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How to Choose the Best Rotary Cutter

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It wasn't too many years ago that quilters had only a few choices when it was time to buy a rotary cutter. Things have certainly changed, because now just about every manufacturer who makes rotary cutters lets us choose from a variety of blade sizes, handle types, safety latches and other features. That's good news for quilters, because it means there's a rotary cutter out there to suit every need.

Choose a Rotary Cutter Blade Size

Rotary cutters are available in several different blade sizes, from 18mm to 60mm in diameter. In general, the larger the rotary blade the easier it is to slice through fabric. Smaller blades are a good choice for cutting around curves, but cutters with larger blades will be the ones you reach for most often.

I have good luck with Olfa blades. They seem to stay sharper longer than other blades I've tried and will fit in most rotary cutters.

The "Best" Rotary Cutter Handles

Handles are where rotary cutter styles fly off into every direction. You'll find straight handles and handles that are curved to fit into the palm of your hand. Every manufacturer seems to have come up with its own ideas for a cutter that's ergonomically correct.

I love to shop for quilting supplies online, but if you've never used a rotary cutter visit your local fabric or quilt shop and try several out in person to be sure you're getting a good "fit."

Rotary Cutter Safety Latches

Most rotary cutters have a safety latch that moves back and forth to expose the blade or cover it up. Latches work differently and some might be difficult to manage if you have carpal tunnel or arthritis. Several manufacturers now make rotary cutters with automatic closure.

Hold each cutter in your hand and flip its latch open and shut. Is it a simple action? You'll open and close the latch constantly as you work, so ease of use is critical.

No Matter Which Rotary Cutter You Choose

Chances are you'll buy more than one rotary cutter, because you'll find that certain cutters are more suitable for some quiltmaking tasks than others. Start with a basic cutter and add to your collection as you discover what works best for you.

No matter which rotary cutters you buy, use them safely. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to replace blades and always make sure the blade is retracted every time you put the cutter down.

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