Must-Have Crafting Tools Countdown #4

#4 – Rotary Paper Trimmer
Now I know that I just talked about using a cutting mat, cork-backed ruler, and Olfa utility knife to cut paper, but if you’re making a lot of repetitive cuts (like for invitations or wedding stationery), a rotary paper trimmer is the way to go. It’s not worth your time to have to find your guide lines and position your ruler each time, particularly if you’re making the exact same cuts each time too.
Let me first introduce you to the past few paper trimmers I used before I found the one that works for me:
The very first paper trimmer I used was my dad’s. He had one of these guillotine-style trimmers with the handle that swings. It definitely didn’t look as cool as the one up there. It’s been so long, I don’t think the one he has exists anymore. I just remember it was very beige. Anyway, the swinging blade kind of freaked me out and I didn’t think it made cuts as accurately as I would have liked. There was also no way of sharpening the blade after it dulled. After a while, it just started eating the paper instead of cutting it.
So when it came time to purchase my own paper trimmer, I decided I wanted one with a rotary blade. They just seem so much safer to me, and more accurate too. I headed down to my local Michaels and came home with this Making Memories paper trimmer. I was impressed with its portability, self-sharpening blade, and the magnetic ruler that you can move around.
I ended up using this paper cutter to trim ALL of my wedding stationery – invitations, programs, thank you cards, menus, everything. I think my hand just about fell off near the end.
This paper trimmer served me well for a few years, but in the end, I had a few major gripes about it:
  1. It was hard to see the edge where you cut. If you needed a cut at a very precise spot, it was hard to line that spot up visually with where the actual blade cut the paper. Mind you, the difference was probably a few millimeters, but sometimes precision and accuracy is necessary.
  2. I found it very hard to trim things at right angles because neither the top, bottom, nor ruler provided a straight surface for measuring from the cut line. Because it’s foldable, the top and bottom plastic parts weren’t completely straight. And the ruler was actually a piece of plastic glued to another strip of magnet. The glueing job wasn’t great, and neither proved to be a straight enough line to make straight cuts. And when you’re trying to make 90 degree cuts, after 4 not-so-perfectly-90 degree-cuts, your paper turns out looking more like a parallelogram than a rectangle.¬†Again, the effects were minor and mostly negligible, which is why I stuck it out for so long before switching.
  3. The “self-sharpening” blade eventually gets dull and there is no way to sharpen the blade. After about two years, this paper trimmer was no longer make crisp, effortless cuts. It still works rather well, but you have to be particular about where you apply strength.
And so after a long, solid run of three full years, I retired my Making Memories paper trimmer and finally turned to CARL.
I was looking for a paper trimmer that was more heavy-duty than even your strongest craft-quality trimmer, but I wasn’t ready to invest in an industrial-strength trimmer. I knew this time that Michaels probably wasn’t the best place to look, so I did most of my research online. After extensive research, I decided on the CARL DC210 rotary trimmer.
Some of my favorite things about it:
  1. Like the Making Memories paper trimmer, it has a magnetic slider that you can move around to help position your paper. However, because it’s not foldable, the top and bottom pieces are nice and straight. The magnetic strip is also held inside a plastic case, so it sits flush on the metal surface with only the clean edges showing.
  2. It has heavy-duty blades that are also replaceable. It also comes with an extra blade when you purchase it, as well as an extra cutting mat strip that goes under the blade area.
  3. The blade cuts right to the edge of the paper surface, making it super easy to make highly accurate cuts. Since the blade cuts to the very edge, you can easily position and gauge where your paper should go.
  4. It claims to be able to cut through 30 sheets of 20 lb paper, 1/8″ foam core, and matte board, though I’ve never put it to the test before.
And a few things that I wish I could change:
  1. It has a precision rail that you lift up and press down for each cut, holding the paper securely in place. This is generally a good thing, but I just find it a little bit annoying because it requires an extra step every time I need to cut something. Granted, it does help hold my paper securely in place though.
  2. It’s quite large and unwieldy. I wish someone would make a portable paper trimmer that was still designed in a way that made perfectly accurate cuts. Those two things might be mutually exclusive though. The more moving and jostling of a piece of equipment, the more likely things can become loose and misaligned. I guess I will have to make do with a stationery trimmer. :P
I’m happy with my current CARL trimmer for now, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t be open to trying something new or better.
If you’re in the market for a new paper trimmer, I encourage you to do a lot of research and maybe try out a few different types before you buy one, especially because they come at quite a high premium. Let me know if you’ve found something that works for you!
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