Monday 30 January 2017

Which is the Best Paper Cutter ?

Hi friends, I am often asked for guidance on what products and tools to buy and I also love to keenly follow papercrafting tool discussions on social media and forums.
One discussion which keeps cropping up time and again is which paper cutter to buy!
Way back in 2012 I shared a post on Paper Cutting Tools and though a lot of what I wrote then is still valid , 5 yrs down the lane I think it's time to revive the discussion on paper cutters.

Should you really buy a Paper cutter ?
The answer is a big YES!!!
Regardless of whether you are a card maker, scrapbooker , hobby crafter , professional crafter or just a should definitely get a paper-cutter!!
We all love using scissors but using a scissors to cut  perfectly straight lines does take a bit of effort and time doesn't it!!
Having a decent cutter  makes cutting paper not only super easy but quick , accurate, enjoyable and efficient!!

Which is the best paper cutter?

Most of us like to research well before buying a new tool or product but  there are  such a huge variety of paper cutters out there  that it can get pretty confusing.
Paper cutters range from exorbitantly expensive industrial standard ones which can cut a massive 400 papers in one go to cheap plastic ones which you are better off not buying !

There is no clear cut answer as to which is the best paper cutter as it all depends on your needs as an individual!!

That said, one of the most popular and hot selling cutters in the paper crafting industry as of the time of writing this post is the Tonic 12 x 12 inch Guillotine Maxi Cutter
but since I want you to make your own decision not only now but also in the future when newer and newer cutters come into the market, I am discussing the important factors you should consider before buying the perfect cutter for you!!

This post is based on
  • my personal experience 
  • discussion with fellow crafters 
  • reading tons of reviews
  • watching dozens of videos on the different brands of cutters 
  • and taking special note of the problems crafters had due to a certain type  or feature of a cutter
so that I can bring to you a useful and completely unbiased  post.

Here are the factors you should consider when deciding which paper cutter to buy.
1. Size of the Paper Cutter
  • Unless you are really really sure of it I would advise you to get a 12 x 12 inch paper cutter.
    Tonic Guillotine 12 x 12 inch

This is the most useful size for us papercrafters as a lot of our pretty pattern paper comes in that size and most project measurements and tutorials work around that size range!
  • Smaller cutters
The first cutter I got  [an impulse buy from my local market!]had a base platform which was only 5.5 inches wide.
Metal Cutter
Not only was this cutter a complete misfit for me for lots of reasons,  the size  per se put severe restrictions on my crafting requirements as I needed larger sizes of paper to make fancy fold cards, boxes and pretty much most projects!
But I have seen many many crafters especially cardmakers perfectly happy with a small cutter . So it all depends on your needs.
Advantages of a small cutter :  cheaper, more compact and portable 
Maybe a small sized cutter will be a good option as a 2nd cutter
  • Cutter larger than 12 inches
If you have the space and need for a larger size by all means get one.Believe me you will love it!
From my small 5 inch cutter I jumped to purchase a huge 21 x 16 inch Deli guillotine .
21 x 16 inch Cutter
The huge size of this cutter helped me tremendously in cutting and recycling large cardboard boxes, cutting  chart paper for school projects and in cutting large ivory sheets which I use in card making and most 3 D projects.
Because I have this huge cutter I can buy larger sheets of paper/cardstock [which are always more economical ] and  easily cut them down to whatever size I wanted ! But yes it was expensive, it takes up a lot of space and you need to have a dedicated place to keep it.

2.Does the cutter have an extendable arm or does it fold away for storage

Sometimes the cutter may be able to cut papers 12 inches or more  but only by using an extendable arm . And some manufacturers  incorporate a fold in the middle of a 12 x 12 inch cutter so that it can fold away for storage or portability.
eg : Procision Rotary Trimmer folds in half .Tonic V blade trimmer and Fiskars Sure Cut Deluxe have extendable arms.

For many crafters these features may be a bonus feature as they like the compactness and portability features it gives the cutter.

But the problem with these type of features is  that either the measurements are missing in the junction of the extendable arm/ fold area or it is difficult to get accurate measurements in these areas. 
This is a crucial point  you should consider since the fold / extendable arm junction often falls around the 6 inch mark and that mark is so important to most cardmakers and album makers.
So the consensus is that if you need a 12 x 12 inch cutter go for a cutter which has a solid 12 x 12 base without folds or extendable arms.

