9 Best Paper Cutters for Teachers to Make Your Life Easier

You won’t believe how much time you can save with a good paper cutter. In my elementary school classes, textbooks just aren’t enough to make the lessons engaging. My students wanted to be active and feel they were a part of the learning process, not just a receptacle to fill with facts. To facilitate this, I spent hours creating worksheets, flashcards, hands-on activities, and craft projects to help my students take part in and enjoy whatever they were learning at the moment. Now that I have a great paper cutter, I can’t believe how much time I wasted cutting different shapes and sizes with scissors.

Best Paper Cutters for Teachers

Just to give you an idea, one example is this cute basket we made:

Before I got my paper cutter, I either wouldn’t have attempted such a big project with my whole class, or I would’ve spent hours cutting strips with scissors. With my paper cutter, I made enough strips in less than 20 minutes with plenty to spare for the inevitable mistakes.

As unusual, I aim to do the legwork so you don’t have to. I used a lot of different types of paper cutters before choosing my favorites.

My Top Pick

Swingline Paper Trimmer

Goodies I found:

  • High capacity usage
  • Has a guard rail
  • Looks stylish in any environment

Best for: It’s called ClassicCut because it’s just like the paper cutters of the past, but manufactured with an up-to-date materials.

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Also Great


Goodies I found:

  • Automatic security safeguard
  • Cuts through chipboard
  • Accurate trimming mechanism
  • Very easy to replace the blade

Best for: Craft projects and thicker paper or other material for flashcards.

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Also Great

CARL Heavy Duty

Goodies I found:

  • Includes a perforating blade
  • Extra good blades and cutting mats
  • The paper holder attracts light

Best for: It’s good for cutting many worksheets at one time. It’s useful if you’re creating bulletins or posters.

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Best paper cutter for teachers:

  1. LETION 66 →
  2. Fiskars SureCut Deluxe →
  3. CARL Heavy Duty →
  4. Rotatrim RC Professional →
  5. Swingline Paper Trimmer →
  6. Fiskars Bypass Trimmer →
  7. Dahle 534 Professional →
  8. X-ACTO Plastic Base Laser →
  9. HFA (R) New Heavy Duty →

Rotary/Sliding Trimmers

As the name suggests, the rotary paper cutter has a round blade that slides along a rail. It’s the best paper cutter for photographers and graphic designers because it gives a very sharp, accurate cut. It’s good for all types of paper including photo paper as well as other materials. The round blade can cut in both directions along the rail. Most models have a measuring grid to help get the right size each time for uniformity. One bonus is that this type of paper cutter has interchangeable blades for scoring or perforating a line and more. Here are four of the best I found.

1. LETION 66 →

LETION 66This paper trimmer is designed for A4 paper but will also conveniently cut other sizes. The blade is titanium so you don’t have to worry about keeping it sharp. It will cut thicker paper for photographs and flashcards. It has a pull-out ruler for precision measurements and scaled trimming. The blade may seem small, but it’s very powerful. This is a great machine for making a uniform deck of cards. It will cut a maximum of 12 sheets of regular paper at one time. The plastic base is made from 100 percent recycled post-consumer material.

Goodies I found:

  • It has an automatic security safeguard, which is a great feature for a classroom
  • It cuts through chipboard which is useful for craft projects that require more than regular paper
  • It has an accurate trimming mechanism so each student gets the same size and shape of material
  • When the time comes, it’s very easy to replace the blade

Best for: Craft projects and thicker paper or other material for flashcards

2. Fiskars SureCut Deluxe →

Fiskars SureCut DeluxeThis is a 12-inch craft paper trimmer with the widest base available at 6 1/4 inches. It has a wire cut line for perfect accuracy and a patented TripleTrack System that interlocks the blade and rail so the cut is never wobbly or curved.




Goodies I found:

  • It can be used for large pieces of paper
  • It’s light and easy to transport
  • You can trim your cards after they’re laminated if needed

Best for: This is great for making a lot of flashcards.

HINT: If you haven’t discovered the amazing learning potential of flashcards, now may be the time to start. They can be used for much more than just addition and multiplication tables. Try showing characters and stories from literature, as well as , historical events, dates, and people. Students pair off and time themselves to see how fast they can do a deck of tables and watch themselves improve.

