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Vendor Spotlight: Westcott Tools – Cutting Mat & Hobby Knife

Reported by Kelleigh Ratzlaff

I am a big-time papercrafter, and my #1 go-to tool is my hobby knife. I use and abuse my hobby knives until they are embarrassingly dull and ineffective. Imagine my excitement when a package from Westcott Products arrived containing a brand-spanking new hobby knife, replacement blades and self-healing cutting mat!

First impression: That is the cutest stinkin’ hobby knife I have ever seen. Ooooh! And, look! A cushioned grip!! I could cut for hours and hours!

So, of course, I had to try it out. Oops! This sucker is much sharper than I expected. Maybe it is because all of my previous hobby knives were so incredibly dull. It took a while for me to get the hang of how hard to press down while cutting paper on the self-healing cutting mat. I broke my first blade within seconds.

No worries! I have replacements.

With a little bit of practice with my new hobby knife and cutting mat, I was soon a cutting fool.

Why do I like hobby knives so much?

  • With a steady hand, they are very precise.
  • I can cut around curves and in tight spots.
  • One tool does it all. No need to switch over to scissors or a paper trimmer.

And, how did the Westcott Hobby Knife and Transparent 12×12 Cutting Mat measure up?


As I mentioned, once I got used to the ultra-sharp blade and figured out how much pressure to apply, I was in heaven. My new hobby knife cuts through paper “like buttah.”

It made assembling this cute Canister Box a breeze!


Pros:

  • The hobby knife has a super sharp blade.
  • Replacement blades!
  • Cushioned grip – probably my favorite feature.
  • Nice safety cap with a pen-like feel.
  • The self-healing cutting mat performs exactly as expected.
  • The cutting mat has a great hole for hanging storage.

Cons:

  • The hobby knife has a super sharp blade! It took some getting used to.
  • The blade seems a bit thin. I was surprised at how quickly it broke. However, it is SUPER precise, so I’m not really going to complain about this!



GIVEAWAY!
Westcott is giving away a prize pack filled with $150 in products to two lucky readers.

To Enter
Leave a comment on this post or any Vendor Spotlight: Wescott and answer one or all of these questions…

Are you a hobby knife user? What do you look for when you purchase a new knife?

You have until Sunday, May 16th 6pm CST to enter. One entry per person, please.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight: Westcott Titanium Bonded™ scissors and shears

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

If you say “Westcott” at my house, my family may look at you oddly but if you ask “where are the good scissors?” they’ll grab a pair of Westcott Titanium Scissors. We have been using Westcott office products in our home for years, and I have always been pleased by their durability and dependability. Westcott has been in business since 1872! Along with their full line of office products, they have a full line of crafting products including shears, paper trimmers, paper crimpers and decorative rulers.


For this review, I had the opportunity to test a lot of scissors. Normally, I tend to use my two or three favorites while doing paper crafts. Westcott sent me me scissors ranging from 3″ precision to 5″ detail to 6″ spring-assisted to 8″ non-stick and bent, plus a hobby knife, a 12″x12″ self-healing cutting mat, and three paper trimmers. Before I discuss the specific scissors, here are some general observations:

  • All of the scissors have Titanium bonded blades which are five times harder than stainless steel, which make them stay sharper longer.
  • All of the scissors have contoured handles and all but the precision and nonstick scissors feature RibGrip® handles. The smooth handles are comfortable and the scissors didn’t slip even when my hands are damp.
  • All of the scissors have pink and raspberry handles and I love having a full, matching set of scissors. The only drawback is that if the pink rubber part rubs against anything like a newspaper or pencil the handles get smudged.

The 3″ detail scissors were perfect for trimming around these shoe images from Squigglefly Digital Stamps

Here we get to the nitty gritty about each style of scissors:

3″ Precision Scissors are ambidextrous and are perfect for small jobs like cutting a thread, or closely trimming paper. Their small size makes them perfect to take to a crop or to carry in a purse. Their 1 inch cutting blades did a fair job trimming around digital images that I printed on 80# cardstock, but I have large hands and these felt too small to me.

5″ Pointed Scissors are ambidextrous and come with a snugly fitting blade cover and lanyard. This size is the same size as standard children’s scissors but due to their very sharp tip, these would not be good for younger children. These scissors cut well and with two inch cutting blades, I felt more productive cutting with these. The plastic cover fits snugly, yet is easy enough to remove. These scissors would be perfect to take to a crop and they wouldn’t damage your other supplies. The lanyard is a unique idea; a great way to keep the scissors handy and might be helpful to a camp counselor or activities aide who is helping multiple crafters.

