7

The Envelopener is a letter opener/paper cutter that's favored by origami folders because it cuts along folds precisely, there's no way you're gonna injure yourself, and it's highly portable. It's sold on multiple origami sites. You can see a video of it in action on Youtube. There's no brand name on it, and you can apparently get these things branded yourself. It appears to be of European manufacture.

It works like a dream. Most of the time.

Then there are the times it stubbornly sticks and won't cut at all. The cutter basically has a fixed exacto knife blade in it, and plastic guides that separate the layers of paper around the blade. But sometimes, both layers can go through the same channel (so no cuts), or the paper binds up against something in the channels (so sticks). Any ideas on fixes or techniques to get around these two issues?

5

I use envelopeners a lot and indeed prefer them to any other means of cutting paper in almost all cases. Here are some tips from my experience:

Regarding the cutting tool itself:

  • First of all, envelopeners are consumables: they will become blunt over time and there's not much you can do about it. Since they are cheap, simply replace them once in a while, especially if you start running into issues more often than you used to. Your mileage may vary depending on how often and what types of paper you cut, but mine last less than half a year.
  • The blade which sits inside the tool is pressed between two halves of the plastic case. You can open the case by inserting a fingernail or a screwdriver blade into the narrow gap between the two halves. This will allow you to:
    • Clean the blade from paper residue which gathers around it. Some envelopeners have a shaft which is supposed to allow the lint to escape from the blade but this does not always work perfectly.
    • When closing the case, press the two pieces of the case firmly together. Sometimes the two halves become a little loose, causing the blade to not be mounted in a fully symmetric manner, which can cause both parts of the paper to move around a single side of blade instead of getting the blade exactly in between them.

As for the cutting technique:

  • The envelope opener works best if the crease along which you cut is perpendicular to the paper edge. So, it's good for cutting squares but much worse for cutting hexagons. Personally, I use a Swiss Army knife or scissors for cutting hexagons since the envelopener doesn't handle them well.
  • Sometimes you run into problems such as splitting the sheet into layers instead of cutting along the edge when trying to cut thick paper and the crease along which you cut is pressed too firmly (e.g. using a bone folder). So, sometimes it helps to either not make the crease that sharp, or to fold it in the reverse direction after folding, which also results in a somewhat less sharp fold.
  • As mentioned above, an envelope opener consists of two plastics casing parts with the blade fixed in the middle right between them. These two halves of the case do not always perfectly fit together and there may be a small gap between them. Sometimes when you start cutting, you may press the paper too deep inside the casing, which causes the creased part of the paper to get stuck in this narrow gap. The solution is to check that you are not inserting the paper too deep.

While these tips do not guarantee a 100% success rate, and I still occasionally make a bad cut, I think that I have become better at using the envelopener over time, so I hope they are helpful for others, too.

UPDATE: I summarized these tips and some more in an article on my homepage

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  • Welcome to Arts & Crafts! Your gallery looks wonderful (love the Yoda!), and I hope you continue to share your expertise with us. – user24 May 25 '16 at 23:47
4

I haven't used this tool, but I have used loose razor blades to cut paper. The "getting stuck" phenomenon just seems to happen sometimes.

I once grabbed a new blade that had a light coat of oil on it, and I had much better luck using it for a while. Assuming the oil had something to do with it, I sprayed the blade with some silicon lubricant and that also seemed to work very well.

A razor blade (and any blade, really) isn't totally smooth. There are small nicks and defects, and these spots can grab individual paper fibers which can accumulate and make "sticking" more likely.

So, two pieces of advice: Keep the blade clean by blowing it off every so often, and try to lubricate the blade. Putting oil on a paper towel and running it through the device could work, or a spray lubricant that will mostly evaporate. The trick will be getting just enough oil so there's no excess to stain your paper.

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1

I have not used this tool either but there are a couple of conclusions that should be easy to draw.

The tool is a fairly cheap one (in price not necessarily quality) so it would not be a stretch to think low quality steel or other metals might have been used. I would expect this to wear out and be more susceptible to damage then something like a craft knife. Both of which could contribute to a poor cut. This is more of a concern long term.

both layers can go through the same channel (so no cuts)

It is possible how you prep the paper before the cut would play a role in this. No hard creases will help the cutter get a grip as well as stop the paper from trying to part around the blade (which you might be experiencing). Another reason is that hard crease can cause the paper to weaken and throw off fuzz.

or the paper binds up against something in the channels (so sticks)

When pulling the paper though you want to keep it as taut as possible. You will notice in the video you linked the fingers are holding the paper while the cutting pulls in the opposite direction. While that is not the only way this can be done the point is still the same.

Even when not cutting you can easily get debris in here. Regardless where this is stored is a small space that can be a haven for dust and other particles that might be there.

  • Keep it clean
  • Check the cutter periodically
  • Don't use hard creases when cutting
  • Keep the paper relatively taut

A comment from a owner of such a tool:

They do have a tendency not to work every time, but a 90% success rate is good enough for me.

So it is not just you that has this experience

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