6 Key Features for the Best Replacement Paper Cutter Knife
Arguably the most important part of a cutting machine is the blade itself. Quite a small physical piece when you look at the entire industrial cutter footprint, but the blade is what makes or breaks your finishing. No matter what kind of product you are finishing (perfect bound books, laminated prints, card stacks, banners, etc.) the blade is what truly determines whether your products will look clean and professional, or messy and cheapened.
When it comes to finding the best paper cutter knife, there are several things you want to look out for. Not only does it have to be the right size and fit to be compatible with your machine, but it needs to be made of quality material, have a proper concave and bevel, have exceptional tolerance, and ensure a perfectly square and clean cut through your material. But it is a bit more complicated than just that.
Compatibility - First and foremost, your blade will have to be compatible with your particular cutting machine. Paper cutter manufacturers develop their machinery to comply with proprietary blades or blades that are specially-manufactured to compatibility. When manufacturing blades, special care must be taken to ensure that any holes, slots, and threads are added in the precise location. Most knives have two or three rows of holes so the knife may be lowered on the bar as it is ground down in sharpening. The lengths, height, and width will also play into the compatibility of a knife with your cutter.
Premium material - The material of your paper cutter knife is going to be a major factor when it comes to quality, longevity, and performance. Poor quality steel will not last nearly as long as more durable materials, may not be able to be ground to the perfect cutting edge for a clean-cut, and may wear down quickly, requiring replacement more often. So keep in mind the material you are purchasing, how often you use your cutter, what materials you cut, etc. The lowest price blade will often give you a lower quality accessory, so keep this at the forefront of your mind when shopping for a replacement cutter blade. As is true with most purchases, you tend to get what you pay for.
Standard Inlay (INL) - The most common blade material, which is usually what knives are made of when there is no mention of the material itself. They are made of a bi-metallic composition that consists of one part high alloy tool steel and one part standard grade steel, a 50%/50% material makeup. A special fusion process bonds these two grades of steel together to produce a high-quality knife at an economical price.
High-Speed Steel (HSS) - High-speed steel blades are the next step up from a basic replacement cutter knife. They are manufactured with a bi-metallic composition that consists of one part 18% tungsten high-speed steel, and one part standard grade steel. This combination is perfect for a mix of economical pricing with added strength and longevity. A special fusion process is used to bond these two grades of steel together which results in the production of an extremely wear-resistant knife. HSS high-speed steel knives typically last 5x (five times) longer than conventional blades. For that reason, if available, we always recommend an HSS blade for anyone who needs the added durability for their production and finishing process.
High Carbon, High Chrome (HC/HC) - HCHC is a specialty blade material that is made exclusively for specialty machinery, including three-knife trimmers. These replacement cutter knives are made of solid D2 tool steel that is formed with a precise, through-hardened knife that possesses extremely high wear-resistant properties. These blades are rarer, and not readily available for machines other than 3-knife trimmers.
Sharp cutting edges - The hone of your blade edge is clearly going to determine whether or not your finishing looks clean and professional. This plays a bit into the materials, in that the stronger materials can often be ground to a more precise blade edge, ensuring greater accuracy and a better slice through your entire stack. This also plays into the cutting process itself, and the machinery used to manufacture and sharpen the knife. Diamond cut knives are almost always the best method for knife grinding; they tend to exceed the OEM specifications for longevity and accuracy, so we always recommend this, when available. You don't want to end up with burred edges and rough, uneven cuts. A good blade will reduce waste disposal from miscuts, as well as produce less paper dust.
Strict tolerances for accuracy - Tolerance relates to the accuracy of the cut, and it usually affected by the cutting edge point. A cutter with a larger tolerance will lead to a less accuracte cut placement; this is due to the natural shift of the stack, as well as the width and hone of the blade edge. You can imagine that it would be a costly hassle to set your cutter to a specific size, only to have the tolerance too large and have it be off, resulting in wasted material and a delayed job. The tighter the tolerance can be, the better. So check this specification when shopping for a replacement blade. Good quality knives are ground very slightly concave from the cutting edge to the top on the side opposite the bevel. This gives clearance and prevents the knife from binding against the paper being held by the clamp. A knife that is too concave or too convex will tend to dig in or out of the die stockpile instead of making the normal vertical descent.
Longer service between sharpening / regrinds - The more time you can get away with between sharpening, the better! This length is always going to depend almost entirely on your materials, how often you use them, how thick they are, etc., and so knife manufacturers won't actually advertise a specific average service life. But, the exceptional Diamond Cut versions will state that they last five or more times longer than lower-quality alternatives.
Long lifespan - This same thing applies to the overall lifespan of the blade. They can only be sharpened a certain number of times before they wear too much to be compatible with your system. So be sure you are choosing a replacement cutting knife blade that is made with quality materials to ensure the longest blade life possible and prevent investing in new blades prematurely.
Where to Buy the Best Blades
Most cutting machine manufacturers will also manufacture OEM (original equipment manufacturer) blades for precise compatibility. So one place where most customers will always check first is with their equipment manufacturer. This is an intelligent choice since it ensures perfect compatibility with no room for error. But there may be instances where this is not the ideal knife replacement.
One of those instances would be if your cutter is a no-name brand; something that was manufactured overseas. This most often means that there is no longer access to the original seller who you purchased from, and no model name or number on the machine, making it impossible to search for a proper replacement. This may also mean that getting a replacement blade is not cost-effective, as the import and transit fees may outweigh the lower cost. And, of course, quality may not be as assured when you purchase from an overseas seller where authenticity and quality are not guaranteed.
Another instance that may play into what brand of blade you choose may be the materials available. Sometimes OEM manufacturers only offer a "standard knife" which will depend on the machine but is usually made of basic steel. As discussed above, however, there are many other material options out there, many of which are much stronger, ensure better accuracy-of-cut, and will last longer with less frequent sharpening. So you can check on the material of the blade and determine what the OEM offers and what other specialty knife manufacturers offer.
And yet another situation where you might go off-brand of the original cutter is if you find a better blade elsewhere. Jayhawk, for instance, manufactures exceptional quality knives that are specially designed to exceed the OEM specifications for performance and blade life. Plus, their knives are often less expensive, so you may get more value when purchasing from a blade manufacturer instead of the original machine manufacturer.
Popular Cutter Knives
If you want to achieve the best results with your paper cutter, then your cutter needs to be equipped with the proper accessories. A high-quality, properly sharpened blade can only be manufactured and purchased from a reputable supplier. You want a uniformly tempered steel made from the best materials on the market to prevent soft spots and easily breakable/wearable blades. Keep your cutter running at peak performance with the best replacement blades on the market.
About the Author • Mallory Morsa has been a part of Binding101 since 2008 and has experience in several departments within the company. She began in customer service and sales where she honed in her skills to provide the customer with professional, fast, and accurate information. Shortly after, she was promoted to sales supervisor and also took on the role of product expert, training the team on new products. Throughout this time, she also wrote content for the site, as well as contributed stock photography and videography. As the team grew, she moved to an official position as the content specialist and social media manager. Her skills in these variety of areas give her the unique expertise to not just create content for the web, but to create content for you, the customer. She has a Bachelor's degree in business management and marketing, was on the Dean's List each year, and graduated Summa Cum Laude. In her free time, Mallory's favorite things to do include volunteering at the animal shelter by bottle feeding neonatal kittens, reading at the park, cooking plant-based meals, playing board games, and binge streaming TV shows with her 3 furbabies and family beside her.