Must-Have Paper-Cutting Tools

Every paper-cutting artist, illustrator or crafter has their favorite precision cutting tool. Below, we break it down to what they are and how they can be used.

Craft Knife

A craft knife is a light duty knife, used with blades such as the #11 double honed blade and other stainless steel blades. Also known as a hobby knife, it is probably the most widely used tool for precision cutting and used by paper-cutting artists and illustrators. Other uses include model making and dioramas, quilling, foam smithing and leather work. It is also used by harpsichord tuners/technicians for harpsichord voicing.

Generally, it has similar dimensions to a pen; however, there are ergonomic versions available which have a cushioned, wider diameter. At one end, there is a chuck which holds the blade in. The mechanism to open and close the chuck is either at the front, right below the blade or at the opposite end. 

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Medium Duty Knife

The medium duty knife is similar to the light duty craft knife, but the diameter of the handle is larger and the chuck is also larger to accommodate medium duty blades

This knife is used for projects that require slightly more duty like building dollhouses or dioramas, cutting out stencils, cardstock and foam boards or foam smithing.

a person using a medium duty craft knife to cut design patterns into construction paper

Swivel Knife

This is a precision knife with a very small, sharp blade that rotates 360°, allowing the artist the ability to cut intricate rounded shapes without lifting up the knife or adjusting the paper. 

The #64 blade is a small, angled sharp edge, housed in plastic that fits snugly into the handle but can also be quickly replaced when needed. 

Stencil Knife

This is a lightweight aluminum knife with a #16 stencil blade. As the name suggests, the stencil knife is intended for stencil-cutting projects and can be used for paper cutting or other detail cutting where the short angle of the blade is preferred. 

a dual blade strip cutter next to strips of colored paper

Dual Blade Strip Cutter

This cutting tool features twin adjustable parallel blades that allow for cutting strips in paper or polymer clay. The blades adjust from .12” - .63” by tightening or loosening the thumbscrew. Use the cutter with the #59 blade

a person using a snap blade knife to open a box

Snap Blade Knives

Snap blade knives are light utility knives that house snap blades. When the tip of the blade gets dull from use, snapping off the tip reveals a new sharp blade. It’s great to have around the house for cutting cardboard and cardstock and for use with foam boards, foam core, cork and more. 

Replacement snap blades are available in a 9mm 13-point snap blade, 9mm 30-degree snap blade or 18mm 8-point snap blade, among others. The 30-degree snap blade has an acute angle with a pointy tip. 

Utility Knives

Heavy duty knives are larger cutting tools with bigger blades that allow for heavier duty cutting of materials, including sheetrock. These are compatible with blades like the 2-notch utility blade. Packaging on the knives will specify which blade fits, so always check that. These come in various designs. Some have additional features like a cord-cutter or multiple locking positions. 

Many of these retract the blade so that the blade is protected during transport from site to site. 

a rotary cutter

Rotary Cutters

Rotary cutters are like pizza cutters but for paper, fabric or clay! Sometimes, a project calls for the use of a rotary knife for a long, smooth cut. Many fashion designers and quilters prefer this knife when cutting out patterns. 

These cutting tools come in several sizes, which is helpful when cutting along curves, and you can select the one that best suits your project. Straight or pinking edges are available for use with these tools. Many models of this knife have a cover for the blade or a mechanism that allows for the blade to retract for safe storage. 

a pair of scissors


Odds are this was one of the first cutting tools we used. Craft scissors are a universal tool, but did you know these also have specialty edges and uses?

Office scissors should be a familiar sight. They’re about 8” long and have plastic handles. Some versions offer a cushion grip, making it easier when used for a prolonged time. 

a pair of comfort grip scissors

Another scissors option is Comfort Grip Scissors. This tool has a spring-loaded assist and, like the name suggests, a soft grip. These can be used by both left-handed and right-handed individuals. Uses include paper, cardstock, stencils, film, vinyl, photographs, tape, some plastics, cloth, leather and cork, to name a few. 

Curved edge scissors are also available on the market. These cutting tools have a rounded sharp edge that makes it easier to cut precise round shapes. 

So, with so many options, you’re bound to find a great cutting tool for all your projects! 

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