Stack Paper Cutters

I’m in the market for a stack paper cutter, I thought I wanted an automatic one instead of a manual one, but they are very expensive and I’ve heard manual is nice if you are using more delicate paper because you can control the pressure applied to the stack (truth to that?) Is there a gold standard brand out there? I’m looking at Triumph manual cutter because the automatic is out of my price range. But a brand called Vevor is selling an automatic for around $1000, and I can’t really find adequate reviews for me to make a decision on that. Do most of you experienced letterpress folks use automatic or manual? I’m looking for new, not old (antique) machines, but I would hate to waste money on a cheap automatic if it’s just going to break on me. I would love any advice or reviews on machines that are tried and true out there. Thank you!

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A few basic and humble observations from U.K.
Apologies if they be irrelevant in U.S.
We have found generally, (as You have already observed) manually operated M/C,s are/can be kinder to some stock, Bible paper, Air mail, Onion skin, N.C.R. - especially 2 part pre-collated etc., which in turn usually cut/trimmed with sacrificial sheet(s) immediately under THE clamp, and immediately between the Cutting Stick and the lower sheet of stock.
Pre-purchase, and IF possible try to inspect the Cutting stick and look for abuse from non adjustment, or where the blade has been driven into the stick badly.

Generally even the smaller Hand cranked Cutters/Guillotines carry a conventional (normally plastic) cutting stick which can be flipped 4 times to give 8 faces because the Blade comes into contact only 1/3 of the way across the stick itself, flipped end to end for 2 cuts, rotated 45 degrees within the channel for 2 more cuts, rotated again for 2 more cuts, and one more for 2 further cuts, 8 options in total.

Adjusted in every case for the fall of the blade to just cut one sacrificial sheet, with the stock always knocked up and positioned against the side that accepts the thrust of the stock when clamped, + when positioning the stock against the back fence, for the depth of cut it has been found beneficial to use a small hardwood block with wax polish underneath, to nudge and slide the stock against the back fence, occasionally, even bringing the back fence, forward into the final cut position. (similar to the action of a full auto m/c)

If possible pre-purchase try to establish IF there is a spare blade OR if there is enough adjustment left for the descent of the blade, for subsequent re sharpening, and again if possible, ask to see the 4 sides of the existing cutting stick or a previous one, the marks on the 4 sides (x 8) are a good, >tell tale< for previous abuse.

If it is remotely possible when purchasing Your machine, even an older one In cast iron, is favourable over a more modern variety in Pressed steel is usually a good option.

Good Luck. Mick. U.K.

Never heard of Vevor. Polar would be the best followed most likely by Challenge. Depending on where you are located used cutters are out there. I have a 40 year old 30 inch Challange with a microcut which automates all the cutting. I use it every day and while it works fine I know its limitations. A lot will depend on how large a stock you want to cut. Most paper sellers can make the first cuts to bring a sheet down to a good working size. The problem with cutter can be parts and service, so be mindful of how old a cutter you get.

If you want a non-antique cutter, you would probably still be better off with a used printer’s paper cutter (because the new ones are quite expensive). I would definitely stay away from the kind you see behind the counter in the office supply stores and craft stores, if you want to do precision cutting. Just to give you an idea of the kinds of cutters that are out there, here is a listing from one of the used equipment dealers, that lists 77 cutters from 15 inch on up. And I personally am not sure whether some of these cutters are good enough either. To reinforce what western411 says above, if you stick with the Polar or Challenge ones, however, I don’t think you can go wrong.

Hi; I’m not sure what you mean by expensive, but Challenge 305 cutters are usually on eBay for $2000 or less. (30.5” width cut) I have a Challenge 305 I bought new in 1985 for $15000, and it’s held up very well, and they are easy to work on. We cut a LOT of soft blotter type of paper, and are we are able to dial down the pressure on the hydraulic clamp. We also use magnetic cutter clamp pads which further reduces the clamp impression. I addition we use a stack of paper to further reduce any damage to the paper and yet hold it firmly in place for an accurate cut. If you buy an old Challenge, parts may not be available from Challenge but may be available elsewhere, like your machinist.

Hi again; Buying the right paper cutter is a big decision. Make sure to try the cutter out with the paper you are going to be cutting. If it’s automatic, make sure clamping pressure is adjustable. Some cutters, even Challenge will not cut all the way through heaver card stock that is too wide. Generally, you want to be able to rotate the sheet within the mouth(width) of the cutter. Antique manual cutters usually last forever, and I have seen them in modern shops alongside newer equipment. And yes you can adjust the clamping pressure manually, though you need enough pressure to keep the paper from moving during the cut. If you buy an older cutter, make sure it has been maintained, no rust, no broken parts. Maintenance is simple on the older manual cutters.

Thank you everyone for the input! Put me on a whole new search direction. Appreciate the advice! And thank you bppayne for sending me a link for a cutter!

It might help to know where you are located. We all may know someone who can help you. At times to cost to ship a long distance can be more than the item cost’s in the first place.