By Amy Kingsford

Many of us have probably had the opportunity to use a craft knife at some point during our tenure as crafters.  But for those of you who haven’t, or those who have yet to tap into all of the creative uses for this handy tool–this article is for YOU!  Get ready to see the craft knife in a whole different light!

Cutting Mat and Knife


which type of craft knife is best for you?

The following types of craft knives have multiple uses within crafting, but all offer something a little bit different from the other.  Read the brief reviews below to determine which knife is best for which types of projects and for you.

Box Cutters

Box cutters, though they give you less control and precision, are very useful for heavy duty materials like metals, plastics, and cardboard and are more often suited to crafting projects, rather than scrapbooking. Some box cutters have built in safety features which require you to hold down a button while cutting and then the blade is automatically retracted when you let go—while others require that you manually extract and retract the blade, making it necessary to use more caution with use.  A box cutter is larger and bulkier than the other types of craft knifes and is held firmly in the palm of the hand higher up on the knife’s handle for adequate control.

Exacto Knives

Exacto knives are actually a particular brand of craft knife, but for our intents and purposes, we will use this name to mean all “pen-like” or “regular”  craft-knives.  These craft knives are suited to papercrafting projects and other crafts in which precision is key.  This type of tool is much more natural to handle than the box cutter and usually consists of a blade attached to a wand made of metal, wood or plastic, thereby resembling a pen.  Some even come with interchangeable blades for perforating, scoring, etc.

Fingertip Knives

Fingertip knives are a new variation of the exacto knife.  The blade itself is relatively the same and therefore can easily be used for the same types of projects as your regular craft knife. The difference is in the handling of the knife.  If you can believe it, the fingertip knife offers even more precision and control than the exacto knife, as it is used by placing your index finger inside of a ring which makes up the handle of the blade.  The technique behind using this type of craft knife now becomes more centralized—though still very much like using a pencil—the shorter, yet more substantial instrument gives you complete control over each cut.


a few tips to make using your craft knife easier and more safe

  • Turn the project you are cutting as you go, this will ensure more precise cuts and a quicker, more simple execution.
  • Cut past guide lines on corners/intersections to insure clean cuts and prevent tearing.
  • Always replace the lid or retract the blade after use.  If neither of these options is available with your knife, then make sure to put your craft knife away in a safe place.
  • Use with a self healing mat to protect furniture and to keep the blade sharp.
  • Don’t use you craft knife on projects they are not intended for.  This can result in damage to the knife or harm to the operator.


creative uses for your craft knife


Extract your photos from their busy backgrounds.

trulymadlydeeply “Truly, Madly, Deeply” by Amy Kingsford

Remove intricate patterns and shapes from their backgrounds to piece together the perfect scene.

whosthere “Who’s There” by Amy Kingsford

Re-style your alphas by covering them with your favorite papers.

1thru5 “1 Thru 5” By Amy Kingsford

Create fun, yet precise borders.

ontopoftheworld “On Top of the World” by Amy Kingsford


you could also try:

  • Scoring heavy duty materials like plastic, tin, and chipboard.
  • Making unique freestyle cuts.
  • Creating paper fringe.
  • Introducing hand-cut cardboard, tin or foam shapes to your pages.
  • Designing your own hand-cut titles from your favorite fonts or from your own handwriting.
  • Creating your own chipboard letters and die cuts.
  • Designing your own masks and stencils.
  • Making frames out of almost anything.
  • Cut out voids in your papers for a fun peek-a-boo effect.


and for our digi scrappers…

Don’t despair! Here are few tutorials to help you use your digi tools to try out some of these same techniques on your digital pages:

I hope you’ll enjoy using your craft knife in some fun new ways and I look forward to seeing your creations!