Need a straight edge for an X-acto

I'm not much of a metalworker, I joined this group to look for
information on metal etching and wound up never leaving. But I have a
need for an item that might be considered simple to those of you with
a decent size workshop, but I figure someone might also be able to
come up with a better idea.
I need a straight edge to use to cut out business cards, shapes, etc,
out of paper and card. Rotary trimmers, guillotine style cutters, and
the like are far too imprecise, it's almost impossible to get them to
cut along a specific line. It's very difficult to find a ruler that is
good for this. A cheap plastic or wooden ruler is useless, the blade
will cut these as easily as the paper. I have a Helix and Wescott
rulers designed specifically 'for use with a craft knife for paper
trimming'. They have a groove for your fingers so you don't
accidentally cut yourself, a beveled edge of about 20-30 degrees to
create a very nice line to cut along, and a little rubber grip liner
on the bottom. However, they are both made out of aluminum. If you
don't hold the blade perfectly parallel to the cutting edge, you will
nick it, slice off the metal, or otherwise damage the ruler. Both of
them are already useless as they have enough nicks and grooves that
the knife will always go off course. I have about five different
stainless steel rulers. Two of them have a thick no-slip cork liner
that lifts the ruler too far off the page - the knife can tilt and cut
underneath it. The two that don't have a no-slip liner seem to be made
out of softer steel and the x-acto knife will notch them, though not
nearly as easily as the aluminum ones. Also, without the beveled
edges, it's harder to line it up along cut guides, especially for full
bleed business cards (print to the edge).
I guess what I'm basically looking for is a straightedge made out of a
very tough metal that won't be easily nicked or scratched with an
x-acto blade. Beveled along one edge to make it easier to line up on
the image. A small groove along the underside, closer to the
non-beveled edge, to put a bead of caulk in or a little rubber strip
in order to keep it from slipping, while not lifting the beveled edge
off of the paper. A larger groove, or some kind of 'finger stop' along
the edge where the bevel starts, to prevent you from putting your
fingers past the edge of the ruler. One 12" long and 2" wide, and one
6" long and 1" wide. If anyone has any idea about how hard it would be
to make something like this, or improvements to the design (or if they
know of a commercial product that's already made - every single one
I've looked up is made out of aluminum!), let me know. I don't need
ruler marks on it (would be a bonus though).
Reply to
Fenrir Enterprises
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Google kbctools, enco, msc, go to measuring instruments, Starrett, PEC, Suburban all have straight edges made from tool steel, but might not be suitable as purchased. Pricey, 12" would run near $40, no 6" available. Possible to buy flat tool steel and machine, not as pricey and with reasonable toughness. Suburban has them graduated, added cost. Any machinery supply house will have them, standard item.
Rich
Reply to
greybeard
| | I guess what I'm basically looking for is a straightedge made out of a | very tough metal that won't be easily nicked or scratched with an | x-acto blade. Beveled along one edge to make it easier to line up on | the image. A small groove along the underside, closer to the | non-beveled edge, to put a bead of caulk in or a little rubber strip | in order to keep it from slipping, while not lifting the beveled edge | off of the paper. A larger groove, or some kind of 'finger stop' along | the edge where the bevel starts, to prevent you from putting your | fingers past the edge of the ruler. One 12" long and 2" wide, and one | 6" long and 1" wide. If anyone has any idea about how hard it would be | to make something like this, or improvements to the design (or if they | know of a commercial product that's already made - every single one | I've looked up is made out of aluminum!), let me know. I don't need | ruler marks on it (would be a bonus though).
I bought two different lengths of a cutting guide from
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's about 11" and the other 22". They're both made of aluminum but I've yet to nick either and I have pretty much the same problem you do. They're not awfully expensive and IMO well worth trying. Here are the URLs for them
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you can purchase the pair for $10.05
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Norm
Reply to
Norm Dresner
Maybe a Drywall T-square will do?
Various kinds available, price range $13 to $35.
Available from hardware stores, building supply centers, etc.
Reply to
Speechless
ENCO, yes; "measuring instruments", no. Go to "ground flat stock". E.g., 24" long, 1/16 x 1": $8.56. Much variety as to length, width, thickness.
Bob
Reply to
Bob Engelhardt
Why not a good blade from a combination square?
I just picked up one of these
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blade for your purposes (except no beveled edge)
the cheaper one has a lousy blade:
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Fenrir Enterprises wrote:
Reply to
RoyJ
Maybe I just don't have as steady a hand as you do, or the aluminum used for these is hardened. The Westcott one I have has held up better than the Helix one, but I still managed to nick it, and the blade now 'catches' on the spots that are nicked. I wind up with tiny aluminum chips on whatever I'm cutting, so I suspect I'm shaving off aluminum each time I cut so it's probably not even straight anymore. The beveled edge it has makes it so much easier to line up properly. It has a steel edge on the other side, which is not beveled, and raised up so that the knife can tilt under it, and go off the line.
I'll check out some of the squares other people have suggested, but I'm still looking for something with a beveled edge that's too hard for the knife to easily scratch it.
Reply to
Fenrir Enterprises
If you're willing to DIY this project and you want a straightedge that your x-acto blade won't nick or slice shavings off, this is my suggestion to you.
Pick up some carbide tipped "planer/jointer knifes" like the ones on this page:
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You can get hardened tool steel ones without carbide edges from a whole mess of sources they'd probably be good enuff for the job too.
You could use epoxy or double sided tape to fasten a strip of wood or plastic to the top of the blade to keep the knife from "bumping" against your fingers, and glue a 1/4 inch wide strip of something like electrician's "rubber tape" or even fine sandpaper on the underside of the "dull" edge for "tooth" against the paper you're cutting, but the weight of the blade itself may be enough to let you get by without needing that.
