Buying a paper cutter

I am dissatisfied with the results from my current shop that cuts my paper so I’m now interested in buying my own cutter. I’d love an old hunk of cast iron but they’re not easy to find in southern california.
Has anybody used the newer tabletop cutters such as this?

It seems that they might not apply enough pressure. Any suggestions for a first time cutter?

My usual paper sizes are between 8.5x11 & 11x 17

Log in to reply   13 replies so far

Many old lever cutters have been around for at least fifty years and ready for another fifty. I’ve read some previous discussions here about modern cutters getting out of square, not clamping sufficiently to get accurate cuts, etc. Leave these modern toys for the crafters, rubber stampers and the folks in the church basements putting out a weekly bulletin!
Wait for an older C&P, Challenge, Advance, Paragon or ? to show up. It’ll be worth the wait!! Forget the import, please! The $600+ you’d spend on that will buy you a cutter that’s good for another 100 years. E-bay is loaded, I mean loaded, with these lightweight, flimsy imports. Many of these are described as slightly used, which means they have been returned by unsatisfied buyers. “Real printers use real cutters.” I own and use a 22.5” Paragon, patented about a 120 years ago, good for many, many more years. Blades are still available for all of these. Look for Challenge, Advance, Chandler & Price, Reliance, Peerless and many other old-time brands. Stay away from anything with welds. Take my word. Wait for one of these old-timers to show up, it’ll be worth the wait, and you’ll thank me for the good advice.

I do think the one linked to, the Martin Yale, is not the flimsy import that I’ve complained about. I think Martin Yale and Dahle are reputable and more expensive than the no-name clones all over eBay and Amazon, most of which I think are really copies of this one. If you’re going to get one of these small table-top models, I’d go for one of those brands, and with care it could probably be useable. However I agree 100% that it’s worth waiting for a real vintage one. I drove 3 hours to pick up a 1970s Challenge 23” table-top cutter with stand, and while it’s a toy compared to most of the cutters used by the pros, it’ll eat those new ones for breakfast.

I have a “gold” 30” challenge powered cutter I picked up in a trade and don’t really have room for it.
I have never put power to it but is was running when we picked it up.
Give me a call

i used lever cutters for a long time, if you don’t cut all the time they work great, if you are cutting a lot then the challenge 30-1/2” cutter it about the best cutter out there.

Stanislaus makes sense to me. First I owned a Chandler and price. It was a biggish lever operated cast iron machine 23” I think, but wouldn’t cut a mill sheet size. Almost by accident, a friend bought at auction a ‘Adast’ (iron curtain 50’s ) guillotine for me at $300.. Big and powerful and accurate and three phase power. That was 1986 and every day I start it up and it works perfectly. Mind you, no guards or any frills! It did come with 2 spare blades. In the darkroom I use a slitter. Brand new for $300. A good cutter - it does for slicing proofs and for mount cutting. I’d prefer one of those to a cheap lever action cutter any day.
Dennis W

While I agree with the other posters on what not to buy, I do want to suggest another possible option. Kutrimmer. It is similar to the Dahle mentioned. Yes, it is a lever cutter and looks like many used in grammar school, but, don’t be fooled. It’s a great piece of professional equipment. Mine is 25 years old and still works and looks like the new ones sold today. They come in all sizes, use good German steel blades that hold an edge. The paper clamp holds the paper securely. Gauges on both sides of the knife allow for repeated accurate cuts. You can reduce multiple parent sheets in no time. If only cutting the small sizes mentioned, you could have a smaller tabletop model and cut them very efficiently. They will cut Lettra very well. I have a stack cutter as well, but, seldom go to it when cutting for letterpress projects. The Kutrimmer does most of those cuts. It’s handy, fast enough, and cuts accurately and cleanly. The only thing it will not do is cut a large stack.


I should mention that my 23” challenge, with a less than totally sharp blade, also could not cut a 20” wide sheet. I had bought 20 x 26 sheets from keldon thinking I’d save some money and have more flexibility, ended up taking it to a local offset shop to cut down to a more manageable size which I printed with then cut down fine.

Check this one out in AZ. I have one of these on the pedestal and they work great!!

I have an HL model Challenge. It is a work horse, performs exceptionally, and will be around long after I am dead and buried! With a heavily used blade it can cut through about 50 sheets of 70lb paper in a perfect line. Clamp works great.
It’s large, has been structurally re-enforced, and had a safety added. If you’re interested in buying let me know.

I have used it but it is okay to cut about 200 sheets of 20 bond paper. The big machines are hardy and strong can cut sometimes more than 400 sheets. You get what you pay for. The picture is a typical desk top for hobbyists. Trust this helps? You can always contact me. Deen

Our paper cutter says National Highland MCH Co. Boston Mass, does anyone know about these?

Hello Watchmespinning very likely this company only did fabrication and the engineering for the unit. Many companies out source their production to other companies to achieve economies of scale hence this

I have a Peerless Lever cutter with a patent date of 1922 for sale. Pic attached.

[email protected]

image: Peerless Paper Cutter.JPG

Peerless Paper Cutter.JPG