paper cutters

hi everyone, moving on to the next challenge :) i knew this was going to be a big one, though. i have a stack paper guillotine cutter, it originally cost about $350, it weighs about 40 lbs so it can handle some nice cuts on lower weight paper, but i think it’s a no name brand and my trouble is getting everything straight. i’m printing business cards right now and i would rather invest in something i know is better in the long run and can handle 220lb weight or more. i am under a budget so i can’t really spend more than $700, but i need something that is going to give me some straight precision cuts and cut my business cards into nice little 3.5x2” blocks. no matter what i do with this cutter i have now, it’s slightly off on one side which makes my print appear crooked when it’s not, i just can’t get my paper cuts straight. does anyone have a good suggestion for a manual cutter that can do what i need? i won’t have a particularly high volume of cuts to begin with, and outsourcing just seems like another expense i don’t really want to have to deal with. i read about the kutrimmer 1071, and i see an MBM triumph 4300 - does anyone think either of these would be a good choice? i need to be able to cut business cards into even blocks. also, i can’t really handle a large antique cutter as i don’t have the space. any suggestions are appreciated :)


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The 1071 and 4300 are different cutters for different purposes. The 1071 is a larger shear meant to cut a few sheets of lighter stock or a single sheet of heavier stock. You’re not going to be able to efficiently cut any sort of volume on the 1071.

The 4300 is a nice machine. Small and well made. Designed to trim short stacks of small sheets.

It just depends on what you need.

You may find that outsourcing is cheaper than you think. Ask your local printer what they might charge for trimming down business cards. Bring in samples of what you’re working on and you might be surprised.


thanks Brad for your insight. I watched a couple videos of the kutrimmer and it did appear it is meant for the purpose you described, so I would need something more like the 4300. I will contact a couple places to see what they would charge to cut, but it is sometimes hard to trust others with expensive paper, unless they really know what they’re doing. in the long run I will need something that can do decent cutting in my own shop. thanks!

I have two spare cutters available. Very inexpensive. In South Jersey. One 19 ” manual. One 30” Challenge, electric over hydraulic. Happy to part with both for 700 but would sell either for less. On concrete floor at ground level.

thanks for the offer steve, it would be very attractive if I still lived in south jersey - I grew up there, but I’ve relocated to Arizona. Any photos/more info on your 19”? I don’t have a lot of space to work with but I do want something that will do a good job.

I teach my students that you have to think like the press. The same is true for the cutter. You must understand how the cutter was intended to work and what its limitations are. Work within those parameters and help the machine do its job.
You must have an extremely sharp knife. Many printers put off the small cost to sharpen the knife too long. A dull knife will pull the front of the stack away from the back gauge and guarantee a crooked cut stack,
The back gauge must be parallel with the blade. The blade is bolted in place and cannot move. There is a small amount of adjustment in the back gauge. Place a small stack of paper about 11” wide in the cutter and set for about a 2” cut. Mark the top sheet A on one end and B on the other. Set chipboard or other scrap stock on bottom and top of stack to be cut. Clamp tightly and cut. Take AB sheet and fold A end to B end. The paper must fold exactly square. If not you need to adjust the back gauge. Adjust and repeat the process until your cut is square.
I ran out of adjustment on my cutter before I got to square.
I need to shim the back of my stock two thicknesses of 67# Bristol stock to bring to square. Help the machine to do its job.
Real sharp blade, short stack of paper, and tight clamp bring good results. Short stack especially for soft paper.

Try these essential things with your existing cutter before you go out to buy another.

For reference, I BELIEVE this is what I have. The back gauge on mine appears to be slightly bowed, so I don’t think I would ever get an even cut with this unless it was replaced. The other thing I noticed about it last night as I tried to cut to 2 inches is that I wouldn’t be able to back my cuts up to the gauge that small, as the gauge hits the clamp before it hits the 2” mark. If I’m down to a 2.5” strip that I need cut to 2”, I have to eyeball it and hope all sheets are straight against a 2” line. I don’t have anything to back it up to as the gauge won’t go that far to the blade.


Analyze, improvise, overcome. Help the machine.

Get a nice well planed uniform thickness board of about 2”. Three pieces of hardwood flooring should work also. Place against back gauge and look for bow. If bowed, shim in gap.
In effect you have straightened and thickened the back gauge.
I have not met a cutter that will not cut down to 2” without the clamp fingers interfering with the back gauge. If your clamp and back gauge don’t like to get that close; they won’t like to get that close with the board in there.
You have to be a little smarter than the machine. Not a lot, but some. I cannot touch and see the machine, but I am confidant you can figure a way.
Analyze, improvise, overcome

so the machine I have has a “floating” side gauge. is this typically standard? given that I will only be making square cuts, I really prefer to have something straight, that will only move from side to side rather than any way I want. part of my issue with this one is I can’t ever get the gauge straight enough. it looks straight as compared to the grid, and it takes me forever to get it looking that straight, but then when I cut, the end result is not straight. I want a side gauge that will help me cut more square.

