Why can't I ever cut perfectly straight lines and 90 degree angles? {Newbie!}

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Posted 1/17/2013 by mkstaley in General Scrappin'


PeaNut 290,036
January 2007
Posts: 6
Layouts: 0
Loc: Kansas City

Posted: 1/17/2013 3:56:17 AM
Ladies, I'm a newbie in need of some major help. I have the darndest time trying to cut straight edges, and this after trying four different trimmers! My latest is a high-fallutin' Fiskar's model that cost around $70! My financial situation is off-the-charts tight, but I was determined to solve the issue once and for all and spent my Christmas gift funds on this nice model.

Alas, it cuts no straighter for me than my previous, much cheaper, models. I simply don't know what my problem is. I am trying to start a little Etsy card business, but if I can't find a fool-proof way to get four 90 degree angles, I'm sunk!

I do have a metal ruler and a blade, so in theory I could do it old-school, but I have health issues that cause my hands to shake most of the time - not the best deal when you have a razor blade in your hand!

BTW, I didn't see a forum specific to card-making, which is why I posted here. If there is a card forum that I missed, would be great if you'd let me know, because this is hardly my only query for you master-papercrafters!

I am so grateful to you for reading my post and offering any suggestions you have!


BTW, I should also state that I DO realize that I have to keep the paper completely immobile while I use the trimmer. This isn't a matter of my paper popping up a little toward the end of the cut or anything like that. Thanks again!


PeaNut 452,482
January 2010
Posts: 175
Layouts: 0
Loc: Australia

Posted: 1/17/2013 4:28:26 AM
Sorry I have no solution that you would not already be aware of, but just wanted to say welcome .

Although maybe you could try marking where you want the cut at each end and lining that up in the trimmer and see if that helps?


PeaNut 426,757
June 2009
Posts: 642
Layouts: 46
Loc: Geelong, Victoria, Australia

Posted: 1/17/2013 4:37:45 AM
Try cutting slowly. It's very tempting to just slice super quick because you can but the paper can slide slightly or the blade swivels a tiny bit.
It's probably a stupid question but do you press the paper up against the edge before cutting?
(I have had problems cutting straight to get the branding strips off but found that it was actually printed at a very slight angle and that was my problem. Perhaps it just looks odd because of the pattern you are using)
I had problems with this too and bought a very expensive old school giloutine but even that gets it wrong sometimes.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 257,022
April 2006
Posts: 8,640
Layouts: 5
Loc: USA

Posted: 1/17/2013 4:56:27 AM

I had a lot of trouble getting a straight cut with a lot of different cutters and then I bought a Tonic giloutine cutter about four years ago and problem solved. Hope you can get it figured out. I know how frustrating it can be when you can't get a straight cut.


PeaNut 58,996
December 2002
Posts: 801
Layouts: 12
Loc: The City That Never Sleeps

Posted: 1/17/2013 6:33:18 AM
If you have a rotary blade, or one that moves up and down on a track, here are a few tips:

1. As you said, be sure to hold your paper while cutting it.
2. If you are moving your blade upward, be sure to butt your paper against the top edge of your trimmer.
3. If you are moving your blade downward, be sure to butt your paper against the bottom edge of your trimmer.
4. Always start cutting at either the top of the trimmer or the bottom.
5. Don't press too hard. Cutting shouldn't require a lot of pressure. If you use too much pressure, the track could wiggle a little while you're cutting.

I hope these tips help. I've been using the same Fiskars trimmer for about 10 years now, and it's a model that many people have had issues with. I've never had any problems with it, and I use it for both scrapbooking and card making. Good luck with your business!

Make a Wish!

PeaNut 547,025
March 2012
Posts: 111
Layouts: 3

Posted: 1/17/2013 9:26:09 AM
I don't know if it makes a difference, but here's what I do.

I bump the paper up the top of the trimmer, making sure that it's rested against the top perfectly.

Then I slide the blade down to the bottom and cut from the bottom, up.

I always found that if I cut from the top up, even if I was holding my paper tightly, that I would drag my paper down with me ever so slightly and my cut wouldn't be straight.

By starting on the bottom, it allows the paper to continue to be pushed against the top and stay in place..

That's what works for me, I hope it helped a little bit!


PeaNut 491,723
December 2010
Posts: 122
Layouts: 34

Posted: 1/17/2013 9:37:17 AM
Has anyone tried the laser trimmer? I know they are a bit pricy but really curious if they do cut straight?


PeaNut 520,709
September 2011
Posts: 265
Layouts: 52

Posted: 1/17/2013 12:44:58 PM
Good question. I have problem cutting straight, so these tips might help me (cutting from the bottom, hm..)

Will I ever get to Buckethead?!

