frames or lines.
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:18 PM   #18
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I guess we have more in common than four cats, two of whom like to chew on our supplies! >^..^< I just recently checked out art supplies the college bookstore several blocks away (only as an alternative to driving 1+ hours to good hobby/art supply store).

When it comes to those curvy places, I stick with my paper snips - the sharp tips are the key! I have the Cutterbee version that a lot of papercrafters have and also found a Westcott pair that is coated, especially good for anything sticky. In a really tight tricky spot, I use the snips as far as I can, and then the #16 blade works really well to press down in tiny intervals versus actually trying to pull it along and ... carve? I guess is the word.
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:58 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Sometimes you can find a good metal straightedge that is cork-backed. If you can't (the only one I have is 18" which is a little long for papercrafting ), you can put masking tape on the back of your straightedge to make it less likely to slip.

(Another reason to have a cork/masking tape layer, especially if you like to add hand-drawn lines or frames to your card design: Having that layer creates a sort of bevel and ink from your marker/Copic multiliner won't wick under the straightedge and smear.)
Oh I know! But I still managed to mess up a little until I really focused on hand placement. I found out that on a 12" metal ruler (with cork backing) on a glass mat that if I tried to go past a certain point without replacing my hand (further down) for weight on the ruler, it would cause the blade to skew. It seems obvious, but wasn't - for me.

I, too, have a 6" (for smaller areas), 12", 15" and 18" (for boxes) metal rulers, plus aluminum 36" and 48" yardsticks that I abscond from my dad (again for boxes). A true crafter can't have too many tools...
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:40 PM   #20
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I just love this conversation - I remember writing once about my fixation with rulers, and it looks like I'm not the only one!

And yes - no matter how much you think you've figured out how to do something, like cut along an edge without it slipping. . . . it's still going to happen sometimes. I swear there are times all I have to do is blink. Or breathe.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:54 PM   #21
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You breath whilst cutting?!
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:06 PM   #22
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You breath whilst cutting?!
Well, yeah! How else can I get all those curse words out????
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:53 PM   #23
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I agree a sharp blade is the most important. I use a self healing mat. I "slip" on a glass, but probably just haven't used it enough. I think it has a lot to do with how you hold the knife. Check it out, even with an old blade. See how you are cutting. If the tip is doing most of the cutting, then it will wear quickly. If you have it too flat, the back of the blade may be doing most of the cutting, and not getting benefit from the very sharp point. I like the Prima Comfort Craft knife. It has several different blades in it. I cut differently depending on what I'm cutting, so switching the blades makes lots of difference. It is well balanced in my hand and has a comfort grip. It's the best I've tried.

I hope my link works, it's the first tie, I've tried to link something.
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:40 AM   #24
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Kristen and Joan, you crack me up

Ske1961, great job with attaching the photos - I'll have to look for that knife. TFS!
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Old 01-31-2013, 06:05 AM   #25
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Quote:
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Kristen and Joan, you crack me up

Ske1961, great job with attaching the photos - I'll have to look for that knife. TFS!
Yeah, well there's nothing like trying to get one of 15 a five pointed Star Cards done before a Holiday deadline and having paper hangnails (papernails?) to repair before proceeding...

But at least I had plenty of blades...
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Old 01-31-2013, 07:48 AM   #26
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Thanks, Ske1961. That DOES look like a comfortable knife. Your pics are great.

Phantom and Card Maker 01--count me as a member of the club: I have 6", 12", and 18" cork-backed metal rulers. The larger ones are left over from other projects years before I started stamping.

