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Thread: Rotary cutter problem

  1. #1
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    Rotary cutter problem

    I have had to replace my 45 mm blade on my OLFA cutter five times this week and I am trying to figure out the problem. I am getting nicks in the blades, I know that much.

    I thought it might be dirt or sand as I am cutting on the floor (but I always cut on the floor and this has never happened before) so I vacuumed carefully, shook out my fabric (I'm using flannel which is a first for me if maybe that means something?), cleaned my cutting mat, replaced the blade again, and it's still happening.

    There is a nick on my cutting mat, could it be the nick on the mat that is damaging blades? I don't see how though.

    Could it be the flannel somehow?

    Thanks for any ideas...

    Lainey

  2. #2
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Are you sure that it's a nick in the blade? If you cut over a damaged part of a mat, the blade will skip. Try flipping the mat. If it's still an issue, did you get all the blades from the same pack? maybe you got a bad batch. The only other thing I can think of is that the blade is somehow hitting the side of the cutter, but can't figure out how that would actually nick the blade as they are all plastic.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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  3. #3
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    I thought of that, that the blade was hitting the nick in the mat, but it's not. I did try flipping the mat to no avail.

    I have been through three different packs of blades so far.

    This is why I am perplexed and also a little panicked over the cost of these blades!

    Can debris like sand lodge itself in flannel? That doesn't sound right...

  4. #4
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    what? you cut on the floor? actually directly on the floor or on your cutting mat?????????? Whew, mat. good . but a nick on the mat may be the problem.what brand mat? try cleaning it. use one of those nylon kitchen round scrubbies.http://www.olfa.com/CustomerServiceGuarantee.aspx
    Last edited by nativetexan; 12-06-2013 at 03:03 PM.

  5. #5
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    1. What brand of blade are you using?
    2. Where did you buy the blades?
    3. Were they in individual packaging or as multiples in a package?
    4. How are they stored?

    In over 30 years of teaching, I have found that all 4 of these questions' answers have relevance to the issue.
    I ALWAYS buy Olfa blades, never at joann's/walmart/etc., and I keep them stored in the original packaging where they are not exposed to contact with other tools or dampness. It is my intuition that you have gotten a bad batch of blades.

    I look forward to your responses.

    Jan in VA
    Jan in VA
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    peacefully colors my world.
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  6. #6
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    I thought of that, that the blade was hitting the nick in the mat, but it's not. I did try flipping the mat to no avail.

    I have been through three different packs of blades so far.

    This is why I am perplexed and also a little panicked over the cost of these blades!

    Can debris like sand lodge itself in flannel? That doesn't sound right...

  7. #7
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    I cut on the floor on an OLFA mat, with OLFA blades, it's not the same pack as I have used three different packs, all OLFA and all from that yellow case they come in.

    Could it be that the blades are being damaged by a nick in the OLFA mat? Because there is one nick in the mat for sure and although the nick is not causing my troubles (I tried using the back of the mat and the blades still had the nicks), could it be that the nick in the mat is damaging the blades?

    I can't see how a nick in the soft mat could harm the steel blades?

  8. #8
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I think it's unlikely the mat would be causing nicks in the blade. Are you examining the blade before you put it in the cutter? That way if you are sure the blade is not nicked going in, you know that it is being nicked from the cutting. I assume you can see the nick in the blade when you take the blade out of the cutter?

    In my experience, it *is* possible to nick a blade on the ruler. When this happened to me, I realized I was not holding the rotary cutter properly when cutting. I was angling it in towards the ruler instead of holding it straight up and down.

  9. #9
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    Interesting: I wonder if since this is my first time using flannel, I wonder if I am cutting at a weird angle to the ruler...

    I know it's not the new blades because each one works fine for about seven cuts - while I hold my breath!

  10. #10
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    PLEASE Lainey, you are a talented quilter and you need to get up of the floor to do your cutting. I can not picture you safely cutting with a rotary blade on the floor. Safety first. If you haven't a table, then find an old bookcase and make yourself a table top. Guys at Home Depot love to help women when we walk into the lumber section. Tell them what you want and they will get everything you need. You have to always think safety first whenever you have a rotary cutter in you hand. Be safe!!
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  11. #11
    Super Member Gramie bj's Avatar
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    Is the blade in the handle correctly? Is there a problem with your handle? Check your ruler, have you been nicking it with your cutter? If you can't find the problem I'd get in touch with the company, maybe they have an idea.