3. CARL Heavy Duty →

CARL Heavy Duty

This is a 15-inch paper cutter that will cut 36 sheets of paper. It has a calibrated metal base and an adjustable magnetic paper guide. It even has a storage compartment. At 36 sheets, you may be able to cut for your whole class at one time. Even though it has a metal base, it’s not too heavy to transport.


Goodies I found:

  • It includes a perforating blade. Kids love to rip apart perforations, and it gives them even more buy-in to the project
  • It comes with extra straight and perforating blades and cutting mats
  • The paper holder attracts light so it’s easy to see where you’re making your cut

Best for: It’s good for cutting many worksheets at one time. It’s useful if you’re creating bulletins or posters. It will cut only about four sheets of greeting card paper at once.

4. Rotatrim RC Professional →

Rotatrim RC Professional

This 12-inch paper cutter is the top of the line. It’s great for a school because it can withstand continuous use. The self-sharpening blade is Sheffield Steel and it has chrome steel guide rails that eliminate swivel.





Goodies I found:

  • It’s small for a professional trimmer and will be useful even when space is at a minimum
  • It will cut most flexible materials including 3mm plastic
  • It has two-way cutting

Best for: This cutter is useful for high-quantity cutting if you need to share it with other teachers.

Guillotine Paper Cutters

Guillotine paper cutters have been around for a long time, but they have been significantly upgraded through technology. They can cut cleanly through about 15 – 20 sheets of paper depending on the type of paper and the specific cutter. A guillotine cutter can give you a faster cutting experience than a rotary cutter. It consists of a blade on an arm that’s attached to the base with a pivot on the side. You pull the blade down to cut the paper. Most models have safety features so the cutter is safe when it’s being used or sitting idle.

5. Swingline Paper Trimmer →

Swingline Paper Trimmer

This is a 12-inch trimmer with a capacity of cutting 10 sheets of paper. It has a plastic base and is light enough for easy transport. The base has a precision grid for accuracy. Its safety features include a guard rail and a blade latch hook to lock the arm. This is a basic trimmer that would be useful for trimming edges or cutting strips or other shapes for crafting. It will cut photographic paper but may not give the most precise cut available. For most classroom uses, it would be fine, and it’s portable.

Goodies I found:

  • It’s a strong machine and can be shared with other teachers for high capacity usage
  • It has a guard rail which is good for the times you’re in a hurry and not paying enough attention to your cutting
  • One thing nice about this cutter is its appearance. It looks stylish in any environment

Best for: This machine is called ClassicCut because it’s just like the paper cutters of the past, but manufactured with a little more up-to-date materials. It’s inexpensive for ordinary classroom requirements.

6. Fiskars Bypass Trimmer →

Fiskars Bypass Trimmer

This is a 12-inch trimmer that’s designed for heavy use. The base is made from 100-percent recycled post-consumer resin. The blade is self-sharpening and will last for the lifetime of the machine. It has a lock for safety and easy transport. The base is printed with measurements for accurate trimming. The clear plastic on the base helps keep the paper in place but it can be removed.



Goodies I found:

  • It has non-skid rubber feet for stability
  • It has a clamp to hold the paper in place after aligning it for trimming
  • No replacement blades needed as the blade is self-sharpening
  • It has a handle on the base for easy carrying and storage. It can be hung on a wall

Best for: This is another inexpensive paper cutter that’s suitable for heavy usage.

7. Dahle 534 Professional →

Dahle 534 Professional

This is a large trimmer at 18 inches. It has a manual clamp and a self-sharpening blade. It has finger guards and will precisely cut 15 sheets of paper at a time. It’s an excellent paper cutter if you need a big one. You don’t have to worry about keeping the blade sharp.



Goodies I found:

  • It has an adjustable alignment guide for repetitive cutting
  • It has non-skid rubber feet for stability
  • It’s suitable for card stock, paper and photographs

Best for: You may only need this cutter if you need a large one. Usually, 12 inches is enough for most classroom work or 15 inches at the most. For large posters and notices, this may be what you need.