6″ Spring-Assisted Scissors were my least favorite pair. The scissors lock for storage or for safety. The sliding plastic lever which controls the locking mechanism is loose in the open position on my pair, so when they are open the slider shifts so that the blades can’t fully cut, so you have to stop and push the lever out of the way, or tilt the scissors in a ‘blade up’ fashion to move the lever back. The lower handle has a small loop to add a charm or identifier so they don’t get lost, which is a clever idea. They are ergonomically designed to reduce hand fatigue. Despite numerous attempts at using these, they always felt awkward (and the lever problem didn’t help). Despite the RibGrip® handles, these scissors slipped out of my hand while cutting and with their sharp tip, I was worried about injuring myself.

8″ Non-Stick Scissors have specially coated blades which help prevent them from getting sticky after cutting glue, adhesive or tape. These straight edge scissors are best suited for paper products; I used them to cut some double stick tape and sticker paper and I didn’t have any problems. Although the scissors performed fine for me, I did note that the nonstick coating is already wearing off on the inside blade tips. The product packaging says to wipe the blades with a damp cloth if there is adhesive build-up.

8″ Bent Shears are perfect for cutting denim or other fabrics.

8″ Bent Shears are a great addition to my sewing basket. I recently learned that bent shears are a good tool for cutting fabric on a table. Because they sit flat against the table, there is less up and down action so the fabric doesn’t pull, resulting in a straighter, more accurate cut. The best way to keep your shears sharp is to designate them for fabric only- never use them to cut paper. I used the 8″ Bent Shears to cut some lightweight cotton fabric and an old pair of jeans and cuts were very smooth.

Sample cuts from left to right: detail,spring assist, detail, non stick

Like most tools, different sizes of scissors are best suited for certain materials or projects. My personal preference has always been toward larger, heavier scissors for most of my paper cutting and of course shears for fabric. One thing I should note is that scissors and shears are measured by their full length, not their blade length. For example the 3″ Details Scissors have a 1 inch cutting blade. If you are doing a project with larger paper, you should use longer scissors because you’ll make less cuts and therefore be more accurate.

I used 8″ bent shears to cut the legs off an old pair of jeans to make this jeans purse (my lack of sewing skills shows!)

Most of the scissors I tested are adjustable thanks to an adjustable pivot. The 8″ Bent shears have an exposed screw, which can easily be adjusted with a Phillips Head Screwdriver. The Non-Stick scissors have a decorative cap which can easily be popped off to expose the screw. I have owned some of my Westcott Scissors for nearly 5 years and I have never needed to adjust or sharpen them; hopefully the new series will be just as dependable. One last note about the product packaging, some of the larger scissors and shears are carded so that you can open and close the handles before you buy them, which is a nice way to see how the scissors feel in your hand.

Pros:

  • The RibGrip® handles are comfortable and help keep you maintain control while cutting.
  • The raspberry/pink color scheme stands out and can easily be found on a cluttered craft table.
  • The 5″ Pointed Scissors with a cover and lanyard are safe, practical and convenient.

Cons:

  • The coating on the Non-Stick Scissors is showing wear after a few weeks of use.
  • Why don’t the 3″ Detail Scissors come with a protective cover or pouch?
  • A loose locking mechanism lever on the 6″ Spring-Assisted Scissors inhibit them from being used properly. Is my pair defective or is this a design flaw?

Overall, I was satisfied with the scissors, especially the Bent Shears, Non-stick Scissors and Detail Scissors. All of the scissors cut cleanly for their particular use- paper or fabric. The contoured handles and RibGrip® coating made them comfortable to hold and use for extended periods of time. Although I personally prefer longer (8″ scissors) for most projects, the 5″ Pointed Scissors with fitted blade cover and lanyard are very handy, portable and safe. I would highly recommend the 8″ scissors, shears and 5″ Pointed Scissors, I recommend the non-stick and detail scissors but I do not recommend the spring assisted scissors based on my experience with them. One last note, I have been using Westcott Titanium scissors in my home for nearly 5 years and they cut just as well now as when I bought them home.


GIVEAWAY!
Westcott is giving away a prize pack filled with $150 in wonderful products to two lucky readers.

To Enter
Leave a comment on this post or any Vendor Spotlight: Wescott and answer one or all of these questions…

What do you love most or least about the scissors you are currently using?  What size scissors do you use for your projects the most? Please share your thoughts with our readers.

You have until Sunday, May 16th 6pm CST to enter. One entry per person, please.

Disclosure (Westcott Products)
Disclosure (Squigglefly Digital Stamps)

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight: Westcott Titanium Bonded™ scissors and shears

Reported by Lisa Fulmer

I don’t think I’ve ever gone to the store to purchase scissors for a specific purpose. I’ve always just had a couple old, stray pairs floating around the house, and I snip or clip with whatever is closest to me. I don’t actually use scissors much for my papercrafting – more often I use a trimmer or a blade, plus a variety of diecutters and punches. But now that I’ve started to work more with fabric, good sharp scissors and shears are critical, and I discovered some great reasons for why you need more than just one pair.

