How to Use a Rotary Cutter - Best Tips for Beginners (2022)

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This tutorial will show you how to use a rotary cutter - a tool that has revolutionized the sewing and craft world. This wonderfully simple tool is the answer to effective ‘clear–cut’ pattern cutting and crafting. The rotary cutter ensures sharp, definite and obvious cutting lines and that is the essence of ‘clear cut’. In addition, learning how to use a rotary cutter makes cutting patterns and shapes quicker and easier. What more could be asked of a cutting tool?

Contents

  • How to Use a Rotary Cutter
  • What are Rotary Cutters?
  • How to Use a Rotary Cutter - The Cutter
    • What Size Rotary Cutter Do I Nneed? 45mm vs 60mm
    • Rotary Cutter Best Brands
    • Which Rotary Cutter Did I Choose?
    • How to Use a Rotary Cutter - Other Supplies
  • Why Use a Rotary Cutter?
    • How to Use a Rotary Cutter vs Scissors
  • How to Use a Rotary Cutter - Instructions
  • How Do You Sharpen a Rotary Cutter?
  • How to Use a Rotary Cutter - In Conclusion
  • More Useful Cutting Articles

How to Use a Rotary Cutter

Plain, simple and clear cut – a rotary cutter! Decisions of what brand to choose when learning how to use a rotary cutter are not necessarily as ‘clear cut’ because there are several brands available and shapes and sizes too. Think about what the cutter will do for you and the amount of use you will get from this handy tool.

Ask yourself 3 little questions to get your ‘clear cut’ answer!What, why, and how.

Let's talk about:

  • what are rotary cutters?
  • why use a rotary cutter?
  • and how to use a rotary cutter?

What are Rotary Cutters?

A rotary cutter is a fabric and craft cutting tool with a very sharp round blade set into a handle device. The blade rotates and enables you to cut faster and more effectively. They come in a variety of styles, handle shapes and sizes.

Blade sizes range from 18mm, 28mm, 45mm, and 60mms and all come with a safety lock so the blade is not exposed. The most commonly used sizes are 45mm and 60mm.

How to Use a Rotary Cutter - The Cutter

The first thing you will need is a rotary cutter. They come in different sizes and brands to suit different holders. Here is some information to help you choose.

(Video) 👍 HOW TO USE YOUR ROTARY CUTTER - 10 TIPS FOR BETTER RESULTS

What Size Rotary Cutter Do I Nneed? 45mm vs 60mm

The 45mm blade is the most common size you will find. It is designed for both sewing and quilting projects that are small to medium in size. A 60mm blade will cut larger projects and will go through more layers at once. It tends to be used more for larger quilting projects rather than sewing clothing.

As a general rule, the smaller blade does curves and corners nicely and the larger blade obviously handles a greater quantity of fabric at a time. Try and use the correct blade for the project to avoid accidents and to get the best results. Depending on what you are sewing regularly, you may even need more than one sized cutter.

There are pinking edges on some cutters and even scalloped edges if you want to be adventurous.

Rotary Cutter Best Brands

Some quality brand names to look out for are: OLFA, FISKARS, GINGHER(US Amazon links).

Different brands tend to have different safety features and there are generally many different handles available within each brand. Consider how much cutting you are planning on doing and whether you want something ergonomic or just simple. If possible go into a craft or haberdashery shop and hold a few different styles to see what feels comfortable in your hand.

Which Rotary Cutter Did I Choose?

I purchased a new cutter last week as I'm planning on some quilting tutorials for you and chose the Olfa Deluxe 45mm. My old cutter was a really simple model and was prone to wobbling as I cut. What I liked about this Olfa is the retractable handle.

It feels really comfortable in my hand and steady when I cut. I mainly cut smaller projects and just a couple of layers at a time so the 45mm size worked best for my requirements.

How to Use a Rotary Cutter - Other Supplies

When learning how to use a rotary cutter, you will also need:

  • A proper cutting mat. The mat needs to be a ‘self-healing’ mat. This means that the cuts made on the mat will repair themselves. The best size to get is a size that covers your normal work surface. Get a good quality brand as cheaper mats are often hard and can slip and dull your blades.
  • A non-slip ruler that you use to line up and cut against with the rotary cutter. Years ago I used to cut leather regularly and both times I cut myself badly were due to the ruler slipping. These days I only cut with a non-slip ruler such as those made by Omnigrip. If you can't get a non-slip ruler, then consider purchasing some silicone non-slip disks to add under your regular ruler like these made by Trucut.

Why Use a Rotary Cutter?

