Rotary Cutter for Cutting Fabric – Types, Pros & Cons

Last Updated on September 21, 2022

Rotary Cutter or Round Knife for Cutting Fabric: What is the most important sewing tool for a tailor? Think sewing machine? No, not a machine, but sewing scissors. The seamstress uses scissors constantly and not only for cutting fabric but also for many other operations, sometimes even for other purposes. 

Rotary Cutter or Round Knife

Either the cut needs to be slightly corrected, the corners of the fabric are notched, the threads are cut, and even sometimes tapped with heavy handles on a rough seam. And what kind of scissors you use and what condition they are in often depends on the quality of your work and your mood.

But this article will not discuss tailor’s scissors but a circular knife for cutting fabric. This article will emphasize the importance of a round or roller knife in the sewing process.

What is a Rotary Cutter or Round Knife?

To facilitate the cut of the fabric, the household manufacturers came up with a round knife. A handy lightweight knife quickly and accurately cuts the fabric with a round disc. An excellent fabric cutter can now be bought from online stores.

Rotary Cutter

How convenient is this knife for cutting fabric, how to use it and what is more convenient: scissors or a circular knife? These and other questions are summarized in this article.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Round Knife Cutter

Rotary Cutter


Before listing all the advantages of a circular knife, it is necessary to mention its main disadvantage. It is difficult to cut curved reliefs of fabric with a round knife, and it is almost impossible to cut intersecting lines not spoil the fabric. 

For example, cut out a rectangular lining section for an inside pocket. When performing this operation, there is a high probability that you will cut more tissue with a round blade than required. You can’t do without sharp scissors that can cut corners.


But, unlike scissors, a round cutter cuts several layers of fabric simultaneously without displacement, which is indispensable for cutting small rectangular parts, especially for working in the patchwork technique. This knife was invented for patchwork, but in the skillful hands of sewing lovers, they began to use it for cutting fabric when sewing clothes.

  • The roller knife (cutter) is also convenient because it is light and does not require much effort when cutting the fabric. Therefore, the hands are less strained and almost do not get tired. Finding scissors for the left hand is a problem, and the circular knife can be used right-handed and left-handed.
  • Equally important is the fact that a round knife is much sharper than scissors. It is rare for anyone to have scissors as sharp as a razor, and sharpening them is not cheap. And with a round knife, the discs change like a blade on a razor. And a set of new blades is not so expensive. In addition, a round disc can be sharpened by itself; however, you need to buy a special scissors sharpener.
  • By the way, when buying a round knife, you will need a special plastic mat. The sharp blade of the disc must not touch any other surface. This circumstance can be attributed simultaneously to disadvantages and conveniences since the rug has a special marking, which makes it easier to cut details. But its price is sometimes non-soapy and depends on its size.

You must keep the rotary knife out of the reach of children! Its blade is so sharp that it is easy to get hurt even by an adult.

Types of Round Knives or Rotary Knives

Rotary knives have several varieties, each of which has certain advantages. The disk of a round knife can cut the fabric in a zigzag. Good zigzag round scissors cost much more than a rotary knife. For those who often cut fabric with a clove, it makes sense to think about buying a round knife with such a blade.

Rotary Cutter

Blades of a rotary knife differ, first of all, in diameter. The minor blade diameter is 18mm, then 28mm, the middle size is 45mm, and the largest is 65mm. Small discs are more convenient for cutting small details and curved lines, such as armholes. The large blade allows you to cut several layers of fabric at once.

The cutters themselves are also different. The cutter is safer because they completely hide the blade. Very comfortable, as they say ergonomic, handles for cutting torches.

But the circular knife can cut round parts with a diameter of 4 to 22 cm, under the rotary knife of the most common model and two spare discs offered in the kit. When buying a Round knife, purchase a pack of spare blades. The most popular blade size is 45mm in diameter.

Some cutter models feature a very comfortable handle, and the cutter has an unusual blade exit pattern. When you press the handle, it appears as a blade. They removed the hand from the handle – the blade is hidden, which is essential for those with small children at home.

How to Sharpen a Round Knife Fabric Cutter

You can sharpen blades with a diameter of 28mm, 45mm, and 65mm on a special device. To use this device less often, try to slightly tilt the cutter so that the fabric is cut concerning the plane at an angle of 45 degrees.

It is necessary to cut fabrics with a circular knife only on a special plate (mat). It is strongly not recommended to use other surfaces instead of this lining. The special composition of the rug “gets stuck” under the knife blade and does not dull it. Any other materials will immediately spoil the sharp blade of the disc.

How effectively you can sharpen a knife with such a device can only be tested in practice. You probably won’t be able to sharpen a blade better than a new factory one. Therefore, it is better to put a new disc for cutting thin, especially knitted fabrics.

But you can use the roller knife for more than just cutting fabric. It can cut paper, foil, and other materials. You can even use it on leather. For these purposes, a sharpener is quite helpful.

How to Choose Rotary Knife

A Rotary knife is an ideal tool for pitchwork. You will never get such a perfect line as cutting flaps and scissors as with a disc knife. The titanium blade is incredibly sharp, so it easily cuts up to 10 layers of cotton and copes with jeans and felt.

Modern cutting knives are very convenient to work with. Especially if you opted for a proven manufacturer: for example, Prym (Heramani) or Fiskars (Finland), the budget knife is likely to fail quickly, and savings will be doubtful.

Choose a knife for cutting fabric, focusing on three main parameters:

  1. Blade Diameter: 45 mm is considered universal, more suitable for the rapid disclosure of straight parts, and less for most jewelry works.
  2. View of the handle: The plastic can be solid or soft, and the shape is straight or curved.
  3. Blade system: It can “glimpse” if you move a special lever or simply by pressing the fabric.

Rules for Using a Round Knife

Rotary Cutter

For your disc knife to serve as long as possible, stick to a few rules:

  • Cut only on a special open mat to protect the table and blade
  • To get a straight line, use a ruler – but by no means metal. She quickly dulls the blade
  • Watch out for the pin – by accidentally holding a knife on it, you will get a notch and permanently ruin the blade
  • Do not leave the blade extended; remove it from the knife after each cut. And carefully take care of the children!

How to Choose a Mat for Rotary Knife

Rotary Cutter

You must cut fabrics with a circular knife on a special plate (mat). If you decide to buy such a knife, you must buy a special rug. Choose its size according to your needs, including financial ones, since its price depends on the size.


Not only the blade of a rotary knife becomes unusable over time. The mat’s surface becomes rough from intensive use, making it more difficult to cut on it. For such a case, you can buy a device for cleaning and restoring the knife after use.