You're supposed to breathe while cutting???? Maybe that's what I am doing wrong. I keep holding my breath. Maybe I am passing out from lack of oxygen...
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:32 PM   #27
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Seriously! Kristen & Blueheron, you have to breathe while cutting. Holding a sharp blade is dangerous enough, but encouraging it to do stuff while you might go unconscious is not a good idea... you could black out (even for a microsecond) and get jabbed or slit (amazingly it will be in a perfectly straight line - without a ruler), knock the glue over, spill glitter and get some into the wound, and have all sorts of problems... besides, you're supposed to hold your breath while attaching two pieces of cardstock together with the super tacky tape...
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:11 PM   #28
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LOL. I always hold my breath too. I've tried to stop, but when I really get with it, I find myself holding my breath again.
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Old 02-02-2013, 04:03 AM   #29
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I'm with Joanne on this- a swan morton scalpel handle, and I use either #10#11 or#6 blades.I think the biggest problem, especially if your replacement blades are fairly expensive, is to try and use them for a bit too long.Scalpel blades are quite cheap, can be bought in a number of different sized packs, and like most things, the larger the pack size the cheaper they work out.
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Old 02-02-2013, 04:50 AM   #30
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I'...and like most things, the larger the pack size the cheaper they work out.
Yep, I bought 100 blades last time I bought a pack. At that quantity they're about 7 pence each (that's about 11 cents but prices are very often pence/cent equivalent so it wouldn't surprise me to find that our US friends can get them for about 7 cents each).
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Old 02-02-2013, 05:52 AM   #31
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Joanne, how true is that!
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:47 AM   #32
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Very true. I definitely noticed it when I lived there. It always made me laugh when an American clothing shop used the same price tags they just didn't have a pound/dollar sign in front of the numbers. Probably had to change that with the euro coming in but I pretty much missed all that.
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:33 AM   #33
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We (so far) have been smart enough not to get into the euro! But yes, I have seen price tags on stuff imported with $9.99, being sold over here for 9.99.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:26 AM   #34
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Yeah, I was just thinking a lot of the shops accept euros.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:36 AM   #35
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Yeah, I was just thinking a lot of the shops accept euros.
That may be true in some big tourist cities (I know places in London do, for example) but it's not widely accepted in the UK and you're unlikely to get a favourable exchange rate if you find a smaller place that does take it so best sticking with sterling if you can.

The Euro is wonderful for holidays and business trips though - DH doesn't worry about changing them on his return since they'll cover trips to Germany, France, Austria etc so keeping them makes sense - the only place on his fairly regular itinerary that's not covered is Switzerland.

Sorry... back to our regularly scheduled discussion of craft blades
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:13 AM   #36
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Shazsilverwolf and Angelnorth--thanks for the advice about how to keep the cost down (and encourage me to use new blades more often).

Didn't mind the currency hijack at all--it is good to learn how things work in other countries. When I visited Ireland five years ago we had to change U.S. dollars into euros (for the Republic of Ireland), then our euros into Pounds (for Northern Ireland). It all became a bit confusing on a 10-day trip.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:29 AM   #37
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Well, well, well... if you ladies hadn't mentioned the swivel and #16 blades, I would have never known about the other (than #11) blades and tools available on the Xacto website.

Since I had only seen the #11 blades at Mike's and JoAnns, I thought that the swivel blades were only for particular tools, such as CutterBee Curvy Cutter Cutting Tool, Fiskars Oval & Circle Cutter Set, Martha Stewart Circle Cutter, etc.

Xacto does make a swivel knife and blades:
Designer Series Craft Swivel Knife | X-ACTO that is available at Michaels.

They also have Decorative Shapes Templates (Includes 46 shapes including mailing/gift tags, leaves and flowers, hearts and stars and edges)
Designer Series Decorative Shapes Templates available at our local WalMart (according to the Xacto website). They're reasonably priced, too.

They also have Foamboard Cutter
Cutting Foam Board | Mat Board Cutter | X-ACTO Foam Board Cutter available at Staples and Michaels.

Another con on using the standard #11 blades is if too much pressure is applied, the tip can break off (and go flying). The shorter blades would eliminate this hazard.
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:48 AM   #38
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Two of the knives in my photo above are swivel blades--one by x-acto, one by Fiskars. These ARE better for curvy places--but I still manage to shred my cardstock half the time.
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:50 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueheron View Post
Card Maker 01-

Two of the knives in my photo above are swivel blades--one by x-acto, one by Fiskars. These ARE better for curvy places--but I still manage to shred my cardstock half the time.
Then you'll just have to chalk it up to paper fibers... and call it "texture-izing" or "distressing"

Coincidentally, I went to Micheal's last night and they had the swivel knife on clearance... but no knives (darn!). They still had the blades, though...

I did get an X-acto knife that is is pink and grey with a soft, ergonomic grip (and not as fancy as Ske1961's) that I'll use for the #11 blades (since those are easier to obtain in quantity) and replace the #11 for a #16 in my other black & Brown X-acto knife (that was rounder than the thinner one I was using). It'll be a nuisance to switch out knives while working, but it might help in the long run... sheesh!

...and we wonder why guys have to have 23 different socket wrenches or screw drivers...

Last edited by Card Maker 01; 02-03-2013 at 05:59 PM.. Reason: forgot to include info.
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Old 02-04-2013, 02:18 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Card Maker 01 View Post
...and we wonder why guys have to have 23 different socket wrenches or screw drivers...
My DH can beat that number, lol. He loves sockets and wrenches.

I forgot to add my other knife I use. I use a box cutter to cut my heavier materials like chipboard. I have several sizes. I mainly use the smaller size.

I also have four rulers, lol. I guess I am in the low number of rulers. I do plan to add some more. I am glad you all posted how many rulers you own. I was starting to feel guilty about my ruler collection.
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