We often need to cut cardboard for various reasons and without the right tools or techniques, this can be very tricky. We will look at the best ways to cut cardboard to make the job fast and effective.

A lot will depend on the thickness of the cardboard. Unless it is very thin, scissors will not work well. It is also important to understand how neat you need the finish to be. If it is for a school project or an art piece or other hobby work, you want clean, perfect lines with a good finish. If you need bulk cardboard cut for packaging or similar reasons, the cut does not need to be as perfect.

Most of the time you will want a neat clean cut and for this, the utility knife is normally the best option. Let’s look at how to do that in more detail.

How to Cut Cardboard

Cutting cardboard with a Utility Knife

First, you need to get the necessary items together. You will need the following:

  • Sharp straight edged utility knife (the size and thickness of the blade should be chosen in relation to the thickness of the cardboard to be cut)
  • A protective mat
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

The mat should be a non-slip protective mat that is placed underneath the work. You get self-healing mats that will not show all the scratches and cuts and these are ideal. The main idea is just to protect the surface you are working on as well as the utility knife.

Once the mat is in place, you need to carefully mark out the exact lines to be cut using the ruler and pencil. Be very careful with this part as once you cut, you cannot go back and change it. Plan it out and double check before you start cutting.

Hold the utility knife firmly with one hand and the cardboard with the other, push the point into the cardboard on the line to be cut. Try to cut with long even strokes keeping steady pressure on the utility knife. Once the cutting is complete, you can use the blade to go back and neaten up all the edges or any areas where the cardboard might have frayed.

The utility knife is normally the best option. It is inexpensive and easy to do. A utility knife is good for detail and precision work and will leave a clean neat cut. It does require some effort and can be a bit slow if you need to cut a lot of cardboard.

Other options to cut cardboard

Here are a few other options that some people use for cutting cardboard. The decision really depends on the thickness of the cardboard, how neat you need the cuts to be and how much you are cutting.How to Cut Cardboard

  • using a rotary blade (this is good for small cuts and detail work but will not be efficient at making long cuts)
  • Large shears
  • Rotary paper cutter (the heavy-duty type)
  • Circular saw (while this and many of the other power saws below are fast they will only be useful for thick cardboard that does not need precision work or perfect edges)
  • Seated cardboard knife
  • Box cutter
  • Bandsaw
  • Table saw
  • Power scissors
  • Electric knife (similar to an electric carving knife)
  • Water cutter (normally quite an expensive option but quite effective. Does not make cardboard soggy if done correctly)
  • Laser cutter (very expensive but one of the fastest and most accurate ways to cut the cardboard. Can do detailed precision work perfectly and needs to physical effort. Can cause the cardboard to discolour slightly)

Final thoughts

As you can see, there are a number of options available. For most home jobs, school projects or hobby work, a sharp utility knife is normally the best option. They are inexpensive, easy to use and can do fine detailed work.

If you have regular or heavy-duty cardboard cutting to do, there are a few other options. Some of them are more expensive and some will not give you a great edge on the cut. You need to decide on the best option based on your requirements, the detail, the size of the cardboard and the amount you need to cut.

Also Check: Dremel 4000 vs 4300  For garage tool


Jason has been a Tool enthusiast for some years and has written some articles on Power Tool and Hand Tools.

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