Such simple craft supplies can be the most dangerous. I’ve seen more injuries occur with X-Acto Knives and box cutters than any other supply that we use at Pop Shop America. So here’s a quick guide to making sure that you are handling your box cutter properly and that you are doing everything you can to use box cutters safely.
We’ll discuss how to hold a box cutter, how to store a box cutter, and lots of other useful tips.
The Difference between a Box Cutter and an X-Acto Knife
Box cutters can come in many shapes and sizes. Some even have razors inside so they can be reused. Others are disposable.
All X-Acto’s are reusable. They are silver cylinders with a special triangular blade. You can see one in the image above.
X-Acto’s are more commonly used by artists and graphic designers because they have a fine tip point. The point can cut tiny shapes easier than other box cutters. X-Acto’s also have an array of other cutting tips like flat edges and wide cutters too. But the one above, a blade #2, is the most common. And unless you are doing specific work that needs something else, this is likely the only blade you will need.
Since X-Acto’s are great for small detailed work, here’s an awesome cutting printable to help you improve your technique. Thanks Karen Kavett for such a useful tool! The only other thing that’s important to know about X-Acto’s and that’s different than box cutters is that the blade should always be checked that it’s firmly in place. If it wiggles twist the closure to ensure that the blade won’t move during cutting.
Set Up a Cutting Mat
Before you start cutting, you may need to set up a work space. If you are cutting anything flat or cutting paper for example a cutting mat is needed. This will help keep your blades fresher longer. It will help prevent damage from anything underneath your work station. And it’s easier to make even cuts because you have a smooth surface that’s meant for cutting.
If you are working on a flat object, you should still set up a work station where you can use your box cutter with proper posture. Make sure you can sit or stand in an easy to work position. The worse your posture the more likely you are to end up with an injury.
Box Cutter Basics
First, let’s just start with the simple stuff. We often use box cutters at our craft workshops. We often drink wine at those workshops. That can be a recipe for disaster! Box cutters can be more dangerous that you think so mixing in alcohol is a bad idea. Working on projects when you are really sleepy can be an issue and of course kids should be supervised. I would recommend a box cutter not be used by anyone under 14.
How to Cut Safely
As far as how to handle the the box cutter itself there are a few things that are important. First of all, keep your hands away from the knife. When you are cutting anything, make sure that your hands are far away from the cut. Just assume that the box cutter will slip and always keep yourself in a position where they will be okay. Also, cut away from the body. Be sitting or standing in a proper position. Don’t cut on the ground.
When you are cutting, move slowly and never too fast. You may need to make several passes, so cutting slowly will ensure a more perfect and even line. You should always use a sharp blade. Dull blades are more likely to catch than cut and cut move in a direction you are not expecting thus running the risk of injury.
If you are using a ruler, you will want to use a metal ruler – not wood or plastic for a more even cut.
Storing Box Cutters
Box cutters should never be left open with the blades exposed. This is the easiest way to get injured! Be sure that the blade is completely retracted and that the lid is covering the blade. X-Acto lids are easy to loose so be careful to keep it safe.
Throw Away Your Blades Safely
Just as box cutters need to be stored safely, the blade also needs to be thrown away safely! The easiest thing to do is wrap the blade in tape, covering the sharp edges with a protective layer. That way if you need to dig in your trash for something, you won’t have a disaster.
So what do you use a Box Cutter for?
Anything really! I use it for cutting cardboard and thick cardstock. I use them for making edges that are too detailed for scissors. I used them to cut open these Dinosaur Planters that you can make here.
Basically anything lightweight and anything that needs a detailed edge. So stay safe and happy cutting!
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