If you’re like me, you have a little box, maybe a jar with a slit cut in the lid, labeled “SHARPS” (that’s just an idea I got from the doctor’s office, maybe yours says “DANGER!!” or “THIS IS NOT A COOKIE JAR”). And inside you have all of those spent X-acto blades, Olfa blades, snap-off sharp blades of all kinds. You know that to make any decent cuts in paper, cardboard or leather you need to change your blade frequently – did you know though, that you can actually sharpen your X-acto blades?
I didn’t either until my husband began building balsa model airplanes. On an online forum he discovered the secret to re-sharpening your Xacto blade. “We have to go to Wal-Mart to the fishing and hunting section!” he announced one night. We don’t often (or ever, really) go hunting or fishing – or even go to Walmart for that matter, but I was intrigued.
Turns out for just three or four dollars you can buy a little ceramic sharpener used by fishermen for sharpening filleting knives – it’s pocket sized, lightweight and in just 10 strokes gives your knife a hair-splitting edge again!
The way it works is simple – hold your blade perpendicular to the sharpening rods (the sharpener I got had metal rods, not ceramic, but both work just as well) and pull the knife through. About ten strokes will do it. At first you feel some resistance, but as the “frayed” metal on the edge of the blade is honed back into it’s proper pointy shape, the resistance decreases until there is no more resistance at all.
Bookbinders, pay heed – this revolutionized the way I cut book board.
Book board, also known as Davey Board) is extremely dense and tough cardboard designed for book covers. Before, I had to snap off a new blade for each side of the board I cut, otherwise it would take forever, and I might end up with a ragged edge. When I was testing out my new sharpener, I sharpened my blade after each side, was able to cut the board beautifully, sharpened it again and cut flawlessly through delicate Kozo paper. I’m still using that knife blade – I’ve gone from changing my blades a couple times per project to once every month or two.
I highly recommend adding this little gem to your repertoire-
It doesn’t cost a lot and it’ll save you big on replacement blades. Like I mentioned before you can pick one up in the Walmart fishing section, or also try your local bait & tackle store if you have one nearby.
Happy cutting and watch your fingers!
This article was originally written for Crafters Attack! Blog. Check it out for more great craft articles and a fun crafting community.