The rotary cutter makes cutting fabric so much faster, easier and more accurate. Once you have used a rotary cutter you will be totally converted to this method of cutting. The rotary cutter, with its razor-sharp blade, cuts through multiple layers of fabric and ensures that several layers or pieces of fabric are cut with precision.

The rotary cutter is the best option for the quilter or sewer who is planning on cutting multiple pieces of fabric in different sizes and shapes. The cutting mat and the correct ruler just make the whole process of cutting accurate shapes so much easier.

How to Use a Rotary Cutter vs Scissors

One of the other advantages of a rotary cutter over scissors is that there is no real difference in design for left or right-handed cutters. One type fits all! In addition, you will have clean accurate edges that are essential for professional results on sewing and quilting projects. It’s a bit like slicing pizza as you put a bit of pressure on the rotary blade and push down to slice up your pieces of fabric. It’s just so easy and you will never turn back once you experienced the rotary cutter in action.

(Video) How To Use a Rotary Cutter // Helpful Beginner Tips and Tricks

It’s a bit like slicing pizza as you put a bit of pressure on the rotary blade and push down to slice up your pieces of fabric. It’s just so easy and you will never turn back once you experienced the rotary cutter in action.

How to Use a Rotary Cutter - Instructions

Once you have made an informed decision and have chosen your cutter then it is always a good idea to practice as you learn how to use a rotary cutter.

Learn how to use a rotary cutter to get the best outcome from the tool.

  1. STRAIGHT ARM - Take hold of the handle and keep your wrist, hand and arm in a straight line. This will give you the best control and pressure possible.
  2. POSITIONS - Try different positions for your grip, some cutters like to position their finger on the top of the handle, like a pencil, to guide the cutter.
  3. CUT AWAY FROM YOURSELF - Remember it is a pushing action that does most of the work. You should always push away from yourself as a safety precaution and not pull towards yourself.
  4. STAND UP - It is generally best to stand up as you are cutting so you can get a good firm and even pressure.
  5. RULER - Make good use of the ruler as a guide and stabilizer.
  6. FIRM PRESSURE - Press firmly on the fabric and the cutting board.
  7. FABRIC - Line up your fabric carefully. Make sure the grains of the fabric all run the same way.
  8. READ - Take note of any of the manufacturer's additional safety tips. Different brands will have different safety features.

How Do You Sharpen a Rotary Cutter?

Eventually, your once sharp rotary blade is going to wear down and need sharpening. When it is blunt, you will find that the blade will tear the fabric and struggle to cut through several layers at once. Always make sure you remove the old blade carefully so you don't cut yourself. Even a dull blade can be sharp enough to cut your skin.

Here are 3 ways you can sharpen a blunt blade:

  • Sharpeners - If you want to sharpen your rotary cutter blades then think about investing in a rotary cutter sharpener. Always check you are purchasing the correct sized sharpener for the size of your blade if the sharpener does not cut multiple sizes. Rotary cutter sharpeners can be either powered (electric) or manual.
  • Sharpening Edge Rulers - Some rulers are coated with a ‘diamond carbide’ edge so as you cut the blade is sharpened as you cut, thus extending the life of your blades.
  • Aluminium Foil - This common household product can help you sharpen your rotary cutter blades cheaply and easily. Run your blade back and forth through several layers of foil. You will need to do this numerous times so it can be a little more time consuming and is slightly less effective than some of the other methods. None the less it can certainly extend the life your blades.

If sharpening your blades doesn't appeal to you, then you can purchase new replacement blades quite cheaply. Don't forget to match the blade size to your rotary cutter. Ideally, you should also match the brand of your replacement blade to your cutter.

Personally, I don't go through enough blades to justify a sharpener so just buy replacements instead. If you are cutting regularly, however, it will be more cost effective in the long run to purchase a sharpener.

How to Use a Rotary Cutter - In Conclusion

Now that how to use a rotary cutter has been answered, you should have a ‘clear cut’ idea on the way forward in your quest for the best rotary cutter for you. It is really a step up in the cutting world and once you have traveled the rotary cutter path you won’t look back.

More Useful Cutting Articles

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  • How to Cut Fabric Straight
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      Comments

      1. Austin Hatcher

        Great article! Thank you!
        But when it comes to sharpening rotary blades, there are no options better than having them sharpened professionally.
        DIY sharpening devices produce inconsistent results, usually cannot remove nicks in the blade, prematurely wear out the blade, and tend to break or wear out before becoming cost effective.

        It is not expensive or difficult to have rotary blades professionally sharpened. It can drastically increase the useful life of your blade.

