You want to create papercuts, but have absolutely no idea what tool to use to cut the paper with? This article is all you will need. Here is the ultimate guide to all cutting tools and utensils with extra tips that will set you on the right path. The best thing? You only need a scalpel, extra blades, a sharps box and a cutting mat.
Let’s take a closer look at all of those.
You can watch a detailed video guide down below or head over to Eversea’s Youtube channel. I strongly recommend to watch the video to see the difference between several scalpels and blades, as it’s hard to describe with words. The video comes with transcription, make sure to hit the small rectangle button with horizontal lines next to the gear icon to turn it on.
The first cutting tool mentioned in the video is a surgical scalpel with number 11 blade. I find this one the best and I’ve already featured it many times in my videos. The blade is straight, very pointy and it’s extremely sharp – that’s what you’re looking for, whether you are a beginner or an experienced paper cutter. It is recommended to use a steel handle with removable blades instead of disposable scalpels, which will save you money and it’s better for the environment.
Advantages: extremely sharp, sterile, a variety of blades to choose from, can be purchased in pharmacies or online.
Disadvantages: the (plastic) handle can snap and is uncomfortable which can cause blisters after hours of cutting (prevent it by wrapping a piece of cotton or any other soft material around the handle to have a comfortable but steady grip) and some scalpels don’t come with a plastic cap to cover the blade.
Tip #1 Here are several blades that are good for this technique if you plan on using these surgical scalpels: 11, 10a, 15a
Tip #2 Head over to any bigger pharmacy to search for the scalpels. It helps to show them a picture of the blade you need as it’s not an item people often buy so they sometimes don’t have it in stock. Make sure to purchase a sharps box to discard all your used blades safely.
While these come with a handle and replacement blades, I find that any cheaper brand is horrible to work with. They are available in any hardware store as they are used for household repairs but also for modelling so have a look at websites that sell such supplies. Most come with a similar blade to the surgical #11 which is good for paper cutting. Buying a set of these would be a waste of money as you only need one or two types of blades.
Advantages: easily available both locally and online, cutting with precision, removable blades, steady grip on the round handle
Disadvantages: most blades often snap, tips can be slightly blunt, it’s harder to find replacement blades, not sterile
Tip #3 Invest in a better quality craft knife, cheaper ones come with more fragile blades.
In the video, I also mentioned several things you probably have around the house – manicure scissors, needles, tweezers and pins.
Manicure scissors can be used for cutting round parts, especially on the outline of the design before separating the papercut from the scrap paper. Tweezers and needles are handy for removing small bits and pieces that get stuck in or beneath the paper. Plus, you can use needles for poking small holes or use pins to secure the design to the cutting mat.
Self-healing cutting mat
You can’t go wrong with choosing a cutting mat. Self-healing mats can be pricey but they last for about a year if you use them properly. As you cut on them, all slits will eventually close (heal) so you can reuse the mat for a long time. Most mats come in black and green colour and some have grids, rulers and similar which is not necessary for paper cutting but it’s always good to have.
To extend its life, wash it once a week (if you use it often) in cold water. These mats detest heat so keep it away from any heat source to prevent warping. Don’t be tempted to put, for example, a cup of hot tea on it, as it will ruin the mat. After washing, leave it somewhere to dry. It’s best not to wipe the excess water with a towel as small strands of fabric will get stuck in the slits.
Advantages: functional, available in different sizes, durable, non-slip, comes with grids and useful features
Disadvantages: requires maintaining, can have a high price, works better with some types of cutters
Glass cutting mat
There is absolutely no need to search for a real glass cutting mat. Save your money and instead invest in a good cutting tool rather than spending it on something that you can find around your house or for a very low price.
You only need a flat piece of glass. You can find it anywhere – from old frames, plates, trays, construction material… the cheapest solution is to get a frame and take out the glass. You can put a piece of colored paper beneath it, with or without a printed grid or anything else that might help you.
Advantages: does not require maintaining, cheap, durable,
Disadvantages: can slip (for prevention put pieces of rubber or similar material at the corners), breakable, sometimes harder to use because of the reflection
Now that you are familiar with the basics, here is a very detailed guide: