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gavino200

Xacto knife blades

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gavino200

Up till now I've been using the basic blades for everything. The pointy triangular shaped one. I was looking in an art store today and noticed that these things come in a startling variety of shapes and sizes. Is there any need for these? I mean, does anyone use/recommend any non standard xacto blades? For what jobs?

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cteno4

For most train stuff the good old #11 do the trick. The #16 or 24 have a shallower blade angle and can take more pressure for cutting thicker or harder stuff where you press harder with a larger handle. Few odd times in carving stuff a curved blade helps, but rare. Chisel blades are useful in a few sitiations to use, well, as chisels. For the most part #11 will do ya though. Always handy to have one of those assortment packs to use in that odd situation.

 

big issue with #11s are the sharp blade angle leading to a very fine tip that is brittle and wears quickly.

 

the new z series blades with the zirconium nitride coating seem to be a tad tougher and stay sharper longer, but I’ve not carefully compared them enough to say if they are worth the extra cost or not. Everyone I’ve talked to about them seems to have the same experience as well, no one shouting they are far far superior. I also wonder if the coating helps the blades slide better in some materials as the blade drag can cause a lot of cutting issues in some materials. They may just be a marketing trick!

 

but one thing is for sure, #11 blades are about the most universal hobby tool you use for all sorts of stuff and I’ve learned to not cheap on on blades and usually get xacto and I toss the blade as soon as it gets starts to get dull or snaps the tip. I’ve tried re honing them but it’s a lot of work to do well and I’ve found not worth the time. I will just drag them now and then on a fine foam nail file to deburr the edge and it seems to keep them sharp a bit longer but I’ve never tested this carefully and only do it when cutting fine stuff with the tips. Some will hone the edges with another X-Acto blade for freshen them up. An old vinyl cutter I use to work with way way back would toss the blades really fast as he found it was with running through $10 in blades a day as it kept him going faster and fewer screw ups. I use to grab his tossed blades as they still seemed plenty sharp to me!

 

part of keeping the blade sharp is like surgical cutting of drawing the blade with just enough pressure to cut but not forcing it. Need to let the blade do the cutting. Too much pressure just slows things and dulls the blade. It’s a feel thing, but it makes a difference in how they cut and how the edge holds up.

 

jeff

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gavino200

Thanks Jeff. I did by a small pack of curved ones. Those are the only ones I could imagine a use for. I've been using the same packet of many (200 or so?) blades for years now and am getting to the end of it. I think they're a no name brand. I find I use blades for a much shorter time than I used to. Time to get another packet.

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bill937ca

I've been told the curved blades are useful for cutting curves.

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gavino200
36 minutes ago, bill937ca said:

I've been told the curved blades are useful for cutting curves.

 

I could see how that would be. You'd be using it as a kind of sharp punch, rather than cutting by friction. That's not unlike how a paper cutter works I guess.

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cteno4

Hugh, never heard that. The curve is negligible over the usual cutting area at the tip for the first mm or two you would be using so would be smart as flat blade. #11have the smallest blade bit at the tip where flat cutting is happening so should have the best maneuverability for cutting curves in a flat piece.

 

Graphic paste up guys who were always trimming fast around lots of curvy bits always were using #11. Sharp tips also helped them pickup and place graphic bits. All that’s sort of a lost art...

 

ive always used the convex curved blades in carving on rounded surfaces, easier to shave using the curve than a flat blade. Convex as well when carving into a surface.

 

jeff

Edited by cteno4
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chadbag

Be careful with the chisel type and the scoop-chisel-type (don't know what the official names are).  I bought an Xacto brand kit that had some various blades in and was trying to do some light chisel work on a guitar chamber and the scoop-chisel one just broke at the base where it goes into the handle.  After very little easy use.  This was a real Xacto brand.  Methinks they have gone to lowest bidder outsourced manufacturing.

 

For #11 I just buy bulk packages -- maybe no-name or other-brand -- I don't remember.  I bought a few at Tower Hobbies (RIP -- now a part of Horizon Hobbies)  a long while ago plus some in Japan at a 100 yen store.  I just toss the blades when they start to get dull but I get good service from them.  At least in bulk, the other brand / no-name ones are cheap enough to use and toss.    I do use real Xacto brand handles though.

 

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gavino200
42 minutes ago, cteno4 said:

Hugh, never heard that. The curve is negligible over the usual cutting area at the tip for the first mm or two you would be using so would be smart as flat blade. #11have the smallest blade bit at the tip where flat cutting is happening so should have the best maneuverability for cutting curves in a flat piece.

 

 

 

I think he's talking about using it a bit like a pizza cutter. Sort of rolling the blade around the corner. Like a sharp punch concept rather than using it as a friction cutting tool. I've never heard of the technique either, but I could see how it might work.

