I Get Swag

You know when you’ve really made it in a field when people start sending you free stuff in hopes, I suppose, that your famousosity rubs off on the freebies. My moment of made-it-ness happened a few weeks ago, when I was contacted by the good folks at the X-acto (TM) Precision Instruments company, who were just DYING to send me their latest technical innovation: the Zirconium Nitride coated Z-series. Woo-hoo!

Now, if I were a marketing person selling a product whose primary purpose was cutting and my minions or overlord told me to seed the market strategically, I don’t think I would have said, “hey, let’s find someone in an art form whose primary defining characteristic is a total lack of cutting!” But then, that is probably why I am not a highly-paid marketing person and am, instead, a lowly paper-pusher.

So sending a knife kit to an origami person might seem crazy. But it’s crazy like a quick brown fox, eh? Because, of course, us origami folks need to acquire our squares to begin with (since paper manufacturers keep insisting on producing their paper in rectangles). And there’s nothing like a cutting mat, metal-edged ruler, and wickedly sharp X-acto (or similar) knife to cut the perfect square. And since even slightly dull blades like to wander away from from the metal ruler, I tend to buy my blades in the bulk economy 100-pack and to discard them at the first hint of slicing resistance.

(This practice also means that I have managed to impale myself in uncountable creative ways in the course of cutting squares. People ask if I ever get paper cuts, and those are quite rare; but knife cuts? I buy band-aids in the bulk economy size, too.)

So, the good folks at X-acto, no doubt realizing that the Achilles heel of all origami folders was a good cutting setup, sent a very nice Z-series knife (with gold knurling on the blade clamp) and a set of 5 ZrN-coated blades (with a lovely gold finish along the business edge) to try out.

(Actually, they sent me a HUGE box of other X-acto-related products, ranging from foamcore samples to a cute little cutting mat approximately 1/8 of the size of the one I use; all well and good, but I either already had or didn’t need any of the other goodies. But the storage box was quite nice and has found a good home.)

But as for the knife, the blades: I actually use these, and so went to try them out. (I thought about cutting right to the chase and impaling myself immediately just to get that part over with, but decided instead to let that happen in the natural course of events, by which I mean it will probably take place in a day or so.)

So, I can report the following: ZrN-coated X-acto knife blades cut paper very well indeed. And the gold-colored handle means that I can now tell my 2 knives apart so I can remember which one I just changed the blade in without having to look for the lighter bloodstains. (Guidebook photo to old and new style knives and blades is below.)

So, thank you, X-acto folks, for my snazzy new knife. And if any other vendors out there are looking for the Origami Stamp of Approval on their spiffy new product, why, there’s a contact link at the bottom of this very site!

(I’m thinking that ReferenceFinder would look pretty nice running on an iPhone 5, Tim Cook. Just sayin’.)

X-acto knives

Top: old-style, boringly silver X-acto knife and blades. Bottom: Ultra-spifferino zirconium nitride-coated Z-series.

3 Responses to I Get Swag

  1. After reading your post, I just had to go out there and buy it! I haven’t gotten a chance to use it yet, but it looks pretty fancy. I wanted to ask you, though, what should I cut against? (plastic, metal, etc…) Do you change the blade less frequently with the Z seris? Also, do you have any other tips as to how to acheive “the perfect square?” I would really appreachate any tips that you have.

    Thank You,
    Devon H.

    • Hi Devon,

      I typically use a cutting mat (which you can see under the knives in the photo) to cut against. I didn’t notice any particular extra life with the Z-series, but the stuff I cut is highly variable in how it dulls blades, so it would be hard to observe a trend without doing systematic testing. And last, I highly recommend using a metal-edge straightedge and triangle to get “the perfect square.” Happy cutting! (And folding!)

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