PeaNut 509,641
May 2011
Posts: 402
Layouts: 2
Loc: Illinois

Posted: 1/17/2013 4:13:32 PM
I've had issues with my trimmer not cutting straight. Turns out that the edge that I butt up my paper against isn't straight. Go figure. I make sure to line it up with the ruler(?) lines on the trimmer and I haven't had a problem since.

Lisa Risser
Lisa Risser

PeaNut 184,588
January 2005
Posts: 14,217
Layouts: 361
Loc: Minnesota

Posted: 1/17/2013 5:35:53 PM
I am the worlds WORST at getting things straight--not just with the trimmer either--placement, letters, etc!

For what its worth when I want something super straight when scrapping at home my secret weapon is: bugging my hubby to cut for me, same trimmer, but for him it cuts perfectly,lol!!!


PeaNut 556,456
June 2012
Posts: 1,015
Layouts: 2

Posted: 1/17/2013 5:43:17 PM
I also have a Fiskars with grid lines and have found that double checking that I am lined up with them helps a lot. So does making sure the paper is butted up against an end and I am cutting towards that end, keeping me from dragging it as others have said.

If this is for something professional, is having the paper cut at an office supply store in bulk an option? Most of the big chains will cut paper down for a nominal fee.

And welcome!
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PeaNut 36,328
April 2002
Posts: 3,874
Layouts: 7
Loc: southern IN

Count: 1
Posted: 1/17/2013 7:20:31 PM
Hi and welcome to 2Peas. Cutting straight lines is right up there with winning the lottery to me. I have an OLD gray Fiskars trimmer and sometimes it cuts straight and sometimes not. As a couple of Peas have mentioned above, I cut from the bottom up and try to line up the papers with the ruler on the top and bottom (no grid lines on this trimmer), but this doesn't always work (esp. with smaller pieces). However, I do love this trimmer since it's so easy to use and it's affordable. Fiskars did come out with a new trimmer (maybe last year?) that had a guide wire to show you where you cut and I've been on the fence about getting one. But since my faithful old one still works, I don't want to give it up yet!
Hope you find a trimmer or a trick that will work for you. Maria

Michel's Mom ~ Sugar Plum's Mummie

PeaNut 52,307
October 2002
Posts: 5,755
Layouts: 80
Loc: Land of Enchantment - Louisiana girl in a Southwest world.

Posted: 1/17/2013 9:51:01 PM
A Dahle Cut Cat trimmer with "self-sharpening" blade is what I have. It cuts with shear action, blade doesn't rest on TOP of anything, but shears it off the side. It squeals but who cares, cuts great and I've had it forever.

I bought MINE in 1985 USED from another photographer. I've been using it since then to cut my business cards, photographs and cardstock for scrapbooking. Still going strong and will even cut a tiny SLIVER of paper or cardstock.

I highly recommend it. Just make sure you get one with "self-sharpening" blade, not the kind of blade you have to replace.


PeaNut 290,036
January 2007
Posts: 6
Layouts: 0
Loc: Kansas City

Posted: 1/17/2013 11:24:36 PM
Wow, guys; thank you SO MUCH for both your kind welcomes and your suggestions! I had no idea I would get so much feedback!

For those that mentioned it, I do always push my paper toward the bumper, but not with so much force that the paper buckles. Like many of you, I too usually cut from the bottom up; I tend to get better results that way. Oh, and yeah, I usually also make pencil marks at both ends, but that never seems to make a difference.

Sounds like there might be a slight preference for guillotine cutters? I am definitely going to check out the Tonic and Dahle Cut Cat trimmers, but in the meanwhile, tiffanyo's idea was fab - I'll just take a big fat pile of cardstock to Staples and have them do it! The idea hadn't even occurred to me! Love it!

As for my current trimmer, Sarah, you're right; I totally should try cutting slowly! I always zip it right along, but maybe I'll get better results that way.

After I posted last night, I pulled out the replaceable strip of plastic that serves as the blade's little "mat" and took a really good hard look at it. It was all kinds of messed up, so I'm thinking maybe it's a blade issue. I mean, wouldn't you expect there'd be a fairly clean and perfectly straight line on the mat from the blade? But it isn't at all; parts of the cut are wider than other parts, and even though I'm talking teeny-tiny differences in width, they're still enough to possibly be the cause of my troubles.

Fortunately, I've heard Fiskar's has fabulous customer service, so I hope they can help me. Anyway, I feel a little better now since it looks like the problem may not be an operator's error after all!

By the way, I have negligible message board experience. (That 6 over there next to my name is rather misleading!) Is there not a way to respond to individual replies? I'd hoped to thank each of you individually for your welcomes, well-wishes, and helpful tidbits, but didn't see a way to respond to replies.

Thanks so much to you all!

P.S. While I'm thinking of it, does anyone have any experience with Purple Cow's 2-in-1 trimmer? The one that has both rotary and guillotine trimmers?
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