Complete Guide to Cutoff Knives

Complete Guide to Cutoff Knives

Cutoff knives are a classic blade design, useful in various industries and applications. From cutting to scoring to slicing to perforating, cutoff knives give you precise and versatile capabilities for your manufacturing or processing operation.

Our complete guide to cutoff knives will cover how to use these blades and what types of materials you can cut with them. We’ll also explain how to design custom cutoff knives, including choosing the correct blade material and edge configuration for your applications. Finally, we’ll walk you through our precision blade manufacturing process at York Saw & Knife and what to expect when you order custom cutoff knives from us.

What Are Cutoff Knives?

Cutoff knives are straight-bladed knives, in contrast to circular knives or tray knives, which do not have a straight configuration. Also known as guillotine knives or swing-style knives, cutoff knives get their name from their application in industrial machines with a swing apparatus, meaning the knife moves independently against the workpiece. On the other hand, when working with fixed knives, you must move the workpiece against the knife to achieve the cut. 

Cutoff knives typically perform cuts at 90 degrees to the workpiece. However, custom angles are necessary for some applications, such as printing paper, which you can cut at angles around 22 degrees.

Because cutoff knives make straight, clean cuts, they’re the ideal blade design for industries like food processing, packaging and converting. Cutoff knives create uniform cuts, making them excellent for cutting materials like fiberglass, leather and foam. Since these materials risk splitting or peeling from incorrect knife usage, cutoff knives prevent re-work and material waste while ensuring the cut material maintains its integrity.

Cutoff knives are a versatile blade design that can make clean, powerful cuts through various materials of different hardnesses. When choosing the correct cutoff knife blade for your application, it’s critical to select a material composition with the ideal balance of hardness and durability to withstand repeated use in an industrial setting. Cutoff knives should be high-quality and maintain their sharp edge for thousands of cutting cycles before needing maintenance.

At York Saw & Knife, we can manufacture custom cutoff knives in various materials, profiles and tooth configurations that meet the needs of the cutting material you work with. 

What Are Guillotine Blades?

You may also hear people refer to cutoff knives as guillotine blades. In a guillotine cutting operation, the machine’s arm apparatus swings the knife against the stationary workpiece. The guillotine knife usually makes contact with the material at a perpendicular angle, cutting straight through from the force of the swing. In some applications, you can adjust your guillotine knife’s cutting angle to suit the workpiece and ensure the cleanest cross-cut possible for maximum quality.

Guillotine Blades

Guillotine, or swing-style, knives are the preferred blade design in paper cutting. By delivering precision control and cuts, guillotine knives reduce or eliminate chipping. In high-capacity applications, guillotine knives can repeatedly slice directly through several layers of material, ensuring high productivity in any operation.

Cutoff Knife Industry Uses

Cutoff knives are the preferred blade design across several industries. They’re a highly versatile, customizable style of industrial blade, adapting to suit applications ranging from delicate food processing to rugged rubber converting. Precision cutoff knives play a role in many processing and manufacturing operations, often using different blade configurations for different steps throughout the process.

The following are some of the top cutoff knife industry uses.

  • Food processing: The food processing industry relies on precise, hygienic cutting tools to preserve food while it gets sliced, chopped or cut for processing. Cutoff knives help food processors make clean cuts through hard foods, such as fruits and vegetables with pits, seeds or rinds.
  • Manufacturing: Whether you manufacture products using materials as hard as glass or as soft as foam, manufacturers need reliable and precise industrial blades that deliver the smooth cut needed to ensure the quality of workpieces. Cutoff knives allow manufacturers to perform cuts in wet or dry scenarios.
  • Textiles: To process textiles efficiently, operators need durable blades that can cleanly cut through materials of differing thicknesses. With custom cutoff knives, textile processing of leather, cloth or non-wovens is fast and economical, resulting in a high-quality end product.
  • Packaging: To process high volumes of packaging, paper and cardboard products, operators rely on cutoff knives’ convenience and performance. No matter the application, whether it’s perforating, cross-cutting or horizontal or vertical cutting, cutoff knives can suit your packaging processing needs.

Learn more about cutoff knives from York Saw & Knife and their uses across several industries.

Cutoff Knife Applications

When you choose York Saw & Knife as your custom industrial blade manufacturer, you’ll get the ideal cutoff knife for your application, including blades designed to precisely and cleanly cut your given material type.

We can customize cutoff knives to perform on virtually any type of material and configure them to handle multiple cutting needs. You can use cutoff knives for everyday cutting tasks, plus slicing, trimming, converting, scoring and fabricating applications.

Cutoff Knife Applications

Below are some of the top types of materials cutoff knives are suitable for cutting.

  • Foam: Cut through foam and lightweight plastics with swing-style, guillotine or cutoff knives from York Saw & Knife. Our team can design and configure cutoff knives for your needs, including the perfect blade design for the material’s softness, density and quantity. 
  • Leather: Whether you need to cut, score or perforate leather materials, cutoff knives are an efficient and high-performing solution for repeatedly processing large quantities of material. Cutoff knives from York Saw & Knife will ensure your blade maintains its edge even after continuous leather cutting.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Cutoff knives can meet all your fruit and vegetable processing needs. From slicing, chopping and trimming to peeling, shearing and scoring, cutoff knives from York Saw & Knife help your fruit and vegetable processing facility preserve your foods longer and reduce product loss with cleaner, more precise cuts. 
  • Meat and seafood: When processing meat and seafood, you need durable and efficient cutting solutions, like cutoff knives. With cutoff knives from York Saw & Knife, you’ll get the clean, precise cuts you need to preserve your meat and seafood products without the risk of dull or uneven cuts.
  • Foil: Whether you need to cut, rewind, perforate or score foil materials, cutoff knives from York Saw & Knife can help you speed up your operation’s efficiency. Cutoff knives allow you to make precise, clean cuts on foil and film materials in different thicknesses.

