📧: mktg@novasafetytools.com

Craft knives: The 10 most frequently asked questions

Craft knives: The 10 most frequently asked questions

Maybe you are starting your first scrapbook. Maybe you want to create some mail art. Maybe you are an experienced crafter, but you want to take your work to the next level.

In any of the above cases, you need the right craft knife. Read on to learn more about craft knives.

  1. What is a craft knife, and why do you need one?

You’ve heard it said that the right tools make or break a job. In no case is this truer than in crafting, especially when you are cutting paper.

Why can’t you just use scissors? Many crafters start out just using a pair of scissors to cut images out of paper or other materials. But scissors are limited and awkward when it comes to cutting detailed designs, especially designs with multiple narrow edges.

Consider the following example. You want to cut a daisy out of a photo in a magazine page in order to use it in your scrapbook. You quickly find that getting around all the petals is difficult or impossible, even with a very slender pair of scissors. With a craft knife, however, you cut more directly. So it’s much easier to get a precise cut, all petals of the image intact.

The other obvious benefit of the craft knife is that you can replace the blade. When a pair of scissors dulls, most people end up throwing them away. But, with a craft knife, you retain the handle, and replace the blade. You waste fewer resources and get a more precise cut.

Serious crafters always have at least one craft knife. Keep reading to learn the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the craft knife.

  1. What is a craft knife used for?

Craft knives, or hobby knives, can be used for making your craft projects or modeling.  For crafting, it is perfect in cutting construction paper, letters, thin cardboard, foam board, leather, basswood, tape, vinyl, plastic sheets, corkboard, wallpaper, celluloid film, canvas, and poster paper. They can also be used as sharpeners to hone points on contes, pastels, and art pencils.  On the other hand, many models making fans love to use it for cutting plastic parts or wood boards.

  1. How do I keep the blade safe when Im not using the knife?

When choosing your craft knife, you will want to think about how you will contain the blade when the knife is not in use. Craft knife blades are sharp. You will want to make sure that your knife does not pose a danger to curious children who like to touch everything.

Craft knife blades are also susceptible to damage from the elements. Humidity, dust, and heat can all warp or dull the blade, making it more difficult to use and more dangerous.

There are two ways to protect the blade of your craft knife:

Choose a retractable blade

Some craft knives come with a slot in the handle that allows you to fully hide the blade inside the handle. Craft knives with retractable blades are ideal. All you have to do, upon finishing a project, is push the lever that pulls the blade back inside the knife. It’s easy to do and there are no parts to lose.


Choose a craft knife that has a blade cap

Blade caps cover the blade when the knife is not in use. A good blade cap should fit the blade snuggly and not come off too easily. It should also not be too difficult to remove.

Blade caps are effective in preventing corrosion to the blade and accidental cutting. Crafts knives with blade covers work well for people who do not tend to lose track of small objects.

  1. What material is the craft knife made of?

There are several different kinds of craft knives. And the most common difference is the handle. Some handles are made of aluminum, some of the plastic. Some handles are slender, while other craft knives have handles that are substantially larger than the blade.

When choosing a craft knife, you want to consider whether it fits comfortably in your hand, whether it is the right weight for your job, and whether you can easily control slippage. In general, plastic handles are more slip-resistant than aluminum handles. Larger handles may be more comfortable and slip-resistant than slender handles. But you may find that a slender handle gives you slightly more accuracy in cutting.

  1. What are the potential dangers?

In general, craft knives are safe to use as directed. To ensure safe cutting, users should cut away from themselves rather than toward themselves, wear work gloves while cutting, use a knife that is easy to grip, and avoid trying to cut something too thick for the knife.

One important safety element to consider is whether the knife has a screw feature. Traditional x-acto knives have a screw in the grip. This poses a danger because the screw often loosens while the crafter is using it.

This loose screw element can cause painful cuts for the crafter and inaccuracies in cutting. Some knives have the screw in the back of the knife, and these knives are safer. However, the safest knife is one with no screw element.

Another safety consideration is whether your craft knife is likely to roll around on your workspace and then fall to the floor. Round knives roll easily. Flat knives are much safer and more predictable. The new Nova craft knife is flat and screwless, making it an extremely safe craft knife.

  1. How can I avoid blade rust?

Blades will rust if not carefully stored. Ideally, you will dip your blade in a small amount of oil when you are done using it for the day, then retract it or put the blade cap on it.

Then, for safety and for the longevity of your knife, you should store it in a safe container, ideally a plastic tub, plastic zip lock bag, or metal box. If you do your craftwork in a humid space, like a basement or garage, you will want to store your knife in an air-tight container. If you work in a dry, above-grade room in your house, you could store your knife in a drawer, a paper bag or a wicker hamper.

  1. How long is the blade? How thick a material can a craft knife cut through?

The blade of a craft knife is about one-inch long, but it tapers sharply to a point at a 45 degree angle. The extra sharp tip is the most useful feature of the craft knife. In many projects, only the top fraction of an inch of the blade will actually contact the material.

If you do a variety of craft projects, look for a craft knife that offers multiple “stop positions.” These three positions allow you to use a longer or shorter blade. Using the right length of blade improves safety conditions and accuracy. The NOVA brand new craft knife has three stop positions.

  1. Does the blade break easily?

Any blade can break if you put enough pressure on it. Safe usage of a craft knife involves handling it deftly and lightly, not bearing down. If you are bearing down hard in order to cut the material, you are using the wrong tool.

Craft knives are not designed to cut hard wood or any materials that are more than a fraction of an inch thick. That said, the blades of craft knives are very durable. In general, they are made of SK2 steel. SK2 is a die steel that was developed specifically to withstand stress without breaking and to withstand the elements without warping or rusting.

  1. How do I choose the best craft knife for me?

The best craft knife for you is one that you feel comfortable handling and confident using. In choosing your knife, be sure to feel its weight, assess whether it is easy to grip, and imagine yourself cutting with it.

The safest knife, in general, will have a retractable blade, a screwless blade, and a plastic handle.

  1. How to make a neat cut

Always use a mat. Most people who are using a craft knife are cutting through paper or some other fragile material. You want to make sure that your cuts do not dig into your craft table--especially if your craft table is your grandmother’s heirloom dining room table.

There are two main kinds of mats designed for craft cutting: the self-healing mat and the glass mat. If you do a lot of crafting and many different craft projects, you will want both types of mat.

Look for mats that have guidelines in them. These guidelines, which are arranged like a grid, will help you align your paper so that you can cut a straight line, parallel with the paper’s edge.

The self-healing mat is basically a foam product that can sustain a lot of cutting without being permanently damaged. It “heals” by closing back up around the cut. Self-healing mats are great for making straight cuts.

If, however, you are making rounded cuts, you will need a glass mat. Glass mats are impermeable. You will not cut through them.

The best craft knife for you is one that you feel safe and confident in using. Crafts should be a pleasure, not a stressful chore. Obtain the right knife and get cutting!


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