Rotary Cutting Safety

For those out there new to rotary cutting (or even for those who have been cutting for years and may have gotten a bit sloppy, you know who you are), I wanted to go over a few safety tips for successful, injury-free rotary cutting. I bring this up for one pretty big reason. Several days ago, I had an unfortunate incident with a rotary cutter and knicked off the tip of my middle finger. Ouch. And boy, was it a gusher! In addition to the pain (and it was painful), I was more mad at myself because I totally know better.

So here are a few helpful tips and tools.  Take heed!

1. Handle blades with care!

Amy did a great post here about sharpening your blades and she outlined her method for changing and handling new blades.  A really good reference if you haven’t checked it out.  Perhaps you’ve got a knick a good sharpening can’t fix and you’re going to throw away the blade. Consider the trash person picking up your garbage and any potential injury that could occur if they grab an exposed blade.  I keep the plastic container the blades come in, marked OLD, and fill that up before throwing away.  If you no longer have that container, consider other containers or heavy paper or cardboard you could wrap around it. And keep new blades away from any little curious hands.

2. Always rotary cut away from you!

What happens if you accidentally slip and impale yourself?  That may be a bit overdramatic but I also never thought I could literally cut a chunk off my finger.  These puppies are sharp!

my gracious hand model, Friday Night Sew-cialer Staci Martin

Another no-no would be cutting with your right hand over your left.  The easiest way to make that cut is to walk to the other side of the table.

never cross-cut!

3. Keep your fingers away from the edge of the ruler!

I tend to keep my hand to the left of the ruler, that way my fingers are nowhere near the passing blade.  This was my mistake the other night. That and I was talking and looking over my shoulder. Want a way to protect your fingers on your rulers at home? Olfa has created shields in various sizes that stick to the face and are place to hold on to and a protective barrier from the blade.  We have single and multi packs in stock.


4. Always use a self healing mat and thick acrylic ruler!

You can damage your table, your blade, and not cut effectively or accurately to boot. We may not all have a table with the perfect height but any surface can work as long as you have a cutting mat.  My rule of thumb is to have the largest one that will fit in your space.  You’ll never regret the extra work surface. We carry Gingher brand mats here that are attractive as well as functional.  And rulers!  The Omni brand have a great option, the Omni Edge, which has a thick black covered side that rests conveniently at the edge of the mat for extra stability.  Plus it’s extra long–4″ x 36″!


5. Cover the blade every time you put your rotary cutter down!

I prefer the ergonomic cutter because the squeeze handle makes this happen every time without thinking about it.  Develop the habit now to cover the blade on the traditional cutter.  Every time you put it down!!

Squeeze the handle, the blade is exposed...
...and released. Thanks, Robin Champieux!

Be safe everyone!

4 Responses to “Rotary Cutting Safety”

  1. Amanda W

    hee hee…I needed this little reminder a week ago. *blushes with embarassment* I am definately going to look into that nifty lil guard/wall for the ruler. I just sliced 1-1/2 inches down my pinky finger when my cutter jumped my ruler (long string of no-no’s lead to that).

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  3. Kati

    I keep a strip of wide duct tape by my sewing table that I stick old blades, bent pins and dull needles to, then when its full I put another strip on top of all that stuff before I throw it in the trash, it keeps the sharp edges contained to I’m safe and the garbage handlers are too!

  4. Daniela

    Meredith, I was thinking about you! I am glad to see the finger has been taken care for professionally (even though Lupine did an impressive job!). I can say, I am and will be much more careful now! As much as I love the rotary cutters – they do bite.

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