What do you use to do your cutting? Let me introduce you to a couple of great friends of mine.
Lots of Cutting Tool Choices
I have seen and heard about all sorts of different cutting tools that folks use. Some like to use utility knives, with their heavy duty replaceable blades. Others like those small utility knives with their break-away blades. Still others like those disposable surgical cutting tools borrowed from the medical profession. Heck, I’ll bet some even use box cutters.
I have been an X-Acto knife user all my life. How a tool fits in my hand is very important to me. If it is too skinny or too fat, I am going to be looking for a replacement sooner rather than later. I feel the same way about my writing tools. Those skinny metal pens need not apply for the job. I hate them. I also cannot stand those extra fat pens, either.
X-Acto Knife Handles
I have tried and thrown away more X-Acto knife handles than I can remember. A lot just plain broke. If there is any plastic anywhere as part of the mechanism that secures the blade, it is going to break sooner or later.
Mainly, they just did not feel right in my hand. The most common problems are too skinny or too light.
I spend a lot of time cutting. I have absolutely no time to waste on a tool that just does not feel right.
A while back I bought an X-Acto X2000 knife. Internally it uses the same mechanism as the original X-Acto knife handle. You know that it is reliable. But on the outside it has a hard rubber shell that fits great in my hand. As a bonus, it has an anti-roll nib that sticks out. No more problems with it rolling off your worktable and heading straight for your foot.
100 Replacement #11 Blades
To go with the knife handle, I keep a pack of replacement #11 blades handy. A 100 blade pack goes for about $20. Each blade works out to $0.20. Not bad.
I go through a lot of blades as I work. Whenever I start a new project, or anytime I feel the blade start to slow down, I just replace it. They do not cost enough to be losing sleep over it. I bought the pack that I have years ago and it still have blades in it.
I have also bought and tried a lot of metal rulers over the years. They all work, just some work better than others. Some insist on only printing U.S. Customary units on them. In this day and age, that is nuts. Metric units are just too commonplace to ignore.
Another ruler that I bought has the markings etched into it. That is nice because you know they will not rub off. But the problem is that, in the wrong light, it is very hard to get an accurate reading. I avoid using it.
I bought a beautiful 18 inch (45 cm) stainless steel ruler not too long ago. It has sharp Metric and U.S. Customary markings on both sides. This ruler is going to last me forever.
Problem is, the stainless steel is very slippery. If I do not press down very hard as I make a cut, the ruler moves and I destroy the piece that I am trying to cut. Again.
As a safeguard, I draw a black line telling me exactly where the cut needs to go. The line tells me the instant a ruler starts to slip. Cheap insurance.
Mayes Aluminum Ruler
A while back I bought a three foot (1 m) aluminum ruler. It was inexpensive, costing only about $5. It is made by the Mayes Brothers Tool Manufacturing Company in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Note: In the video, I mention that it is American made. I just assumed that it was. I just noticed that the ruler has “Made in China” printed on it in small letters. Oops.
This ruler looks totally ordinary, but I have fallen in love with it. You see, the aluminum has a coarseness to its texture that keeps it from slipping. It is wonderful. This ruler has never slipped on me as I was trying to make a cut. Hooray!
Another Ruler Idea
Last night a local friend mentioned that he keeps a small six inch (15 cm) clear plastic ruler on his workbench at all times. Because he can see right through it, it makes it very easy to measure the thickness of a sheet of balsa or foam. Looks like I am going tool shopping again…
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