How can you safely change your rotary cutter blade?

Whenever I try to explain what a rotary cutter is to non-quilters, I say something like ‘Imagine a pizza wheel but it’s razor blades on the outside’. Obviously this type of tool warrants special handling when changing out a full blade for a fresh new one.

1. Make sure your rotary cutter is closed and locked

how to change a rotary blade

2. Turn it over to find the blade mechanism

Turn it over to find the blade mechanism. This might look different depending on your rotary cutter. Leave it flat on your work surface.

find the blade mechanism on the rotary cutter

3. Undo the nut and place down on your workspace

Undo the nut and place down on your workspace facing the same way it came off. This will help you when you’re putting it back together. Do the same if there’s a washer type element as well. 

undo the nut and place down on your workspace

4. Turn over the cutter and clean up fibre dust and thread

Lift up the handle of your rotary cutter and the stem will be left behind on your workspace. Turn over your rotary cutter and clean up any fibre dust or thread that may have got in between the blade and the plastic. 

clean up dust and fiber from rotary cutter stalk

5. Pick up the stem and turn it over

Pick up the stem and turn it over without touching the blade. It will fall off easily. I slide mine from the center down to the edge of my table so that I can safely grab it from both sides and dispose of it.

pick up the stalk and turn over and the blade will fall off

6. Put the replacement blade on and replace the washer and nut

Blades have a bit of machine oil on them to protect against rust. This helps them slide apart from each other, but they won’t just fall away. Be aware of this! 

Carefully take the replacement blade and put it onto the stem without touching the blade edges. Place your handle back on top, replace the washer and nut as you took them off, and you’re done!

7. Dispose of the blade

The way I safely dispose of blades: I save an empty blade container and put my used ones in there. Then when it’s full I toss it. The latch on the container secures it from opening in the garbage.
dispose of your old rotary blades

Putting them straight into your garbage is very dangerous for you and waste disposal workers! Take care of your tools and they’ll take care of you 🙂

Happy stitching!



Michelle Brassens

Hi, I’m Michelle! I’ve never met a craft I didn’t like. Sewing however was where I really found my groove! So I left behind life as a pastry chef and concentrated on making things with fabric instead of food. I work at Dinkydoo Fabrics now and get to write about sewing and quilting for work. Stick with me and I’ll show you all kinds of tips and tricks, from beginner to expert maker level. Can’t wait!