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Topic: I suck with exacto knives  (Read 13934 times)
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Tappanga
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« on: May 17, 2004 08:15:56 AM »

Ok, I've tried repeatedly to make stencils. I've tried with contact paper. I've tried with stencil plastic. I've decided I suck with exacto knives.

I need tips, please. Do you move the knife or the stencil when you're cutting? I've found that moving the stencil is easier, but the stencil still comes out looking like eight forms of hell.

Oh and I should probably mention the only things I've tried to stencil were words.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2004 08:19:22 AM by Tappanga » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2004 08:51:59 AM »

Here are some exacto knife tips that might help:

1. Make sure the blades are sharp (dull blades are actually more dangerous!)
2. Cut out the smallest area of any stencil (or other project first)
3. Move the stencil around frequently to find the easiest way to cut out whatever needs cutting out.
4. ALWAYS CUT AWAY FROM YOURSELF!!!
5. Never catch a falling knife. (just kidding!)
6. Practice makes perfect.

 Wink
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2004 09:02:05 AM »

Another vote for sharp blades, they make a world of difference.
Use a metal ruler as a cutting guide for straight lines.
Don't put too much pressure on the blade, if you have to run the cut twice, that's better than pressing too hard.
Try different cutting surfaces, cardboard is cheap and protects your tables, but it also dulls blades quickly and grips the blade (which makes it harder to cut curves and drage the knife along the line.
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2004 11:40:54 AM »

I had a hard time at first too. I bought a scalp-like knife that I hold like a pencil and use a plastic kitchen cutting board, that seems to have helped me. Oh I also use overhead paper(transparency paper) it's stiffer than contact paper and I stick it to the cloth with double sided tape.  Good Luck and don't give up!
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« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2004 12:17:35 PM »

I'm not actually sure what exactly it is you mean when you say exacto-knife, but I assume its one of those where you can change the blade and the handle is made out of plastic...?? Anyway, I suck at those too.

As a graphic designer, I ALWAYS use scalpels. (oh, that sounded really pretensious, but it's true...) Proper surgical scalpels, the non-sterile type. You can buy different shape blades for whatever you're cutting out.  Going back to using one of those 'hobby-knives' after you get used to a scalpel is like cutting fabric with those child-proof plastic scissors... Cheesy

I personally wouldn't dream of trying to cut out a stencil with anything else, and don't worry, scalpels are not as scary as they sound....  Wink
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2004 07:45:35 AM »

I had a hard time at first too. I bought a scalp-like knife that I hold like a pencil and use a plastic kitchen cutting board, that seems to have helped me. Oh I also use overhead paper(transparency paper) it's stiffer than contact paper and I stick it to the cloth with double sided tape.  Good Luck and don't give up!

I've been wondering about the overhead paper. It seems a happy medium between the two things I've tried. The knife I have is scalpel-like. It's pen shaped with interchangable blades. The blades are sharp because I rarely use them because whatever I try to do looks like hell and I get mad halfway through and throw the stencil away. I'll try the transparency paper. Thanks!
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2004 06:50:00 PM »

x-acto makes all sorts of blades, scalpel ones, too.  it really helps if you get one of the softer handled x-actos, they're much more comfortable than the old kind.  you can also sharpen them with a knife sharpener, that way it stays super sharp, but isn't as wasteful. 

if you're cutting straight lines use a steel ruler.  not an aluminum one.  the aluminum rulers are a little better than plastic, but the blade can still skip off it easily.  i know.  i sliced off the edge of my thumb many times during all-nighters when i was in college!  and the cork-backing, although less slipping & is good for ink lines, is less precise when cutting.

*e
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Tappanga
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« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2004 08:07:58 AM »

Putttttt theeee kknniifffeee dddowwwnnnn. SStttteeppp aaaawwaayyyy fffrroommmmmm ttthheee kkknniiffeeee!  Tongue


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« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2004 07:57:52 AM »

I had a hard time at first too. I bought a scalp-like knife that I hold like a pencil and use a plastic kitchen cutting board, that seems to have helped me. Oh I also use overhead paper(transparency paper) it's stiffer than contact paper and I stick it to the cloth with double sided tape.  Good Luck and don't give up!

You're a genius.

I bought this stuff over the weekend and tried it last night. MUCH easier to cut. Haven't tried to stencil yet (that's tonight). Not I don't suck with exacto knives, I suck at cutting out the letter S. Hahahaha!
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« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2004 08:07:16 AM »

I second the recommendation for the soft grip exactos.  It's amazing the difference that a wider handle makes, and your fingertips won't go numb as fast. 

A tip for cutting letters.  Turn your stencil the wrong way, so the letters are mirror image.  If you're trying to cut while reading the letters, you're focusing on the actual letter rather than the line you're cutting.  And of course, move your stencil rather than your knife. 

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