Seven Features to Look for in a Guillotine / Tabletop Paper Trimmer

Tabletop Paper TrimmersIf you are shopping around for a tabletop paper trimmer, sometimes referred to as a guillotine paper cutter, you may be in need of a little guidance. There are several manufacturers out there and many different models. Having used many of these trimmers myself (found here), I have come up with seven features that you need to have if you are going to purchase a good paper trimmer.

I have compiled this list of features into seven must-have features and three optional features. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it.

Seven Features To Look For in a Guillotine / Tabletop Paper Trimmer

  1. Solingen Steel Blade – German Solingen steel is considered to be some of the most resilient and durable steel on the planet. That is why it is so popular with kitchen knives. Paper cutters that use Solingen steel typically stay sharp for longer and get the job done faster.
  2. German Engineering – Paper cutters are made all over the world, but those made in Germany have the best reputation. Whether it is the precision engineering or the high quality manufacturing process, German tabletop and guillotine paper cutters & trimmers are known for holding up through some of the toughest jobs. They also have a reputation of lasting for years.
  3. Safety Guard – When cutting paper, you want to make sure your fingers are out of the way of the cutting blade. Most reputable and modern tabletop cutter manufactures have plastic shields installed that prevent you from chopping off a limb. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be careful, but cutters with safety shields are far safer to use than the old wood base trimmers.
  4. Metal Base – A durable metal base helps add to the overall stability of the cutter and the overall lifespan of the cutter. I personally recommend metal base guillotine trimmers over wood base trimmers.
  5. Back Gauge – An adjustable back gauge makes it easy to make repetitive cuts. Simply slide the back gauge to the necessary position, lock it down and your ready to go. A back gauge also helps ensure a straighter cut and is excellent for trimming down photos, paper, card stock, laminated material and more.
  6. Cutting Guides – Cutting guides are diagrams printed on the base of the cutter. These guides typically show common cutting patterns and make it easy to quickly set up a cutter for common cuts. Some paper cutter manufacturers even include a grid for additional alignment support.
  7. Clamping Mechanism – A clamping mechanism may be one of the most important features you’ll want in a tabletop paper trimmer. This helps keep the paper in place during the cutting process and eliminates annoying crooked cuts that are found in older wood base cutters that don’t have a clamp. Some cutters feature basic clamps that activate as the cutting arm is brought down. Other cutters have independent heavier-duty clamps that require one hand to keep in place while the other hand cuts the paper. Never get a tabletop cutter without a clamp!

These are features that are optional, but nice to have:

  1. Line guide – Many modern cutters now include an optical cutting guide or line guide. This is usually a red light or laser that shines on the paper, letting the operator know exactly where the paper will be cut.
  2. Front Gauge – Some tabletop trimmers feature a front gage to help assist in paper alignment, which is usually adjustable via a knob on the front of the trimmer.
  3. Fold Away Paper Support – Some tabletop cutters feature paper supports that are designed to help keep lighter weight and thin paper from flopping over the edge of the cutter. This helps ensure paper lays flat against the cutter’s base and ensures more accurate cuts. This isn’t as big a deal with photos, card stock and other thick material.

Hopefully these tips help you find a solid tabletop paper trimmer. I have used dozens of tabletop cutters over the years and have to say that I personally recommend all of MBM’s Kutrimmer line of tabletop trimmers and most of Dahle’s lineup of guillotines. You can find our entire selection of paper cutters here. Please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788 with your questions.

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