Cutting paper straight

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A lot of my projects (especially the ones with printables) ask you to cut out shapes ‘using scissors or a craft knife’.

And in most of my process shots, you’ll notice that I photograph my scissors rather than my craft knife. I do this mainly because every one has access to at least one pair of scissors and I like my projects to be as effortless and inclusive as possible. But cutting a perfectly straight line using scissors isn’t easy. Try it out if you haven’t already – you’ll find your hand moves very subtly in different directions as you cut, leaving a slightly jagged finish. And maybe this doesn’t bother most people, but if you’re a perfectionist like I am, that can get old pretty quickly.

So today I’ll be showing you how to cut paper and card in a perfectly straight line.

If you’re going to be doing this often, I’d strongly advise that you invest in a cutting mat, a craft/pen knife and a metal ruler. The cutting mat will protect the surface you’re working on (so you don’t leave indents in your desk!), and a metal ruler will withstand damage from the craft knife.

Firstly, mark where your ruler will go (i.e. where you’d like to cut) by placing little pencil marks on the paper. Make these light so you can easily rub them out later.

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Then line up your metal ruler alongside your pencil marks and place your knife against the ruler’s edge. Make sure you keep a firm grip on the ruler with one hand as you run the knife down the page with your other hand, pressing slightly into the side of the ruler as you’re moving the knife downwards.

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When you’ve made one pass, run your knife lightly along the ruler’s edge again to make sure you’ve cut all the way through the paper. Then you can move your ruler away.

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And it’s as easy as that – perfectly straight edges every time! Before you start doing this on your projects I’d recommend practicing a couple of times on scrap paper if you’ve never used a craft knife before. I won’t even begin to tell you about the number of times I’ve messed up by not holding the knife firmly enough against the ruler and having the line come out crooked!

Of course there are other ways to cut straight lines, like buying a paper trimmer/guillotine. But if you’re still debating whether crafting is your cup of tea, this is a much cheaper way to get the same result – after all, there’ll always be time to buy your paper cutter down the track. 🙂

xx Steph

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