Province|State: New York
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SummaryX-ACTO knives are a great tool for any stringer to have in their arsenal. X-ACTO knives can be picked up at craft stores, online and major home improvement stores. They come in many different varieties as well as multiple blade configurations that can be purchased separately or in a kit.
The main uses for X-ACTO is cutting leathers when stringing traditional pockets and make quick work of cutting string. They also work great for cleaning out plastic slag left in holes on some older heads. Another main use is for dying heads when using stencils, that will be discussed in a latter Tools of the trade. Most newer stringing methods are going away from cutting slits at the bottom of leathers for one piece or tying off crosslace. If cutting a slit is still what you'd like to do when stringing your traditional here's a tip for not cutting your fingers and making it a little easier to control. The image below illustrates the technique where you pull a little slack in the leather then grab a set of needle nose pliers that we talked about in a previous tools of the trade. Fold the leather over and grab it with the pliers. Then you can simply use your X-ACTO and make a nice clean cut. The pliers helps to stop the blade to prevent to large of a cut. This technique also works for cutting slits at the top of leathers if there's no slits to start.
Another way to cut slits in leathers is to use a flat chisel X-ACTO blade. Make sure to set the leather on a flat surface that the blade will not cut through, such as a cutting board and press it through. The blades are usually sharp enough to cut easily and if you need the slit to be larger just make another cut off the first.
X-ACTO knives are definitely a must for any stringers tool kits because of their many uses and blade configurations. I personally keep at least two handles in my stringers kit with two different blades (helps reduce blade changing) that usually take care of most cutting needs I have.