How to Cut Using a Swivel Exacto Blade Knife

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Exacto knives provide an accurate trim around plastic stencils.
Image Credit: Carl Durocher/Hemera/Getty Images

Exacto knives are favored by artists around the world because they make such precise cuts. Exactos can be used to cut a myriad of materials, including paper, film, stencils, stickers, decals and thin wood such as balsa. Moreover, the swivel Exacto knives feature a pivoting blade that can be used to cut out curved shapes with ease, resulting in smoother, more accurate cuts than standard crafting blades.


Step 1

Hold the knife with an upright grip. The more vertical the blade is held, the more freely the swivel head will be able to pivot.

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Step 2

Apply just enough downward pressure to the blade to cut through the material. The lighter the pressure, the more freely the blade can move. The stiffer the blade, the less effectively it will function.


Step 3

Move the blade along the path you wish to cut, maintaining consistent pressure the entire way. Keep your grip relaxed. Being too tight with your wrist or fingers will negatively impact the blade's ability to follow your path. Hold the blade just tight enough that it is not sliding out of position.

Step 4

Remove the blade from the material once you are done cutting. Separate the piece you cut out from the rest of the material.


Use a regular Exacto blade for any fine detail in your design. The swivel blade can be inaccurate in tight designs, and you will likely find a standard Exacto blade to be easier to handle in these areas. Use the swivel Exacto blade on rounded shapes, as it is designed to smoothly follow your path around contours. Replace dull blades regularly to ensure the cleanest cuts.


Exacto blades are extremely sharp and should be handled with care. Do not keep within the reach of pets or children.

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