      Leave a Reply

      (Video) 5 Rotary Cutter Tips | How to use a Rotary Cutter

      FAQs

      What is the proper way to use a rotary cutter? ›

      If using a ruler spread your hand as much as you can across the ruler keep your hands and fingers

      How many layers of fabric can you cut with a rotary cutter? ›

      A sharp rotary cutter blade should be able to cut cleanly through four layers of fabric at a time.

      How do I keep my rotary blade sharp? ›

      And pop it back into your rotary cutter now if it's still not as sharp as you want it just just redo

      How do you cut fabric straight with a rotary cutter? ›

      I'm going up to the end of my fingertips. And then i'm going to pause i'm going to move my hand up

      How do you cut quilting fabric for beginners? ›

      Quilting 101: How to Cut Fabric - YouTube

      Why is my rotary cutter skipping? ›

      When a rotary cutter blade is skipping threads, it's a good indicator that it's time to replace your blade. If you can't remember the last time you changed your rotary blade, do that first! Yes, even if you think you recently changed your blade. This usually fixes the issue.

      How tight should a blade be on a rotary cutter? ›

      Attach your rotary blade properly.

      Hold your cutter with just two fingers and push it along your mat without fabric. The wheel should roll easily with little effort and no wobble. If you have to exert more force for the blade to turn, it's too tight. Loosen the screw that holds the blade a tiny bit.

      How often should I change my rotary cutter blade? ›

      Some people like to change their rotary cutter blade after every couple of projects while others change theirs after a certain amount of hours of use. While there is no one right or wrong method, you definitely want to change the blade as soon as it starts skipping threads.

      Can a rotary cutter cut jeans? ›

      Cut Your Jeans: Use a fabric pen and your fabric scissors or rotary cutter to mark and cut your leg 1” below your folded hem.

      Can you sharpen rotary cutter blades with foil? ›

      Cutting Aluminum Foil

      Next, cut thin strips with the scissors, making sure to cut from the tip of the blade all the way to the pivot points. Use nice, open, broad cuts. This method also works for rotary cutters. Just run the blades over folded tin foil.

      Can I sharpen my rotary cutter blade? ›

      Replacement blades aren't all that expensive but if you do a lot of cutting you can save a substantial amount of money by sharpening used blades. In the following video Pepper Cory shows us how to sharpen a blade using the popular Colonial Needle Rotary Blade Sharpener (get it here).

      Are titanium rotary blades better? ›

      Perfect for crisp, controlled cuts on a wide variety of materials, these blades fit most 45 mm rotary cutters on the market today. A titanium blade coating that is three times harder than steel for improved durability and lasting sharpness.

      How do you cut a perfectly square piece of fabric? ›

      How to Square Up Fabric for Cutting - YouTube

      How do you accurately cut fabric? ›

      Straight angle rulers are the best choice for cutting fabric straight because they have a 90-degree angle that helps you keep your cuts straight. What is this? To use a straight angle ruler, simply line it up with the edge of the fabric and then use a rotary cutter to cut along the edge of the ruler.

      What is the first method of fabric straightening? ›

      First Method: Many times fabric needs to be straightened before the garment is cut out. Draw out a crosswise thread and cut fabric along the thread if the fabric has not been torn from the roll. Then the garment will fit better and hold its shape longer.

      What is the first layer in quilting materials? ›

      The three layers are typically referred to as the top fabric or quilt top, batting or insulating material and the backing.

      Should fabric be washed before quilting? ›

      Washing your fabric before cutting and piecing is an important step for your quilts because it ensures your fabric will not leak excess dyes and will be easy to work with through every step of the construction process.

      What is the fastest way to cut quilt squares? ›

      Learn how to quickly and easily cut perfectly square quilt blocks

      How do you separate rotary cutter blades? ›

      How to Change Your Rotary Cutting Blades - YouTube

      How do you clean a rotary blade? ›

      How to Clean Your Tools - YouTube

      How do you clean a rotary cutter blade? ›

      Clean Your Cutter! - YouTube

      Are rotary cutters better than scissors? ›

      Rotary cutters are better for cutting long, straight lines compared to scissors because they're faster and easier to hold. When you factor in the purchase of a cutting mat with your rotary cutter, this duo may exceed the cost of scissors.

      Why does my mower blade keep coming loose? ›

      One common cause of loose blades is actually running over a rock, trunk or anything solid. That kind of impact can do some serious damage to a blade, and if it's bent it could end up ruining your crankshaft, which will basically KO your mower and make it useless.

      Will a rotary tool cut wood? ›

      Armed with a rotary tool alone, you can complete the following projects: Carve designs into wood, stone or metal surfaces. Cut and sand wood or plastic. Etch mirrors or glass, including windowpanes, tumblers and glass tables.

