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What do I cut paper with? Tools for precision paper cutting

Paper is an easy-to-process material that finds a number of applications in office work. If you want a specific paper format, you will need to use the right equipment. Find out how to cut paper quickly and conveniently. See what equipment will help you get it to the perfect size.


Ways of cutting paper

Paper is a material that can be easily processed. However, if you want to format paper with an accuracy of tenths of a millimetre, it is necessary to use professional cutting tools. Depending on the specific work of the office in question and the number of paper documents used, it is worth equipping the office with the appropriate cutting tools.


In classic offices, the most common type of paper used is the so-called A4 photocopy paper of 70 g/m² or 80 g/m². In advertising agencies, architectural and surveying offices, the standard is to use the larger A3 sheet format and cut it to the desired size. In office work, it is often necessary to use other types of paper as well, e.g. satin paper, photographic paper, office paper, two-ply paper, premium paper, art paper or roll paper.


Before choosing a particular piece of paper-cutting equipment, we must first consider how we will use it. To do this, it is useful to answer the following questions:

  • How many sheets of paper do we want to trim at one time?
  • What is the weight of the paper we want to cut?
  • How often will we use the paper cutter (occasionally or continuously)?
  • Do we want to cut paper only in a straight line? Do we want to make cuts at right angles and other angles?
  • Are we going to cut out round details and make short cuts?
Rotary paper trimmer OPUS
Professional paper cutting tools make it easy to format paper with an accuracy of tenths of a millimeter.

Paper cutting tools

The market offers a wide range of classic, professional and creative paper cutting tools. Among the most popular are:


1. Scissors

The most popular paper-cutting instrument, which is found on the equipment of almost every office and home. Scissors come in many varieties, including:

  • Classic scissors for home and office - can be made of metal, plastic or hardened steel. The length of the blades of office scissors designed for cutting larger paper formats usually oscillates between 25 and 27 cm. The shape of the handles and the material they are made of affect how comfortable they are to hold. Scissors with a Teflon coating on the blades prevent adhesive paper and stickers from sticking.
  • Left-handed scissors - the reversed position of the blades in this type of scissors makes it easier for left-handed people. The top blade is positioned on the left-hand side, so it is easier for a left-handed person to determine the course of the cutting line and make the cut.
  • Creative scissors - the irregular shape of the blades gives the cut edge a decorative look. Different cutting patterns are available, e.g. serrated and wavy. Creative scissors are often used in handicraft work using scrapbooking, decoupage and mix media techniques.
  • Children's scissors for learning to cut - they feature a comfortable grip designed with small hands in mind. A special system to help the blades open when tightened makes it easier to handle for children who are just starting out with scissors.
Paper cutting
Scissors are the most popular tool for cutting paper

2. Paper cutter

These types of knives are most often used for precise and customised trimming of individual sheets of paper. The knives are available in two versions:

  • Segmented knife - also often referred to as a bookbinding knife or wallpaper knife (tutility knife). If you want to achieve the effect of even edges, without stretching the paper and tearing it, it is necessary to replace the blunted tips regularly. The blade can be completely retracted in the housing, thus eliminating the risk of injury. The blade lock prevents the blade from moving during cutting.
  • Modelling knife - also known as a scalpel or precision paper knife. The thin blade makes it possible to make precise cuts. Paper scalpels are very helpful for creative work with paper using cardmaking, scrapbooking and collage techniques. Several materials are used in the manufacture of knives, including high speed steel (HSS), chromium steel (CRG, CRK), tool steel (SS) and tungsten carbide (HM) inserts. The most popular of the above-mentioned materials is high speed steel (HSS), which allows a large number of cuts to be made in a short time. The blade of the knife can be ground quite easily without the effect of loose material particles.
Paper cutter
Paper cutter makes it easier to cut out precise shapes

3. Die-cutting machines and paper machines

Die-cutters are specially shaped pieces of metal with a cutting edge. With the help of special die-cutting machines, we can easily cut out decorative shapes from paper. These types of machines and die-cutters are most often used in the scrapbooking technique.


4. Punchers, corner rounders

Punchers and corner rounders are used in homes, offices, archives and anywhere else where small holes in paper documents need to be made quickly. The individual tool types are used to cut holes (round, half-round, oblong) or round off corners.


