Hobby Knife Comparison

Part of the process for making patches is usually cutting them out of the stabilizer. Most of the patches I make don't require this step any more, but several of them do.  Because of that, during the last few years I have gone though thousands of cutting blades for X-Acto knives in cutting out patches. I recently heard of 2 new blades for X-Acto knives, the Z-Series and Techno-Edge. I decided to do a comparison test to see which were the best; but more importantly, figure out which ones cut out the most patches for the price.  The more each blade can cut out, the less each patch can be sold for.

Testing Process
to make this a fair test, I took steps to get everything as close to idential as possible. For this test, I cut out only Version 2 MLP eyes on 4.5 ounces of poly backing.  Each eye is 2 1/2" wide and has an edge length of 6 inches all the way around.  This allows comparison to other designs since the total cut length can be computed pretty easily.  In addition, I purchased brand new blades and new handles that were of the wame weight and ballance. Multiple blades were used, and on each change, the blades were rotated around so that each blade was used in each handle to prevent any bias on the handle.   The cutting board used was the same for all testing, which is a well used 1/2 inch thick polyethylene cutting board. Results were averaged over 4 blades with one exception; read on to see why!

There were 4 blades tested, in order of cost:
Techni Edge #11 - Cost 11.7 Cents Each (In Packs of 100)
X-Acto #11 Blades - Cost 19 cents Each (in packs of 100)
X-Acto X-Life #11 - Cost 22 cents Each (in packs of 100)
X-Acto Z-Series #11 - Cost 36.8 Cents Each (in Packs of 100)


In 4th place was the X-Acto Z-Series #11 (36.8 cents each).  The blade easily started out the sharpest, making short work of the first eye each time. However, it dulled very rapidly and at 4 eyes the blade's edge was done.  Each one I tested had very similar results; start sharp, end quickly.  This was so bad that I was sure I got a defective run, so I ordered another set of these blades from another seller and had the same results on the second set of 4.  These blades are super sharp, but don't have staying power.  They may be too sharp for their own good.  I was not expecting this result at all.

In 3rd place was the standard X-Acto #11 Blades (19 cents each).  The blade started dulling after the first eye, and at 9 eyes the blade's edge was done.  Before testing, I took a guess as to where each blade would end up with this blade being 10.  This is the only blade I was close to in my guess.  Not a bad blade at all.

The X-Acto X-Life #11 (Cost 22 cents Each) came in at 2nd place.  These blades appear to be case hardened unlike the other 3 blades in this test. This is the blade I have been using for most of the last few years, and have used at least a thousand.  It starts out slightly duller than the standard X-Acto blade but is still very sharp.  This sharpness lasts significantly longer than the stock blade, and right at the end of it's life the sharpness falls off all at once unlike the other blades that are more linear.  These blades cut out an average of 17 eyes with a very tight grouping of between 16 and 18 eyes for each blade.

By now, you should know the Techni Edge at 11.7 cents won in this comparison.  I was expecting this blade to come in somewhere in the middle of the pack, but it surprised me.  It starts out almost as sharp as the Z-Series, and it stays sharp. surprisingly, this blade cut out 1 more eye than the X-Life when summing all 4 blades, so it is basically a tie between the X-Life and the Techni-Edge for number of eyes cut out.  However, the Techni-Edge feels smoother when it cuts and almost glides for the first 4 eyes.  This makes it easier on my hand when cutting out a bunch of patches.  The icing on the cake is that the blade is lower cost than all others tested.

Final costs per patch cut out was the goal of this comparison, so this is how much the blade itself adds to the cost of a pair of eyes.
4th Place X-Acto Z-Series #11: 18.4 Cents. Blade Life of 24 inches though 4.5oz of poly backing.
3rd Place X-Acto #11 Blades: 4.2 Cents. Blade Life of 54 inches though 4.5oz of poly backing.
2nd Place X-Acto X-Life #11: 2.6 Cents. Blade Life of 102 inches though 4.5oz of poly backing.
1st Place Techni Edge: 1.4 Cents. Blade Life of 102 inches though 4.5oz of poly backing.

Other Thoughts
The Techni-Edge won this comparison, but all the blades besides the X-Acto Z-Series #11 worked well.  I don't get the poor results on the Z-Series besides it being so sharp that the edge is lost quickly.  I was expecting that blade to last longer due to the coating of zirconium nitride which is used on other cutting implements like drill bits, but it just doesn't make a lot of sense.  Perhaps this blade just doesn't like thick material like poly backing and is better in paper.

Finally, The handle makes a big difference. On the initial run, I noticed that one handle that wasn't of the X-Acto brand would return better results no matter what knife was in it.  The X-Acto #1 handles weigh in at 15.6 grams this handle is 19.8 grams.  It is also easier to hold in my hand due to the balance and weight; those 4 grams really make a difference to me.  I'm not sure where I bought this handle, but it is made from steel vs the Aluminum of the X-Acto branded handle.  Once I find out where I got it, I will update this.