How to Use Scalpels for Precision Cutting and Detailed Work [GUIDE]
The scalpel is the perfect tool for designers, artists, and model makers for cutting materials such as cardboard, paper, wallpaper, plastic, textiles, leather, graphic design, gently deburring plastic parts and all kinds of precision cutting.
When we hear a word "scalpel", we often think of a sharp metal instrument for surgical use. A scalpel is a small cutting tool designed for very delicate but precise cutting in hard-to-reach places. But scalpels and detailed-cutting knives aren't really only used by surgeons.
A scalpel blade knife is the perfect tool for graphic designers, artists and model makers and is used as a craft knife for different craft projects. Scalpel knife can be used for any artistic, design work where detail work, neat cuts, and clean edges are needed. The main advantage of scalpels and similar hand knives is that they perfectly cut various materials: paper, foil, wood, plastic, fabric and leather. The blade of the knife is usually made of high quality tool steel or surgical steel and is securely fixed. The metal body of the knife ensures a long life. Surgical blades give a much cleaner cut than a usual utility knife, enabling the user to perform detailed, precision work effectively.
You can purchase a scalpel knife handle and the blade itself. There are many types and shapes of surgical blade that are designed for different purposes. For example, Swann Morton’s scalpel blades of numbers 10 and 11 have a sharpened end and are great for very detailed work. At the same time, surgical knives are extremely sharp and you have to be very careful when working with them and adhere to safety rules.
TIP: Make sure the size of the scalpel blade and handle are the same - this is especially important.
We have in our assortment blades that resemble Swann Morton in their shape and the way they are used, but the end of the blade is flat or rounded. They are used in a set with a special non-surgical MOZART precision-cutting knife. The Mozart precision cutting knife is more robust compared to the more commonly used medical scalpels. Use the Mozart precision cutting knife for more industrial cutting. The scalpel is very flexible and easy to use for detailed work. It is an ideal tool for cutting various materials such as cardboard, paper, wallpaper, plastic and textiles, gently deburring plastic parts, cutting leather, graphic design, and all kinds of precision cutting. A special stand station for safe storage of the scalpel and additional tools is available for purchase.
How to attach the scalpel blade to scalpel knife holder safely
- Open the scalpel package by sliding the flaps and take the blade with tweezers, pliers or similar. Make sure that the package is open enough so that the slot for attaching the handle is visible. There is a slot around the tip of the scalpel handle where the blade fits. Do not grip blade by its cutting edge.
- Attention! Make sure that the blade and the scalpel holder are correctly positioned by checking that the diagonal lines (on the handle and the end of the blade) are parallel. Otherwise, the blade will get stuck if it is placed with its opposite side and it will be difficult to remove the scalpel blade later.
- Insert the tip of the handle into the hole in the blade (slot for scalpel handle on the picture above), then slide the handle forward so that the blade fits into the slot and it clicks.
- The blade should fit tightly and neatly against the handle - do not check this with your fingers!
When is it time to change a scalpel blade?
The length of time you can use one blade depends on the material you are cutting as well as the cutting techniques and pressure on a scalpel. But if you hear a specific sound while cutting, for example, a carton, it is time to replace the blade. It is advisable not to spare the blade, because a blunt blade can begin to tear the cutting material and the ends of the cut will be torn and sloppy.
Guidelines for removing a used scalpel blade from scalpel knife holder
- Using pliers, grasp the end of the blade closest to the handle by the blunt edge (where there is no sharp edge). Face away the cutting edge from the body and hand
- Lift the blade by the edge with the pliers, bending it slightly and being careful not to break the blade. Move it slowly forward from the handle, being sure to guide the movement away from yourself and others and then slide the handle away to the opposite side. Make sure to hold the blade downwards towards the instrument tray.
- Always dispose of the blade safely, such as in a safety blade box (ex. Sollex Safety box 988). Do not leave the blade lying around the work area or anywhere else; it is your responsibility to dispose of the blade safely.
Instructions on how to use a scalpel safely and easily
- Hold the scalpel correctly when using it. There are 3 safe ways to hold a scalpel when using it: "table knife", "writing pen", "violin bow".
The basic position of the scalpel in the hand is the "table knife", "writing pen" and "violin bow" positions.
In the position "table knife", the tips of the thumb and middle finger on the side, the index finger on the back of the handle. The handle of the scalpel rests in the palm of your hand. This guarantees you flexibility in the hand and a smoother, deeper cut. The cutting angle is approximately 90 degrees.
In the "writing pen" position, the scalpel is held like a pen with the handle gripped between the thumb, third and fourth fingers and the index finger placed over the back of the scalpel handle to gain absolute control. This allows you to change the cutting angle, e.g. 45 degrees.
In the "violin bow" position, the scalpel is also held like a violin bow: the thumb on one side and the other four fingers on the other side. This makes it easy to make wide and shallow cuts.
Thus it turns out that the position as a writing pen is for small cuts, punctures; the position as a table knife provides more pressure force and a significant size of the cut; the position as a bow provides more scope, but less force.
- Store the scalpel properly. Never leave a mounted blade in the scalpel, but always remove it after the job is done and put it in a safe place of storage.
- Do not drop the blade onto the hard surface such as a metal or stone surface. This will damage the cutting edge and diminish the cutting performance. Do not grap the cutting edge with e.g. pliers.
- Protect yourself from dropping an extremely sharp scalpel on your lap while sitting and working at the table. You need to put something on your lap to protect you if the scalpel slides off the table.
- Do not throw the scalpel in a drawer or leave it on a table. In extreme cases, you can use, for example, a special case, work station, or cap for the scalpel blade.
- Use special cutting mats or self-healing cutting mats as a base for the material. They will improve the quality of the cut and protect the work surface. In addition, these mats have special markings and rulers that come in handy when cutting.
- Do not use gloves made of fabric that slip on the metal surface, or gloves that are too thick. This can cause your finger to slip.
- Never check the blade for sharpness with your skin!
Proper transfer of the scalpel to another person is done as follows:
- place the scalpel in a napkin like in a book, as the napkin protects the hand of the handing person from accidentally cutting it
- pass the scalpel with the handle forward, holding it by the spine with the cutting edge up and the spine of the blade against the palm of your hand.