5. Paper guillotines

Popular office equipment that precisely cuts through larger numbers of sheets of paper. Classic guillotines consist of a base and a lever to which a blade is attached that cuts the underlying material as it falls. Guillotines can be equipped with a paper clamp in the form of a strip (metal or plastic), thanks to which the sheets of paper do not move during cutting. Millimetre and/or inch graduations on the base of the guillotine are very helpful in precise paper cutting. With regard to the mechanism of operation we can distinguish:

  • Manual guillotines - ideal for offices where sheets of paper are occasionally trimmed. Hand guillotines equipped with manual pressure are very easy to use. 
  • Electric guillotines - electromechanically driven devices enable precise cutting of large quantities of sheets of paper. Professional electric guillotines are equipped with an optical cutting line indicator, which guarantees easy alignment to the strips.
  • Hydraulic guillotines - designed for professional use in bookbinding, printing and print shops. High productivity, adjustable clamping force and touchscreen control make precise cutting of huge quantities of paper no problem.
Manual paper guillotine IDEAL
Manual paper guillotine IDEAL 4305

6. Paper cutters (trimmers)

Paper cutters, also known as paper trimmers, are used in offices, binderies and copy shops. The classic office paper cutters can cut approx. 5-10 sheets at a time. The range includes A4 and A3 paper cutters. Based on the method of operation, we distinguish between the following:

  • Circular cutters - use a gantry mechanism. A rotating blade that moves along a guide makes a precise cut. Circular mechanism cutters can cut a smaller number of sheets of paper at a time than scissor mechanism cutters. They are very easy to use and lightweight. They are ideal for small offices with occasional paper cutting. 
  • Scissor cutters - use a lever mechanism. Scissor-type cutters in compact versions cut up to 5 sheets of standard 70 g/m² paper at a time. Measures, format lines and protractors marked on the work table (base) help to determine the cutting line. To reduce the risk of injury, individual models can be fitted with transparent finger protection strips.
Rotary paper trimmer IDEAL
Rotary paper trimmer - IDEAL 1030

7. Paper saws

They are used to cut paper in rolls. Depending on how large the roll diameter is to be cut, manual, hydraulic or electric feed saws can be used. Paper machines make it possible to cut paper without unrolling the reel. High-end machines are equipped with efficient fork chains with special link geometry to ensure a smooth cutting surface. Special systems for correcting the cutting line, stellite guides and a table for rotating the paper reel are additional features that enhance the work of the paper saws. This type of equipment is mainly used in paper mills.


Advantages of using paper cutting tools

Cutting sheets of paper to size, formatting invitations and business cards or aligning clipped sheets of paper are just a few examples of the tasks we use office paper cutting tools to perform. Precisely cutting through a thicker layer of paper requires the use of specialised equipment. Here is a list of the main benefits of using the right equipment:

  • Precision - enable the paper to be cut accurately in a straight line or along a specific pattern to the nearest tenth of a millimetre.
  • Time-saving - large quantities of paper can be cut quickly and easily with them, which is an important advantage for companies producing, for example, catalogues, brochures, business cards and posters.
  • Safety - advanced paper cutting tools are equipped with safety features to prevent accidental cuts and other injuries.
  • Ease of use - the equipment is simple to use and requires no specialist skills.
  • Convenience - properly selected tools provide comfortable working conditions to avoid excessive hand fatigue and pain.
  • Multifunctional - some machines also cut other materials such as film, leather or cardboard.


Components of cutting equipment construction

When choosing a cutting machine, it is worth paying attention to its design. Depending on the model chosen, pay attention to:

  • Handle - it must be stable so that a precise cut can be made. The handle should not wobble. If it 'fits' well in the hand and does not slip, then it is easier to make a cut.
  • Feet - must provide stability for the whole unit. They must not slip or move. If you decide on a professional device that will regularly cut large volumes of paper, pay attention to its design. Make sure that the machine remains stable when pressure is applied firmly. This not only determines the precision of the cut, but also the safety of use.
  • Blades - play a key role in precision cutting. Evaluate the ease of changing blades and their availability on the manufacturer's website. With frequent use of the guillotine or cutter, we have to reckon with replacing them regularly.
  • Device materials - the use of high-end components in the construction of the device translates into greater durability.


Use of paper cutting equipment

How often and how you use your cutting equipment has a key impact on which model you should choose. In a domestic environment, if you plan to occasionally use this type of equipment to cut single sheets, small devices with a simple design and a small number of functions will suffice. By contrast, print shops, bookbinding machines and service outlets may require specialised equipment that can withstand heavy use.

  • Guillotines and cutters for home use - the characteristics of this type of device are compact size, manual pressure, plastic base. For home use, devices that cut a few sheets of paper at a time are usually sufficient.
  • Guillotines and paper cutters for the office - for small offices with occasional paper cutting, compact guillotines and paper cutters can be chosen, cutting a few sheets of paper at a time. Offices with large volumes of paper will need devices that can handle a heavier workload. Look out for devices that can cut up to 20 sheets of paper at a time.
  • Guillotines and paper cutters for service outlets - entities providing printing, photocopying and document binding services should be equipped with devices designed for continuous operation. The more advanced models of paper guillotines have bases and other structural components made of metal. These devices are capable of cutting between 20 and 50 sheets at a time. Convenience of use is ensured by automatic or lever-press.
  • Guillotines and cutters for professional use - printers and binderies usually use professional guillotines and cutters that can cut up to 500 sheets of paper.