Review – Excel #11 Hobby Knife Blades

X-Acto knives with #11 blades are an art, crafting, and modeling staple. But is the brand name worth it? Will a pack of Excel blades do just as well, or should you just buy the no-name brand from eBay if you want to save money?

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To start off with, the Excel brand 5-pack that you buy in hobby stores has a tube to store the blades in. It’s nothing special, but it gets the job done, is clear so you can see your supply, and is flexible so it doesn’t shatter.

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The blades fit securely in all hobby knife and scalpel handles that I tested, and should fit in all (unless there’s a proprietary system I don’t know about). The blades come sharp enough to cut paper, and hold their edge through cutting plastic. They dull and bend at about the same rate as X-Acto blades and can easily make it through several projects before dulling or being nicked. I’ve had no rusting yet (they come oiled), but I do keep them fairly moisture-free. The tip is “flexible” in that it doesn’t shatter and has some play (bouncing back when bent), but the point and the blade are hard enough that a single blade could take weeks of daily use (depending on the use, as plastic and metal are obviously harder than paper and cardstock).

Overall, these blades are less expensive and at least as good, if not better, than the name brand competition. They cut well, hold an edge, and resist breaking. They’re a reliable blade that is at least worth a look.

 

Review – Dollar General Utility Knife Blades

Utility knives are an almost ubiquitous tool. They are inexpensive and easy to use cutting tools that are good on the job, at home, and for crafting and artistic tasks. And for most people they are used for jobs that scissors just can’t do. Even people who carry pocket knives can use a cardboard cutter now and then. But there’s a reason the blades come in 100 packs at 10¢-30¢ apiece. This set from Dollar General is about 20¢ apiece. How do they work?

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To start, the packaging says they fit most utility knives, which I’ll believe. Their shape is similar to most other blades I’ve seen, and they fit my knife just fine. They lock into place with about as much precision as one would expect, which is to say not much. There’s play in the blade when installed, but it’s workable. They come sharp enough to cut paper, and strong enough to cut household plastics, which are both really things that are a bit out of the general use of the blade. They don’t dull immediately, either. That being said they don’t last for very long and the blade itself can be dinged rather easily. They are also pretty fragile. When I was testing one on plastic the very tip of the blade broke almost immediately. They’ll last about a hard day (or 2-3 give or take) cutting cardboard, longer in the house, shorter if you’re cutting more or heavier things (like they won’t last literally all day just cutting), and for as cheap as they are I wouldn’t expect much more. And if cutting cardboard cleanly isn’t a necessity they can last longer. Finally, they are smothered in grease in the package to prevent rusting, and while I haven’t left mine out I have no doubt that they would rust really fast.

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So are they great? No. But no utility knife blades are great.  They do about as well as expected, and are at least safe for their main function of cutting cardboard, rubber and the like. If you need the blades right now, or don’t need to buy many blades, these will work, but larger packs or ones with slightly higher quality would be recommended.