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Well-Known Member
Oct 12, 2009
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I hope this is the right place to post this. If not I'm sorry about posting it in the wrong place.

My next door neighbour's daughter is a fantastic artist. She can draw, paint, sculpture, the works. My wife and I own some of her stuff.

She is in college and to make a little extra money she sells her paintings and art stuff.

Well here is where it involves us. She was getting ready to go to an art show, and was trying to mat some of her paintings. She had bought a set of "hobby knives" from Northern Tool. In the set was three knifes, a light weight one, a medium weight, and a heavy duty, all in a nice blue box with 10 or so extra blades.

Now don't get me wrong. Most of their stuff is top notch, but for $5 what can you expect? Well anyway, as she was trying to cut out a mat for one of her pictures the knife broke, and now she has 17 stitches in her painting hand with possible nerve damage.

My neighbour, after coming back from the hospital was throwing away the knife set, and I took a look at them.

Yes, they did "look" like Xacto, but one big difference is the collet (I think that is what it is called you know that little thing that holds the blade) was not made of metal, but rubbery plastic and it was this that gave way. Right at the threads. And this was the "heavy duty" handle.

Here is my warning. Some times cheap ain't better

If you are just starting out in our hobby, one area not to be cheap in is a hobby knife. Get a good one and it will last years of heavy use.

Dark Lord Of The Scratch Builders
I have a nice set of x-acto knives that my uncle bought for me years ago. I replace the baldes every months or two and buy a new razor saw about every five years, and it's perfect.

That said, you can still injure yourself very easily with x-actos, even the real kind. Especially the real McCoy, because the blades are very very sharp. I have half a dozen scars on my left hand, mostly from when I was younger and less coordinated. The largest is almost seven years old and is still very visible on the thumb knuckle. I was cutting the tail cone on an Estes Bullpup and slipped.

Course, that problem might be just me. After all, I have a nice new cut on my hand... from a serrated bread knife. Stupid bagel...:blush:
I know the exact same set you are talking about. Often found rebranded in several different stores. Exact same thing you described happened to all 3 of the handles and fortunately no injuries. I live in New Zealand and I think there is laws to protect the consumer from junk like this, is there anything in the US?
It seams as we accept low quality, the market gets flooded with it. You know our grandfathers probably tried to tell us that, I try to teach my family that too.
Sorry to hear that she got hurt over a faulty knife. I hope everything heals up and she has full use of her hand.

The thing I found with cheap tools is it just cost me more money in the long run. It's like the old saying goes "you only get what you pay for"
IWell anyway, as she was trying to cut out a mat for one of her pictures the knife broke, and now she has 17 stitches in her painting hand with possible nerve damage.

Yikes! :eyepop:

Hopefully she heals well, without any long-term problems from this.

Thanks for posting the warning about the knives -- somewhere like that is definitely not the place for soft materials.

Yeah, I've got a set of these, but ended up buying better knives... the stupid collets are plastic and AREN'T EVEN THREADED! They simply 'thread' into the handle by 'interference fit' or whatever. So they strip out very quickly with any pressure at all, or after the second blade change (if you're lucky.)

The 40% off coupon at HL is your friend-- use one a week to pick up some good quality X-acto handles and blades.

For cutting matte board, I'd go ahead and spring for one of those dedicated matte cutters-- the kind that has the uber-sharp blade inside the gliding plastic housing. That stuff is thick and hard to cut and making multiple passes with a hand-held knife is not really a good way to do it.

Sorry to hear about your friend and hope she recovers fully. My old scarred-up hands have plenty of stitch marks, burns, missing chunks of meat, perforations, punctures, etc. from all these years of farming and mechanicking...

Later! OL JR :)
I have a set of x-acto hobby knives. I got them many years(20 plus years ago) ago from Nasco.
They came in a wooden box.
I have a great deal of respect for tools that can remove body parts in a blink of an eye.

So true about you get what you pay for.

Hope she heals well.