Guillotin-knife or rotating-blade paper cutter for darkroom use?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Marco Gilardetti, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. Marco Gilardetti

    Marco Gilardetti Member

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    Ladies and gentlemen,

    I can't make up my mind between the two main models of paper cutters, which I would primarily use to cut heavy weight photographic paper in the darkroom.

    I definitely had in mind to go for the Guillotin-knife style, because we have one at the office and it is very fast, extremely solid and reliable.

    However, the shop owner insisted that the rotating-blade types are more accurate and easy to use. However, the models he has shown to me looked made with tin and chinese plastic, with a itty-bitty guide bar and an awful work table. More a toy than a dependable tool.

    Which one do you use, and are there actually any good reasons to prefer a rotating blade unit over a traditional guillotin model?

    Thank you and good evening.
     
  2. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Guillotin-knife style never cuts square for me. Always pushes the paper as it cuts. Go with a rotary style.
     
  4. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Here's a second on the rotating blade cutter, but you have to get a Rotatrim, not one of the cheapy little ones like you say he's showing you.

    Both types work better if you work on one sheet at a time. If you're willing to suffer flaws you can cut more sheets. With the rotary cutter the main flaw is ragged edges with little strings and things. With the guillotine cutter the main flaw is sheets that scoot and don't get cut square.

    Duncan
     
  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I also like rotary.. and it is much safer. One really nice thing about them is that when you do need to replace the roller, it's inexpensive. I use a rotary unit to cut 8x10 to 4x10 and to cut 5" roll film to various lengths. I get a perfect cut about 95% of the time.

    (Guillotines can actually be more accurate but definitely not the office kind that most people use. There is a straight-down kind used in the publishing industry that can cut through many reams very accurately.)
     
  6. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Oh, sure, for truly precision cutting of multiple sheets, one of the hydraulic ones with the need-both-hands-on-two-switches actuating scheme is the way to go. I'm betting most darkrooms aren't big enough to house one of those!

    Also a good point about rotary being safer. I still have a scar on the knuckle of my left thumb from a near de-thumb-itation when I was a teenager and working in the darkroom of a local photo store.

    Duncan
     
  7. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Go rotary and go expensive (i.e., Rotatrim), assuming you are cutting a print at a time for mounting.

    Cheap rotary trimmers are often not square, or are "adjustable," which means they fall out of square with use and you have to keep squaring them up.

    Even with a Rotatrim, I would try to get my hands on the one I was buying and test it for square (cut a piece of rather large paper using the cut edge for the reference edge for the next cut. If cut no.4 isn't exactly even, then the cutter isn't square).

    Buy the best and cry once.

    Best,

    Doremus Scudder
    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  8. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Definitely a rotary cutter. It's much more precise. So precise in cutting photos that you could shave thin trimmings from the photo. However, you'll wreck the blade if you cut mat board with it. Rotatrim is an excellent brand.
     
  9. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    I have both but almost always use the guillotine. It cuts accurately if you hold the paper in place and it is quick in the dark if you are cutting paper sizes down. The guillotine can cut much thicker stock. I even cut mat board and card board with mine... the same cutter I have been using since 1990. That said, for 16x20 paper I would use the rotary cutter.
    Dennis
     
  10. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    As Mainecoon said don't use a rotary for matt board you can ruin the blade. Just use a straight edge & knife.
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Rotatrim.
     
  12. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    One consideration has to do with whether or not you are cutting unprocessed photographic paper; the rotary cutters are everything they are cracked up to be, but you do have to slip the paper under the hold-down bar (at least on the Rotatrim that I have) and this may lead to scratching of some films or papers, particularly if some grit gets in there.

    On the other hand, the (cheap) guillotine that resides in the darkroom for making test strips and the like is always generating a new pile of fine iron dust where the fixed and moving blades rub at the start of the cut, so I am constantly having to clean it up.
     
  13. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I have a couple of old Nikor rotary cutters that are perfect for cutting coated paper. The guillotine cutters tend to pull the sheet where as the rotary is more precise. I got them used many years ago and I think comparable new ones are fairly expensive.
     
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  15. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I use a guillotine for rough cuts in the dark darkroom and a straight-edge knife for precision cuts in the light matting room.
     
  16. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    P.S. I do my film rota-trimming in a LF changing tent.
     
  17. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I cut the tip of the index finger on my left hand off while cutting paper in the darkroom with a guillotine knife. I was in sixth grade. I still have a very nice triangular piece of finger missing. Funny thing is, I never felt it. Didn't even realize there was anything wrong until I noticed the blood all over the paper and the floor.

    Besides, as has been mentioned, the standard office type guillotine knife never cuts square.
     
  18. R gould

    R gould Member

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    Rotating blade every time for me,never found guilotine cut square for me,and my prefered cutter is rototrim,nice solid cuttersRichard
     
  19. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Rotatrim for mounting prints. I can't use anything else. Pre-cut mattes are, in my opinion, by far the better part of valor so I don't need any other type of cutter.
     
  20. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    I have trimmed .010 off sheet film in the dark with a rotary. for precision control it is superior.

    I use the arm type to rough cut paper before enlarging, but all precision work is Besslar Rotatrim.
     
  21. Maris

    Maris Member

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    I went through this dilemna years ago and finally decided on an IDEAL precision safety guillotine.

    It was expensive but has now operated flawlessly for two decades with the original blade. It cuts film and paper with dead square corners with a razor sharp blade in pitch blackness with perfect safety. The spacer bar and automatic hold down clamp prevent work moving around so cuts accurate to 1/1000 of an inch are repeatable. 8 ply mount board cuts like butter.
     
  22. rorye

    rorye Subscriber

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    Sometimes I can't believe my Rotatrim is 18 years old and still works like new. It's had a lot of use.
     
  23. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'd debated about spending the money on a Rotatrim until I saw one in a lab at a workshop, and it looked completely beaten up with blotches of rust on the metal parts, and it still cut perfectly and was in good alignment.
     
  24. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    The sharpest of sharps is unbeatable: #23 scalpel blade on #11 handle with steel-edge rule.

    And current life insurance in case you slip-up... These pups cut a mean streak. :surprised:
     
  25. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    I've used both types, and if used properly with hold-downs, both will give an equally fine cut. However, for large sheets—in my case, over about 12 inches—I find the rotary type much easier to use. I currently use a Rotatrim, and don't plan on going back to the knife style.
     
  26. OldBikerPete

    OldBikerPete Member

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    I have had and use both an A4-size razor guillotine and a 48" rotatrim for many years. Both work really well on heavy paper. I use the guillotine for everything it is large enough for, anything bigger (such as my A0 inkjet prints) get the rotatrim. There is nothing to choose in squareness or cut quality between the two.
    Peter.