Paper knife! Well, what does that word mean to you? A knife made of paper? A knife made to cut paper? Well, the last one is the true meaning. Now, you may ask why you would use it when you have scissors to cut paper.
Well, it’s because a paper cutter gives a more precise cut, smooth and efficient enough to create a fun shape, no matter what kind of paper you’re cutting. That’s precisely why you buy a paper-knife and that’s why we’ve created this guide to help you find the best paper-knife. We have also provided some paper cutter reviews towards the end of this article.
The Best Paper Knife of 2020
Anatomy of paper knives
Designed to cut folded paper, a paper-knife is used as a typical knife, so it has a blade and handles, both of which are made of one material, sometimes.
The blade is usually blunt and flat; it is not as sharp as a pen or kitchen knife but is still sufficient to handle different sizes of paper.
Gradually, a paper cutter evolved into a tool with a long, wide blade with circular edges and a rounded, blunt tip. The smoother the surface of the knife, the easier it is to cut creases without damaging the paper. The fineness is optimal with ivory or mother-of-pearl as a building material.
Nevertheless, many highly polished metals and hardwoods have been used to make paper knives, such as brass, silver, rosewood, mahogany, ebony, and walnut.
In no time at all, this knife became a standard office item with the blade mainly made of stainless steel and the handle made of wood.
The blade is usually a standard surgical or craft blade. The handle is ornamental, with a carved pattern, which is an attraction.
It could be made with any type of high-quality wood. Most handles are polished. However, you can even find custom designs to your taste.
A letter opener is designed to give a clean and precise cut. If it is clean enough, the knife will slide easily enough to make a cut. Today, the basic concept of a paper-knife is being transformed into an electronic mechanism that works in a similar way.
At present, paper knives are not widely used, but they are very popular among hobbyists.
Overview of paper-knife functionality: historical and modern
Most of us are unaware of the fact that there was a time when the paper was a scarce and therefore expensive product because it was handmade. Well, maybe that’s why paper knives were born.
Because of the high price range, many people saved paper pages by folding them and cutting them into pieces of the same size for use in the near future.
Cutting with the hands was risky because the paper was so thin that its edges were razor-sharp to hurt quickly.
This led to the invention of a paper-knife, which was published as a tool to cut paper smoothly and accurately. It was literally used to cut pieces folded into equal shapes.
Instead of wasting paper, people cut the sheet to the desired size by folding the paper in half or three.
The flat part of the blade helped to press the folds against a sharp wrinkle, just like a bone file. The cleanest of the wrinkles was the cut. These wrinkles were then more easily cut by the edge of the blade into a smaller sheet.
Another use was to separate the pages of a book, which were folded. In ancient times, reading books often came with a few folded pages. Readers then used a paper-knife to separate these pages for a better reading experience.
In Europe, a paper-knife was used to open the pages of the book that had not been removed or cut when the book was made. In addition, paper knives replaced the pen knives used to sharpen a feather.
This was due to the fact that a penknife did not cut the paper inaccurately because of its sharper blade.
For many, since antiquity, paper knives have simply been collectors’ items. Why is that? Because these knives come in different shapes and have an extremely complex blade and handle designs.
The aesthetic appeal, especially of the handle, is such that people are motivated to make their own paper knives. They are sometimes designed with the decor of the home or office in mind.
Even today, you can use a paper-knife for all these tasks. Although paper is cheap now, the knife makes you an efficient user of paper resources.
Another use of paper-knife was opening envelopes. However, this use was later generalized, after which they were made exclusively for this purpose. These special paper knives had a finer and sharper blade than the original models.
Nevertheless, these paper knives are different from paper cutters. This is something you need to know when you buy a paper-knife.
What’s the difference between a paper-knife and a paper cutter?
The terms paper-knife and paper cutter are used to refer to a tool that functions as a knife.
However, the two have different functions and have been used at different times. A letter opener was required when self-adhesive envelopes were widely used.
Unlike a letter opener, a letter opener has a longer, thinner blade, whose sole purpose is to open envelopes. It is a fact that these openers evolved from paper knives. Perhaps that’s why the two are called the same tool.
However, they generally differ in purpose and appearance. The main differences between the two are the tip and width of the blade. The blade of a letter opener is narrower and has a sharper tip than that of a letter opener.
Most letters were written all over the paper and a small portion was left blank for the address once the letter was sealed. Using a paper-knife to open such a letter is risky as it would damage the paper.
It cannot even break the seal, as the thick rounded blade and tip would easily slip under the seal.
For this task, a completely different knife was used: the eraser knife, with a small sharp blade and a small handle, similar to the modern X-acto knife. Such a knife lightly scrapes the ink off the paper in case of a mistake and slides under the sealing wax for removal.
An electric version of a letter opener is also available that uses motors to slide envelopes over a blade and is also capable of handling a larger quantity of envelopes, but the blade can split the contents of the envelope and damage it.
Unlike paper knives, paper cutters can be made from metal, wood, plastic, ivory or even a mixture of materials. However, just like a letter opener, the handle of a letter opener is more stylized or decorated than the blade.
Some recent models for openers feature a retractable razor blade concealed in a plastic handle. This is something that even modern letter openers tend to have.
Both of these tools are also available in an electric version, which uses a motor to slide a paper or envelope over a blade. This mechanism is more advantageous for industrial uses, as it allows a greater volume of paper and envelopes to be handled.
However, the risk is that the blade may slice the contents, if any, on an envelope or paper.
