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Picture of the XACTO Basic Knife Set

The X-ACTO basic knife set hasn’t changed much in decades, and it’s as useful today as when it first hit shelves.  It’s equally at home scrap booking as it is shaving the flash off a new plastic toy.  And it’s not just for the hobbyist, either.  It has a special place in the shop, too, trimming pieces to fit, reaming holes, cutting out woodworking patterns, cutting circuit board traces, cropping heat shrink to length — just about anything that requires precise cutting control.  The bottom line: if you’re one of the few people who don’t already have this set somewhere in the shop, get one.

The “basic set’s” knives precisely cut wood, cardboard, cloth, plastic, foam board, and many other materials.  The kit includes three knives: a #1, a #2, and a #5 for light, medium to heavy, and heavy-weight materials respectively.  Thirteen various straight, curved and angled blades come with the set, all enclosed in a nice wooden case that securely holds all the knifes and blades.

The X-ACTO basic knife set will set you back about $20.  Sure, you could grab a $5 knockoff set instead, but will you still see them around in another few decades?

Note: We have one of these sitting in the TM shop that was a hand-me-down from a previous generation.  They last.  And right now, this set is running just over $16 at Amazon.

X-ACTO Basic Knife Set [Manufacturer]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s this?]


3 Responses to The Trusty X-ACTO Basic Knife Set

  1. JamesBrauer66 says:

    Maybe I am just a small tool nihilist, but I don’t like Dremel tools and I don’t like Exacto knives. I’ll take an orange handled disposable box opener any day. The orange plastic handle supports the blade right up to the cutting edge, and they can be snapped off when they get dull, and carried in the pocket.

  2. James,

    The handle and blade design of an X-Acto offers much greater control when a precise cut or score is needed. Tools like the X-Acto and Dremel were never designed to replace larger tools. I mean, nobody in their right mind is going to measure a doorframe with a micrometer when a tape measure is available, right?

    Similarly, while there are metal-cutting bits designed for Dremel use, an angle-grinder is a much better choice when cutting through a four inch solid steel rod. But if you need to trim the perescope of a 12″ submarine model, A Dremel is the far better choice.

    Then there’s the also question of which tools a hobbyist or DIYer is able to afford or store away. While I would love a scrollsaw, the size of my apartment simply doesn’t allow for one.

  3. JamesBrauer66 says:

    I have really really tried to make use of both the Dremel and Exacto. The orange box cutters can be held like a pencil, and the blade won’t flex. I suppose it is a matter of personal preference, but I just like to lock my thumb into the slot on the side of the box cutters, and can do fine curved work on airbrush frisket, or cut through mat board with similar ease. For the periscope I would chuck the metal bit into my Sherline mini-mill and go to it, lacking that a corded drill in a vise works really well if you can move the workpiece to it. I haven’t ever cut through round stock thicker than about three inches, but I would use my horizontal band saw or lathe for cutting that.

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