Cutting Tips & Techniques

I have been asked by customers several times recently about how I get such a clean edge when I cut things out.

Cutting techniques are a bit of a personal thing and I am probably a bit unusual as I use a large pair of Fiskars scissors which are about nine inches long with four inch blades - I think they are their general purpose scissors.

I do have a small pair of decoupage scissors as well but I only resort to them if I absolutely have to because the piece I am cutting out is very small or too fiddly to cut out with my large scissors.

It may just be because I spent so many years cutting things out as a dressmaker that I am more comfortable with a large pair of scissors. I get a much cleaner cut with them than I can with small scissors.

I've always found that the secret to cutting things out neatly is to hold your scissors still and only move the item that you are cutting.

I'm right handed and all my right hand does is gently close the blades on the scissors, while my left hand rotates the item within the open blades. I also like to cut at the back of the blades.

I place the item I’m cutting out at the back of the open blades, and move it forward whilst turning it, as my right hand closes the blades. When my right hand has about half closed the blades, I pause, and open them back up again and move the item back to the back of the blades with my left hand and start over again. That way you avoid any possibility of an accidental 'snip' - closing the blades completely. Snips are difficult to control. I like slow smooth cuts which are easily controlled. It makes it easier to make sure that you don't over cut if you are cutting into a corner, etc.

The other thing I sometimes do whilst cutting for even more control but you need to be careful when using sharp scissors is to actually place part of my left hand between the blades when I want to make sure I can't accidentally snip when I don't want to - your hand prevents the blades from closing. I've never cut myself yet. ;o)

I use Fiskars scissors for two reasons, one because they are well made and cut very well, but also because you can buy a scissor sharpener for them too. I regularly sharpen my scissors as they then cut cleaner and are less likely to chew the card. The sharpener also removes any of the gluey bits that inevitably end up on the blades which can make them snag.

Keeping the item you are cutting at 90 degrees to the blades also reduces the tendency to chew the card and gives a cleaner cut.

If you use a knife to cut any internal bits then also make sure that is very sharp too and regularly change your blade.

I only use a knife when I have to. If the internal area to be cut is large enough, I'll roughly cut it out with a knife leaving a margin, and then use scissors to make the internal cut as well even if I have to resort to a small pair of scissors.

Don't use your scissors or knife to cut anything other than paper, keep them solely for that, as cutting other things will blunt the blades and you may not realise. Don't let the kids use them!

I hope you can picture what I am trying to say as it's not very easy to explain. It's probably not what anyone else does but it works for me.

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