I played with these five different titanium-bonded scissors and shears from Westcott:

  • 8” bent shears
  • 8” straight non-stick shears
  • 6” spring-assist scissors
  • 5” pointed scissors
  • 3” precision scissors

I had to look up the difference between scissors and shears, I never knew! According to Wikipedia: Scissors have blades less than 6” long and usually have handles with finger holes of the same size. Shears have blades longer than 6” and often have one small handle with a hole that fits the thumb and one large handle with a hole that will fit two or more fingers.

Westcott says the benefit of blades made with titanium bonded to the stainless steel is that they are “three times harder than stainless steel alone, producing a sharper, more durable, and longer-lasting cutting edge…to stay smooth-cutting for years.” I’ll get back to you in 2015 to tell you how that goes. 🙂

Meanwhile, back at the cutting table…I’ve always seen the ladies at the fabric store using bent shears to cut yardage off the bolt. Makes sense for repeated cuts, to be able to slide the bottom of the shears straight along the little cutting guide in the table. But I wasn’t sure I really needed that functionality at home. I have trouble holding bent shears, because there’s no place to rest my forefinger. Could be that I’m holding shears the “wrong” way, but it feels more natural for me to be able to wrap my forefinger around the handle.

I tried cutting several strips from striped fabric using both straight and bent shears, and the bent shears ended up being easier to use, once I got used to the grip. With the bent handle, I could keep the fabric straighter as I cut, plus I didn’t have to grip the handles so tightly. I realized that when I wrap my forefinger around the handle, I tend to hold the shears more tightly than I need to, which makes my hand ache more after repeated use.

The non-stick blade had me stumped at first. With tape runners and precision-tipped glue bottles, I couldn’t come up with anything sticky that I need to cut. Then I had a “eureka” moment…glue dots! Ever tried to cut a large glue dot in half to fit your embellishment better? I remembered wishing the larger glue dots came in semi-circles, because there are times when a mini dot or skinny strip just doesn’t fit as nicely. But when you try to cut it, it sticks to your blade and/or stretches out of shape.

I was beyond thrilled to see how the non-stick blade snipped my glue dots into perfect semi-circles with ease!

I can imagine that the spring-assist scissors would be useful for someone with arthritis, as you can control the cutting more with the palm of your hand, rather than with your fingers. What I liked about them though, is that they are compact for traveling and really quick to grab for a little snip. I belong to a quilting group that meets every Tuesday night; I’m not much of a quilter myself (yet), but I love spending time with this group of friends. I don’t really like to schlep stuff back and forth from home, so I’ll often work on smaller embroidery projects. And I often forget to pack everything I need, mostly because I haven’t gone out to buy a separate set of tools for traveling (yet!).
The women in my quilt group will tell you that I’m always borrowing their scissors. But these little spring scissors are really easy to pick up with one hand (while your other hand is holding your work) and quickly snip threads and floss, plus they’re nice and slim for tossing in a small travel bag, and the blades stay locked shut.

I thought all small scissor tips were the same, but Westcott’s pointed scissors were way pointier, which was handy for cutting inward toward an image, and knowing the tip of the blade will land precisely where you want. But silly me, I was the most excited about the lanyard that comes with these scissors! It has a plastic cap that fits snugly around the blade so you can wear the scissors around your neck.

I could think of tons of times in my office, at quilt group, at crops, when having a pair of small scissors around my neck, at the ready no matter where I am, would be super handy.

Ok, so the teeny-weeny precision scissors sent me to the optometrist. Seriously, now that I have hit “that certain age,” I really need some better glasses for close-up work! But once I got my vision issues worked out, I was able to cut out these cuties from printed fabric to make ATCs. These tiny scissors worked beautifully and allowed me to get in super close without fraying the fabric.


All five pairs I tried are billed as “craft tools,” but they all worked very well on fabric. If the titanium coated blades do indeed stay as sharp as they are supposed to, I imagine I’ll be able to cleanly cut fabric with my Westcotts for a long time. Upon researching some average prices for scissors and shears specifically designated for fabric, the Westcotts are much less expensive than most, so I feel better about having several different pairs, each for different purposes.

I have to say I couldn’t come up with any cons. I thought perhaps the packaging that they are sold in would be a con-ly candidate, but the handles stick outside the package so you can see how their ergonomic Ribgrip® surface feels in your hand before buying. They went pretty green too, keeping the package size very close to the scissor size, the cardboard backer contains post-consumer waste, and the plastic blister is recyclable.

With all my new scissor knowledge, I feel like a real cut-up!

GIVEAWAY!
Westcott is giving away a prize pack filled with $150 in products to two lucky readers.

To Enter
Leave a comment on this post or any Vendor Spotlight: Wescott and answer one or all of these questions…

Have you used Westcott scissors and cutting tools? Which are your favorites and why? What kind of scissor do you find using the most?

You have until Sunday, May 16th 6pm CST to enter. One entry per person, please.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!