3. Cutter Mechanism
For crafting purposes there are 2 main popular types of cutters depending on how the cutting blade works
  • Cutters which have sliding blades - Rotary or V blade style
  • Guillotine cutters which have long blades on levers which you bring down on your paper to get a nice cut guillotine fashion!
Cutters with Sliding blades

First of all I 'll list the pros which make these trimmers popular in crafting circles
  1. Most of these trimmers are lightweight and portable
  2. Fancy cutting blades may be available to give fancy edges to your paper
  3. Scoring blade option may be available depending on the brand
  4. It is possible to cut a slit in the middle of your paper and to even cut out a window on your paper
  5. Generally cheaper compared to the branded guillotine cutters
  6. Precise placement of the cutting line possible and many have markings  on the right side of the cutting blade as well as on the casing of the blade through which the blade slides.
  • most brands unless specifically mentioned as self sharpening will need to have the blades replaced- this can be rather tiresome as not only do you have to find a local source for the blades but take into consideration the cost of all those blades you will be needing!
  • frayed edges are common and slight fraying can occur even with a fresh blade
  • cutting capacity of the blades in most of the brands are inferior to a guillotine cutter
  • cutting specialty paper such as handmade paper trickier and more likely to give frayed edges or even refuse to cut at all!
  • most trimmers can cut only a single sheet of paper at a time
  • most rotary trimmers  within a decent price will not cut cardboard /chipboard 
Guillotine Cutters
Nearly all the guillotine cutters I researched had fantastic reviews about their cutting ability. 
  • Nice sharp clean cuts
  • Easy to cut 
  • Cutting is quicker than with a sliding type trimmer
  • Blades are sharper compared to that of a sliding trimmer and can cut better and a  wider range of materials
  • Most are self sharpening and need no blade replacing 
  • Can cut multiple papers  depending on brand
  • you cannot cut a slit in the middle of your paper
  • guillotines don't come with scoring or fancy blade options
  • you have to exercise due care when working it !
When buying a guillotine pay attention to product descriptions and reviews about these features in particular: 
  • Blade's  resting position
Guillotine cutters have their blades on the long handle and on the base and after cutting it is always desirable to have a cutter which can stay in the closed position without having to fiddle with difficult to manoeuvre locking mechanisms.
A locking mechanism which is too hard to lock and unlock makes it a pain so do read specific reviews about the locking mechanism if that is important to you.

As of the date of writing this post I have read a lot of negative reviews about the locking mechanism of the Martha Stewart guillotine cutter with crafters complaining how difficult it was to use.

The locking mechanism of my large 21 x 16 inch Deli malfunctioned and the cutter stays in the open position with blades exposed ! And yes it is a rather undesirable and admittedly dangerous situation !!!

Deli cutter
The Tonic 12 x 12 maxi cutter on the other hand has a perfect lever mechanism...there is no lock to fiddle with and the blades stay closed easily.

Tonic Guillotine
  • Safety finger guard- can be either a transparent plastic or  rubber piece which not only holds the paper in place but also prevents you from chopping off your fingers!
Do read the reviews of the finger guard/paper holder as in some cutters  the space under the safety guard was too narrow and crafters found it difficult to insert paper under it easily.
My 16x 21 inch Deli cutter has a safety guard attached to the cutting lever and it swings  up each time the the cutting arm lifted and it is a bit of an irritation! [see picture above] 
Also some guillotines do not have a safety finger guard ! My 10 inch Deli does not have a safety guard and yes I agree it is unsafe and accidents can happen but the advantage is that you can better see exactly where  you are cutting!!  

  • Check if the cutter has  measurements in  inches and /centimeters
Even if all your life you have been  used to working with centimeters the majority of craft tutorials are in inches and you really need a cutter which can measure inches 
  • Check the smallest measurement possible
If you make albums or boxes or other 3 d projects it will be very very helpful to you to have a cutter which can measure fractions such as 1/8th of an inch and even 1/16th of an inch such the Tonic Guillotine shown below
Tonic Guillotine
One of the main disadvantages of my Deli cutter [pictured below] was that I had to eyeball measurements smaller than 1/4th of an inch and the grid line on the base was in centimeters which was quite useless to me as I usually worked in inches.
Deli Guillotine
  • Position of the measuring lines
Most cutters will have measurements on the top edge but it is a big big bonus if you have a cutter that has measurements in other places such as midway and also at its lower edge and the vertical border
To get an idea about the position of the measurements, increments and the ease of reading the measurements - look at videos and zoomed pictures as these features are often not mentioned in the product description

