What is the first tool I recommend a new scrapbooker start with? A paper trimmer.
The staple of every crafting stash, this most frequently used tool is very rarely the star of the show – but today it is going to get some time in the spotlight. From my time working as a scrapbook store manager to the years I worked with Fiskars, I have seen a lot of paper trimmers. I have given demonstrations and done educational events (with Fiskars), and I have my preferences for sure. In fact, I am still using the same desktop rotary trimmer that I have been since 2006. It’s not perfect – but it is a wonderful tool I have been recommending since I first got it from Fiskars.
When it comes to paper trimmers, I strongly believe one with a rotary blade is the way to go. The initial investment is always more, but the quality is worth the $40-$60 the average rotary trimmer costs. A rotary trimmer has an effective blade that rarely needs to be changed, will always cut straight thanks to the usually metal cutting bars that won’t warp or bend, and can cut through felt, chipboard, fabric, and other materials easily. In short, I believe a quality trimmer that utilizes a rotary blade is a great investment for any paper crafter.
American Crafts invited me to try their new Cutup Cartridge Paper Trimmer, and today I’m going to talk about its features and benefits, as well as less desirable traits. Over the last two weeks, I have crafted heavily with this, even used it to cut paper for several classes that I taught at a local store. Having heavily field tested the trimmer, I am ready to share with you my findings.
From American Crafts:
The Cutup Cartridge Trimmer features fully enclosed blade cartridges and a liftable, ergonomic handle top, allowing for quick-and-easy blade change. The secure cutting rail locks paper down, guaranteeing smooth cuts, accuracy and precision. Use the Trimmer’s extendable arm to cut 12×12 paper up to a weight of 400gsm.
The aqua platform is metal, and this is definitely the prettiest trimmer I have ever seen. I really liked the feel of the metal and the sleekness of design. There are no awkward spots or things that could easily fall off or get in my way. Not to mention the Cutup has built in blade storage. It’s such a logical thing, and a much needed feature that I love about this trimmer.
What first caught my attention and makes this trimmer stand apart is not just the blade storage, but the blades themselves. From deckle to scoring to scallop – there are several special blades as well as the standard straight one that are made for this trimmer.
All the blades are completely encased in cartridges, so that you will never actually have to handle the blade itself. There is no chance of accidentally cutting yourself, which is a wonderful safety feature! Below you can see the blades stored in the end of the trimmer.
Using the blades is easy too. The cartridge gets inserted easily by just lifting the black “press” bar and sliding it in. Put that black piece down, and press to cut! The blade cartridges have their design marked on them so that you don’t have to guess which blade is which.
The cutting does not happen against the metal bar, but rather there is a faint line in the middle of the plastic guard that is at both front and back of the blade cartridge that shows where the blade will be. I found it easy to see and judge where I was cutting.
A great feature about the trimmer’s surface is that the length is actually 13″, which means that you can cut your patterned paper with the tear strip still attached! Most trimmers do not have any excess length and I found this useful immediately on the Cutup. On the downside, I found measuring under an inch, or between six and eight inches very difficult.
As you can see above, there is a long stretch where the trimmer surface starts, and before the extendable ruler starts where there are no numbers or measurements. To fix this, I scratched my own mark into the plastic at the 7″ mark just so I could know where it was, as 7″ is a very common cutting size for me. I will eventually add in more marks at 6 1/2″ and 7 1/2″ with a Sharpie pen.
On the other side of the trimmer, I also found measuring a small piece like a 1/2″ to be guess work as well as the grid pattern stops at 1″. Not only that, but there is no raised edge on the blade side of the cutting bar, which means that it is more work to stabilize and keep paper straight when working with a small piece. You need to be very careful and slow when working to make sure things stay lined up with the smaller pieces.
My final question with this trimmer is how long the blade and cutting mat will hold up before needing replacement. I have used the same Fiskars trimmer for nearly the last six years, and I change the blade and cutting mat 2- 3 times a year at most. I would expect another brand of rotary trimmer to hold up to those same standards, however I have only been testing this trimmer for a short time so I can not tell you for certain how long lasting the blades are.
While I am critical of some features of this trimmer, the truth is that I’ve never seen a truly perfect paper trimmer. There are always features that could be more to my liking. I think American Crafts has come up with a great offering with this Cutup trimmer, and that it is a fantastic tool. I love that I do not have to worry about myself or my children being cut by the blades, and that even in my messy studio I will always know where my spare and decorative blades are thanks to the fantastic design.
Information about this trimmer and its accessories can be found on the American Crafts website. The Cutup trimmer is available in stores, including Scrapbook.com where it is selling for $49.99. Accessories, replacement blades and mats, and additional decorative blades can be purchased separately.
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