Review | American Crafts Cutup Cartridge Trimmer

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 where it is selling for $49.99. Accessories, replacement blades and mats, and additional decorative blades can be purchased separately.

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16 Responses to Review | American Crafts Cutup Cartridge Trimmer

  1. Cathie November 14, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    Lots of good information but I still have one question. Will you switch from your Fiskars to this AC trimmer?

    • Nancy May 18, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      The ad for the Cut Up Trimmer in the magazines shows the trimmer with 6 cartridges. The instructional video shows it with 6 cartridges. I ordered the trimmer and when it arrived it had only 3 cartridges. This was very misleading. The trimmer should be shown exactly as it will arrive. I had to order cartridges separately fortunately I had a 40% off coupon from Hobby Lobby so after purchasing the extra cartridges I ended up paying the same as I would have with the 3 cartridges.

  2. May November 14, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Good question!

    Honestly I am not sure. Upon initial use it was not perfect enough for me to throw out my old trimmer, no. They each excel in areas where the other is weak, I found them very evenly matched. There are benefits to each, and downfalls to each. I think either one makes a fantastic trimmer.

    As I have space for both (and frequently misplace my trimmer) I will use them both and continue to evaluate. Only time will tell if the blades for this trimmer as well as the cutting mat have a long life span, and that is truly the tie breaker at this point for me.

    • Cathie November 14, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

      Thanks for the prompt response, May. I have a rotary Fiskars trimmer too and I love it – I think it’s similar to yours. My only complaint is it’s size. I’d love to have a smaller one (that works just as well) to take to crops and retreats. What do you think? Is it portable?

      • May November 14, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

        Well, a full size trimmer can only be so portable. But yes- compared to my desktop rotary trimmer it fit nicely into my crop bag which I took out just a few days ago. It is still big – but less so and more squared at corners means that it fit better in the bag- if that makes sense.

        • Cathie November 14, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

          My curiosity is peaked so I think I’ll look into it. Thanks again, May.

  3. Kathy H November 15, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    Ah the continued quest for the perfect, budget-friendly paper trimmer! Thank you for highlighting AC’s new trimmer, May. I’ve had so many trimmers and none have I found to be the perfect match. As you said even between your old trimmer and this one, they each have different strengths. How hard is it to make one trimmer do everything we need it to do?? While I’m delighted over what you’ve reported there is not enough good in AC’s trimmer to make me go out and buy it. My quest continues!

  4. JillT November 15, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Just replaced my first rotary (I agree!) because arm broke and taping was less than efficient 🙂 The replacement was BAD choice because arm lifts hard and blade FALLS OFF! Bad decision based on friendship with ‘scrapbook home sales’ friend and definitely a lesson learned!

  5. Lisa November 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    I tried another AC trimmer (the one with the cartridge that cuts straight, perforated and scalloped). I got a deal on it from one of the deal of a day sites. I normally use the cutterpede. I found the AC one too bulky compared to what I am used to so its been relegated to my storage room in the hopes I’ll sell it one day. I agree on the cutting lines – tough to find. And when I thought i was cutting on the ‘zero’ line to get pages 6×6, I was actually not there and cut the paper to small.

  6. Melissa Kaye November 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    Thanks May for the review! When I saw that you were reviewing it I was hopeful that it would have the markings at all the measurements. I have a Fiskars rotary trimmer right now that I really like, but I wish that there were markings down to a quarter inch on each side and went out to 12 inches. Maybe AC will make some changes….or I’ll have to continue my search for a trimmer that has those things and cuts straight! Bummer!

  7. Lesa November 17, 2011 at 2:09 am #

    May, thank you so much for the review! I started out scrapping with that little, nasty, green Cricuit timmer and quickly moved to a Fiskars desktop rotary model. I’ve been looking for a more travel freindly trimmer and you input is well received.

  8. Deanna November 18, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Hi May, thanks for the review! I am really ready for a new trimmer. When you say you recommend rotary, do you mean just as opposed to the little sliding blades or do you mean as opposed to a guillotine trimmer? I have a guillotine picked out now but haven’t bought it yet!

    I’d love anyone else’s opinion as well. Thanks!

    • Sigi January 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

      Deanna, rotary means a round blade which lasts a lot longer than the tiny sliding blades which only cut on their sides and wear out quickly.
      I like the completely enclosed blades idea on this trimmer but not the fact that measurements are missing at the critical junctions. I just bought a Dahle rotary trimmer (507) which engages a clamp mechanism when the rotary blade, which in that trimmer is self sharpening, starts to glide along the rail. I chose that particular trimmer because I have had such uneven cut results with the push-down rotary trimmers that have plastic platforms and “give” a little like the Fiskars. Photo paper was always a mess to cut with those things, and I needed a smooth cut.
      My Dahle doesn’t have an extender arm and also isn’t “perfect” in every way, but it’s the best smallish rotary trimmer in my collection of trimmers thus far. This one looks similar, so I guess it comes down to personal choice. I can’t speak on its accuracy since I don’t own it, but for me the rail needs to be 100% sturdy with no blade wobble whatsoever. I’ve tried out countless Fiskars trimmers and must say that the Dahle outperforms them all…

  9. Gab November 19, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    Sounds great, thanks May. Hopefully AC will see your review and take not of your suggested areas for improvement!!

  10. Karen Thomson February 9, 2015 at 3:40 am #

    U am finding my blades are lasting a couple of weeks, before fuzzy edges appear. .. Am I doing something wrong when cutting. .. A newbie at this card making

  11. Barb April 27, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

    i find that when i put pressure on the cutter to cut chipboard.. the ends of the bar do not stay down in place.. making it necessary to repeat the cut over a couple of times… is this normal or is there something wrong with it….

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