Learn more about how to choose the right knife for your industrial application.

Cutoff Knife Materials

When designing your custom cutoff knife, it’s critical to choose a blade material that’s suitable for your industrial application. The primary factor in selecting a blade material is the balance between hardness vs. toughness, which is the blade’s wear resistance compared to its ability to withstand fracturing or splitting. The two properties typically have an inverse relationship, meaning it’s critical to find a knife that strikes the ideal balance between the two and is durable enough to effectively cut through your given material.

Below are the primary materials for cutoff knives from York Saw & Knife.

  • High-carbon steel: High-carbon steel is a preferred industrial blade material because it’s incredibly durable, making it suitable for numerous applications. Adding at least 0.55% carbon to the steel improves hardness and wear resistance so the blade can withstand repeated use. However, high-carbon steel has a lower toughness level compared to other alloys, making high-carbon steel cutoff knives prone to chipping if dropped or improperly used.
  • Stainless steel: When you need clean, hygienic and long-lasting industrial cutoff knife blades, choose stainless steel, a combination of iron, carbon and chromium. Stainless steel blades are also resistant to rust and moisture damage and are ideal for food processing.
  • Solid carbide: For industrial applications requiring long-lasting blades that maintain their sharp edge, choose solid carbide, which is a tungsten steel. Solid carbide has a high hardness level, making solid carbide cutoff knives highly wear-resistant even after repeated use.
  • Ceramic: Ceramic is a non-steel blade material that’s excellent at cutting other hard materials. Like stainless steel, ceramic is also resistant to corrosion, and can also cut very fine materials with precision.
  • 52100: As a high-carbon steel, 52100 steel is a relatively hard material but has high toughness. Cutoff knives made from 52100 steel retain their edge after repeated use and are highly moisture-resistant, making them ideal in wet cutting applications.
  • M-2 high-speed steel: M-2 high-speed steel contains tungsten and vanadium to increase the blade’s hardness. Cutoff knives made from M-2 steel are suitable for numerous applications, including cutting materials at high temperatures.
  • D-2: Another high-carbon steel is D-2 tool steel, which is hard and heat-resistant, like M-2. D-2 steel contains chromium, meaning cutoff knives made from this material will remain highly resistant to rust and moisture.
  • CPM 10V: CPM 10V is a high-speed steel containing vanadium to give the material high wear resistance. Cutoff knives made of CPM 10V are hard and tough and can withstand repeated, high-impact use.

Compare different industrial knife materials and explore the benefits of each type of metal.

Cutoff Knife Configurations

In addition to incorporating different materials, cutoff knife design can have various edge configurations, depending on what you’re cutting and under which conditions. When designing a custom cutoff knife, the type of edge tooth is critical because it permits you to achieve the clean, precise cut you need through the thickness or hardness of the material in question.

Below are the edge geometries to choose from when designing your custom cutoff knife from York Saw & Knife:

  • V-style
  • Scalloped
  • L-style
  • Peg style
  • Slant tooth

Each of the above tooth geometries differs in how it impacts the material, whether uniformly or with varying levels of impact based on which portion of the edge comes into contact with the material.


Cutoff knives can have three types of V-shaped teeth — standard V, vari-depth V and hi/low V. Standard V contains a straight line of V-shaped teeth for even impact, while vari-depth V contains staggered teeth for varying impact at any given point in the cut. Hi/low V is a row of alternating high- and low-depth V-shaped teeth, which help spread out the cutting edge’s impact and regulate the amount of force.

Scalloped cutoff knives have a serrated edge with uniformly rounded teeth. These blades are useful for softer or denser materials, including foams and some foods.

Learn more about designing custom cutoff knives with any of these tooth geometries by contacting York Saw & Knife today.

Making Cutoff Knives

Making cutoff knives requires a precision manufacturing process to shape the desired material into the correct profile and configuration. To ensure optimal performance and durability, cutoff knives are also heat-treated.

When you order custom cutoff knives from York Saw & Knife, you can either request a custom blade design by sending us your dimensions and other application details or send us a sample to reverse-engineer from an existing cutoff knife. 

Below is the York Saw & Knife process for making cutoff knives.

  • Material selection: Our team will gather information about your cutoff knife application, including the type of material you work with. Doing so allows us to determine the ideal material for shaping your blade, whether it’s stainless steel, solid carbide or a high-speed steel.
  • Cutting and heat treating: The York Saw & Knife engineering team uses a laser cutting or water jet cutting process to cut the precise edge shape for your application. We then put the cutoff knife through a series of heat treatments to harden and quench the material to the right level.
  • Finishing, grinding and sharpening: After hardening, the cutoff knife gets flattened and leveled to produce a smooth final product, ensuring the blade’s edge is as sharp as possible before shipping.
  • Quality assurance: Custom cutoff knives undergo a final quality assurance inspection. Our team visually inspects the knife to ensure there are no flaws and corrects any mistakes.

Learn more about the York Saw & Knife custom industrial blade manufacturing process.

Choose York Saw & Knife for Cutoff Knives and Blades

For high-quality precision-made cutoff knives for any application, choose York Saw & Knife. We’re proud to offer American-made industrial machine blades, including cutoff knives and other knife designs for various industrial uses. Get the custom cutoff blade you need to make clean, precise cuts with a blade edge designed to last.

Whether your application is food processing, converting, packaging or textiles, we can design and manufacture the ideal cutoff blade for your needs. Contact us today to learn more about custom cutoff knife manufacturing or request a quote for your blade manufacturing project. Call 800-233-1969 to speak with a representative.

Choose York Saw & Knife for Cutoff Knives and Blades