  12. #12
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    Probably a crazy question - but are you totally sure that you only have ONE blade in your cutter? Twice in the past several years I have replaced blades in my Olfa cutter and realized, after bad, bad, bad cuts, that I had 2 blades in the cutter. They are so thin, and seem to stick together so well that it is not a hard thing to do - to put 2 stuck together blades in the cutter.
    Of all the things I've lost I miss my mind the most!

  13. #13
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    I have had the same experience as Prism. I was nicking the blade on the ruler, mostly at the very start of my cuts. My ruler actually got a bit rounded on that corner. Now I try to slide the blade sideways to butt against the ruler about an inch up from the corner,roll it backwards that first little bit, then proceed with the cut as usual. Keeps me from hitting the ruler.

  14. #14
    Super Member sewingsuz's Avatar
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    I have had the same problem that prism99 talked about. Not holding the cutter correctly and I hit the ruler. I hope you find out what the heck is the problem. I would be so upset.
    Suzanne
    Asking a seamstress to mend is like asking Picasso to paint your garage.

  15. #15
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    I am so petrified of rotary cutters that I used scissors for ages. All I think about is safety, although I am a total spazz working on a table for some reason. I even prefer to iron on the floor! But I do use a steel glove when cutting and I keep my left hand behind the blade and I close the safety as I finish each cut.

  16. #16
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    It's probably the ruler that is the cause. If your ruler has been slivered on the edge the blade will follow the ruler edge and then recut the ruler causing a nick. I was taught to start about half an inch from the ruler bottom and then pull backward to the bottom and then cut. I can't believe you are cutting on the floor.
    Got fabric?

  17. #17
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Examine your ruler carefully. That's how I figured out I was shaving the ruler when I cut. I *thought* there was a curve in the ruler and proved it by butting it up against another ruler I hadn't yet used for rotary cutting.

    Edit: Oh, and with flannel, I prefer to *heavily* starch flannel before cutting; otherwise it moves around on me. I use a 1:1 solution of Sta-Flo liquid laundry starch and water.

  18. #18
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    I will say it's easy to get two blades at one time put into the cutter. then it won't cut well at all. they stick together with the oil that's on them.

  19. #19
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I always starch my flannel before cutting.
    Got fabric?

  20. #20
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    I'm checking my ruler but I don't see anything or feel anything! I always cut backwards first before going forward so I don't think I nick my ruler too often if at all?

    I have done the thing where I put two or three blades in the cutter so I'm onto that mistake as well, no it's not that.

    I honestly can't figure it out.

    I'm thinking about getting a new mat and new cutter and just starting over. But the mat is the largest size they sell, I hate to think what it would cost.

    One strange thing though: when I run my palm over the mat I do feel lots of cut lines and small raised ridges where there have been cuts. And too, there is this one gauge that feels pretty hard and deep and bad. I am not sure there should be any texture on the mat whatsoever - is it normal to feel little ridges and a pit or two? Could the mat be damaging the blades? I know that makes no sense but nothing makes sense. Five blades in one week is just too much.

    I guess I have to turn the mat upside down to use it but then the helpful ruler lines are gone...

    Perplexed in a rainy snowstorm here in Massachusetts...

    Lainey

  21. #21
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    Is flannel particularly tough on blades? (I have no idea!) Has the flannel been washed? How would you rate its quality? (Is it 100% cotton?)

    You say you get seven good cuts before a nick shows up. How many layers of flannel are you cutting through each time?

  22. #22
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    I don't know - I'm trying to find out if flannel is tough on blades?

    I'm using very high quality flannel from Moda, Maywood etc - all 100 percent cotton. I'm only cutting one layer, maybe two.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by lainealex View Post
    I'm using very high quality flannel from Moda, Maywood etc - all 100 percent cotton. I'm only cutting one layer, maybe two.
    Unless there's something special about flannel you and I don't know about, this doesn't seem to be the problem.

  24. #24
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    I'm not always positive if I have a new or old blade as I always put old blade in the empty box. .

    This was just a thought. I think I would go and buy a new cutter. 3 blades are almost up to that cost and if it continues wow money is flying out of the window.
    Finished is better than a UFO

  25. #25
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    Gee, that is so frustrating. You've thought of all the possibilities I think. I believe at this point I would start over with a new mat, cutter and blade. If you get the problem again, it has to be your cutting technique! I have had to replace mats, rulers and blades for all of the above reasons, but usually I can tell which instrument is faulty! Keep us posted. I am really interested in what you find out!

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