5.Grids on the body - this is one feature which is super useful. Not only does it help you to see your paper is nicely lined up but it also helps you to quickly know the measurements. Here again it's helpful to have grids in fractions of inches rather than centimeters.
Grid lines marked every half inch on Tonic Guillotine

6.Material the cutter base is made of
Metal Cutters  are heavy and bulky and many top class brands such as Dahle have cutters made of metal  and they cut soooo beautifully ! But yes these are not going to be easy to move around and you have to take a call on if these are for you!
Also do beware of certain metallic local cutters that are available.My first cutter from a local brand [picture above] was metallic and though its blades are still sharp, it creaks like crazy while cutting and the cutting action is not at all smooth. Plus it has too many faults which I wont bore you with here !! 
Plastic Cutters : Here again stay away from really cheap plastic cutters...not only will they break easily but they will wobble like crazy when you cut! Most papercrafters prefer cutters made of plastic since they are lightweight and portable and not insanely expensive!! Just be sure the cutter you are buying is from a reputed brand with lots of good reviews!
Wooden Cutters: Both my Deli cutters are made of wood and I love the nice sturdy feel of these cutters! Yes having a wooden base will make your cutter heavy and in the end it all come down to personal preference!

7. Additional perks which may appeal to you 
Newer features are always being added as the paper crafting industry evolves and tries to woo us with newer, tempting add ons.
But beware some features may look good in writing but may not be practically all that cool!
eg a Scorer with trimmer may sound awesome but just go through some of the you tube demos and the reviews and  you will reach the conclusion that you may be better off buying a dedicated paper cutter and a dedicated scoreboard separately!!

8. Online reviews- be sure to specifically google for the negative/problem reviews! And try to watch videos to see the cutter in action before you take the plunge to buy it. If possible do talk to crafty friends, ask questions online and finally weigh the pros and cons and judge the value for money before you buy.

Now coming to one of the best cutters in the  papercrafting industry

Review of the Tonic Guillotine 12 x 12 inch maxi cutter
First of all the best thing about this cutter is its size...its base can hold and cut papers 12. 5 inches in size . And this 12.5 inch rather than a simple 12 inch is especially advantageous as many of our pattern papers have an extra 0.5 inch plain bit which we  need to discard!

It has a  body  made of good quality plastic which helps to keep it fairly lightweight despite its size .
The cutting blades  are self sharpening as there are twin blades present on the base as well as on the guillotine lever and each time you bring down the lever the blades slide against each other and not only cut the paper and but also self sharpens!
Can easily cut tiny slivers of paper with precisions up to 1/16inch widths!
Crafters who enjoy quilling and quillography can easily cut customized paper-strips using thick paper!
Measurements in inches and centimetres
Measurements are etched so they will not wear off with time.
Measurements at top of guillotine
Markings every 1/16th inches is especially advantageous as you don’t have to eyeball it - especially important for album , box making etc
Markings present at 3 places on the base: at the very top, in the middle and in the lower part
Marking at middle and lower part have an uncluttered look making them easier to read for people who prefer that
Middle Marking
Base has grids etched on it every ½ inches and you can actually even score on these if you want to.
Marked grid lines make it easy to vertically align your paper and also to make quick measurements
No extendable arm or folding line to hinder measuring in any area!! 
Transparent plastic finger guard is present near the cutting edge .This helps you to hold your paper near the blade safely.
Tonic Guillotine
This safety guard is  made is secured to the base and does not lift up when you lift the guillotine blade. In one of my cutter models the safety guard lifted up and it is a bit of an irritation! Also the safety guard has enough room under it to easily slip in your papers, foam, etc
Tonic Guillotine
You can even consider the safety finger guard to function as a smudge guard as it helps you to hold the paper in place without directly touching its surface!