Unlike a door opener, a paper cutter gives more precise cuts and makes it easier to cut even very detailed shapes. It is easy to use because you simply hold it like a pen.
Alternatively, you can use the knife to cut off any unwanted ends.
How to choose the best paper-knife for you
Today, the market is filled with a variety of paper knives, with a difference in design and price of blades and handles.
These tools also differ in size, application, and brand. So which is the best paper-knife for you? It depends on the type of work or project you’ve undertaken, your budget and your personal preferences.
In other words, there is no single best paper cutter for all users. You have to find your best paper cutter by mapping what it has or gives to what you want.
To do this, you need to know what you will do with the knife and what its characteristics are. These characteristics are just some of the factors to consider when choosing a knife. Here are those factors:
Type of blade
The choice of a blade depends on your design style as well as the cut.
Usually, there are round and thin blades, which are ideal for thicker papers or a combination of layers of paper. Other than that, there are a few useful blade types to consider depending on the application:
- 11 ACM: Is a handcrafted model used in craft knives and is sturdy. Although less flexible, it has a good point at its end. Because it is thicker than a surgical blade, it ends up giving a greater detail than expected. These blades are ideal for cutting straight lines because they are the most rigid. They are also the most expensive.
- 11 Surgical: is the most commonly used blade for cutting paper because it is flexible enough to have curves. It is even ideal for small details and large surfaces. It is available in sterile and non-sterile versions, the latter being cost-effective.
- 10a Surgical: Does the blade have a pleasant and relatively more flexible tip than the ACM blade? It lies between the 11 Surgical and 11 ACM blades. Such a blade fits well with Fiskars soft-grip models, although it is difficult to find a suitable knife because of the shape of the base.
- 15a Surgical: is a rounded and sharp option for those who like details and need a longer blade. Its flexibility is not equivalent to that of other surgical blades because of its length. However, this blade provides a lot of control although the thickness of the ACM blade is missing.
- Pivot: is another commonly used blade that is ideal for creating curves. The blade can make nice curves in one smooth motion rather than turning to do the same thing. Theoretically, this blade has its own handle. However, in practice, Fiskars, X-acto and Jakar use it for their handles.
Blade construction material
The building material can be one of the following, most of which are hardened and measurable on the Rockwell C scale:
- Ordinary steel or coated carbon steel: is softer steel with a hardness ranging from 62 to 63 and is ideal for cutting small elevators. Carbon increases edge retention, hardness and the tensile strength of a knife. It is perhaps the most vital hardening element. However, it adds nothing to the toughness.
- High Carbon High Chromium (HCHC): This is a D-2 steel containing 12% chromium with a hardness level between 58 and 60. It has good impact resistance and prevents wear and corrosion. It is suitable for small knives. Chromium increases toughness, tensile strength, and hardness. 13% chromium gives stainless steel. Nevertheless, it is a fact that any steel can rust if you don’t hold it well.
- High speed steel inlaid (HSS): softer steel made of a tungsten alloy and having a hardness ranging from 62 to 63, known for its ability to increase the life of the blade while maintaining the desired cut for a long time. This material is widely used in paper cutting tools. It is also an ideal upgrade choice to carbon steel if the carbon steel is too expensive for frequent blade changes. Tungsten adds hardness, toughness, strength and wears resistance. When mixed with molybdenum or chromium, tungsten produces a high-speed steel, such as M2 or M8, where M2 contains a high tungsten content.
- Tungsten Carbide inlay: is softer steel with a hardness level of 91 and increases the life of a blade ten times longer than carbon steel. The quality of the cut remains long and uniform. It is preferable for high production applications.
It is wise to choose a handle with an ergonomic design, as it provides comfort while holding your hands firmly. That’s how it’s safe too. Currently, a retractable knife holds the blade and allows you to change it quickly.
Versatility and modern touches
Today, most paper knives can cut not only paper but also materials such as plastic and cardboard. Many of them come with safety caps for safe blade storage and an automatic lock for safe use and storage.
The Best Paper Knife of 2020
X-Acto Basic Knife Set
This knife is Amazon’s best selling knife, known for its precise cuts in medium to heavy materials such as paper, plastic, wood, film and even metal.
The credit goes to the large blade with a fine point for sharpness and strength. The handle is made of aluminum for easy and agile cutting. While a simple blade system allows quick changeover to another blade, a safety cap ensures storage and portability.
Stanley 10-099 6 in Classic 99
This knife is known to be sharper than a standard heavy-duty blade and comes with an interlocking nose to firmly hold the blade retractable to 3 positions in the handle.
There are three carbon alloy steel blades, each used for cutting paper, roofing shingles and drywall.
This knife is ideal for making intricate details on fabric, paper, and other light materials. The knife comes with an ergonomic handle that gives your fingers sufficient comfort and rest, as well as maximum grip.
Its shape is such that the knife does not roll off the table. It also comes with a safety cap.
This knife offers three knives in a set with retractable blades. It is useful for scrapbooking and craft work involving cutting sheets of paper, plastic and cardboard. The blades are replaceable.
NT Cutter ABS Grip 30-Degree
This knife is the most economical option on this list and cuts paper, film, vinyl, wallpaper, and cardboard. This knife has a high-quality grip, automatic blade lock, and a replacement blade.
It also has a stainless steel sliding track. The knife is suitable for left and right-hand use.
We hope that this article was enough to give you an idea before buying the right paper-knife for you. Also, read reviews on letter openers from markets like Amazon. Let us know if you have any questions or comments.