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The Guillotine Trimmer / the Lever Paper Cutter – How You Get the Perfect One!

In this post, we would like to introduce you to the technology and characteristics of the guillotine trimmer* – the lever cutter.

Guillotine trimmers – The most important facts at a glance

  • Guillotine trimmers are used to cut the paper with a long blade, similar to a guillotine.
  • Those lever cutters are particularly well-suited for long cuts. In addition, thicker materials and stacks can be cut easily.
  • Guillotine trimmers are typically found in the office or the teacher’s lounge.
  • Advantages:
    • Ideal for office work
    • Greater cutting height than rotary trimmers
    • Robust blades
  • Disadvantages:
    • Long cutting lengths are only possible with long blades. Thus, these paper-cutting machines are quite expensive.
    • No deco cuts are possible.
  • Popular inexpensive guillotine paper cutters are the Dahle 502Zoomyo, and Genie GH40. In the mid-price segment, our bestsellers include the Ideal 1133 and Dahle 533. The Dahle 561 is very popular with professionals.

Our post Basic knowledge of paper cutters describes the features and technical functions identical to the various types of paper-cutting devices. We recommend this introductory article if you are not yet familiar with guillotine-cutting devices and are interested in the following information:

  • precise and clean cutting
  • cutting length
  • cutting height and thickness of the paper
  • different format sizes
  • number of sheets per operation
  • (adjustable) end stop
  • automatic pressing
  • angle plant(s)
  • helpful measuring scales (inch, US letters or DIN formats, angles, rulers, and auxiliary grids)
  • the stable stand of the guillotine trimmer

Based on the technical characteristics of the guillotine trimmer and our evaluation and decision criteria, we have identified the advantages and disadvantages of the guillotine paper cutter to help you choose a suitable cutting machine.

Our recommendations / Bestseller guillotine paper cutter

Need more time for detailed research, reading, and browsing? We have created a small overview with bestselling guillotine trimmers.

PositionGuillotine Trimmer Bestsellers Amazon UK
1Dahle 502 with protection*
2Crafter’s Companion Guillotine/Trimmer*
3HFS (R) A3 *
4Westcott 12-Inch Trimair*
5A4 Paper Cutter Guillotine – Meafeng*
6Dahle 502 Guillotine Paper Cutter *
7Unibos A4 Paper Cutter *
8HFS (R) Heavy Duty Guillotine Paper Cutter*
9Hamnor Office Heavy Duty Munal A4 Paper Trimmer*
10Professional A4 Paper Cutter Guillotine*
Guillotine bestsellers determiend as of 12.12.2022

Structure and function of the guillotine trimmer

guillotine-trimmer-principle-lever-cutter
Guillotine paper cutters based on the guillotine principle

The principle of the guillotine paper cutter corresponds to the structure of a hatchet, also called the guillotine. The cutting starts on one side of the material, and the deeper the knife is pressed and lowered, the wider the cut and the larger the cut. In the process, the guillotine trimmer’s upper and lower knife move past each other. The principle corresponds to cutting with scissors. Here, the blade is not particularly sharp but rather the knife’s edge. The material is separated by squeezing it between the two blades. Due to this principle, guillotine paper cutters with suitable blades are also ideal for thicker materials.

A cut with a guillotine cutter is performed according to this guillotine principle, but the upper blade is pivotally attached to a cutting table on one side via a bearing. The lever movement pushes the knife of the lever-cutting machine through the material. Larger lever cutters have a spring on the attachment to keep the blade precisely on the table. A handle is mounted on the other side of the device to allow the edge to be moved. The durable design allows, in addition to paper, the cutting of more rigid materials.

Guillotine paper cutters – Blades

guillotine-trimmer-angle-not-steady
Guillotine paper cutter angle not steady

The blade of a guillotine paper cutter is often curved. Why is that? As mentioned, the guillotine principle cuts in one direction along the edge of the device.

I.e., the point of intersection moves away from the bearing of the blade (lever pivot point). This changes two essential parameters during cutting. The lever and the cutting angle. Changing these parameters also changes the cutting properties. Most people will recognize this effect from ordinary scissors.

Note: In contrast, the lever and cutting angle is always the same for rotary cutters.

guillotine-trimmer-angle-steady
Lever Cutting Machines / Lever Cutter Curved Blades

To minimize this effect, guillotine cutters possess rounded blades. The pressure of the cutting edge against the material increases the further it is cut. A pressure spring is also used to support this.

