Rotary Vs. Guillotine Paper Cutter: Features & Functions

Rotary Vs. Guillotine Paper Cutter

Paper cutters are an essential part of any office. Whether you're a teacher, business person, or stay-at-home mom, chances are there's some paper cutting going on in your life. Comparing a rotary vs. guillotine paper cutter, which would you choose: convenience and efficiency? This article will help those who want to know more about these two types of paper cutters before making their final choice.

Rotary Paper Trimmer

a rotary paper trimmer using its extendable arm
 Pros Cons
  • Precision cut
  • Cuts both ways
  • May do scoring and micro-perforation
  • Handles a few sheets at a time
  • Needs blade replacement

Guillotine Paper Cutter

a guillotine paper cutter with an avocado green handle and paper guide
 Pros Cons
  • Cuts through 30-50 sheets at once
  • Blade may be sharpened or replaced
  • Long-term investment
  • Accident-prone
  • Cuts only


Cutting Size - Winner: Rotary Paper Trimmer

Both the rotary trimmer and guillotine cutter are available in varying sizes. The largest guillotine paper cutter cuts an A3 paper (18 inches). Because of its cutting mechanism and capacity, it is harder to cut through longer paper and maintain a clean cut. The rotary paper trimmer, on the other hand, can cut 30-inch long A2 paper.

Replacement Blade: It’s a Tie!

Some guillotine paper cutters have replacement blades while others don't, especially those with built-in blades. These cutters have removable blades that you can sharpen using an ordinary sharpening stone or sharpening file. But others don't need sharpening since they have self-sharpening blades, so you don't have to worry about it.

To sharpen the guillotine paper cutter's blade, run the sharpening stone along the length of the blade and the edge of the base, following its contour. Pass it several times in one direction until it is sharp enough to cut the usual stack of paper.

Rotary paper trimmer blades are also replaceable, but you can also sharpen them using heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold a few layers of aluminum foil and cut through it several times to sharpen it. To replace the blade, lift the rail, then unscrew the blade from its holder. Replace the blade, then screw the blade back on into its assembly.

Cutting mechanism - Winner: Guillotine Paper Cutter

The guillotine paper cutter has a sharp lever that cuts through paper. Some cutters have an automatic clamp and paper guide to keep the paper stable. On the other hand, the rotary paper trimmer has a blade that runs along with a rail or paper guide.

Cutting Board/Base - Winner: Guillotine Paper Cutter

The base of guillotine paper cutters is larger and can support the whole paper so you can cut precisely, especially if cutting through multiple sheets of paper. The base also has measurement grids, available in different graduations in centimeters and inches. Others even have paper sizes on the board, both in portrait and landscape orientation.

Some may have plastic, wooden, or metal bases, including 1-2 paper guides and clamps to hold the paper down during cutting. Meanwhile, the rotary paper trimmer has a narrower base, is divided into grids, and usually has lines for angled cutting. Some brands have an extendable arm to accommodate larger sizes of paper.

Durability - Winner: Guillotine Paper Cutter

Guillotine cutters are more durable than rotary trimmers because they are designed to cut large stacks of paper regularly.

Capacity - Winner: Guillotine Paper Cutter

The guillotine paper cutter can cut through up to 50 sheets of 100gsm printer paper, while the rotary paper trimmer can cut only 12 sheets. However, the rotary trimmer makes a very precise cut compared with the guillotine cutter.

Safety - Winner: Rotary Paper Trimmer

The rotary paper trimmer is a safer and easier way to cut your paper because the razor-sharp blades are under the rail or paper guide, so there is a very minimal danger that you'll cut yourself.

Although guillotine cutters have safety features like a blade lock, it is not foolproof, so always take extra caution when using them. Store it out of reach of young kids and pets to avoid accidents.

Portability - Winner: Rotary Paper Trimmer

Guillotine paper cutters are heavier than rotary paper cutters. Hence, if you travel a lot with your equipment, rotary paper trimmers are your best choice.

Price: It’s a Tie!

Price is dependent on brand, size of the cutter, cutting capacity, and other features. For this, we don't have a vote. Generally, though, rotary paper trimmers are more expensive than guillotine if they have the same size.

Standout Features

Aside from the features mentioned above, the rotary paper trimmer also has other standout features.

  • Precision

Rotary paper trimmers make precision cuts and even very thin strips. As long as you keep the blade sharp, you won't have any issue making thin strips of construction paper for your paper quilling projects. You may also use the rotary trimmers for trimming photographs and cutting banners and other small paper sizes.

  • Scoring and Perforating

You can score on your cardstock using some rotary paper trimmer brands, like the Fiskars rotary cutter. You can either use a scoring blade on some brands or use a scorer inserted into the paper guide. Other rotary trimmers have interchangeable blades, so you can cut perforated lines or scalloped edges on your cardstock.


As mentioned earlier, both cutters have their merits, so choose the best type for your needs.

Use rotary paper trimmer if:

  • you're a graphic designer or photographer;
  • you want to make precise cuts; and
  • you want a portable and versatile tool.

Use guillotine paper cutter if:

  • you cut large stacks of paper;
  • you have a binding business; and
  • you don't travel with your paper cutter.

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