While a scissors is a device for cutting or shaping paper, and is used for a variety of applications from making paper snowflakes to cutting out newspaper articles, a paper cutter is a device primarily used to trim sheets of paper to a particular size. Paper, in this context, refers not just to sheets of bond paper, but to the wide range of paper thicknesses, including cardstock, cardboard, photographs, and may be used on similar materials like film and vellum.
Most paper cutters include some type of safety features to insure safe operation. Other aspects to consider when anticipating a purchase are the number of sheets that can be cut at once and the width of paper that can be accepted. The manner of operation of the paper cutter and — for automatic models — the speed are also important to take into account.
The name paper trimmer is used interchangeably with paper cutter. But the paper slitter, on the other hand, cuts paper in a special way — it is specially designed to divide two-up images into two separate documents. So, although it cuts paper, it is not usually called a paper cutter.
There are several distinct categories of the devices that do go by the name paper cutter. The term rotary paper cutter may refer to a handheld tool with a pivoting head that is rolled along the desired cutting line. It is capable of holding a variety of blades. Another important kind of rotary paper cutter has the blade mounted on a base. The paper is loaded—many models have guidelines on the base to help align the paper — and the blade is drawn through it, slicing as it goes.
The guillotine paper cutter, some types of which are called arm cutters, has an arm that raised and lowered by hand. The descriptions rate these cutters either by the height of the pile they can cut or the number of sheets that can be cut in a single slice. Manual paper cutters of this type can cut through up to 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) or 800 sheets. Those models that are capable of cutting large amounts often feature a clamp to hold the paper in place.
For high-volume work, there is the semi-automatic paper cutter or the automatic paper cutter. The semi-automatic paper cutter may be operated with a hand crank or a button. Automatic paper cutter models may be electric or hydraulic. In addition to stack thickness, these devices give yield volume in cuts per minute.