Guillotine Vs Rotary Paper Cutter: Which One is Best?

Once you make a decision to produce your business presentations, books, and documents in-house, there are certain supplies and tools that you must invest in. One tool that is crucial for project flexibility and speed is the paper cutter. Surprisingly, there are a number of paper cutters in the market that you can choose from, the main ones being guillotine and rotary.

Trimming and cutting are essential parts of the document production process. Choosing the appropriate tool, for any business can, therefore, prove the difference between meeting deadlines and falling behind schedule. The right trimming or cutting machine allows you to achieve precisely and accurately cuts while maximizing your productivity.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about paper cutting and trimming tools, the difference that guillotine and rotary paper cutter have, and how to determine the paper cutting tool you need.


Different Types of Paper Trimmers and Cutters

It is common for customers to ask about the differences between a guillotine and rotary paper cutters. Unknown to many, there are dozens of different types of paper cutters in the market with different cutting styles, features, and capabilities as outlined below.

Rotary paper cutter

A rotary paper cutter uses circular blades sitting on an encased cutting head. The cutting head is attached along a rail enabling it to slide back and forth while cutting. The cutter makes precise and clean cuts making it ideal for photography and paper cutting.  It also has a measurement grid and scoring attachment on its base to help you make accurate cuts.

CARL Professional Rotary Paper Trimmer 18 inch
  • Carbide blade provides smooth operation
  • Cuts up to 10 sheets of standard 20-pound bond paper
  • Cuts mat board, card stock, plastic sheets, etc; ideal for home office functions or craft projects
  • Up to 11 different cutting blade patterns available -sold separately
  • Limited lifetime warranty -excluding blade and cutting mat
  • CARL Professional 10 sheet rotary paper trimmer with a solid metal calibrated base board, carbide blade, patented rail system and alignment grid and ruler.
  • Count on precise, accurate cuts with the premium carbide blade.

Some brands of rotary paper cutters have interchangeable blades that make paper scoring, perforation and cutting possible. This cutter gives you the ability to cut papers at their center which other cutters can’t. However, its blades wear and tears quickly thus requiring replacements.

Guillotine paper cutter

Guillotine paper cutter consists of a straight cutting blade attached to a long blade lever, which is pulled up and down during the cutting process. This explains why the cutter is referred to as a lever or arm cutter. Generally, guillotine cutter makes precise and accurate cuts on large volumes of paper or card stock at once and is therefore great for multi-purpose use.

Swingline Paper Cutter, Guillotine Trimmer, 12" Cut Length, 10 Sheet...
  • Easy to use trimmer – Lite trimmer is simple and easy to use, with a sharp guillotine blade and a handy alignment grid. Built with a sturdy plastic base, it's also light enough for easy transport
  • 12” Cutting length – With a 12” cutting length, it's a convenient choice for most common trimming tasks. Ideal for use in the home or at the office
  • Cuts 10 sheets – Excellent for everyday use, this neat little trimmer cuts through paper, photos and more, cleanly cutting up to 10 sheets at a time (20 pounds paper)
  • Accurate cuts - Designed for accuracy, with an alignment grid for precision. Dual scale ruler, with marks in inches and centimeters, assists with measuring, regardless of which system you prefer
  • Safety features - Guard rail keeps fingers safely away from the blade while it's in use. Blade latch hook securely locks the trimmer arm when not in use

This paper cutter has a clamp that holds papers in place thus avoiding tearing and a large metallic sharp blade to cut across thick layers of paper at once. However, its blade is exposed unlike that of the rotary cutter thus being a safety risk.

Stack paper cutter

Stack paper cutter, just like the name suggests, is designed to cut thick sheets of paper at a go. It has a measurement guide and ruler for precise cutting and a clamp to hold the papers in place during the cutting process.  It also has the ability to cut 3 inches thick sheets of paper depending on its model.

It is therefore ideal for use in print shops to cut down prints and large sheets of paper to custom-sized papers. There are many models of stack paper cutters for commercial or industrial use, which comes in fully-automatic, manual, and semi-automatic varieties.

Form Cutter

Form cutter, or paper slitter as they are commonly known, is a paper cutter that is designed to cut down paper size and auto-feed them. This cutter offers to slit, perforating and scoring options. It has a large cutting space when compared to other cutters and is ideal for cutting graphics boards and marketing material like posters. The form cutter can be mounted on work surfaces or purchased with its own stands.

Hydraulic and corner cutter

The hydraulic paper cutter is the most robust paper cutter available in the market today. It has a similar design to that of the stack paper cutter and cut high-volume papers. hydraulic cutters are used in print shops, factories, and paper plants due to their ability to cut large volume papers.

GOWE hydraulic cutter, paper cutter, paper cutting machine.Max cutting...
  • Feature:Design with CE standard and front grating safety protection; Back protection cover ensure of safe system; Heavy-duty stander ,symmetrical pressing paper function; Double hydraulic drive system; Inclined cutting technology; Spin cutter with outer...
  • Procedure design of circuit reset and digital displaying cutting size; Optical Cutting Line ;Fashionable appearance design; Specification:Max cutting Width and Length: 670 mm; Min Cutting Length: 30mm; Cutting Thickness: 80 mm; Cutting Precision:...
  • Power Supply: AC220V110¡À10% 50HZ/60HZ 3.1KW; Weight:480 Kgs; Dimension(L*W*H) :1310*990*1290 mm

The corner cutter, or corner rounder as it is commonly known, is used to loop sharp corners of papers. It has the ability to round corners of large stacks of papers at once. The good thing with them is that they come in different varieties that differ in radius size.

Differences Between a Guillotine and Rotary Paper Cutter

Choosing between a guillotine and rotary paper cutters can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know their differences and strong points. However, two types of paper cutters have contrasting features, capabilities, and styles which make them complete opposites of each other. Outlined below are some of their contrasting differences.

