How To Use A Paper Cutter

How to Use a Paper Cutter: A Comprehensive Guide

If you work in an office, school, or print shop, you’ve probably encountered a paper cutter. Paper cutters are essential tools for cutting paper in a straight, precise line. They come in different sizes, shapes, and types to suit different needs.

Using a paper cutter may seem straightforward, but there are specific steps you need to follow to ensure safety, accuracy, and efficiency. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of how to use a paper cutter, from understanding the types of cutters available to maintenance and safety tips.

Types of Paper Cutters

Ensuring safety while using an electric paper cutter
Ensuring safety while using an electric paper cutter

The first step in understanding how to use a paper cutter is to familiarize yourself with the different types available. Here are the three main types of paper cutters:

Guillotine Paper Cutter

The guillotine paper cutter is a classic type of paper cutter that consists of a blade mounted on a metal arm that swings down to cut the paper against a flat base. Guillotine cutters are usually manual and can cut through a stack of paper at once. They’re suitable for cutting large paper sizes, such as posters, flyers, and banners.

To use a guillotine paper cutter, you need to place the paper stack against the backstop and align it with the cutting line. Then, hold the stack firmly with one hand and press the blade down with the other hand. Make sure to keep your fingers away from the blade and use a cutting mat to protect the base. After cutting, remove the cut paper and repeat the process for the next stack.

Rotary Paper Cutter

The rotary paper cutter is a type of paper cutter that uses a circular blade to cut paper. Rotary cutters are more compact and lightweight than guillotine cutters, making them suitable for small to medium-sized projects. They’re also easier to use and require less force.

To use a rotary paper cutter, you need to place the paper on the cutting mat and align it with the cutting line. Then, hold the paper with one hand and slide the blade along the cutting line with the other hand. Make sure to apply even pressure and keep the blade sharp for clean cuts. Rotary cutters are ideal for cutting photos, cards, labels, and other small items.

Electric Paper Cutter

The electric paper cutter is a modern type of paper cutter that operates with a motor and a blade. Electric cutters are the most advanced and efficient type of paper cutters, capable of cutting large volumes of paper with minimal effort. They’re suitable for professional settings that require speed and precision, such as print shops and publishing houses.

To use an electric paper cutter, you need to plug it into an outlet and turn it on. Then, place the paper stack on the cutting platform and adjust the cutting size and depth. Finally, press the cutting button, and the blade will cut through the paper stack automatically. Electric cutters are more expensive than manual cutters, but they save time and labor costs.

Now that you know the types of paper cutters available let’s move on to the safety precautions you should take when using a paper cutter.

Safety Precautions When Using a Paper Cutter

Using a paper cutter can be dangerous if you don’t follow safety guidelines. The sharp blades and heavy machinery can cause serious injuries, such as cuts, amputations, and crushing. Therefore, it’s essential to take the following safety precautions when using a paper cutter:

Proper Handling of the Paper Cutter

Before using a paper cutter, make sure to read the user manual and understand how to operate it properly. Always use the paper cutter on a stable surface and don’t move it while cutting. Don’t overload the paper cutter with too many sheets of paper or materials it’s not designed to cut. Avoid using your hands or body parts to stop the blade or remove the cut paper.

Use of Safety Gear

Wear appropriate safety gear when using a paper cutter, such as gloves, goggles, and a face shield. Gloves protect your hands from cuts and provide a better grip on the paper. Goggles protect your eyes from flying debris and dust. A face shield protects your face from a possible kickback or blade breakage. Make sure the safety gear fits well and doesn’t interfere with your vision or movement.

Keeping the Work Area Clean and Organized

Maintain a clean and organized work area when using a paper cutter. Remove any clutter, spills, or obstacles that can cause accidents. Keep the cutting blade sharp and clean to avoid tearing or jamming the paper. Use a cutting mat to protect the cutting surface and extend the blade life. Store the paper cutter in a secure place when not in use to prevent unauthorized access or damage.

Steps in Using a Paper Cutter

Now that you know the safety precautions let’s move on to the steps in using a paper cutter. Whether you’re using a guillotine, rotary, or electric paper cutter, the process is similar. Here are the four main steps:

Measuring and Marking the Paper

Before cutting the paper, measure and mark the desired size and shape. Use a ruler, a pencil, and a straight edge to draw the cutting line accurately. Make sure the paper is aligned with the edge of the ruler and the cutting mat. Use a light hand to avoid smudging or creasing the paper.

Aligning the Paper with the Cutter

Once you’ve marked the paper, align it with the cutting line on the paper cutter. Use the backstop or the cutting guides to position the paper correctly. Make sure the paper is straight, even, and flush against the blade. Double-check the alignment before cutting to avoid errors or waste.

Operating the Cutter

To cut the paper, press the blade down firmly and evenly. Use the appropriate cutting motion for the type of paper cutter you’re using. For a guillotine cutter, swing the blade down with a smooth motion. For a rotary cutter, slide the blade along the cutting line with a rolling motion. For an electric cutter, press the cutting button, and the blade will cut the paper automatically.

Checking the Cut

After cutting the paper, remove it from the cutter and check the accuracy and quality of the cut. Make sure the edges are straight, smooth, and without frays or tears. Compare the cut paper to the original size and shape to ensure it meets your requirements. If necessary, make adjustments to the cutting line or the blade settings.

Maintenance of Paper Cutters

To ensure that your paper cutter remains in good condition and functions correctly, you need to perform regular maintenance. Here are some maintenance tips for your paper cutter:

Cleaning the Blade

The blade is the most crucial part of the paper cutter, and it needs to be clean and sharp to cut through paper smoothly. To clean the blade, you can use a soft cloth or a cotton swab dipped in alcohol or blade cleaner. Make sure to remove any debris or adhesive residue that may accumulate on the blade. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage the blade or the base.

Lubricating the Moving Parts

The moving parts of the paper cutter, such as the arm, the handle, and the springs, need to be lubricated to prevent rust, corrosion, and friction. You can use a silicone-based lubricant or a light machine oil to lubricate the parts. Apply a small amount of lubricant to a cloth and wipe the parts with it. Do not over-lubricate or leave any excess oil on the parts.

Storing the Paper Cutter Properly

When not in use, you should store your paper cutter in a dry and clean place, away from direct sunlight, moisture, or dust. You can cover it with a cloth or a plastic bag to protect it from scratches or damage. Make sure to keep the blade locked or covered to prevent accidental cuts. If you’re storing a guillotine cutter, make sure to store it in an upright position to prevent the blade from bending or warping.


Learning how to use a paper cutter is a valuable skill that can save you time, money, and effort. By following the safety precautions, understanding the types of paper cutters, and performing regular maintenance, you can ensure that your paper cutter will last for years and provide you with efficient and accurate cutting. Always remember to wear protective gear, keep your fingers away from the blade, and use a cutting mat. With practice and patience, you can become a paper-cutting pro and produce professional-looking documents, crafts, and artworks.