Reported by Sara McKenzie
If you are going to cut a circle, you want to make sure that it is a perfect circle. Even if you trace a perfect circle, it is challenging to then cut exactly on the lines, all the way around. So for circle cutting, the best way to go is to purchase on of the tools on the market to help you cut that elusive, perfect shape.
I have over the years purchased four different circle cutters, and will share my view of them here. They are:
- Coluzzle nested circle template (ProvoCraft)
- Circle Cutter (Fiskars)
- Curvy Cutter (EK Success)
- Circle Scissor Plus (EK Success)
For all tools except the Coluzzle, you’ll also want to invest in a glass cutting mat. The self-repairing cutting mats will work okay, but you can sometimes end up with skips.
For this review, we’ll start with the simplest tool, and work our way up.
The Coluzzle is one of the original circle cutting tools; it’s been around for many, many years. The Coluzzle system requires three items: the plastic cutting template, the “Guarded Swivel Knife,” and the “Easy Glide Cutting Mat.” They are all shown below. The resulting circles range in size from 7/8″ to 4-3/8″; the cutting channels are in fixed, 1/4″ increments.
The template has laser-cut channels, into which fits the cutting tip of the swivel knife. The paper or card stock to be cut is placed on the special cutting mat (it’s a foam-like material, spongy to the touch), and the template placed on top of the paper. You guide the swivel knife through the channel that represents the size circle you want to make. The swivel is a very nice feature on the knife: you don’t have to contort you wrist and forearm to make it all the way around. Be sure to keep the knife perpendicular to the template, or else it will cut into the plastic and get stuck.
Because it is a one-piece template, however, there are two places in each cutting channel that are not cut, in order to hold the template in one piece (see below). As a consequence, after you have used the swivel knife, you still have to use some paper snips to release the finished circle from the sheet of paper.
A close-up view of the coluzzle template.
Coluzzle also now has many, many templates for all kinds of shapes and images. They range in price from $7.49 for the circle template shown here to $19.99 for full alphabets and other more complex shapes.
- Light weight and portable
- Transparent plastic makes placement easy
- Templates available for all kinds of other shapes
- Nested templates allow for precisely sized mats to layer.
- Can be used on scraps of paper.
- You have to keep track of 3 different things: the template, the swivel knife, and the special cutting mat.
- An extra snip with scissors or a hobby knife is required to release the circle.
- The size of your circles is limited to the sizes in the template.
This is a compact circle cutter, with a clear base that makes it easy to align and place your circle where you want it. It will cut circles from 1″ to 8″, and any size in-between as it has no pre-set increments. It comes with two blades, and refill blades are available.
The cutter is placed in the center of your desired circle. The size is obtained by adjusting the arm (with sizes listed in both inches and centimeters) and locking it in place with the finger wheel. You push down on the orange knob at the top, which presses a rubber foot onto the paper, and holds it in place while you turn the arm to cut the circle.
It has a $21 MSRP, but I’ve seen it as low as $11.99, so shop around.
- Light-weight and portable
- You can store the cutting blade in the tool, protected, for travel.
- By design, it holds your paper in place while you cut.
- You can make any size circle between 1″ and 8″.
- Works well on scraps of paper, since it holds the paper in place at the center of the circle that is being cut.
- You have to simultaneously apply pressure to the center, and over the blade, all the way around the circle to make sure it cuts all the way through, all the way around. I’ve been frustrated by this more than once.
- You cannot see the center of your circle, so if you want to cut around a specific image, you’ll have to do a little measuring, and perhaps make light pencil marks to make sure your desired image is centered in your final circle.
- Setting the size is not a precise exercise – it may be a little challenging to get exactly the size that you want.
This is a much more elaborate tool that consists of 5 pieces: two cutting rings, two positioning guides (to determine size), and the cutter itself. The cutter is purchased separately from the template. The cutter ranges in price from $7 to $15, and the circle template from $12.95 to $17.99, so it pays to shop around. They are both readily available at many sites on the internet. There is also an oval cutter, and a rounded square. And of course replacement blades are available. The circles range from 2-1/4″ to 7-1/2″.
The cutting tool sits in a track on the template; you choose which track based on the size of the circle that you want to cut. The positioning guide allows you to choose your circle size. Once the cutter is in place, you simple swivel it around the template, in the track, to cut your circle. (Sounds a bit complicated? Yes. That’s probably why EK Success has a PDF file to show you how to use the Curvy Cutter).
Curvy Cutter Pros
- Cuts large circles (up to 7-1/2″).
- Other shapes (oval and rounded square) make it somewhat more economical, because the cutting tool works with all of them.
- Open design makes it easy to center your circle.
- You should cut your circle from a large piece of paper, because the gripper feet are outside of the cutting radius. If you try to cut a circle from a scrap, the paper moves around with the blade. Of course you can use temporary adhesive to hold the paper to the glass mat.
- Storage is a problem. I’ve not figured out a good way to store it, other than to keep it in the packaging that it came in. And that’s not simple: it is about 14″ square!!
- It is not straightforward to locate the right track for the cutter, and it can be awkward to keep the cutter in the track.
- Cuts only in pre-defined increments.
- You have to keep track of lots of pieces!
Interestingly, this is also made by EK Success (I wonder if it is intended to replace the Curvy Cutter?!). This cutter consists of two pieces, the base and the cutting handle. There is also a drawing handle which can hold a pen or pencil for drawing circles, if desired. (It adjusts to hold pencils of various sizes, too). You dial in any size circle that you wish to cut, from 1″ to 6″. EK Success has provided an instruction sheet for this product, as well.
The base unit sits on top of the paper you intend to cut, and you dial in your desired circle size. The cutting handle swivels as you turn it around the base unit, making it easy and comfortable to operate.
Prices on the internet range from $23.95 to $29.95.
Circle Scissor Plus Pros
- Cuts relatively large circles, up to 6″.
- Cuts any size circle desired; there are no fixed increments.
- Easy to operate.
- Draws perfect circles, in addition to cutting them.
- Open design allows you to center your circle easily.
- You should cut your circle from a large piece of paper, because the gripper feet are outside of the cutting radius. If you try to cut a circle from a scrap, the paper moves around with the blade. Of course you can use temporary adhesive to hold the paper to the glass mat, if desired.
- You have to keep track of two/three pieces: the base, the cutter handle, and the drawing handle.
- Compared to other tools, it is relatively expensive.
What is my overall recommendation, you may ask? I would have to say the Fiskars Circle Cutter. It cuts up to 8″ circles, you can make any size that you like (i.e. there are not fixed choices), and by its very design, it holds the paper in place while you cut. Finally, it is also lightweight and pretty compact, making it easy to carry with you to crops or classes.
There you have it. Have you used any or all of these? Or do you have other circle cutting tools to share? Let us all know!