Paper cutters are a simple product by design, but that doesn’t mean all of them are made equally. In fact, we looked at over 20 different models, and a huge majority of them had common complaints of cheap build quality, a lousy blade, or lack of safety features. With that said, out of the select few that received good scores and reviews, the Swingline ClassicCut Lite stood out to us as the best paper cutter overall. Available in both a 12” or 15” size, it offers tried and true quality that you can depend on for years to come whether you’re using it in the classroom, office, or at home. Article Summary
We currently live in the most advanced technological era humanity has ever seen, but some old-school tools just continue to prevail despite any attempts to modernize them. One such tool that comes to mind is a paper cutter. Everyone is familiar with the typical guillotine-style paper cutter where you place your paper on a platform and then use a large blade to make your necessary trims. They’ve been around for decades, and unless we completely abandon all use of paper, they’re probably not going anywhere.
Despite the simplicity of their design, anyone who’s ever used a paper cutter can tell you that most of them have some pretty common issues. The most obvious has to do with the blade wearing out quickly and not being efficient enough to cut through even a small stack of paper. In addition to that, there are several other concerns that have to do with build quality and safety.
Whether you’re a teacher who needs a good cutter for the classroom, or you simply do a lot of crafting at home, we’ve done some research on different models to show you the best paper cutters for any application. In total, we looked at 18 cutters, closely examining their materials for build quality and durability to ensure they don’t fall apart on you after two months. We also compared versatility to see which models were capable of handling different paper sizes and thicknesses, as well as safety features to reduce the risk of injury for yourself and anyone else that may be using your cutter. The three cutters below are the ones that topped our list after all 18 were judged.
The best paper cutter overall
Swingline is a trusted manufacturer of a wide variety of school and office products, and they offer a series of paper cutters which bring what we think is the best balance of price and performance. Their ClassicCut Lite, in particular, is minimalist by design, but every bit as efficient as some more complex cutters out there. If you need a good option for average office or classroom applications, this is without a doubt the best paper cutter for you.
The ClassicCut Lite is no more technologically advanced than other cutters, but what it does offer is quality construction and a design that’s built to last. It’s a full plastic construction (with the exception of the blade, of course), and the quality of the plastic is more than durable enough to endure everyday use for years to come. Also, by using a full-plastic body, this makes this cutter relatively lightweight and easy to move around when you need to – something that can’t easily be done with most other models due to how heavy they are.
The base platform, where you put your paper, features a grooved grid to help you mark your trims. The top is marked with an imperial ruler, while metric measurements are located in the middle of the cutting surface. You’ve got options for both a 12” model and a 15” model, and both are easily capable of cutting through stacks of 10 sheets of paper without a problem. This is pretty much industry standard, but again, the benefit here is the fact that this cutter has thousands of testimonials vouching for its ability to last for years.
One of the biggest advantages to Swingline’s ClassicCut Lite, and one of the main reasons it landed as our top pick over other models, is its numerous safety features. First off, the blade is completely enclosed in a plastic shroud, with the only exposed part of the blade being the very edge that cuts your paper. Most cutter blades are left mostly exposed, which can pose a serious risk for careless fingers. But let’s say you really don’t pay attention and you push your fingers too close to the edge you’re cutting – there’s a protective bar between the edge of the platform and the blade, which serves as a another backup to prevent your fingers from getting caught under the blade. With these two simple pieces of protection – the shroud and the bar – nearly every potential threat is eliminated. On top of these, you’ve also got your traditional safety hook on the end to protect against blade dislocation.
Overall, the Swingline ClassicCut Lite earned our top pick because it’s simple, safe, and efficient. It doesn’t have any fancy features like laser guides or other things you’ll find on modernized cutters, but for its price and performance, it can’t be beat.
A bigger, more technical cutter
Marigold’s Professional Paper Cutter is definitely a capable choice for anyone who needs a more rugged solution. Coming in at a slightly higher price than the Swingline pick from above, this paper cutter offers some additional features and a super-solid platform. There’s also an extra-large 18” size available, making this ideal for people who will be crafting with larger posters or canvases.