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maihama eki

Somebody mentioned a pizza cutter.  I use these rotary cutters as well.  My wife uses them for cutting fabric, and I find them quite useful.  They are available in a variety of diameters.  Olfa is my brand of choice.  I think Olfa is a Japanese company.

 

https://olfa.com/craft/products/?filter_product-type=rotary-cutters

 

Olfa also makes some cool circle cutters:

With conventional blades:

https://olfa.com/craft/product/compass-circle-cutter-cmp-1/

and rotary:

https://olfa.com/craft/product/rotary-circle-cutter-cmp-3/

 

Be careful with rotary cutters.  My wife sliced off a good size piece of her finger once.

 

 

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cteno4

Rotary cutters don’t work as well on thicker material, but are good on paper. I could never get them to cut chipboard and mat board well with hand rolling cutters. Also best to use a large edged straight edge as its easier to keep the wheel from meandering from the straight edge. Also low straight edges make it easy to catch the blade edge on the straight edge and roll the cutter up onto the straight edge and your fingers! Like your wife experienced dem blades is very sharp and flesh is very soft, almost akin to a tablesaw blade! Unlike a straight blades, rollers are a bit harder to stop once you get going, it’s just something odd with the feedback, action and brain loop compared to a straight blade.

 

It’s all in the wrist like X-Acto cutting!

 

I use to use them a lot when I needed to slice lots of heavy art paper as it was faster and easier to drop the balde on and slice than the X-Acto tip, but is a different cutting action with your wrist than a regular blade. I now do it on a nice heavy stationary rolling cutter as you can quickly line up the paper and the cutter head auto clamps down the alignment edge and paper and very clean cuts. They ain’t cheap though, but no finger tips can get sliced...

 

jeff

 

 

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maihama eki

Speaking of straight edges ...

 

These see-through plastic ones with metal cutting edge!  See through plastic with ruling but with an edge that holds up to your cutting tools.

 

https://www.westcottbrand.com/products/professional-drafting-measuring/westcott-1-189-quot-x-12-189-quot-grid-ruler-with-metal-cutting-edge.html

 

I got this tip from an Adam Savage "Tested" Youtube video.

 

 

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maihama eki
17 minutes ago, cteno4 said:

 

 

I use to use them a lot when I needed to slice lots of heavy art paper as it was faster and easier to drop the balde on and slice than the X-Acto tip, but is a different cutting action with your wrist than a regular blade. I now do it on a nice heavy stationary rolling cutter as you can quickly line up the paper and the cutter head auto clamps down the alignment edge and paper and very clean cuts. They ain’t cheap though, but no finger tips can get sliced...

 

jeff

 

I need one of those!

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cteno4

This is the one I got. Works well and folds in half to store nicely. Good price at amazon, about what I paid for it at the craft store with a half off coupon.

 

it can slice off like a paper thickness strip off the edge of a sheet it’s that sharp and clean!

 

https://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-100580-1002-Procision-Rotary-Trimmer/dp/B00QY1FDGU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1543629028&sr=8-3&keywords=rotary+paper+cutter+fiskars

 

My old one is this one and it also works well. It’s good in that the alignment/holder piece is also the edge the blade travels along so easy to get perfect cuts, but since you have to press down to do the cut and hold (the one above has 2 rods that keep the blade pressed down while it travels down them) things can wiggle if you don’t do it squarely (like cheating a few fast cuts while on my lap being too lazy or in a hurry to clear a spot on the table to do the cut!) I got mine for like $25-30 at the craft store with a half off coupon.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-Original-Rotary-Trimmer-95807097J/dp/B00006IC8L/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1543629028&sr=8-8&keywords=rotary+paper+cutter+fiskars

 

for uber precise or odd stuff I still just use the old X-Acto as I’ve done so much over the decades it’s pretty much muscle memory by now... but for cutting out lots of rectangular stuff like our club badges, notecards, and such these work great.

 

jeff

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gavino200

I was sharing the kitchen table with my wife this morning. Me with my train stuf, her with her sewing stuff. I noticed she had a roller blade. I've seen it a bunch of times but never gave it a thought. It's an Olfa, that's her favorite brand also. I tried it out and yes, it's pretty nifty. I don't think I want to use it as I'm fairly risk averse when it comes to cutting equipment but I'll definitely keep it in mind in case a specific job calls for it. I told my wife about Maihama's wife almost losing her finger tip. She said that happened also to someone in an online group she belongs to, so she's very careful with it. 

 

I ordered some Xacto Zs to try them out, and a metal edged clear ruler. Thanks guys!

