How Long Do X-Acto Knives Last?

X-acto knives are very useful little cutting tools great for hobbyists and professional designers. However, like all knives they will probably not last forever. So, how lond do they last? Find out in this post.

How Long Does An X-Acto Knife Last?

An x-acto knife can last several hours, or several decades of use. This depends on which type it is, and the brand (if not made by the X-Acto Company). It also depends on how the knife is used.

The z-series x-acto knives may last longer than classic models because of their enhanced durability. Their blades are coated with zirconium nitride (ZrN) which can decrease the effects of wear on the blade.

X-Acto Knife Lifespan

An x-acto knife can last a person’s entire lifetime if it is not damaged by accident, rust, or oxidation. The classic x-acto knife has not changed much through its history, and most old blade designs still fit new x-acto knives. So, if the blade is damaged, it can be cheaply and easily replaced.

The longevity of an X-Acto knife depends largely on how it is used and stored. The most common causes of shorter x-acto knife lifespans include:

X-Acto Knife Rust

Rust is a term commonly used for the chemical called iron oxide (Fe203). Rust forms when a metal is exposed to moisture in the air.

Rust will eat away at any type of metal object, including knives. The classic x-acto knife, not the Z-series, is made of carbon steel. This can rust quickly when exposed to moisture in the air.

Most steel produced today for knives and other metal products is carbon steel. This is susceptible to galvanic corrosion and oxidation from the local environment. A metal made of carbon steel can become rusted if exposed to water moisture or it is dropped in water and not wiped down soon afterwards.

Using x-acto knives in a low humidity environment will slow down the rust process, but it will eventually happen anyways.

Exacto Knife Handle

The Z-series x-acto knife is made of aluminum for both the handle and blade, which is also coated in zirconium nitride (ZrN) for extra durability.

Zirconium nitride coating should help prevent rust or oxidation from forming on the blade. This is a ceramic layer that is very thin and is added to increase the lifespan of the blade.

Aluminum does not rust, but it can corrode when exposed to oxygen in the air. This is called oxidation and will cause a thin layer of aluminum oxide (Al203) to form on the knife.

If you clean an x-acto knife using a wet rag or cloth, make sure to immediatley dry it so it will not lead to rust forming.

For more information, see our post How To Clean An X-Acto Knife Safely.

Recommended X-Acto Knives

X-Acto No 1 Precision Knife, Z-Series, Craft Knife, with Safety Cap, #11 Fine Point Blade

X-Acto EPIX Retract-A-Blade Knife

ELMERS Xacto Black Gripster Knife with Safety Cap

Dropping An X-Acto Knife

If you drop an x-acto knife, this can easily damage the blade. The handle of the knife will likely be fine, but the tip of the blade can bend, or most likely break off.

This will make the blade nearly useless and require replacing. Fortunately, replacement blades are plentiful and inexpensive to keep, so this is not that much of an issue. The overall lifespan of the knife may not be decreased by dropping it, as long as the screw cap is not damaged.

Since x-acto knives are small and used with one hand, they can easily be dropped, just like dropping a pencil or pen. Working on a hard floor such as garage concrete can cause the knife to be damaged easier than on carpet.

Cutting Hard Materials With An X-Acto Knife

X-acto knife blades will last less time if they are used to cut harder, or more difficult materials, such as:

  • Thick metal (wire, plates, etc)
  • Hard woods
  • Concrete
  • Stone
  • Thick foam

If extra force is applied while cutting, the blade will likely wear out faster, bend, or break. The handle could also bend or break if too much force is applied.

Trying to Cut A Hole Using The Exacto Blade’s Tip

Digging the blade of an exacto knife into hard materials and trying to guage a hole can easily break the blade. For that task, choose to use a drill instead.

To Close

Exacto knives can last a very long time when taken care of.  Not taking care of your x-acto knife can lead to the x-acto blade dulling quickly or breaking off.  There are several safe and effective ways to preserve your x-acto knifes’ sharpness for as long as possible. Whichever way you choose, make sure to keep safety in mind when handling them as they are extremely sharp.

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Nick Klamecki, Author
About Nick Klamecki, Author

Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use. Learn more about Nick here or connect with him on LinkedIn | Medium