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X-acto blades

Nov 23, 2006
My father designs and makes stained glass windows (see pics at frogacuda.com). He does alot of the design work and prep using an x-acto knife. In one day he'll easily go through six or seven disposable blades, and over time this adds up to a little bit of expense and a lot of wasted metal.

Any ideas for easy ways to get some extra mileage out of an x-acto knife blade?

Are there any non-disposable options that would have the same delicate performance?
How fine does the point have to be?
I work in an art studio and use X-Actos. We need the point to be as fine as possible. If you could get by with a slightly squared tip with a sharp end you could break the very tip off with some needle nose pliers.
X-Actos are cheap enough if you buy the bulk pack. IIRC 100 blades at a time.
Some art supply houses have a house brand #11 blade and they should be cheaper as well.
Maybe moving up to a snap off blade Olfa knife would help.
Not quite as nimble as the X-Acto, but sturdier.
I do about 85% of my work with the Olfa and save the X-Acto for the small tight curves.
One more option is a bulk pack of single edge razor blades, 2 points to a blade, but you can't put much pressure on them, since they have no handle and wear on your finger tips.
Check A.I. Friedman art supplies for starters...maybe Pearl Paint as well.

Hope it helps.

and Welcome to Bf.c!
I've sharpened disposable blades before without problem at all, quickly, by freehand. I used fine emery cloth on a flat surface. It was pretty easy, perhaps because they already have a pretty good profile to start with. If the edge has nicks or chips, it's probably not worth the effort, however.
If it is visibly damaged then power tools will fix them quickly. However the initial cost of the power tools will buy a lot of blades so look for reconditioned ones or of course other uses.

I resharpen them on a paper wheel and they hold an edge. Box cutter blades do good on paper wheels too.
I'm a professional illustrator and go through quite a few Xacto blades daily. In the world of business "Time=Money". A 100 count box of blades can be purchased for $26.49 at Pearl Paint. http://www.pearlpaint.com/shop_details~ocID~~parentID~1000~categoryID~990~sku~266437.htm
At six blades per day that would total $1.59 which is pretty cheap. Taking the time to sharpen an Xacto blade doesn't make sense if all you're saving at the end of the week is $7.95. I'm sure most sensible entrepreneurs will agree. Enjoying a sharpening session on a fine blade in your free time is great, but I wouldn't waste your time on something that was designed to be disposable.
Time = money is right.

Agustus, are you one of those crazies that use a single edge razor (facing up) in your tape dispenser so you get nice, straight, clean tape edges
(Instead of the usual saw tooth edge)?
I found out about that the hard way when working with a film stripper.

Pearl Paint is great...I just hate the stairs.
I use Xacto knives for my work, but Considering the time it would take to resharpen all those little blades, it is much more cost effective to throw them away. I am sure my bosses would want to pay me to get nothing done while sharpening little disposable knives.

Before you go out and buy bulk blades, you or your father might try this:
Use a sharpening steel, the kind chefs use in the kitchen. A sharpening steel is a length of round steel, about 3/8" to 1/2" in diameter, sometimes tapered, usually with a wooden handle on the end. If you don;t have access to one, use the clean round of a screwdriver or other tool that has a clean, shiny, stainless steel type of appearance.

Use light to medium pressure and, approximating the angle of the exacto grind, then up just a tad, slide the blade down the steel. Do one side, then the other, and back and forth about 6 or 7 times. This takes about 5 seconds.... just leave the exacto blade in the holder if he's using one. Now, try your exacto blade.

This just touches up the edge and will give you more use out of the blade before you have to turn to a hone or maybe replace the blade. Chefs use this technique constantly in the kitchen, just to put the edge back on the knife. They can get much more use out of the blade before having to hone again.

Whether you do this or use one of the hone/sandpaper methods mentioned above, you're still going to have to buy more blades. But this will extend their life somewhat.