How to Sharpen a Paper Cutter Blade

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A guillotine style paper cutter quickly trims paper when properly sharpened.
A guillotine style paper cutter quickly trims paper when properly sharpened. (Image: paper guillotine image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)

Paper cutters are used in offices and home craft rooms. These leverage powered devices allow you to make smooth, precision cuts to shape all sizes and weights of paper. A sharp blade is essential for your paper cutter to work properly. Sharpening the blade on your guillotine style paper cutter will take some time, the proper equipment, a bit of know how and a lot of practice. Once the technique is mastered, your paper cutter will be as sharp as a razor and cutting uniform edges.

Things You'll Need

  • Small adjustable wrench
  • Bench mounted vise
  • Safety glasses
  • Leather work gloves
  • Rotary tool with diamond-tipped grinding wheel
  • Clean dry rags
  • Vegetable oil

Close the paper cutter's bladed swing arm. Hold the handle of the swing arm firmly in the down position with one hand while you remove the retaining bolt from the hinge side of the arm with your adjustable wrench. Grasp the frame of the arm and pull the swing arm free of the main body of the cutter. Be careful of the blade when handling the swing arm.

Flip the swing arm so that the blade is facing upward and the beveled side of the blade is facing you. Slide the frame down into the bench mounted vise and close the vise so that its jaws grip the frame of the arm without obstructing the blade.

Stand so that you are facing the end of the swing arm. Turn on your rotary tool's "Power" switch and bring it to full speed. Hold the tool at a 22-degree angle to the blade. Touch the spinning bit against the far end of the beveled side of the blade and pull it towards you while you maintain the same pressure and angle. Repeat this stroke until the edge of the blade is smooth and sharp.

Wipe the blade clean with a dry rag to get rid of any debris from sharpening. Pour a tablespoon of vegetable oil onto a rag and wipe the blade to protect the metal from rust. Set the blade into place on the main body of the cutter. Slide the retaining bolt through the arm and into the cutter. Twist the bolt as tight as possible by hand. Snug the retaining bolt with your adjustable wrench. Lift the swing arm, insert a piece of paper into the cutter and press the swing arm down to test out your blade.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are many varieties and styles of paper cutters. The guillotine style cutter is detailed here, but the blade sharpening process on any cutter is much the same. Remove the blade, clamp it down and sharpen it with your rotary tool at a 22 degree angle. See your manufacturer's recommendations for specific removal instructions.
  • Many rotary cutter devices are self-sharpening and other types of cutters have fixed blades and cannot be disassembled. These cutters cannot be sharpened. Again, refer to your manufacturer's recommendations for specific guidelines concerning your paper cutter.
  • Always wear gloves and use caution when working with a blade.
  • Safety glasses and a good pair of work gloves are a necessity when working with a rotary tool.

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