8. X-ACTO Plastic Base Laser →

X-ACTO Plastic Base Laser

If there’s such a thing as a high-tech paper cutter, this is it. It’s professional quality with a laser guide to ensure accuracy to the micrometer. The blade is self-sharpening and it has a safety lock on the handle. It also has a spring-loaded guard and paper holder to protect your fingers. The laser ensures accuracy for up to 12 sheets of paper at a time.

Goodies I found:

  • It has a self-healing cutting mat
  • It has the most safety features on this list
  • The cuts are always straight and clean

Best for: If you’re a paper-cutting machine aficionado, this may be the one for you. For most teachers, this level of accuracy may not be needed. It’s especially good for designers and craft professionals.

9. HFA (R) New Heavy Duty →

HFA (R) New Heavy Duty

This is a 12-inch commercial quality professional heavy duty paper cutter. It’s designed for A4 and A3 size paper and is useful in a classroom for worksheets. It has a hardened steel cutting blade and a heavy-duty steel base. It’s a heavy machine and is not intended to be regularly transported. It would be great in a teachers’ room where it would get constant use. The blade will last for years, but you’ll need to replace it eventually. Since you can’t see exactly where the cut is being made, you need to know your measurements exactly. It’s good for cutting but may not be the best for precision trimming.

Goodies I found:

  • It will cut almost anything, including a deck of cards
  • It has a holding gate that can be tightened on the material being cut to hold it firmly in place
  • The unique hinge system increases the leverage from the handle to the blade, which is why it will cut through 400 sheets of paper
  • The grid is scratch-resistant, so after long use, the grid remains clear

Best for: This machine is for stacks of paper. Called a stack cutter, it can cause serious harm if it’s not used correctly. However, it does have a lot of safety features, and is a great tool if you need this much power. I would only recommend this if you have mountains of paper to cut or small books. It’s way too much power for an ordinary classroom.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Paper Cutter

Now that you’ve seen a selection of the best paper cutters out there, you may be wondering how to choose the best cutter for your needs. Before deciding, here are a few things to consider:

  • What size do you need? Size matters, because if it’s too small, you’ll have more grief, not less. Still, you may not need an industrial-size paper cutter for your classroom projects. The most common size is 12 inches, which will properly cut A4 to B5 paper with measurement markings for cutting at angles. I think a 12 or 15-inch cutter is all you need, but you shouldn’t get one smaller than 12 inches.
  • What type of blade do you want? The two types, guillotine and rotary blades serve different purposes. If you want to do multiple pages at one time, the guillotine may be your best choice. You can increase or decrease the pressure according to the number of pages you’re cutting because it’s done manually.

The rotating blade is not as strong, but the cuts are more precise. It’s good for greeting cards, flashcards and small pieces of paper.

  • What material should the blade be made of? Titanium and stainless steel are the most commonly used for blades because they’re the most effective for cutting paper. Stainless steel is cheaper and gives an excellent cut, but you’ll have to have it sharpened occasionally. Titanium is the top of the line. It’s durable and self-sharpening.
  • How should you use the scales and measurements? You can choose metric or inch measurement on the base, and some have both. The grid also has angle lines, so you can do a perfect 45-degree cut. The grid and angle lines should make it easy for you to cut in a specific pattern. It took me a little practice to discover how to use the measurement grid to my advantage. No more measuring in advance and drawing a line. I recommend you get the works when it comes to scale and measurement because it’ll all be very useful once you get the hang of it.
  • What type of base do you want? You can get metal, plastic, or wood. Metal is the most durable, but it’s also heavy, and if you plan to transport your paper cutter, this isn’t the best option. Plastic is nice because it’s light and easy to move and can be clear for added safety. I recommend wood as the top of the line because it’s not heavy, never rusts, and doesn’t require maintenance. One thing to keep in mind is that a wooden base works best with a rotary or titanium guillotine blade.
  • What safety features do you need? Last but certainly not least is safety. Paper cutters are by definition very sharp. Different models have different safety features and some have more than others. For example, a guillotine blade can be locked closed or set to only operate with a specific pressure. Since your paper cutter is mainly for your classroom, you may want to consider getting all the safety features you can get, such as guard rails, safety springs, finger guards, protective lock, rubber feet to avoid shifting, and more.

Tips on How to Use Paper Cutters

Tip 1. Once you have the right type of paper cutter you need, and it’s installed in the proper place and is stable, it’s ready to use. First, make sure any safety features for using are on and the others are off. That means unlocking the blade.

