Trouble cutting cotton paper

I’ve got parent sheets of Holyoke 140 lb 30x22 paper. I’m using a Reliance lever cutter and i’m just not getting clean cuts with it. I can cut traditional paper and the edges are clean. The soft paper unfortunately gets pushed as it’s cut. I’m using chip board above the paper. Should I use more clamping pressure?

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I did another test this evening by applying higher pressure to the paper. It cut much better but it seriously compressed the paper and I think you lose the point of buying soft paper.

I use a 30.5” Challenge lever cutter and have no trouble cutting through the long side of those sheets of Holyoke. Make sure your blade is sharp and clamp is tight. To avoid clampmarking I have to keep 4 scrap sheets the width of my clamp around which I place on the stack when cutting. The magnetic cutting pads still leave marks in the stuff.

How large is your cutter? How many sheets are you trying to cut? I wouldn’t attempt more than 10 or 15 sheets on a full 30” cut.


It’s the same size cutter as you have. I’ll look for someone to sharpen the blade today. Could be my definition of sharp isn’t the same. I’m able to cut a stack of 20 sheets of 80 lb with a clean edge no problem.

I totally know what you’re talking about with the marks. I recleaned the cutter again yesterday wondering where these scuff marks are coming from.

I’m trying to cut about 5 -10sheets at a time.

When was the last time you sharpened your blade? How often/much do you cut? I’m not sure what prices are like everywhere, but where I’m from it’s surprisingly cheap ($20) so I try to do it every 2 weeks, as I’m often trimming cotton stock and finished books, which really show nicks in the blade.

20 sheets of 80lb what? Cover? What length? 20 sheets at 30” manually is generally about what I cut, but down to 5” or 8” of cut I can usually manage full throat.

The blade is going to be the same in our manual cutters as on a brand new digital Polar. The action on those cutters is firmer and smoother, but there really shouldn’t be much difference, unless your lever is smaller than mine and you just can’t get the torque you need.

Good luck,


Have your blade Sharpened to a sharper angle by a degree or two then your will not have the draw.
Your are cutting watercolor paper which is a softer stock than cover paper and you will need to give it more clamp pressure. Also have new stick in you cutter

Use one or more layers of chipboard on top of stock to eliminate clamp marks, if that becomes a problem. Ron

Thanks Paul, John and Ron.

I hired someone to sharpen the blade yesterday. It works better, but it still has super small issues. You’re right it is watercolor paper at this point.

I need to use more clamp pressure and the cut is cleaner.

I’m cutting down 30x22 parents in stacks down to 5x7 Paul.

I’m doing the cutting tomorrow so I’ll update how it goes. Thanks again.


Sharper blade. Heavy clamp. smaller stack!

I hope you are putting a pice or two of chipboard on top of your stack of paper so you don’t get impression from the clamp. Also try and put a piece under the stack so the bottom few sheets don’t get a ragged edge.

It worked fantastic.

I used chipboard above the stack, but chipboard below made the biggest difference. I had clean cuts even doing 20 sheets of 140lb at a time.

NOTE to future people reading this.

1. Sharpen your blade
2. Clamp well, but make sure you have chipboard or spare sheets above to avoid marking your paper.
3. Please add chipboard above AND below. It will save you from tearing your hair out.

Thanks to everyone for the help.

Glad it worked out!

One thing that wasn’t mentioned in this discussion is the stick into which the blade bites into once it has passed through all the paper. This will become more and more worn with time and numerous cuts. Keep an eye on this and when it looks like it should be changed simply pry it out and change positions. It is on a square body so it can be used a total of eight times (two times on each side - simply turn the stick around with the same side up).

And yes, chipboard on the bottom does make a lot of difference.

I have seen some sticks so worn-out that the bottom sheets simply got pulled and scored in the “trough” instead of being cut through.


That’s a great tip Rick!

Hey all. Bryan here from Holyoke…

When cutting cotton paper, and we do alot of it, be sure to always have the sharpest blade possible. We go through 4 blades every two weeks. When sending your blades out for sharpening, mention that you’re cutting 100% cotton paper and they will usually grind a more aggressive angle on the blade, usually a degree or two… Cotton is really hard on blades… and if at all possible when ordering new blades. always spend the extra $$ for high-speed steel.