With a thick metal base plate, this model is certainly much more solid than our previous pick. While it is hard to determine whether or not that metal brings any significant long-term benefits compared to quality polymer (which Swingline’s model is made of), there’s no doubt that it’s highly durable. We are talking heavy and constant use without having to worry about accidentally cracking, snapping, or bending the base plate.
The face of the platform has a familiar appearance, with a grid system of 1cm squares drawn into the top. The chosen colors make it appear similar to an old school blueprint, which is kind of cool. There are typical imperial and metric rules along each side, but in addition to those, there are templates for common paper formats (A5, B5, B6, and B7 to be specific) drawn into the face to help you make quicker, more accurate trims. This is especially nice to have if you’re working in a classroom because you’ll not only need to make these measurements often, but you’ll want to spend as little time as possible doing it so you don’t take too much attention away from your class.
When it comes to safety features, things are several pieces of protection in place. The primary safety is a transparent plastic guard that prevents your fingers coming anywhere within an inch of the blade. However, since the blade itself is somewhat exposed, that guard alone won’t prevent all accidents. Because of that, Marigold included a sliding plastic feeder that you can use to push the paper into the blade. These two safeties combined offer a good amount of protection – not quite as much as the Swingline, but definitely above average. Just remember to always be cautious when using.
In terms of performance, Marigold’s Professional paper cutter is capable of cutting some 10 sheets of standard paper. However, they suggest that you can also cut different materials. Stuff like laminating pouches or similar, shouldn’t really be a problem. The blade is fairly sharp right out of the box. That is a good thing since Marigold designed the blade not to be sharpened.
At the end of the day, the Marigold Professional Cutter offers the same level of efficiency as the Swingline ClassicCut Lite, handling stacks of 10 papers at a time. The main difference is that Marigold offers larger sizing with a slightly better measurement system, whereas the Swingline is slightly safer. The choice is yours between precision and safety, but both models are great picks.
A compact solution for occasional users
Fiskars is a very reputable brand that produces nearly anything involving a blade – knives, axes, scissors, and in this case, paper cutters. They’re well-known for their quality, which is why our third pick is their SureCut Trimmer. This cutter has a more modern design which has its pros and cons, but it’s worth the look for those who don’t cut paper too often and prefer a tool that’s more compact.
The SureCut Trimmer boasts a unique design that you may not have seen before when comparing paper cutters. Its platform is about half the size of a traditional cutter, and instead of the guillotine-style blade, it’s got a sliding blade that you move with your fingers.
As mentioned above, this style has some very unique pros and cons. Starting with its benefits, the fact that the entire tool is half the size of a usual trimmer means it’s easy to store or transport, and great for those who want to maximize their desk space. In addition, Fiskar’s patented sliding blade makes it easy to see exactly where your blade is going thanks to the slide guide, plus it’s about as safe as it gets since there’s nowhere to get your fingers caught. The face features both imperial and metric measurements with a cool extendable ruler that still allows you to cut papers 12” in length, and it can cut just as easily and accurately as a guillotine type. Oh, and did we mention it’s half the price?
Although those are all great benefits, there are some limitations, most notably with this cutter’s versatility. Due to the sliding blade design and its surrounding guards, you can only cut about 7 papers at time. That’s all that will fit under the guards. Also, there have been some reports about the trimmed edges of your paper being a little rough as you increase the stack you’re cutting. In other words, the more paper you try to cut at one time, the harder the little blade has to work to cut them, and therefore the rougher the edges will be.
Overall, the Fiskars SureCut Trimmer would be a great choice for someone who doesn’t have to cut paper often. It’s definitely cheaper than other models, but if you’re a teacher or a frequent crafter who’s using their cutter several times a week for numerous stacks of paper, you’ll save yourself a lot of work by investing a few extra bucks in a guillotine style.
How we picked our top three
Since paper cutters have been around for a long time, there are a LOT of brands that offer their own version. This leaves a pretty sizable range between models that are quality and efficient, and models that are cheaply thrown together. With that in mind, we had to be rather nit-picky when researching different brands in order to decide which ones were best. Check out our standards below to see how we decided on our three picks.