      Can you use a pizza cutter as a rotary cutter? ›

      A rotary tool is a power tool. It definitely will go through fabric, but probably not as cleanly as you might want (and don't forget your safety goggles). The downvote is because a pizza cutter is not sharp enough to cut fabric and to try it is spoiling good fabric.

      What is rotary blade used for? ›

      A Rotary Cutter is a cutting tool for fabrics. It is a sharp blade wheel, in a handle, used to slice through multiple layers of fabric and resembles a pizza cutter. Rotary Cutters also come in a variety of blade sizes, commonly 18mm, 28mm, 45mm and 60mm.

      Are Fiskars and Olfa rotary blades interchangeable? ›

      Olfa 45mm Rotary Blades

      Although these steel wheels are designed to fit Olfa cutters, they will also effectively work in a Fiskars tool and other common brands. Olfa's blades are more expensive than others, but they present an excellent value in terms of their durability and dependability.

      Can a rotary cutter cut thick fabric? ›

      Cutting Thick Fabric & Batting

      It's easy to make smooth cuts through thick materials with a heavy-duty 60 mm blade. Designed to glide cleanly through multiple layers of fabric, as well as thick quilting materials like batting and foam, this rotary cutter is guaranteed to help you keep rolling.

      What size rotary cutter is best? ›

      Blade Size

      An 18 millimeter rotary cutter is good for small, detailed cuts and for cutting curves. A 28 millimeter model won't cut quite as fine a detail, but it will slice through several layers. A 45 millimeter cutter is perhaps the most popular and versatile option.

      How much HP do you need for a brush hog? ›

      Designed with the unique requirements of tractors with 40 PTO HP and under in mind, these implements may be smaller in size, but they have a big heart.

      How do you use a rotary cutter for quilting? ›

      Quilty: How to use a rotary cutter - YouTube

      How do you sharpen cutting blades? ›

      Sharpening A Carbide Saw Blade By Hand - YouTube

      How do you sharpen a round cutter? ›

      Sharpening Carbide Cutters (Woodturning How-to) - YouTube

      How do you sharpen a rotary cutter with foil? ›

      ALUMINUM FOIL TO SHARPEN ROTARY CUTTERS AND SCISSORS

      Place the foil on your cutting mat and roll your rotary cutter on it, several dozen times. Try it every so often on a scrap of fabric: you should notice a clear improvement! This works just as well with fabric scissors.

      How do you use a quilted bear rotary blade sharpener? ›

      Simply place the Rotary Cutters Blade into the centre of the device and close. Rolling the Sharpener along a flat surface sharpens the blade edge to revitalise the blade. You don't even need to touch the blades!

      How do you sharpen a brush hog blade? ›

      How to Sharpen Brush Hog Blades Without Taking Them Off the Bush ...

      What is the best rotary blade? ›

      5 Best Rotary Fabric Cutters in 2022
      1. Olfa 45mm Deluxe Rotary Cutter. ...
      2. Fiskars Titanium Rotary Cutter. ...
      3. Fiskars 45mm Contour Roller Cutter. ...
      4. W.A. Portman Rotary Cutter. ...
      5. Hercules 3-Speed Electric Rotary Cutting Machine. ...
      6. 7 thoughts on “Best Rotary Cutter for Quilting and Sewing Fabric in 2022”
      11 Jan 2020

      Do titanium rotary blades last longer? ›

      Product Description. TITANIUM coated SKS-7 tungsten steel blades which give greater life span with a razor sharp cutting edge which will last a lot longer than uncoated steel blades.

      Where are Olfa rotary blades made? ›

      The holders and handles that allow users to gain the full cutting performance of these high-quality blades are designed, developed and manufactured in Japan and subjected to stringent quality checks throughout the process. OLFA® is proud of the unwavering quality that goes into every product it makes.

      Do I need to cut off the selvage? ›

      The selvage edges of fabric are sometimes printed, as in this example, and sometimes not as in most batiks. Nevertheless, you should cut them off and not use them in your patchwork piecing. They don't always press flat, and they often pucker and tighten when washed, meaning what they are sewn to doesn't lay flat.

      How do you cut quilting squares with a rotary cutter? ›

      How to Cut Fabric with a Rotary Cutter for Quilt Making - YouTube

      How do you know the grain of fabric? ›

      HOW TO FIND THE GRAINLINE WITH NO SELVAGE? 3 tips to ... - YouTube

      Do you cut fabric parallel to selvage? ›

      The fold line and the selvages should be parallel to each other, and the fabric should lie perfectly smooth and flat in between. Good to Know: The raw edges cut from the fabric store will most likely not line up as they did before washing, so don't stress if they're different now.