Tip 2. If you have a guillotine cutter, you should know the maximum number of sheets it can cut and still give a clean cut. Some cut up to 20 sheets, and some only three to five. Never push too hard to force the blade. If it doesn’t cut easily, remove some paper.

Tip 3. Check the measurement grid for the size and shape you want to cut. If you cut the same size card often, you may want to mark the measurement points on the pull-out ruler with a permanent marker. Clamp the paper in place and pull the lever or roll the roller. You should only make one cut, then readjust the paper for the next cut. This will ensure you don’t cut in the wrong place.

Watch this video to get some great tips for using a paper cutter:

It shows you how to use the measurement tables and how to make a template for sizes you use often so you don’t have to measure each time. As you can see, it takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do, it’s very convenient.

Some safety tips

One of the most important tips for using a paper cutter is to keep it in good condition. Some 100-year old tips — yes, 100 — that still apply today are:

  • Never carry the cutter by the blade or handle. Only carry it from the bottom of the base or the handle if it has one.
  • Make it a habit to use the safety latch hook so the blade can’t unexpectedly swing open.
  • It’s not recommended for children under 12 years old to use any paper cutter. Young children may not have the strength to pull the lever and could cut a finger while trying.
  • Make sure the cutter is on a flat surface and can’t slip. Rubber feet are one of the best safety features to look for.
  • Keep the blade sharpened. This is not necessary for a titanium blade or some self-sharpening blades, but will be necessary for other types. Some blades stay sharp for years, but need to be replaced at some time. Make sure you regularly check your cuts to see when the blade needs to be replaced before it starts giving poor cuts.
  • Keep the pivot and any other joint oiled. This isn’t essential with new machines because they’re mostly self-oiling, but older machines need to be oiled regularly with high-grade machine oil.
  • Keep the area around the paper cutter clean. If you have a coffee cup ring near your machine, it may turn up on one of the papers you’re cutting. Dust, including chalk dust, could also stain your paper.
  • Memorize all the operating instructions and safety features. This way, they’ll become second nature to you and reduce working time.

To Sum it Up

It’s not so easy to choose the right paper cutter, because there are so many features and options, you can easily get confused. The first thing you need to do is assess your needs. There are paper cutters that are more suitable for craft projects, and some that are almost good enough for book publishing. I’ve selected the ones that I think can make it easier for teachers to add craft projects to their lesson plans, which may help motivate young children to learn. I hope my roundup will help you make the right choice.

Last Updated on June 25, 2021 by Emily

Emily/ author of the article

Emily is an active mother of two and a dedicated elementary school teacher. She believes the latest technology has made a huge impact on the quality of early learning and has worked hard to upgrade her classroom and her own children’s learning experience through technology.
She created this blog to make it easier for other teachers to take advantage of some of the best devices out there to upgrade their classrooms without having to do the research themselves. She loves to hear your tech-based problems and share her extensive experience :)

Comments: 2
  1. Janet McKean

    Hi Emily, thank you for all your help. As a first-year elementary school teacher, your tips have been invaluable. Your article on classroom rugs changed my teaching strategy completely, and my students love the movement away from their desks for certain lessons. About paper cutters! Frankly, I’m a bit afraid of them and need some advice on the best and safest one to use. I don’t want the most sophisticated that is suitable for publishing, but I want one that will continue to be useful as my abilities grow. Right now I don’t plan to use it for crafting, but you never know how things will develop once I become familiar with the cutter. Thanks in advance for your suggestion.

    1. Emily (author)

      Thank you for your positive comments about my blog. Paper cutters are truly amazing tools for an elementary school teacher and save hours of preparation time. When you have a cutter around young children, they are tempted to try it, which could result in disaster. Since you are new to the profession and aren’t very comfortable with paper cutters, I recommend the Rotatrim RC Professional. It is a high-quality device with a self-sharpening blade of Sheffield Steel. It has guide rails to keep the paper in place and will cut 3mm plastic sheets. I recommend it because it is very durable if you need to share it with other teachers, and it has good safety features. Guillotine paper cutters may be more common for schools, but I think you will be more comfortable with a rotary/sliding trimmer.

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