Need advice on paper trimmer vs. guillotine

Hi everyone,
This is a great site, and I'm happy to know that I'm not the only one with the Levenger addiction!

Speaking of Levenger... I need to invest in a paper trimmer/guillotine to cut custom pages for my CIRCA junior agenda. I looked around this weekend, and from what I gather, the trimmers with the sliding blade mechanism seem to be used more for scrapbooking (to cut photos etc.)On the lower end of the pricing range (don't want to spend more than $50-70), they were cheaper (anywhere from $12-25)than the guillotine type trimmers (the most reasonably priced one was around $55 or so), however, they seemed rather flimsy to me. There was a lady who was looking for a sliding blade replacement, and somehow I had the feeling that they become dull pretty quickly (of course I might be wrong...)

My dilemma in a nutshell: I can't decide whether I should go for a scrapbook trimmer or for the guillotine.

Can anyone advise me on this?

Thanks, Orsolya

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One point of view: Portability

Scrapbook trimmer types can be popped into a carry bag and transported much more conveniently than the choppers -- which tend to be larger.

I have one of each. The chopper seems better (to me) for quantity production whereas I can get better precision with the trimmer.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

I personally use the sliding

I personally use the sliding blade type of trimmer. Mine is a SmartCut A400pro from GBC ... I think it was about $30 or so.

What I like about the sliding trimmer vs. a guillotine trmmer is that I can cut a stack of sheets without having the top papers slide, which produces a more even face when the notebook is assembled. I've never been able to do that with more than three sheets or so with a guillotine.


Your experience seems opposite of mine. Do you use any sort of clamping when cutting paper in quantity ? It helps. Ever seen one of those huge guillotine cutters in a print shop ? The paper on one side of the blade is securely clamped.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Yes, I know what you mean

Yes, I know what you mean about clamping. Typically, though, it's not a feature of budget trimmers. At least none that I've seen.

so true...

a cheap guilotine is brutal to paper. I've got a very nice desktop one, though, and as you lower the blade, it has mechanism that clamps down on the paper, holding it quite snugly. I cut up to 50 sheets with it, and never had any slippage. (I use it to trim staple-bound booklets normally, but now use it for DIY stuff, too.) ;-)


I've got a cheap rotary

I've got a cheap rotary trimmer and its a royal pain. The paper slips and the trimmer doesn't cut very and i end up with frayed edges. The guillotines i've used were much better.
Save the dodo!



Guillotines are better for thicker materials like really heavy plastic covers. Rotary are safer if you have small fry in the house.

All trimmers cut better if you put the trimmer on a table and stand up to cut (rather than using a rotary in your lap, say). All cut better if the paper is clamped.

Rotary trimmer blades can be replaced pretty easily, usually a screw-type mechanism. They cut against a rubber or plastic 'pad' thingy that also must be replaced periodically. If your blade is dull or the rubber thingy is too shredded, you'll have low quality cuts. If you try to cut too much at once you'll have to make multiple passes to cut through the whole stack.

Guillotines are sometimes billed as 'self sharpening' but all the ones I've ever used benefited from the occasional sharpening or honing (like you would with a kitchen knife). They don't land on anything squarely, so if your blade is misaligned you'll get shredding and bending. Same if the blade is dull. If you try to cut too much with it, the blade will get stuck in the paper and won't go all the way through. Sometimes you can force it with multiple swings, but you risk misaligned cuts, chewed edges, or chopping your own limbs off. :)

Good guillotines are much more expensive than 'good' rotary trimmers, but will cut a taller stack in one pass.

A trimmer or guillotine with an adjustable paper stop (for repeatable cuts) is awesome but not necessary unless you're trying to chop a really big stack. One with an automatic paper clamp will help you get straighter cuts.

I used to have a one-ton guillotine. That one was sweet, it would cut really BIG stacks of really BIG paper. *sigh* I miss the beast. The arm was almost three feet long. Alas, it was only borrowed. I also have the school-model of guillotine, where the thing is so old the wood shrank until the engraved grid is no longer true. My daily cutter now is a rotary--the kind you find at Staples or craft stores--that cuts about 10 sheets in one pass. It's OK--definitely not the greatest, but it serves the purpose.


Can you take your paper to

Can you take your paper to Kinko's or Office Depot etc? I was thinking about getting a rotary trimmer or guillotine, too.

For one thing, a friend has the cheap guillotine (maybe $30) and I borrowed it and found it perfectly fine for cutting my pages down to size--just one cut for maybe 20 sheets--it worked fine. So you might try some out at self-service print places like Office Depot or Kinko's. I tried a rotary cutter and it took lots more time for the same number of pages--it only cut three or four pages at a time. But maybe the blade was dull. It seems that for scrapbooking you'd want the precision, but for cutting down several hundred sheets, maybe just one cut per sheet, the guillotine would be better. However, I have a hard time getting the pages perfectly lined up so they're all the exact same size, even at one session, and when I do batches on different days, they're even more uneven--maybe that's a user problem, not the guillotine.

What worked best was to just take a ream of paper and get it cut down at an office supply store or printer's. I had a ream cut for about $2.50. The guy did it in about three batches on a big electric paper cutter while I waited. And he put the paper in a nice box and it's all organized for me. And the cut pages are all perfect. So that is way cheaper than the guillotine and I have a lot of paper already cut down for me. You can even get reams of paper with four or five colors of paper. That's what I'm going to do next, so I can color-code my pages.

Good luck,


I've had a ream of paper cut at Office Max, and one at Office Depot. I'm sure it's because the person actually doing the job was more careful about their work, but the Office Depot ream was done much more evenly.

I am a notebook junkie.