These are two tools you will need if you get or have a Rotary Cutting Machine. A flat head screwdriver and a cross tip screwdriver (Philips head). Why? Well because the tension on the cutter needs to be adjusted with a flat head and the blade is changed with a cross head. You are now prepared :)
I am holding the Rotary Cutter up at an angle so you can see both screws that I just spoke/typed about.
This is a top view of the cutter. You adjust the width of the strip you want to cut by moving this sliding bar. It has two holes so you can adjust it smaller or larger depending on what you need. The "lip" to the right is where you put your fabric. You slip it under the lip and guide it straight toward the blade. I found all of this to be fairly straightforward and simple to do.
This is the pinking cutter. Hopefully you can see just how tightly I'm holding this rotary cutter blade. Are you expecting blood? Lots and lots of blood? Perhaps plastic surgery to have my fingers put back on? Well you'll be pleasantly surprised to learn this is all that happened:
Just a squiggly indent in my finger. I was gripping it very firmly so it would leave a crease.
Now I'm changing the blade to the straight edge cutting blade. I just used the cross tip screwdriver to loosen and remove the screw. The little cover comes right off. Then you need to turn the black dial to the Right (not left...lefty loosey righty tighty does not apply here...just the opposite!!).
Same thing....tempting fate I hold the rotary cutter very tightly between my fingers.
No blood....just an indent. I'm sorry to disappoint those of you who like the gory movies....you'll have to go back to your TV for that.
Now you have seen the pictures and know a little about the machine, I'll share my experience with you. I will also share why I think (guessing really) a few people are having difficulty with the machine.
I got my fabric jammed and had some experiences with it going wobbly. These are all on the video. I also had it go over fabric and paper without cutting.
I noticed after I practiced with the machine I got better and then I had no problems cutting with it. I think it was the way I was holding the fabric when it jammed. I did have a few times when the fabric went around the roller and I had to use tweezers to pull it out. I kept trying and it cut just fine. I had to keep the fabric under the guide and against the machine evenly. When I moved my hands or arms I noticed I would get a wobbly cut if I was not paying attention. I think there is a learning curve just like with a new sewing machine.
A few things to note about the cutter. The cord that goes from the pedal to the wall is only 36 inches long. More than likely you will need an extension cord. You will need screwdrivers. You will have to play with the tension to get it right for the fabric you are using. It will take time and practice. You will jam your fabric so don't start with the good stuff. You may get frustrated (a few glasses of wine will cure that quickly). If you are like me, you will only read the directions if you can't get it to work right. Before being patient, you'll complain and say negative things....if you are like me (a few glasses of wine will cure that too).
Note: The blades are rotary (•circular: describing a circle; moving in a circle; "the circular motion of the wheel). They are not razor rotary cutting wheels. I think/guess most people think these are razor edge and the sharp blade cuts the fabric/paper. It is the pressure that cuts the fabric or paper. So don't be surprised when you have to adjust the tension to get a good clean cut. I know I was surprised by this and thought perhaps others would be too. I like the fact that they are not razor edge because they won't dull as easily as the others do.
I hope this helps some folks. I think the machine does exactly what it says it will do and I was satisfied once I learned what I was doing. It does take some getting used to and you will be using your screwdriver to adjust the tension. I had no idea it would require these things. Somehow I just figured you put your fabric in and out it came.
To those who have had difficulty I know what you are talking about. The same things happened to me. I made the adjustments and I got it to cut even strips. I even used Best Press to starch the 100% cotton fabric to see if it would make a difference. I really did not notice a difference.
I used 100% cotton quilting fabric, duck cloth, corduroy, linen, felted wool, sweatshirt fabric and upholstery fabric in the cutting machine. The machine cut all of these fabrics and I got the size of strip I had set the machine for. I used card stock paper with both blades and it cut evenly and well. I even put two layers of 100% cotton and got it to cut evenly. When I put three layers under the blade it did cut but the machine slowed down considerably.
I think knowing these things about the machine will help people make informed decisions when making a purchase. I recommend using scraps to practice and go in having the expectation that you will need to get comfortable with the machine. Make sure your scraps are squared up and have a straight edge. Then you'll know just when you get the hang of it .... your strips will be even.
Kelly the Cutting Machine Tester :)