Post a picture you may get the help you need

the attached image is the machine I have. I believe the black gauge is bowed, first of all, so I would need to straighten it by using furniture to help me get straight cuts every time. it’s also a “floating gauge” meaning the black piece can be moved 180 degrees or so. this would be helpful for someone wanting to make angled cuts, but my cuts will typically only be straight most of the time and I prefer a machine with a gauge that is anchored on the bottom as well, so it only moves side to side. I think this is part of my issue. it takes me forever to try and set the gauge to where I feel it needs to be to make a correct cut, straight against the grid, but however the cut never comes out straight. if it is straight dimensionally, it appears lightly wavy, which is a blade issue. comments welcomed.

image: 6899232.jpg


This is not a guillotine. Have you considered( if you have the equipment) die cutting your important work until you get a real cutter?

Hi Mike thanks for your answer on that. I don’t know what this cutter is, it doesn’t seem to be bad quality but I was on an extreme budget when I bought my first tabletop press and needed something that could do better than what I had. But, I think my needs now are more precision based than what this cutter can do.

I have considered die cutting, but I don’t know that I have the equipment, and I’m not sure what that entails. I know die cutting can be very hard on a machine if not designed to do such work. I’ve got an 8x12 Golding Jobber as my press, but that is the extent of my heavy machinery. At the moment I have been contacting local binding and print shops to see what they would charge per cut until I can get something that I know will be a good investment.

Hey there! I think there’s some really good advice in this thread already. AZ is not too far from CA, but no doubt something will come in in TX or NM or AZ.

I recommend looking for a Challenge 19” cutter. I think in all honesty this is a good machine for a beginner taking a step up from a ‘desktop’ level cutter to a more floor-sized machine. They’re small, they weigh in at about 350-400 lbs *(so movable with a team of 3-4 people and the right tools), and they’re straightforward to operate.

I used to have one and it taught me a lot.

If I might speak to Mike’s point, actually Die-cutting with your press is possible. And in fact, cutting a 2-up or 1-up business card with your golding is probably doable if I had to guess. You’ll need a metal plate and a cutting die from a die-maker- these days you submit a CAD file. Your cutting plate should be something like a stainless steel plate that you can temporarily tape to the platen of your press with no packing under it; tape it on the bottom with packing tape, and two of the sides with good, strong masking tape. If you leave the top of it open you’ll be able to remove tape from one side to slide more packing sheets in behind the plate to bring it up to cut-pressure.
Essentially, you’ll have to just remove the printing rollers from the machine to convert it to cutting mode, add your cutting plate. Lock your die up in a chase centered, and tape a piece of newsprint to the platen at 4 corners. Cycle the machine on impression, and see if it cuts the newsprint.
If it doesn’t cut, add some packing a little bit at a time until you get it to cut.
If one part cuts and another doesn’t, you’ll have to add packing to that one part by tearing a strip or odd shaped piece and pasting it into place underneath the cutting plate.

Once it cuts the newsprint, replace it with a fresh sheet of newsprint which you will use to ‘register’ from; cut it, but carefully slip one of your printed pieces beneath this and hold it still while you tape in place.
…..and then stick some ‘guides’ to the cutting plate up against your positioning areas on the sheet, and you’ve got it ready to check. Cycle your press once with the piece in position to test; if it works, then you can start cutting your run.

I mean there’s more to it than this, but that’s the basic gist of it!

Good luck!

Quick Fix, just to keep You in production, until *Upmarket* or *Fit for purpose* M/c., is acquired.

We have used the following in the past, in the early (learning & Cash Flow) stages :-Same principle just 2 different approach,s either Find, Acquire, or source a piece of what we call *JUMBO FURNITURE* around 30 x 40 ems Pica, (solid plastic or aluminium) used for spacing out large Formes of TYPE, - it is 100% accurate in both directions,!!
Have a Hardwood Block, planed up to 1/2” thick and 5 x 5 of the bigger squares, of the Graph on the Bed of Your Guillotine/Cutter, and with an (approx) $5 Dollar *G* clamp, - just clamp Your Auxiliary (D.I.Y.) block to the back Fence, after setting to 2” - 3 1/3” etc, ends up (generally) Solid & Accurate, within the limits of the Clamp and the Blade. - We have in the past, also stuck a thin strip of Rubber under the Clamp, with D.S.A.- Double sided adhesive, to control the tendency of the Blade to PULL the top 2-3 sheets of stock. Usually caused by a *DULL* blade.!
Narrow strip(s) of rubber Kitchen Style gloves work well, if all else fails.

Keep You going ONLY, of course. Good Luck.

had my stock cut by a local print shop using a very large challenge cutter. unfortunately I got the cuts home (40 minutes away) and many are dinged, “rubbed” and have obvious indents. and, they look about as straight as i was able to get them. they just don’t look straight to the eye. I’ve measured, and they APPEAR straight, but not to the eye. upset, but at this point i’m not sure what else to do. lost a $50 ream of paper and paid $15 for the cut. i feel like i am always fighting over something and i really don’t want to go back to the shop to complain :( feeling a bit defeated over the cutting issue.