There is a magnetic well in the top to hold your pins and paperclips! A nice additional feature indeed!!
Magnetic Holder
The kushgrip handle is detachable  and it can be stored in a slot under the  cutter. This makes the cutter more compact for storage or if you want to travel with it.
Detachable Handle

Here is a picture of my working space to give you an idea about the size of the  Tonic Guillotine 
Tonic Guillotine Cutter and Big Shot

 The only cons I could find were
  • A vertical measurement line would be a nice additional feature to measure the vertical dimensions of the paper without having to turn it.
  • The orange measurement markings on the top were somewhat difficult for me to read without my spectacles...but then my eyesight is not what it used to be...cant blame the cutter for that!!
Tips on Using a Guillotine Paper Cutter
  1. Always work on a stable surface - don't use your cutter on your bed or on a wobbly table - not only is it risky but you will not be able to get the required force!
  2. You will get the best cutting results if you use the guillotine cutter whilst standing as then you will use the guillotine levers in the best possible way!
  3. Abut your paper against the top edge to easily get perfect straight cuts 
  4. Always always press down firmly on the paper using the finger guards- this not only prevents your paper from moving while you are cutting it also helps give nice clean cuts
  5. Bring down the cutting lever of the guillotine in a nice fast sweep. Especially when cutting "difficult" paper such as handmade paper
Cutting Capacity

  • The Tonic guillotine cuts a wide range of materials. I tried it with thin paper, holographic paper, thick card stock, foam, fabric paper, cardboard, and even plastic and all cut beautifully !
  • Can cut very very thin strips of paper easily
  • Can cut several sheets of thin paper
  • Cuts are clean with no fraying of  paper edges
Here is the video demonstration of the Tonic Guillotine in action showing the range of materials it can cut and special demonstration of the dos and don'ts of using a guillotine!

I hope you liked this rather exhaustive writeup. Do share tips of your own and views!

Where to buy Paper Cutters
Here is the link to the complete range of Paper cutters at Crafters Corner 
Link to the tonic guillotine at Crafters Corner Tonic 12 x 12 Maxi Guillotine


  1. Very informative post once again doctor! Thank you!

  2. Fantastic review Sonia, loved the Video !!

    1. Thank you so much Suman...making videos is really challenging for me...keeping it the right length itself was a tough call and at the end of it I realised I forgot to mention the most important point of the tonic...its self sharpening blades!!! Hehe!!

  3. Wow...thanks for this post. ...was planning to buy one...this helped a lot

    1. Rita...I spoke to so many crafters and the Tonic Guillotine is the favorite!!

  4. Hi, I am just starting on card making and don't feel like investing so much money right now on the tonic maxi one. So which one would you recommend for a beginner which will fit in the medium budget range?

    1. Shefali if you buy a smaller size later on you will anyway pick up the larger one. Its a lifetime sort of investment so I would strongly urge you to go for the 12 x 12 tonic itself. Other option is to go for the smaller 8.5 tonic guillotine [cost 1340] or the tim holtz tonic guillotine 8.5 costing 1440. Dont buy the sliding trimmers as you will have to keep replacing blades which are expensive

  5. Sonia ur post is amazing , I know this is not enough word. Those who are entering to paper craft, 100% useful post . Hats off dear. Only u can write like this

    1. Thank you so much Suzna....I love writing this type of post too and that is why Shalini very sweetly chooses these type of DT posts for me!! In fact I had been hinting this very post to her for some time now!!

  6. Wow Sonia, fantastic research and presentation. I didn't know that guillotine cutters existed in such mini scale with so many features

    1. Yes Divya the minis are cute but the ones I dream about re the big granddaddy's which are used in industries!!! Oooh wouldnt it be cool to cut 400 papers in one go!! Yeah it may not be useful for people like you and me buy ooh would just like to see one in action!!

  7. I have the 12 x 12 Tonic Guillotine and love it!!!!

    1. Yes I an very well imagine Olga...on reading extensive reviews that is what I too found...that the tonic 12 x 12 is a hot hot favorite amongst us papercrafters

  8. Are u serous that you have written so much from scratch ???
    Omg its awesome

    1. Thank you so much Shalini and I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing this post!!

  9. Hi dear every informative knowledge about the gully tine cutter

  10. This is so helpful. I'm finding my Purple Cow guillotine isn't giving me a perfect straight cut with my cardstock which in turn looks bad on me. I like perfection and don't like to think people feel my work is amateurish due to an uneven cut, I've often wondered if the card blanks aren't cut straight at the manufacture but I wouldn't have thought that was the problem ! Thanks for this incredible in-depth look at paper cutters.
    Steph from the U.K. ☺

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