If you’re wondering how to dispose of Exacto knife blades then this article will show you exactly what to do.
Too often people throw their knives in a plastic bag, bowl, trash can, or any other rubbish bin and then forget about them. This is very dangerous as you or another person can accidentally be cut by them when taking out the trash.
How to Safely Replace the Blade On an X-acto Knife
X-acto knife blades, like other blades, will inevitably break or wear out over time when used. Even if used rarely, if they are exposed to air, they can corrode or rust.
Removing the blade on an X-acto knife is very easy, as these types of knives were designed to make changing the blade fast and convenient.
Steps to replace an X-acto knife blade:
- Wear safety gloves when handling X-acto knives and blades, as just one slip could cut the skin.
- Twist the metal cap at the base of the blade while gripping the handle with one hand, which will allow the blade to become free.
- Pull out the old dull X-acto blade and put it aside or dispose of it in a proper container.
- Wrap the edge of the old blade with masking tape or thin cardboard to keep it from harming anyone who may touch it.
- Throw the wrapped X-acto blade in sharps container or other designated waste container.
- Put the new blade in the slot and twist the metal cap until tight on the X-acto knife handle. Make sure the blade reaches the bottom of the slit opening. This will keep it from coming loose or wobbling when used to cut under pressure.
- Contact the blade manufacturer about taking back old blades. (that might not be the X-acto company)
X-Acto Knife Safety Tips
You can put masking tape on the new blade’s edge before installing it in the knife and them remove after it is securely in place. You can give the blade a good wiggle with your forefinger and thumb to make sure it is secured in the knife handle before taking the tape off the edge and using it.
If you have extra X-acto blades, consider finding a sealed container to store them in. This can be a plastic or glass jar with a lid, or any other homemade container. This is important to do so that you or someone else will not be harmed if they accidentally grab them, bump them, or drop them. You can also store new and used blades in a locked cabinet, box, or toolbox.
A sealed X-acto blade container can be easily made at home using an old soda bottle or peanut butter jar that still has a lid. Make sure to write “SHARPS” on the label and store it on a shelf out of reach of children. You can use this container for all kinds of used blades and sharp objects.
Once the container is 2/3 full, wrap the lid in duct or packaging tape and throw it away in the normal trash.
How Often Should I Replace My X-acto Knife Blade?
The X-acto knife was designed to replace the blade instead of the entire knife when it looses its edge. The knife itself can last for many years of use, and will only need to replaced if it breaks or is damaged in some way. The twist metal cap could become lose over time and not hold a blade, which means a new knife is necessary.
Changing the blade is easy and does not take long to do. It is recommended to change the blade when it looses its ability to cut easily and quickly. If you have to keep going over a cut line to get through the material, consider getting a new blade. New X-acto blades are very inexpensive, so cost should not deter you from changing them frequently.
Many hobbyists like to change their X-acto blade as soon as they start a new project, or section of a modeling kit. A new X-acto blade will require less pressure to make a cut through plastic than a duller one and will make your time spent on a project more productive.
X-Acto Knife Blade Falling Out – What To Do?
This could be due to an older knife that loses its ability to hold a blade in the screw cap, or it could mean the blade has become greasy and slips out. Follow the steps above for replacing an old blade if this is the case. It could also just mean the knife you have works fine but the twist cap needs to be tightened. It is recommended to stop cutting if you notice the blade is becoming loose.
Xacto Blade Stuck – How To Remove
Removing a stuck Exacto blade could cause some risk of injury. So it is especially important to focus and be careful while attempting to remove one. Blades could become stuck due to rust or grime if they have been sitting for a long time. It is recommended to cover the edge of the blade with tape before gripping it with your hands. First, make sure to loosen the twist cap that holds the blade in place as far as it will go. You can try to use small pliers to grab the blade while you grip the handle with the other hand.
