Paper Cutter Buying Advice

Hello gang,

In looking around for stuff to print, I realize I need to be looking for a cutter too. I see somewhat periodically 100 year old manual cutters weighing as much and costing as much as a press does. Then there are the cheapy ones, so I figure somewhere in the middle may be the best but I don’t know.

Can anyone recommend a cutter for a very small time operation? Something that would be suitable for low volume invitation based business. Thanks!

Log in to reply   12 replies so far

A cutter is not used too much in most shops, but if it don’t cut well it will drive you nuts. My favorite cutter is a 30” challenge hydralic cutter, most small electric cutters are junk, the ones with manual clamps will work ok but you have to really clamp the paper tight or these cutters will cut crooked most every time. If any cutter you buy has a dull blade it will draw the paper out of the back gauge so your stack of paper will not be even.For a small operation i would get a 100 year old manual cutter, at least 20” long knife, i’ve used these for years and liked them, when i started doing this full time i bought a challenge. When cutting paper i try to cut stacks only half the height of the opening of the cutter, it seems to cut better than filling it up all the way. No matter what cutter you get always spray the bed with silicone spray then wipe with a rag, this makes the paper slide easily, in the old days we always used bowling alley wax on the beds. What ever cutter you get the blades even dull will shave your fingers off, power clamps will crush your fingers off. Dick G.

Rotatrim’s work wonderful—though in many cases it does limit you to cutting one sheet at a time. 30inch or larger gives you a good size range to work in. Sometimes you can find them on ebay at reasonable prices.

I went from a 19” Challenge table top manual cutter to a C&P 23” manual cutter and it’s worked fine for the last 5 years in my shop and 100 years on the planet. dickg had good advise.


Thanks all who commented, I really appreciate the BP community!

Is anyone familiar with the COME 2770EZ stacking paper cutter? I want to use it to trim sewn book signatures. Thanks.

Forget the COME, please! The $600+ you’d spend on that will buy you a cutter that’s good for another 100 years. E bay is loaded, I mean loaded, with these lightweight, flimsy imports. Many of these are described as slightly used, which means they have been returned by unsatisfied buyers. Real printers use real cutters. I own and use a 22.5” Paragon, patented about a 120 years ago, good for many more years. Blades are still available for all of these. Look for Challenge, Advance, Chandler & Price, Reliance, Peerless and many other old-time brands. Stay away from anything with welds. Take my word…wait for one of these to show up, it’ll be worth the wait.

Personally I consider any cutter that doesn’t have a hydraulic clamp and blade mechanism to be scrap metal. Even the most basic of that type is impossibly slow and tedious to use.

Personally I consider any cutter that doesn’t have a hydraulic clamp and blade mechanism to be scrap metal. Even the most basic of that type is impossibly slow and tedious to use.

The nice thing about a guillotine with all that drorange describes cuts real nice. If you happen to print books by letterpress on handmade paper as I do, you would like to use rather a guillotine with a hand cranked clamp and a manual moved blade as a fully automated guillotine will do more harm to the paper than good.

I disagree with that. The blade action is the same no matter what drives it. Sharp blade is the key.

But when you are trimming sewn book blocks the hydraulic clamp can mash the paper and mark it unless you use a heavy sheet of board to protect the block. The manual clamp gives a lot more control, and is not as dangerous to use when you might have to fiddle with the position of the book while clamping it. Mine have a tendency to roll a little as they are clamped and I have to prevent that while clamping. If I had a hydraulic clamp I’d be a lot more leery about sticking my hand in there!


I’ve found that the width of the clamp can make a big difference. My 26” Sanborn Hero cutter has a very narrow bar which contacts the stack being cut, so very little pressure can mark the top sheets (But at the same time, I can cut down to a 1/2” wide). If the clamp is wider, you have less of that happening. I think all the hydraulic-clamp cutters have some adjustment of clamp pressure, so they need not provide more pressure than required.

I usually add a scrap piece on top of the lift I am cutting. There are cutting pads available which are foam with a magnetic backing which can be used to reduce the marking of the clamp on the top of the lift.

I am in the midst of a renovation of my little cutter, and I need about six hands to get everything lined up for reassembly. Somehow I will do it myself. I am sure it will feel better after all the work I am doing, and a shiny, newly sharpened blade will make both the cutter and I happy. There were some parts on the cutter which were fabricated improperly in a previous repair, so I’m having to backtrack a bit to get things back into alignment.

John Henry