Rotary cutters are a great tool to have around the house or shop if you find yourself cutting fabric, photographs, wallpaper, or other similar materials. For quilters, many find them to be an especially valuable tool for their projects. |
If you're not familiar with this tool, they're similar in concept to a pizza cutter; they consist of a handle with a rotating circular blade on one end. They can be a great companion to scissors for many projects (perhaps even outright replacing them in some cases). With a sharp blade, this tool is capable of cutting nice clean lines, straight or curved, with relative ease. In fact, multiple layers of material can be cut at the same time in many instances.
There are multiple designs of rotary cutters out there, so it's important to know which ones will best fit your specific needs. I've put together some tips that should provide a solid starting point for you.
Choosing the right size
The first thing to consider is blade size. For instance, 18mm, 28mm, 45mm, and 60mm blade/cutter sizes are available. If you need to detailed/intricate cutting, it is ideal to go with a small rotary cutter, such as an 18mm or 28mm blade. If intricate cutting isn't much of a concern and you're just looking for speed, he 45mm blade is a great option (this is one of the most popular sizes). Larger rotary cutters (i.e. 60mm) are a good choice if you're constantly needing to cut through multiple layers of material, or the material you're using is somewhat difficult to cut through.
Another quality to consider is handle design. If you plan on using a rotary cutter for extended periods of time, you will want something that is comfortable to hold onto in order to minimize hand/wrist fatigue. A slightly curved handle with some sort of soft material (rather than hard plastic) are two possible qualities to consider. There are cutters out there that are specifically billed as ergonomic - you may want to "test drive" a few to see which one you like best.
Safety, Safety, Safety
Safety is certainly a concern with this tool. In order for rotary blades to function well, they must be sharp; thus creating a potential safety hazard. You will want to choose a rotary cutter that protects/covers at least part of the blade while in use, and the entire blade while not in use. It should also be easy to go back and forth between either setting. Most rotary cutters available offer such safety features. While these are important qualities to have, safety doesn't end with the rotary cutter; there are steps that you should also take in order to minimize potential accidents:
- ALWAYS put the blade in its protective setting (fully covered) when not in use, even if it's only going to be for a handful of seconds. Make this a habit!
- Keep the rotary cutter out of reach of children.
- Eliminate distractions when working with the cutter; keep your entire focus on the task at hand.
Consider using a cutting mat
You should also consider investing in a cutting mat to use in tandem with your rotary cutter. They're great for protecting surfaces while also extending the life of your rotary blades. Self-healing mats are available in a variety of sizes that are worth checking out.
One final note is that there are also special rotary blades out there for creating decorative edges. For instance, blades are available for creating wavy edges, scalloped edges, and pinked edges, among others. Be sure to check them out, they can be very useful for adding a special touch to your project.
I hope this short guide was helpful for you. Rotary cutters are great for increasing efficiency and producing quality results if the right design is used for the right project.
Alan Reyes is a writer who enjoys covering a variety of crafts topics. He has set up a website ( click here to view ) that provides objective information and advice on Olfa's various cutting products, including Olfa's rotary cutters ( available here ).
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