Exacto Knife Won’t Loosen – Do This
An older X-acto knife may have rust or grime in the screw cap that holds the blade. This could cause it to “freeze” the blade in place and make it difficult to remove. You could use pliers to grip the screw cap and twist while you hold the handle. Make sure to wrap the blade in protective tape before you try this so you are not injured or cut. If this is too difficult or seems too dangerous, consider buying a new X-acto knife.
How To Sharpen an Exacto Knife Blade Safely
Sharpening an X-acto knife blade is not recommended because it exposes the user to being cut and has a low benefit-to-cost ratio. New X-acto blades are very cheap, so sharpening old ones does not make a lot of sense.
However, you can attempt to sharpen old exacto blades using a blade sharpener. A better bet is to use a fine grain sandpaper and rub it against the edge ten or so times. You can do this while the blade is attached to the handle still so you do not have to remove the blade. This is useful when the blade has some grime on it and a little dullness that you want to remove quickly.
If you are tired of buying new blades all the time, this method could save you some time and a little bit of money.
What Blades To Use On an Exacto Knife?
X-acto knives are designed to use only specific types of blades. You can purchase blades from the X-acto company or from other blade companies that will fit X-acto knives.
X-acto blades are numbered from 2 to 24 and each one has a specific purpose:
#2 Exacto blade – Long, fine-pointed blade
#10 Exacto blade – Rounded, general purpose blade
#11 Exacto blade – Fine pointed classic blade
#16 Exacto blade – Scoring blades
#17 Exacto blade – lightweight chiseling knife blades
#18 Exacto blade – Heavy chiseling blade
#22 Exacto blade – Heavy-duty carving blade
#24 Exacto blade – Deburring blade
What Metal Are X-Acto Knife Blades Made Out Of?
X-acto blades are usually made of carbon steel and have an additional oxidized coating to prevent rust. Alternative brands may also have a thin layer of lubricant added to further stop rust from forming.
Types of Exacto Knife Handles
X-acto knife handles come in 3 types: #1, #2, and #5 corresponding to fine, medium, and heavy-duty. Both #1 and #2 are fairly interchangeable for the same tasks. #5 is much more heavy-duty and is best for cutting and chiseling heavier materials. The handles are listed as follows:
#1 Handle – Precision knife handle for fine cutting made of aluminum and colored silver. Uses #2, #10, #11, #16, #17, blades.
#2 Handle – Aluminum, silver colored, medium handle. Uses #18, #22, #24 blades.
#5 Handle – Red, Plastic, Thick Heavy Duty Handle. Uses #18, #22, #24 blades.
Each knife handle should be labeled for you to see before buying.
Why Does Foam Dull X-acto Knives?
Foam board can require deep cuts that need pressure placed on the knife. This can wear out the X-acto blade quickly, which is why the X-acto company created the X-acto board cutter.
Extra pressure can also possible break the X-acto blade, so you may consider using a regular multi-purpose knife or box cutter to cut foam instead.
Using a SHARPS Container For X-Acto Blade Disposal
SHARPS containers are perfect for storing used X-acto blades. They are puncture and impact-resistant and can be found in hospitals and labs for storing biohazard cutting blades, needles, and syringes. They come in different sizes ranging from small, portable containers to large, multi-gallon bins. You can easily see how much of the container has been filled through the clear lid.
It’s important to only buy a SHARPS container that meets OSHA and EPA requirements. Sharps containers will usually be red in color and have the label “Danger Biohazard” clearly visible on the side.
Make Your Own X-Acto Blade Waste Container
If you do not have a Sharps container, but have empty plastic (not glass) jars around, you can make your own used X-acto blade storage container. Make sure to label it clearly and keep stored away from small children. Once it is 1/2 – 2/3 full, tape the lid shut and place it in your normal trash.
When handling X-acto blades, always consider safety because they are extremely sharp, even when dulled. They can also have grime, dust, chemicals and other contaminants stuck to them which could harm the skin. Try wearing safety gloves when handling X-acto blades and store them in a locked cabinet or toolbox away from children or anyone that could bump or spill them.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics 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.