How to cut (X-acto) like an architect

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Hi. Im Doug Patt and today were going to learn how to cut like an architect. Cutting materials by hand is still a part of the education and practice of an architect. These are some pointers about how to do so well. Remember, these are rules of thumb youre responsible for how you chose to use them. This is a cutting mat. I use one. I wont cut on the vinyl cover Ive got on my drafting table or on the wood table itself. Ive seen people do it for years and Its dumb. It will eventually screw up the surface of your drawing desk and mess with your line quality when your pencil hits the divots you created with knife. Now, these cutting mats come in many sizes. This one is 18×24. Ive been using it since college. ItIt tucks away nicely and its the right size for most detailed work. These are the xacto tools I use. I like this one because its easy to handle and good for cutting small parts. And this one is a little more industrial, but I like it for just about any job. They come in tons of shapes, sizes and materials its your choice. I keep my blades turned over or pushed down when Im not using them. This is no joke, these blades are sharp and will mess you up. Ive got the scars to prove it. Now about straightedges or ruler. I never use plastic or wood. When your cutting along these materials the knife edge can cut into them because theyre soft and destroy the edge or ricoche off and cut you. This metal strieghtedge is steel and 24 long. I like it because Its long enough that it works for many length cuts and I can really get a good grip on it when Im pushing down. If the straight edge is too short, it can be tough to hold, move when you dont want it too, and simply destroy your cut. This one has a cork backing. The cork is to keep it from slipping when Im pushing it down on the surface being cut. I use it sometimes, but sometimes I wont. The reason I turn the ruler over at times is that the cork holds the edge of the ruler up off the surface being cut and, depending on your lighting, creates a shadow. This is being a little meticulous but the shadow and the distance the straight edge is held up sometimes makes for a cut which is not as straight as I sometimes prefer. Regardless, every time your cutting keep your fingers back from the edge and always press firmly on the ruler and down on the cutting tool. Now when cutting anything, never try to get through the object on the first strike, particularly when cutting deep boards like foam core. Strike the material a number of times to get a precise, clean cut. If youve got a new blade you may go through on the first pass, but I will typically run my xacto through a second time just to make sure I got a clean cut. It goes without saying always use a good blade and never cut with a dull one. Your just asking for uneven edges or injury as the blade tends to slip more when its dull. Lastly, corners are tricky. The end of a cut will typically not get to the corner of what your cutting. Particularly when your cutting thick material like foam core. What Ill do here is turn spin the material when Im done with my cut and carefully trim the end. By the way, particulary with foam core, use a good blade, you will mangle the interior of the foam core when cutting with a bad blade. Good luck!


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