Do they still make that electrician's "rubber tape"? The way I learned it as a kid, the rubber tape gave you a waterproof insulating layer over a wire splice and the cloth "friction tape" was wrapped over the rubber to protect the rubber from (guess what?) friction when it rubbed against things.
HTH,
Jeff
Reply to
Jeff Wisnia
Go to your local office supply store: they sell several different lengths/widths of SS rulers.
If you don't like the cork non-slip back strips, they peel off with little effort.
My wife prefers my old SS forms ruler.
Reply to
RAM³
None of which are beveled, and some of the cheaper ones are also easily damaged with the x-acto blade. Westcott seems to be made out of tougher steel, the Helix ones all get notched up pretty quickly.
Reply to
Fenrir Enterprises
Bevelling is easy - grab yourself a file and a Carborundum bench stone and put on the precise bevel that you want!
For a double bevel, use one of the Carbide knife sharpeners.
Personally, I prefer a straightedge without any bevel since it helps me to insure that the cut is vertical. For bevelled cuts on matting, I simply determine the bevel that I need and use a sliding block to maintain it.
As to the toughness of the steel, since a properly-held blade will NOT have the cutting edge in contact with the guide virtually any material can be used so long as it's straight. [A guide that's 75% of the blade length in thickness makes straight, clean cuts virtually automatic.]
Reply to
RAM³
I use a 12 inch precision rule with a hobby knife to trim paper rolls for my pipe organ. There isn't any problem trimming exactly along the line. I haven't experienced any nicking the rule with the knife. This rule is made of tempered steel, manufacturer is PEC, it isn't beveled. A beveled edge would really make this easier to use, particularly lining up the rule with the line to be trimmed.
These don't have the groove or finger stop that you want, but the modifications would be easy to do. Put a piece of non-skid tape along the side opposite from the cutting to prevent slipping. That would keep the cutting/beveled edge against the paper. A finger guard could be glued (epoxy) to the top of the straight edge.
Following references are from MSC, any metalworking tool supplier will have these.
This is a reference to a Starrett rule similar to what I use.
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and a beveled straight edge.
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Roger
Reply to
Roger Jones
I have a straight edge similar to what you are looking for (mine is bigger). It is 42" long, 2" wide, with a bevel on one edge. it is made of stainless steel. It is manufactured by Pickett in Japan. (we used it for drafting)
good luck with your search, Andy
Reply to
andy
Stop by the picture framing shop and see how they cut the cardboard that they use. They cut rapidly and accurately all day long in a busy shop. They also cut at angles if you need that.
-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
Reply to
Bob May
The bevel is really what I want, I just can't seem to find one locally that's beveled /and/ hardened steel, only aluminum. I think the problem that I have is that a ruler with a bevel doesn't have a 'flat vertical edge' for the knife to run along, therefore it's easier to tilt the blade and hit the ruler. Westcott and Helix rulers are thin enough to run into the same problem. I bought a cheap 12" combination square at Lowes today (Swanson, with the plastic right angle) and simply took the ruler off of it - the ruler is much stiffer and straighter than anything that you can get in an office store, and about 3-4x thicker. It seems to be the same ruler that's on the more expensive Swanson with the cast metal handle. So far I have not nicked it at all - the thicker metal gives a bigger vertical edge for the knife blade to run along. I may try it with a handheld rotary cutter, since it's about the same thickness as the acrylic rulers that are used with them. Someone else suggested trying a planar blade, but I think that sounds a bit dangerous (maybe run it over a screwdriver handle to dull it a bit first) and they're a little too expensive.
It has a groove for the combination handle that works fine as a finger guard. I'll live without the no-skid backing for now. The problem with adding it to a ruler that doesn't have a bevel is that instead of having the edge vertical to the paper, you have one tilted with an 'overhang', so the cut can go very slightly angled. With full bleed business cards this does make a difference. Hopefully the stainless steel used for this square is a strong one.
Probably similar to what I took off the combination square, I figure the ruler marks are more precise - I use a different ruler to mark with a pencil or scribe, I just want this one to use as a cutting edge.
This is nice, but a tad expensive - the precision it has is probably /more/ than what I need. Cheaper than planar blades, and probably not as life threateningly dangerous to use loose. I'll see how things go with this new ruler. I think my biggest problem is that I simply don't hold the knife straight enough when I make the cuts. I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this, though.
Reply to
Fenrir Enterprises
I have several 12" school-type wooden rulers that have a steel strip on one long edge. Perfect for X-acto cutting. Have used them for this for years. JR Dweller in the cellar
Fenrir Enterprises wrote:
Reply to
JR North
Got a bit larger version downstairs that followed me home after I followed my job to regional office and was given the task of cleaning out our old quarters after everything of value had been re-assigned. This is from Rabone-Chesterman and is 1 m. long by 60 mm. by about 1mm. thick, beveled one side. Comes in very handy every so often. Gerry :-)} London, Canada
Reply to
Gerald Miller
There used to be an 18" wooden ruler with an inserted strip of steel along the beveled edge - check in office supplies. Gerry :-)} London, Canada
Reply to
Gerald Miller
If you are nicking your straightedge, you are not holding your knife correctly. A beveled edge will nick easier as it is thinner no matter what material it is made of. Ther are many dedicated stainless steel beveled straight edges on the market. I also had a problem "connecting the dots" when the factory put in new lighting. The position on "my" overhead lighting was such that it cast a shadow over the edge of my set of aluminum angles (in use over 15 years). I repositioned my work space and everything is fine. Mike
Reply to
Michael A. Landry

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