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Finding the perfect blade for your rotary cutter

by Claire Haillot

Welcome back! Hope you enjoyed yesterday’s post about which mini iron is best for your project. Today we’re checking out blades for your rotary cutter. Ever wondered which blade is best for your rotary cutter? We all have our favorite cutter in our tool kit. But what happens when the blade gets dull? Typically, we tend to purchase the additional blades from the same brand as our rotary cutters. However, since blades fit most brands, you do have a wider choice. And you also have the option to purchase a single blade, a 2-3-5- or 10-piece set depending on the brand. Now the question remains: which blade is better?

I hope this blog helps you understand your choices when choosing your next 45mm blades. But why a 45mm blade? Let’s start by learning why we use a 45mm rotary cutter instead of the 60mm or 28mm. The reason is quite simple, when cutting regular quilting cotton fabrics, a 45mm blade is quite sufficient. There’s a good ratio between the time the blade spends cutting fabric and then rotating in the cutter before cutting once more. You can consider a 60mm blade and rotary cutter to cut your batting and flannels. As the blade is bigger, you’ll find it lasts longer as there’s more surface cutting the fabric so the damage to the blade takes more time. A 28mm is suited for cutting paper.

KAI, Clover and OLFA replacement blades each in single unit packages

45mm rotary blades for quilting

Cutting fabrics inevitably dulls your blades. The first sign to look for is when it’s skipping threads in your cut. That’s usually the time to change your blade. Another sign is if you’ve dropped your rotary cutter on a hard surface (especially on a ceramic floor), or accidentally went over a pin, or nicked your blade on the ruler. These incidents cause a dent on the blade and you’ll need to change it.

How long does it take before the blade wears down? I must say that half of the answer lies in the blade you’re using and the other depends on how you’re using your rotary cutter. For example, OLFA Endurance rotary blades can last up to twice as long as their normal rotary blades. But I found that if you’re not holding your rotary cutter well, you’ll never feel your blade cuts well.

Showing the proper way to hold your yellow rotary cutter for perfect cutting; OLFA Endurance Rotary Blade 45mm

It’s all in the wrist! Cutting tricks for long-lasting cutting blade

Here are my 3 tricks to cutting with a rotary cutter for a long-lasting cutting blade.

1. Keep your wrist straight

Hold your rotary cutter as if it was an extension of your forearm. I’ve heard so many stories of quilters with tendinitis in their wrist or thumb, all caused by the way they hold their rotary cutter.

2. Maintain a 60-degree angle when cutting

Hold your rotary cutter at a 60-degree angle when you’re cutting fabric. This ensures the pressure you’re applying to your rotary cutter goes straight into the cutting of the fabric. You’ll see! If your wrist is straight, and the rotary remains in the extension of your arm, then the blade will be perfectly aligned for cutting, reducing the strain in your arm too.

3. Never cut more than two layers at once

It’s common sense if you want precision cutting. But cutting through more than two layers is harder on the blade. Remember that flannels and batting are also harder to cut, so for those use a 60mm blade.

But, like I said, you’ll eventually have to change the blade on your rotary cutter. The good news is that you can keep your rotary cutter! You just need to change the blade. If you’re wondering which one is truly the best blade, I decided to test them out for you. Earlier this year, I got a 45mm blade from KAI, Clover, and OLFA and tested them out. I kept a journal to track their usage and ensure that I changed blades every 30 minutes. After six months, they’re all still working well. So, I either haven’t quilted enough, or they do last long when the rotary cutter is used correctly.

KAI, Clover and OLFA blades in yellow and black OLFA Rotary Cutters

Testing Clover and OLFA brand blades in my OLFA rotary cutters

Here are my notes and comments on each rotary blade refill.

OLFA Endurance

45mm OLFA Endurance blades remain my favorite go-to product. The blade is made from high-quality tungsten steel, so it retains its sharp edge. I love that the blades come safely packaged in a reusable box. This reduced the risk of accidental cuts when opening the package.

45mm OLFA endurance blade out of the package

My favorite pick is the 45mm OLFA endurance blades

I also find the reusable box useful to place my old blades in as I wait to either sharpen them if they are just dull or dispose of them if they have a nick.

Reusable clear package labelled used blades; OLFA Endurance Rotary Blade 45mm

OLFA Endurance blades have a reusable package

Clover 7508

The 45mm Clover blade comes with a blade holder that helps you safely install the new blade on your rotary cutter. This makes it a safe choice.

45mm packaged Clover blade in blade holder; Clover Rotary Blade Refill - 45mm

The 45mm Clover blade comes with a blade holder.

KAI Ultra

The 45mm KAI blade is also made of tungsten steel and comes safely packaged. I didn’t have any problem adding the blade to my rotary cutter.

KAI blade safely held in place with plastic packaging; KAI Ultra Rotary Cutter Replacement Straight Blade - 45mm

The 45mm KAI blade comes safely packaged.

I hope this review helped you decide which KAI, Clover, and OLFA blades to get for your rotary cutter. I’m still using the other different brands and continuing to test each blade so I can get to the bottom of my investigation. Until then, you can catch my blog tomorrow when I’ll talk about the various thimbles available for quilters.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 1: 4 mini irons for quilting: Which one is best for your project?

Go to part 3: 5 types of thimbles for hand quilting: Finding the perfect fit!

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