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cteno4

Yes a couple of times I had the handheld roller jump the straight edge and why I mentioned it. My fingers were back and nothing hurt. But I had a bad cut into my thumb from a matte knife when cutting 40” pieces of chipboard with a 4’ straight edge when I was a lad. The long straight edge was forever getting knocked over in my crowded workspace at the aquarium and it got a couple of dings on the edge. These were tiny, but just enough that doing a long cut I twisted the blade just tight enough along the top edge for the edge to catch and pop it up onto the straight edge and across my thumb. Sadly cutting long cuts in 1\16”chipboard means you have to press hard and do some gymnastics so by the time I saw it happening it was done and lots of blood and a nice long scar on my thumb.

 

I learned from this and got a bar of stainless steel milled down to a straight edge with an v handle along the top of it. This allowed easy movement of the straight edge and a wall to hide my fingers behind! Plus it was ultra heavy so less pressure needed to keep it in place. I know have my own one that I got when pearl art went out of business here a few years back. Last day of their blowout and practically nothing left and everything at 90% off. I found a box with like a dozen of the nice X-Acto rear tightening handles I think someone hid way back on a shelf and leaning back in a corner was a 4’ cutting edge like my old one (but nicer with a rounded handle strip and even heavier) from a German company for like $250! Price tag was faded and I’m sure there for 20 years not selling at that price, but was mine for $25!

 

This is what you want to protect your fingers! These work well, wish there were a bit of a flat bit of straight edge in front of the wall, but the best I’ve seen around for a good price.

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0083SGQTA/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

more expensive like I was mentioning with edge sticking out. Wish they did this in 2’

 

https://www.amazon.com/43-Inch-Straight-Safety-Ruler-Anti-Slip/dp/B01606ETP4/ref=sr_1_31_sspa?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1543780034&sr=1-31-spons&keywords=Straight+edge&psc=1

 

micromark has some but very light weight aluminum, but functional.

 

cheers

 

jeff

Edited by cteno4

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gavino200
5 minutes ago, cteno4 said:

I found a box with like a dozen of the nice X-Acto rear tightening handles

 

Nice, I didn't know such a thing existed. I'll have to look for one of those. Sometimes it's difficult to the the Xacto blade in tight enough as the grip isn't super grippy.

 

My wife mentioned that her friend who cut her finger made a special protective ruler by adding a plastic strip. I offered to make one for my wife but she says she's careful and doesn't need one. I don't think I need one for regular blade work as I'm also very careful.

 

That ruler is called a "scale". I'm guessing just another name for ruler. But it made me think. Do you know is a ruler exists that is market in n-scale meters? I could see that being handy.

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cteno4

Usually the issue is for larger things where holdingnthe straight edge and pushing harder means you can slip up. I’ve had X-Acto on smaller things jump when cutting harder to cut stuff like stryene that can sway the blade if not careful.

 

took a look and found these as well, cute fold down design:

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07884LD3G/ref=sxbs_sxwds-stppvp_2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=d45777d6-4c64-4117-8332-1659db52e64f&pd_rd_wg=5xiEC&pf_rd_r=RGF91YMEDAA0KDX8HM2S&pf_rd_s=desktop-sx-bottom-slot&pf_rd_t=301&pd_rd_i=B07884LD3G&pd_rd_w=w2ZzY&pf_rd_i=Straight+edge&pd_rd_r=31f121d2-a35d-46d5-bb0e-80e8e1ed1434&ie=UTF8&qid=1543780542&sr=2

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HI8U6TQ/ref=sxbs_sxwds-stppvp_1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=d45777d6-4c64-4117-8332-1659db52e64f&pd_rd_wg=Cmzz8&pf_rd_r=7S01S6Y22WF3MY831801&pf_rd_s=desktop-sx-bottom-slot&pf_rd_t=301&pd_rd_i=B01HI8U6TQ&pd_rd_w=i9zVK&pf_rd_i=Straight+edge&pd_rd_r=c46a33fd-3045-49c0-802f-40b691956746&ie=UTF8&qid=1543780790&sr=1

 

usually when a ruler is called a scale it’s got scaled marks on it like an architects scale with 1/4” to the foot, 1/16” to the foot, etc. they were big when everything was drafted by hand, now just used to quickly read off dimensions from printed drawings. I use to have little indents on my fingertips from the triangle scales when I would spend days checking demenisions on architectural and exhibit plans!

 

https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Pen-Architectural-Triangular-Architecture/dp/B07DNHCMS7/ref=sr_1_4?s=office-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1543781138&sr=1-4&keywords=architectural+scale+ruler

 

there are ones for trains as well with ho, n, o, etc. engineer scales can read off at digital scales like 1/25, 1/100 and fortunately for us at 1/150!

 

https://www.amazon.com/Honbay-Aluminum-Triangular-Scale-Engineering/dp/B072QZF829/ref=sr_1_4?s=office-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1543781236&sr=1-4&keywords=1%2F150+scale+ruler

 

cheers

 

jeff

 

 

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