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March of the Tools: Rotary Cutting Tools

The fabric designer Heather Bailey started  March of the Tools  on her blog a couple of years ago.  Since I have had a few questions about the handle on my rotary ruler, I thought I’d take a post to talk about this tool and a few others.

I resisted buying this handle.  In general, I try not to buy “stuff,” so this isn’t too surprising.  Also it is very purple and plastic, which makes it one of my least favorite colors and materials! Plus, it costs around $20 and just wasn’t sure if it would be $20 worth of awesome.

I thought about it for at least a year.
I looked at cheaper options.
Ultimately, I sucked it up and forked over the $20.
I wish I had done it sooner!
This tool makes it so much easier to hold the ruler in place while cutting, to move the ruler between cuts, and to set up cuts very precisely.
I don’t, in general, have a clumsiness problem, but I’d wager that if you were someone who worried about cutting your flesh when cutting your fabric, the gripper would help to avoid those accidents.

Love this tool!

While we’re talking about rotary cutting, I wanted to point you towards my favored rotary cutter: Olfa’s Quick Change Rotary Cutter .  Why do I like this one?  As the name implies, it is very easy to change the blades.  The problem I had with the ergonomic one (see picture below) is that I have a heck of a time changing the blade and then end up with a wobbly blade. The Quick Change is very easy to change and never wobbly.

Also, I am ambidextrous enough to cut with my left hand when the situation calls for it, and the ergonomic cutter is for right-handed cutting only.

The downside of the Quick Change Rotary Cutter is that it doesn’t automatically cover the blade when you set it down…you have to slide the guard up.  This is second-nature to me now, so its not a problem.  But, if you are accident prone…maybe not the right cutter for you. 

 This is the ruler I use 90% of the time.
It’s just a really good size for me (6.5 x 24.5) since I usually cut on a 24×36 mat.  And that purple half-inch on the one side is really useful!

I don’t have any strong feelings about rotary cutting mats except that bigger is better and buy them when Joann‘s puts them on 40% or 50% sale.  : )
The one that I use currently is a Fiskars mat.  I like its pretty colors.
When buying a rotary cutting mat, I avoid any that are putting off a strong odor. 
I also avoid any that have a lot of writing on them.  I used to have a smaller Olfa mat and I was constant working around a corner that was full of words rather than ruler markings.

So, that’s me marching out my rotary cutting tools.
For advice on caring for these tools check out this webpage.
And if you’re new to the whole rotary shebang, check out this tutorial.

For my other March of the Tools posts click on the label below.

What’s your favorite tool?

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Mine has to be my square ruler; I would never have been able to try out triangles without it, and it has improved my quilting technique tenfold. I will have to look into one of those handle thingymabobbers, it looks handy! I too try to resist buying gadgets, but if it gets a seal of approval then I can't resist.

  2. The cutter you don't like is my favourite tool. I used to only have the cutter you like. I sometimes spend the whole cutting and I got a callous under my pointing finger and sore hands. I finally tumbled for the other one and have been SO happy since. Just my experience. I love that it closes too. Makes my toes safer when it falls and of course the blade stays sharper that way too!!!

  3. I've been temjpted with that Ruler grabber. I tend to NOT buy a lot of stuff but … I just purchased the small June Tailor Ruler (slots) but it's too small so what did I do? go back and buy the larger (about $28.00) it is GREAT for strips (I'm doing a Log Cabin now) and I don't have to WORK at cutting as I WAS doing. My eyes need some improvements! My cuts are accurate – no more fudging. I'm not sure if all cutters fit in the slots, but I have the yellow cutters – this ruler is one great tool. I definitely recomment it. I haven't used it for angles yet.

  4. I got that handle on Overstock.com for $12. Overstock ROCKS for quilting tools. Everything they carry is much cheaper than you can find anywhere else. The handle totally saves my wrist when I'm cutting a bunch.

    I love my cheapo $1.99 seam ripper. I just bought another one today for my travel sewing kit.

  5. Thank you Rossie for the tips about cutters and rulers. I have an awful time changing the blade in my cutter and getting a wambly tool in the end. I have even written directions for myself that describe how it came apart and how to put it back together the same way and I still get wobbles.

  6. It's really interesting reading about what works for other people. The ergonomic cutter that you don't like is the first one I have bought and so far it seems to suit me. Mind you, I haven't had to change the blade yet! I'm right handed, clumsy and forgetful plus I have a lot of wrist pain (I have joint hypermobility syndrome is my excuse).

    I've been having big problems keeping the ruler in place while I cut so looks like the big purple handle could be helpful – I totally agree with you about the aesthetics of it but it sounds super helpful.

  7. I've had to get stitches twice – once from the cutter you like and once from the one you don't. I've considered the gripper but didn't buy it because I thought it might be another ugly tool that ends up in a drawer because it didn't work.

    Well, next time I see it I'm forking over the cash. Thanks for the tip. My tip is try save-on-crafts.com for replacement blades. I use the 60 mm ones and I buy them in bulk because I found I am safer with a sharper blade.

  8. I've resisted buying the gripper thinking I was just developing another acquisitive obsession similar to my stationary obsession. Now I can buy it and tell myself it's an (OH&S) Occupational Health & Safety precaution 🙂

  9. I may be late to the party and someone may have mentioned this in a previous comment (if so, sorry) but the rotary cutter can have the blade moved to the other side to make it a left handed cutter. Hope this helps. It's my favorite rotary cutter – Old Faithful in my sewing room….but we all have certain items that work best for us, right?

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