I have been hand cutting binders board for about 20 years now and have a system that works well for me. Here are a few tips for cutting binders board with a metal straightedge and craft knife that I have posted on my site.
For cutting binders board you do not need any fancy equipment. A board cutter is nice but they can be expensive. A self healing cutting mat, a straight metal ruler, an ‘L’ ruler (or triangle) and a sharp blade are all the tools that are needed. If you will be cutting alot of full size sheets I reccommend investing in a heavy 48″ steel ruler though it’s not neccessary. A 36-48″ metal ruler is sufficient. Home Depot has long metal rulers in the tool section at a really reasonable price.
First, be aware of the grain direction of the board. Most full sheets are grain long. Meaning the grain runs in the direction of the longest dimension. I always mark the grain direction of a full sheet by running a few pencil lines with the grain direction so I know which direction the grain goes after I have cut off pieces. It’s harder to tell with the smaller pieces.
If you are you using full sheets of board you may want to square up one end before cutting your pieces. I like to cut off about 1/4″ - 1/2″ of one of the short ends to get one straight edge to work with as the full sheets of board have a jagged edge on all four sides.
For cutting multiple pieces of board the same size I will cut a strip off of a large sheet using the height measurement of the boards I need then cut my individual pieces off of that using the width measurement for each.
Once I have cut a strip of board the height measurement that I want I use an ‘L’ ruler and line it up with the long edge and cut about 1/4″ off of one side to get a square edge. I then use that edge to start measuring for the width of my pieces.
If your metal ruler is without a cork back put some masking tape on the back of it. That will help keep it from slipping.
You’ll want the largest cutting mat you can afford. Most craft stores sell the 24″ x 36″. If you have an AC Moore or Michaels 40% off coupon you can get one at a reasonable cost and it will last you a long time.
You’ll want to cut on a surface that is no more than hip high. A dining table is the perfect height. This will allow you to be over top of the board and apply pressure to the ruler while you are cutting.
It’s important to take shallow cuts. Don’t try to cut all the way through the board on the first pass. It may take 4 or 5 passes. Take it slow. Patience is the key to clean cuts with binders board.
Please note that binders board will be harder to cut against the grain and will take a few more passes with the blade than when cutting with the grain.
Use a sharp blade. Binders board dulls a blade very quickly. I buy the knives with the snap off blades. You can buy bulk packages of them from the Dollar store.
When you are cutting a long cut, you will need to move the hand that is applying pressure to the ruler with the cut. Meaning don’t try to keep your hand in the middle of the ruler for the whole length of the cut. Place your hand near the top to start then, when you are about half way, carefully release the pressure on the ruler and move your hand down about half way. (You may need to shift your hand more than once for long cuts.) Apply pressure and finish the cut.
When moving my hand I press down on the ruler and carefully walk my fingers down to the position I want it in next. This takes a few tries to keep from moving the ruler when you shift your hand position but you’ll get the hang of it quickly.
Please feel free to email me if these instructions don’t make sense or if you have any additional questions about the process.