Quality and efficiency
The biggest variance between most paper cutters is the quality with which they are built. And when quality varies, so does performance. We wanted to find paper cutters that were built to endure frequent usage for years, since these aren’t tools you should have to replace every six months. To judge this, we looked at a number of factors: the material used to build the body and base, the lifespan of the blade, the number (and size and thickness) of papers that could be cut, and most importantly, reviews from customers who actually use each model every day. The three picks were chose were stars in these categories. Each was built with quality plastics and metals, capable of cutting roughly 10 papers at a time, with dozens of testimonials backing up their functionality over time.
Since a paper cutter is nothing more than a large blade fixed to a base plate (generally speaking), safety features were among our most important requirements. As hard as it may be to believe, there are paper cutters out there which have poor or no safety features at all, which is just unacceptable considering the setting most paper cutters are in – schools! And who goes to schools? Children! Children who don’t know that a paper cutter can also easily slice their finger open, or worse! Needless to say, any models without protective gear were immediately removed from subjection. All of our picks feature some kind of safety feature to protect you or any other users from accidents. Some have more than one, while others come with a single well-implemented safety. Either way, these are efficient at preventing injury.
Things to consider before buying
Paper cutters are nothing more than tools, and how well a tool is going to serve you will depend on the type of job you are trying to get done. In that, there are some things you should consider to make sure you choose the best paper cutter for your personal usage.
How often will you be cutting paper?
Those who only occasionally use a paper cutter can probably get by with a more basic one, whereas those who will be cutting and trimming paper often will probably want to invest a bit more money into one that’s built for everyday usage. The main reason behind this has to do with quality and safety. No matter how careful you are, frequent use leads to complacency, and complacency is dangerous. Because of this, spending a few extra bucks on a model that comes with a few extra safety features is the smart thing to do. On the other hand, the quality of the blade and the base plate can be put in the same context. Casual users can probably get by with a cheaper blade while more frequent users will need a more serious blade.
What’s the largest paper size you’ll need to cut?
Paper cutters are used for a whole variety of things: office paperwork, school supplies, arts and crafts, and more. With that said, you need to think about what size paper you will be cutting. Don’t just think about your average trim job; think about the largest size you will need, even if that’s only on occasion. Remember, a larger cutter will always be able to cut smaller paper with ease, while a smaller cutter won’t really be able to handle your occasional large jobs. In our opinion, it’s always smart to get a bigger cutter if you have the room for it.
Necessary precautions when using a paper cutter
Despite their common place in the office or classroom, paper cutters are nothing to mess around with and are more than capable of causing injury. Because of that, there are some safety rules and precautions you should keep in mind while using your cutter. In addition, we’d recommend going over these precautions with any other users who may be working with you.
Always use the safeties
Safety devices on paper cutters are there for a reason. The more of them you have at your disposal, the better it is for you. The most basic form of safety is the blade latch. When engaged, it will keep the blade in a closed position. Forgetting to lock the latch is very easy if you are using the cutter often; however, no matter how much of a nuisance it may be to lock that latch after every use, doing so will greatly reduce the risk of a sliced finger.
The next type of safety is the feeding pad. This puts another layer of solid material between your fingers and the blade. While most people end up just feeding the paper through with their hand because it’s slightly quicker, it can end up with consequences. Using the feeding pad might be a few seconds more work on your part, but it’s safer, and will honestly also help you align the paper better than you can with fingers.
Don’t exceed the max paper limit
Every paper cutter comes with a rating that states how many sheets of paper it is capable of cutting at one time. Manufacturers know exactly what their blades are capable of doing, and you should stick to these limitations. Trying to push this limit will result in a roughed up, badly cut batch of paper – and that’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is you break the blade off the pad, at which point it becomes a real hazard.
Take it slow
When you are working with a paper cutter, it is important to take things slow. Rushing the process will not only yield in a poorly cut sheet, but it also increases the chance of an accident. Those who are using a paper cutter for work might be tempted to speed things up, but at the end of the day, bad results both on paper and in health aren’t worth the five or so seconds you may have saved.
Wrapping it up
Finding the best paper cutter isn’t all that hard – but it is time consuming. Although the choice just comes down to a few simple characteristics like build quality, safety, and price, those are like needles in a haystack in a market as saturated as this one. Thankfully, after taking several days to do the research, we can say we’ve found those needles. Always consider your personal usage before buying, but as long as you stick with one of the models in our guide, you should be covered for years of paper cutting.