      What does it mean to cut selvage to selvage? ›

      When the fabric is measured, it is cut from the bolt by cutting perpendicular to the edge of the material leaving the selvage alongside each side of the cut fabric. Now we know what is selvage, it is on to learning about fabric grain.

      How do you keep fabric from moving when cutting? ›

      So here's how to stop that lovely fabric from slipping and sliding all over the cutting table and sewing machine… Before you begin, hang your fabric up on a clothes dryer or rail, and give it a light going-over with some spray starch (the kind you might use to iron a shirt, if you were so inclined).

      What are the four 4 ways to straighten the fabric grain? ›

      How to straighten fabric grain.
      • Tearing the fabric. Fold your fabric in half lengthwise and match selvages so that they are flush. ...
      • Pulling a thread. Some fabrics won't rip easily. ...
      • Stretching. Another method to try if ripping or pulling a thread isn't successful is to stretch your fabric. ...
      • Ironing.
      2 Sept 2017

      How will you know that you fold the fabric lengthwise correctly? ›

      Make sure the lengthwise fold lies smoothly. (You will not be able to line up the cut ends of the fabric.) Then measure from the grainline arrows to the selvages as described above. For off-grain fabrics with a stripe, plaid, or obvious horizontal design, ignore the lengthwise grain.

      How do you rip a straight line through fabric? ›

      How to Rip Fabric - Quick Tip Tuesday - YouTube

      Are rotary cutters better than scissors? ›

      Rotary cutters are better for cutting long, straight lines compared to scissors because they're faster and easier to hold. When you factor in the purchase of a cutting mat with your rotary cutter, this duo may exceed the cost of scissors.

      How do you use a cutting tool? ›

      How to Use Rotary Cutting Tools - YouTube

      Will a rotary tool cut wood? ›

      Armed with a rotary tool alone, you can complete the following projects: Carve designs into wood, stone or metal surfaces. Cut and sand wood or plastic. Etch mirrors or glass, including windowpanes, tumblers and glass tables.

      How do you use Fiskars rotary cutter and ruler combo? ›

      Fiskars Combo Rotary Cutter and Ruler - YouTube

      Can I use a rotary cutter without a mat? ›

      Can you use a rotary cutter without a mat? To use a rotary cutter when you don't have a cutting mat, you can use thick cardboard or even the bottom of an old shelf in a pinch, but this can dull your blades with time. You can use the edge of a table to help you mark a straight edge.

      How often should you change your rotary cutter blade? ›

      Some people like to change their rotary cutter blade after every couple of projects while others change theirs after a certain amount of hours of use. While there is no one right or wrong method, you definitely want to change the blade as soon as it starts skipping threads.

      Can you cut curves with a rotary cutter? ›

      The standard quilting rotary cutter is a 45mm size blade. This size is great for easily cutting squares and rectangles and other straight-edged shapes, but not so great for cutting around curves. Especially if you're using acrylic templates or template plastic.

      How do you cut wood with a rotary tool? ›

      Using a Dremel Tool : Dremel Scroll Saw Tutorial - YouTube

      What is the best tool for cutting fabric? ›

      Fabric Shears

      The best sewing scissors are specially designed to cut fabric. Your fabric scissors (also called shears) should be sharp enough to cut through several layers of fabric at the one time. This means they will need to be medium to large-sized.

      How thick of wood can you cut with a Dremel? ›

      The Dremel 561 cuts hard wood up to 3/8" and soft wood up to 5/8". Also cuts plastics, fiberglass, drywall, laminate, aluminum and vinyl siding. Use with the Dremel Multipurpose Cutting Attachment (model 565).

      Can a rotary saw cut plywood? ›

      Make circular saw cuts so clean that you don't have to sand or touch up the plywood edges. We show you out seven best tips for making smoother, straighter and more accurate cuts on big sheets of plywood. Your circular saw can cut just as well as a table saw.

      Can I cut a 2X4 with a Dremel? ›

      Can You Cut A 2X4 With A Dremel Rotary Tool? - YouTube

      How do you use a Fiskars cutter? ›

      Fiskars Personal Paper Trimmer - YouTube

      How do you use the Fiskars acrylic ruler? ›

      Clear Acrylic Ruler Demo for Sewing Projects, Upholstery & Canvas

      What is the meaning of rotary cutter? ›

      A rotary cutter is a tool generally used by quilters to cut fabric. It consists of a handle with a circular blade that rotates, thus the tool's name.

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