Hi again,

I am doing some various projects for friends/family. I use this stack cutter I bought off Ebay, and am cutting in short stacks of about 20-30 cards. I’m not the best at using this cutter, so each stack is a little off from the next stack, albeit the cards themselves are even and straight. So my question is: When packaging note cards, invites, etc. in un-even stacks in a large quantity, would that be acceptable for someone who’s purchased the goods? When I purchased my daughter’s birth announcements (from the talented Thistleberry Press), the stack of 50 was cut neatly. I don’t have that capability, but would love to keep going with my projects and cutting them myself. Also, if the cards are not *exactly* 4.25x5, and a millimeter or two off, would that be acceptable in the world of letterpress? My guess is I’ll eventually get better at the finishing, and/or I will upgrade my cutter. But for doing free work for friends, I hope that my cutter and I can remain friends for now.


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While it may be acceptable, it certainly doesn’t make you look good.
Most guillotine cutters have a “back stop.” This allows you to make several cuts at the same depth. You could make something similar for your cutter with a piece of lumber clamped to your cutter table using c-clamps or something similar. I’d imagine hot glue would even hold the wood down in a pinch.

If you bought the same cutter I did… I decided that it was no good. and have been looking for something else.

I bought the “XD-500” off of Ebay, based on a recommendation. Courtney, I’d be curious if this is the same one you bought. While it really does cut well, the backstop locks a bit crooked, so I’ve been using the grid as a way to keep the stack even. I suppose I’ll find another cutter in the future, and do the finishing work based on the type of project (whether I job them out or not). Is anyone happy with their tabletop cutter (one that costs less than $500)? I’ve been recommended the brands Dahle and Kutrimmer.

I bought the same one. The back stop is really crooked on mine and mine puts a couple of burrs on the cut paper. It also does not hold the paper down for some reason. I have cranked that handle to no avail. I would like to find a tabletop cutter that would go up to at least 12” with precision cutting. I have been looking at the Dahle also, but I want to use one before spending any more money.

This was previously discussed here:

I recently ended up obtaining the QCM-1200, which looks identical to the XD-500 but costs a bit more. I’m hoping the price difference is due to differences in build quality rather then branding! It also looks exactly like the Martin Yale 7000, which costs a great deal more. I have yet to use it for anything beyond some tests so I can’t judge yet. However, reviews on Amazon were good and the few that complained about calibration issues had a response directly from the company saying to call them to explain how to properly set it up…the “instructions” that come with the press are pretty terrible.

That set-up issue has more to do with making sure the side-gauge is square to the blade. So far the back stop seems to lock straight.

Perhaps the secret is to find one with a back-stop that is adjusted from the front, like the old big Challenge cutters have. The cheapest new Triumph and Challenge table-top cutters both adjust from the front. They’re both out of my price range as well.

For smaller runs you might want to try a Rotatrim ( It is a rotary cutter and will not cut in stacks, but if you use it correctly, you will never have to worry about size inconsistency. I would rather spend more time if that means the work will be consistent. Have you looked for a print shop in your area that might cut jobs down for you? (As you look over their shoulder!)

Ebay seems to have great deals on Rotatrims. I have an electric cutter and I still bought one. Dahle makes something that looks similar, for a fraction of the price, but the quality is not there (I should know, I wasted money on one!).

I have ended up with both the ebay manual stack cutter, and the matin-yale 7000 stack cutter… so I’ll share a few things I’ve learned.
Firstly, the martin yale is great for the accurate and easy to use backstop, it comes from the factory with the top fence at a perfect 90. The ebay/amazon version is unasembled so you are required to install and align the fence to 90 yourself. It can be quite frustrating, and you will probably never get it to an exact 90… But for what its worth, 99% of people won’t be able to tell if it is completely square.

Both cutters have great blades, both good tool steel( I had both sharpened at the same time and I asked the machinist if he could tell a difference… he said no)

The safety catch on ebay/amazon version is quite cumbersome to engage and release.. as opposed to a simple switch flip on the M-Y.

My big complaint with both cutters is that they cut the stack longer at the top of the pile than at the bottom… about 1/8 of an inch with a full stack. I contacted martin-yale about this problem and they told me it was an “acceptable tolerance” for the machine( I disagree) to minimize this I try to cut in smaller stacks of 50 sheets, and I cut in multiples of what I’m packaging… so that the cuts are consistent throughout a pack.

After having both I pretty much only use the Martin-yale version… It’s a better cutter, even though I don’t think its wort $800. I only use the e/a version when I need to rough cut something. If I were going to reccomend one it would be the M-Y… if your cash is tight get the e/a, you can make it work.

also @ Courtney, I had a dahle salesmen talk me out of buying one of thier stack cutters… she said they don’t work well… I don;t know never tried one.. just thought I’d pass that along

If you want to use a lever cutter with a hold-down I wouldn’t try to cut more than 3 sheets of card stock and 6 sheets of text-weight paper at any one time. I have lengthy experience with Kuttrimmers and Dahle - they are both excellent cutters, but will never accurately cut a large stack of paper. The problems described above are from the stack shifting because of the scissor action of the blade. They simply cannot cut large stacks. Without a hold-down - two sheets tops.


I definitely agree with Paul — I have the XD300 stack cutter and although there is a clamp to hold down the stack, the paper does shift if I cut more than 8 pieces of 110lb of paper. Other than that, it’s a nice cutter!

I also have a beautiful rotary cutter (Dahle) which is a great finisher if some pieces are not perfectly trimmed. Although with 110lb paper, you can only do 2 pieces at a time!
Although with some announcement cards, a person may only have 1 piece so they can’t compare them to others, it’s really satisfying for me to have perfectly trimmed paper so I’d say it’s worth the extra time. People won’t notice if they’re perfect, but they’ll certainly notice if they’re not.