Exacto Knife: Best Buys for Leatherworking

Exacto knives, also called precision or utility knives, are a staple in leatherwork. Each of its blades is used for different purposes, such as cutting and tracing. Knowing the task and material you are using the knife for will help you purchase the right exacto knife for your leather projects. 

Before purchasing an exacto knife, you must know its different blades and handles that serve distinct purposes. This article will talk about the best buys exacto knife and knife sets, the cost for each, and the pros and cons. I will also discuss the proper handling of these knives and the steps to safely change blades as you would often do when using them in leatherwork. 

Must-Know about Exacto Knives before Making your Purchase

Exacto knives are small blades mounted in a pen-like handle that works in cutting leather and leather shapes, tracing design templates, and carving leather.

Different Blade Types for Different Leather Work

Exacto knives have removable blades which can fit into different handles. The blades and handles are interchanged depending on the thickness of the leather you are cutting. The blade used may also vary on the types of cuts you make on the leather. 

The #10 General Purpose Blade has a round edge suitable for many work such as whittling, slicing, and carving leather. 

Next is the #11 Precision Blade, which is commonly used for cutting heavyweight materials. Its very fine pointed blade cuts the best edges and corners and can be used for carving small parts of the leather. 

#16 Scoring Blade is perfect for tracing curves with its small blade length and flexible design. This blade changes direction for ease of curved cuts. 

Used for lightweight work, the #17 Lightweight Chiselling Knife Blade is ideal for marking and cutting thin leather.

The versatile #18 Heavyweight Chiselling Blade is used for chiselling wood, leather, and other materials. It also works for thin cuts in small materials.

Lastly, the #24 Deburring Blade neaten and smoothens the rough edges of the material. This blade is an alternative for burnishing leather edges.

Each Handle Fits Different Blade Type

There are three sizes of handle for the blades to fit in. The #1 handle is the smallest metal handle for working with your lightweight materials. The blades compatible with this handle are #11, #10, #16, #17. 

#2 handle is the next size which is slightly bigger than the #1. Its design is for cutting heavy materials such as vegetable-tanned leather. The suited blades with this handle are #18, #24, #22.

The biggest and strongest handle is the #5. It has a contoured body that supports heavyweight cutting and carving. #22 and #18 are the blades compatible with this handle. 

Best Exacto Knife for Leatherworking

If you are looking for exacto knives that are great value for the price, I got you covered here. I listed below the five best exacto knives in the market and where you can purchase them.

X-Acto No.1 Precision Knife

This precision knife is the number one in the market considering the trusted brand of X-Acto. Available at the X-Acto store in Amazon, this knife costs $5.74. 

The lightweight hand tool weighing 0.8 ounces has the #11 point blade. Contrary to its size, this knife is recommended for heavy types of leather. The pointed blade is also suitable for small precise cuts in leather. 

X-Acto tools are made from quality materials. The knife comprises a sharp and durable zirconium nitride-coated blade and a lightweight aluminum handle for easy maneuver. A safety cap also covers the blade to prevent accidental cuts. 

Since exacto knives have removable blades, the common problem when it comes to this is the loosening of its blades. The handle that holds the knife requires constant re-tightening, most especially when working with thicker leather. The sharp knife might also be dangerous if not handled well, as its safety cap often falls off the knife. 

Excel Blade Fit Grip Knife

The Excel Blade Fit Grip knife is a light-duty tool for precision cutting and trimming. It is available at Excel Blades Store for $7.71. 

With the #11 blade, you’ll produce careful, meticulous, and consistent cuts. The ergonomic handle has a contoured rubberized grip that gives excellent control and comfort to the leatherworker. It does not cause muscle fatigue even for an extended period of use and follows a balanced cutting process.

This multipurpose tool for both leatherworking and crafts is designed with a carbon steel angled blade which is sharp and ideal for producing curved lines and cutting leather shapes. It also comes with a shatter-resistant safety cap that protects the blade when not in use. Unlike other exacto knives, the Excel Blades handle holds firmly to the blade and does not loosen even when cutting thick materials. 

However, some leatherworkers raise a concern regarding this knife. When holding it, the position of the hand is a little far from the blade, limiting the control over the tool. 

DIYSELF Exacto Knife Set

The number one best-seller Exacto knife kit in Amazon is by DIYSELF, which costs  $6.99 only. For tiny cuts on heavyweight leather, the set comes with valuable package content. In the package, you’ll find two pieces of exacto knives with safety caps, forty pieces of blades in three types (# 11, #16, and #18), and a piece of a steel ruler. 

DIYSELF offers an excellent set of knives and a lightweight premium metal handle for a steady grip and reduced hand fatigue. The easy-change blade system only takes 5 seconds or less to finish. 

Blades of this brand are very sharp, of good quality, and not substandard for the low price. The barrel also does a great job and tightens firmly to hold the blade. 

This set is incredible for its price. However, the ruler which is an add-on to this package, doesn’t give exact measurements having an excess length in the zero mark. 

MULWARK Precision Craft Knife Set

Another knife set is the MULWARK crafting knife tool kit, used in woodworking and leatherworking. You can find it on Amazon for $14.99. 

Great inclusions await you upon purchase of this kit. The set comes with 13 pieces interchangeable blades namely #2, #10,#11,#17,#18,#22, and #24. These blades are compatible with any leatherwork such as chiselling, deburring, cutting fine curved lines, and carving. It is complete with three exacto handles, which you can use with their corresponding blades. 

Durable and rust-resistant carbon steel blades last a long time and can withstand long periods of tough projects. It is used not only by leatherworkers but also by artists, hobbyists, architects. 

The heavy-duty knife handle is made from soft rubber and plastic with a thick base for good grip and stability. There is also a flat part on the handle that prevents the knife from rolling on the working table. 

This exacto knife set promotes safe storage. All knives and blades have plastic cases with a closing latch. Magnetic slots for holding replacement blades in place prevent them from cluttering inside the kit. 

A downside in having this kit is the difficulty in pulling out the handles from the kit. The blades also tend to loosen their grip after a long period of use. 

Fiskars Fingertip Precision Knife

Ideal for cutting intricate details and for lightweight leatherwork, this precision knife is available on Fiskars Store at Amazon for only $9.99. 

The ergonomic loop handle is a place to rest your fingers for maximum control and comfort. It prevents you from having hand cramps from gripping too tight. The loop handle also stops the knife from rolling off the table because of its shape. 

Your purchase will include a safety cap for protecting the blade and five #11 replacement blades. This knife is amazing for cutting straight lines and is suitable for reaching small areas to cut. 

Its loop handle may be a disadvantage when cutting curves and circles because it may limit the hand movement when dealing with these shapes. 

Easy Steps to Safely Changing Your Exacto Blades 

Remove the blade by twisting the knurled metal on the handle in a clockwise direction. This loosens the blade grip on the knife. Once loose, carefully pull out the blade and store it properly. You can wrap it in thick paper and cover the blade before disposing. Remember not to put the used blades in the trash. Use an empty container to store them, and do not leave it hanging around your workplace.

Insert a new blade on the slot where you removed the old one. Once the blade is placed, twist the knurled metal in a counterclockwise direction to tighten the blade’s grip. Lastly, put the safety cap back. 


Dealing with knives and blade types may be a handful of knowledge to manage. I hope this article enlightened you and answered all your questions about how you will choose the best exacto knife for your leather projects. Now open your online shopping app and add to cart the exacto knife that will work best for you.

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