Features Lever Cutting Machines

The main feature of a lever-operated cutter is the low level of force required. With a robust design of this type of paper cutter and with the right material blade, very thick (up to 3 inches!) cutting heights can be achieved. Of course, these are professional lever cutters.

In addition, guillotine trimmers also possess very high precision when well-designed and yet are easy to use. For ease of use, some machines have a cutting indicator (laser or mechanical) that makes it easier to set the desired cut. This is especially helpful if you do not want to cut at a 90° angle. The paper can be positioned in the machine so that the cut with the desired angle is visible in advance. However, this also works quite well with a lever-cutting device, even without a cutting indication.

Manual (hand or foot) or automatic pressing is used for fixing the paper. The maximum cutting length of lever cutters is slightly shorter than that of rotary trimmers. It reaches about 43.3 inches.

Typically, guillotine-cutting machines are found in the professional sector. In offices, workshops, and art studios, but also schools (e.g. for paper stacks), this type of lever cutter is preferred. However, the smaller compact devices are suitable for the home user. The cutting height is up to three inches.

Safety of Gguillotine cutting devices

Due to the guillotine function and the inherently open blade, the lever cutter has a higher risk of injury than the rotary cutter. Through various protective mechanisms, usually in more extensive and more robust lever-cutting machines, the blade and the cutting area are shielded, so there is no risk of injury. Of course, these protective mechanisms mean additional effort and are reflected in the price.

Generally, when buying a lever cutter, you should ensure that it has a safety label.

Maintenance & spare/additional parts

Spare parts can usually be subsequently ordered in the case of good lever cutting machines. In particular, this applies to the blade. When buying, make sure that the blade can be resharpened or replaced at a reasonable price. For occasional home and hobby use, replacement is rarely necessary.

Depending on the thickness and hardness of the material, different blades can be purchased for some lever-cutting machines or are included in the scope of delivery. Some paper-cutting devices have a screwed stop, which enables precise positioning.

Advantages of guillotine trimmers/lever cutting machines

In summary, the guillotine trimmers/lever cutters offer the following advantages:

  • Little force required
  • Large cutting height
  • Also suitable for harder and thicker materials
  • Thin materials can also be cut
  • Straight angles can be cut very easily
  • Long cutting is possible without resharpening

Lever cutting machines and their cutting height

Guillotine trimmercapacity (sheets)more informationcutting heightapprox. price*format
Crafter's Companion Guillotine/Trimmer 2View*0.00787/ 0.2mm£20 / $30.0714-1/8" / A4
Dahle 5028View*0.031496 / 0.8mm£29.9914-1/8" / DIN A4
Swingline Paper Trimmer10View*0.0393701 / 1mm£51.8312"
Ediesi12View*0.0472441£33£66 / $33.59
Fiskars 01-005452 Recycled Bypass Trimmer15View*0.059 / 1.5mm£66 / $33.5912
Dahle 533 15View*0.059 / 1.5mm£140.33 / $11213-3/8 / A4
Olympia Guillotine 441515View*0.059 / 1.5mm£96.2918,1102 / DIN A3
Westcott 12-Inch Trimair30View*0.118 / 3mm£48 / $55.3812
Dahle 56135View*0.138 / 35mm£334 / $26014-1/8 / DIN A4
Dahle 86735View*0.138 / 35mm£43518.11 / DIN A3
Guillotine trimmers - Cutting height vs. price

Disadvantages guillotine trimmer / lever cutting machine

In summary, a lever cutting machine / lever cutter may have the following disadvantages:

  • Protective devices are necessary to achieve a high level of safety. This is reflected in the price.
  • Solid design (in terms of precision and the blade’s quality) quickly becomes more costly
  • Large cutting lengths are complicated and, therefore more expensive
  • Typically no self-resharpening of the blade, which is why intensive use requires manual resharpening or a replacement of the blade

Guillotine trimmer conclusion

For those who need continuous straight and accurate cuts at 90° or different angles, the lever-cutting machine is precisely what you need. That is why the guillotine trimmer is more likely to be found in offices, agencies, and studios than rotary cutters. Here, smaller and more detailed work on the lever cutter is less common than cutting larger formats. But guillotine-cutting machines are also quite valuable for the private sector. Though these are somewhat more expensive to purchase than slitter rewinders, they also offer corresponding advantages. The lever trimmer is definitely a good choice if thicker cuts are needed more often.

You should pay attention to the quality of the paper cutter in any case so that you get the expected results to have fun with the guillotine trimmer for a long time.

We compare both types in detail in our lean comparison between the rotary trimmers and the guillotine paper cutters. We put the top products against each other in our product comparison.

This post is also available in: German

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