Blade type

Paper cutters trim or cut sheets of paper using their cutting blades. Guillotine and rotary paper cutter have different types of blades which affect their cutting style. It is worth noting that these cutting blades wear and tear with age thus requiring occasional sharpening or replacement.

Rotary paper cutters use circular cutting blades to precisely cut sheets of paper. Its cutting blade is encased in its plastic head to enhance safety, cuts in both directions, and can be interchanged once it becomes blunt. The blades are attached along a rail which allows them to glide back and forth the guide bar, thus making precise and clean cuts.

Guillotine paper cutters, on the other hand, have their cutting blades attached to a long arm with a handle. During the paper cutting process, the arm lever is pulled up and down to make straight and clean cuts. This paper cutter has a straight and sharp blade which allows it to cut through these stacks of papers at a go. However, its blades are not encased and you will need to be very careful with them to avoid injury.

Basically, the rotary paper cutters use a gliding motion style of cutting while the guillotine paper cutters use the lever-action, similar to that of scissors.


Paper cutters play an important role in the document production process as speed is key. This is because the industry works under tight deadlines which must be met.  However, rotary and guillotines paper cutters have different workload capabilities which in turn affects their speed and labor requirements.

Guillotine paper cutters have the capabilities of cutting thick stacks of papers at a go due to their sharp blades. The papers are clamped in position and the cutter’s handle lever is smoothly brought down to make a clean and straight cut. With a guillotine paper cutter, you can work on a large volume of papers at a go which makes them fast.

Rotary paper cutter, on the other hand, does not have the ability to cut thick stacks of paper at a go because their blades turn blunt quickly. The cutter can only cut paper stacks with a maximum thickness of 3 inches. Cutting large volumes of paper using the rotary paper cutter, therefore, takes time, when compared to the guillotine cutter.

Guillotine paper cutter, therefore, makes the cut in the speed category, because it saves labor and time by making single cuts on many sheets of paper.


Paper cutters have distinct capabilities and features which makes them ideal for specific works or industries. Some of the features that affect their uses are the cutting styles, workload capabilities, and cutting surface area. Determining what you need to do with a paper cutter beforehand comes in handy when you are choosing on the cutter to buy.

The rotary paper cutter has a large cutting surface area because it can accommodate papers above 52 inches and above. This makes it the ideal cutter to make posters and advertisements because of their large sizes.

In addition, the cutter makes very clean and precise cuts. This, in turn, makes the cutter ideal for use in photography, design, advertising, and school work among others.

A guillotine paper cutter, on the other hand, has a smaller cutting surface area as compared to a rotary cutter, with a cap of 40 inches. This means that the cutter cannot cut papers above 40 inches. However, the cutter has the capabilities of cutting thick stacks of paper at a go. This makes it ideal for use in book manufacturing factories and print shops that require a lot of work.

How to Determine the Cutter You Need:

Choosing between rotary and guillotine cutters comes down to your personal preference. While some people love the back and forth cutting style of the rotary cutter, others love using the cutting lever that guillotines employ. Below are questions that you can ask yourself when determining the cutter you need.

What do you need the cutter for?

The two paper cutting tools have distinct efficiency levels in carrying out different tasks due to their features and capability. For instance, guillotine cutters have a cutting surface area of 40 inches as compared to the 55 inches of the rotary cutter. If you need to cut posters that are above 40 inches, the best option would be rotary cutters.

However, if you have a large volume of papers that you need to cut, then guillotines are the best for that due to their ability to cut thick stacks of papers at a go. Before choosing your cutter, first, ask yourself the reasons why you need a cutter as they directly determine the cutter paper cutter that best suits you. You will never go wrong with your choice.

What quality of trimming do you need?

Guillotine and rotary paper cutters have distinct cut qualities owing to their difference in blades. If you need a fine trimming, then the rotary cutter is the best for that. This is because they have a manually operated cutting blade and a measurement grid that guides where to cut your papers.

They are therefore efficient in making straight and precise paper cuts. However, this does not mean that guillotines do not make fine cuts, they do but they cannot match that of a rotary cutter. Before choosing your paper cutter, first, consider the quality of trim that you need.

What is the size of the papers you need to cut?

The number of papers that you need cut highly determines your choice between the two paper cutters. If you have a thick stash of papers that you need cut, the best cutter to settle for is a guillotine. Its sharp and straight blades glide through thick sheets of papers using minimal effort.

However, if you do not have many sheets of paper to cut, a rotary paper should be your ideal choice. It would not make sense of buying a rotary cutter while your business requires large volumes of papers to be cut. Considering the volume of the papers you want to cut upfront, goes a long way in helping you make the right choices.

What materials are you cutting?

The ability to cut materials doesn’t depend on the type of paper cutter rather the model. Both guillotine and rotary cutters have the capability to cut different types of materials. However, it is worth noting that rotary paper cutters are more versatile than guillotines when it comes to materials that they can cut.

For instance, rotary cutters have the ability to cut posters and cardboards while guillotine cannot. Consider the materials you want to cut first, before making a determination of the paper cutter to buy, to avoid making the wrong choice.

Bottom Line

Both guillotines and rotary paper cutters offer precise and accurate paper cutting services. However, your choice between the two should be based on your uses and preference, as there is no better than the other.

If you consider why you need a paper cutter, the volumes of papers that you won’t cut, and the quality of trimming that you need, choosing should not be a hard nut to crack.

Always keep in mind that the paper cutter you choose will determine the success or failure of your business. Take your time, know what your business needs, determine the paper cutter brand to buy, and choose a dealer that has great reviews and sells high-quality paper cutters. You can then smile all the way to the bank, after growing your business to the next level.



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