Slicing Polymer Clay Canes With A Dull Knife Sucks

Slicing Polymer Clay Canes

Vid #041: Here’s How to Keep Your Polymer Clay Cutting Blade Sharp:

First of all, the reason why it sucks to use a dull knife for slicing canes is because your delicate cane patterns will become smudged, making the slices unusable. But before you toss a blade that has become dull, try conditioning the cutting edge with a knife steel. You can buy them where ever kitchen supplies are sold.

The knife steel cleans up any burrs or flat spots that have developed along the cutting edge of your blade. Learning how to use a knife steel properly will significantly extend the life of your polymer clay cutting blades and you won’t need to replace them near as often.

Did you know… that polymer clay knives are often referred to as tissue blades? This is because many of the blades sold in craft stores for polymer clay, actually come from medical supply companies. Yes… doctors use them too for surgical procedures. If nothing else, this little piece of polymer clay trivia should remind you to be careful when using any kind of sharp cutting tool.

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The full version of the “Keep Your Blade Sharp” preview video shown above, is part of a free bonus package that I give away as a special promotion with the purchase of my Polymer Clay Bead Making Fundamentals Course. In this video I demonstrate how to use a knife steel to sharpen polymer clay tissue blades. I also show what can happen when you try to slice canes with a dull tool. Let’s just say, it isn’t pretty!

  1. Cindy Lietz, 03 May, 2008

    Using a knife steel takes a bit of practice. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll get a lot more life out of your polymer clay tissue blades (and fewer smudged cane slices).

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Here’s Some Red Polymer Clay Recipes for You to Try Out

  2. Lani King, 30 June, 2008

    Hi Cindy,

    I really appreciate the videos and all I am learning. I just had surgery and will begin the practical phase next week. So far I am just watched and read and amassed tools and clay. Once my husband picks up a 12×12 ceramic tile I will be on my way. I have seen someone make a tree face out of the clay and although I begin this craft wanting to make beads, I can see there is a plethera of things you can do with it. I am truly looking forward to getting started. I purposefully did not start so that I could use it as a distraction during my recovery. You videos have been very very helpful.

    On the video about sharpening your blades. I wanted to comment that going in the same direction of the blade on both sides would be the optimum way to sharpen. All blades have microscopic teeth and going in opposite directions on either side will make those teeth mollywappered or against each other. It may not make that much difference in the look of the cut on the clay, but this is my years of watching the Food Channel paying off. :) Thanks again for your easy to follow instructions. -lani

  3. Cindy Lietz, 01 July, 2008

    Thank You Lani for your great comments! It makes me happy to hear that you are enjoyiing the bead making course so much!!

    If he hasn’t done it yet, get your husband to pick up a couple of 6×8 tiles instead of the 12×12. The smaller size fits into a toaster oven nicely and you can work on one while the other is in the oven baking. Having two also means you can use them to sandwich pendants between for keeping them flat while baking. The video on doing that is in the course so make sure to watch that.

    Also a great big thank you on the knife sharpening tip!! I had no idea! I always do it your way because I find it easier, but didn’t know it could make a difference if you do it the other way! I’ll let people know.

    I hope you heal quickly from your surgery.

    Cindy’s last post..USA Clay Cane Designs Absent From Fimo Nail Art Trends in Google

  4. Cindy Lietz, 27 July, 2008

    I thought I might share a great tip I got from a friend of mine regarding blade safety. She paints nail polish on the edge of the blade she picks it up with. It helps dramatically NOT to pick up by the wrong edge.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 29 July, 2008

    That is an excellent tip Lynnellen! Many fingers thank you!!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Slicing Fimo Nail Art Canes | Sculpey Polymer Clay Cake Toppers

  6. Pamela Reader, 26 August, 2008

    great suggestion. Thanks a ton.

  7. Cindy Lietz, 26 August, 2008

    You’re welcome Pamela! Thanks for commenting!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Blue Flower Earrings – A Jewelry Making Project Using Premo Sculpey

  8. Marianne, 15 September, 2008

    This is great, very timely for me. Thank you for the extra videos, too.


  9. Cindy Lietz, 18 September, 2008

    You are very welcome Marianne… enjoy!

  10. Cindy Erickson, 21 September, 2008

    Thank you, Cindy. I was wondering how I could sharpen my blade, and your video is my answer! Now, I just need to get a knife steel.

    :) Cindy E.

  11. Sue Werner, 28 January, 2009

    Hi Cindy,
    I was cleaning my studio the other day and found a bunch of replacement blades for a snap off exacto type utility knife. They were the large size and other than the marks for the snap off sections they were about the same size as a tissue blade. I cut some clay with one and it did not leave any marks at the snap off points, and it seemed pretty durable, not as if it was going to snap at any of the joints without making an effort to do so. Have you ever used these blades in this way. They are economical. What do you think? Bad idea?

  12. Cindy Erickson, 28 January, 2009

    To the contrary, Cindy…great idea!!! I think I probably have some somewhere!

    My husband and I are going to Las Vegas for the first time ever and are leaving in the morning. If you don’t hear from me for a week or so, that’s why!

    Hugs to you,
    Cindy E.

  13. Cindy Lietz, 29 January, 2009

    @Sue: Using snap-apart Exacto knife blades is not a good idea. Sorry :-( Although it seems like a cheap alternative, these blades are designed to snap apart. Having one snap into your face, could have disastrous consequences! Please just use the blades designed for cutting clay. OK? I would hate to see you get hurt!!

    @Cindy: If you are thinking of using th snap off blades, please don’t. I think it is too dangerous, and I want you to be safe! Have a great trip to Las Vegas! Win some money for me!

  14. Carolyn Chalmers, 12 May, 2010

    Cindy, I have enjoyed all your bead making beginners course and the subsequent videos on sanding and sharpening of blades. I like your info so much I signed up today for your Polymer Clay Tutor Library. Carolyn

  15. Phaedrakat, 12 May, 2010

    @Carolyn Chalmers: Welcome Carolyn! You’re going to love being a member! It’s such a great deal, too! Have fun!

  16. Cindy Lietz, 12 May, 2010

    Welcome to the community Carolyn. It’s GREAT to have you here!

  17. Judy F, 21 May, 2014

    Hi Cindy,

    Thank you so much for the additional videos you sent out with the course. Who knew that plastic wrap was not all the same?! Or that you can sharpen blades or use color crayons. And, I’m getting some dry-wall sandpaper today.

    I so enjoy your on-going creativity and enthusiasm.

    I really appreciate your clear instructions and clear photography. I first got exposed to polymer clay in a metal-smithing class. We made pendants with bezels and filled the bezels with polymer clay. I was intrigued, and loved the colors. I took a one day workshop on polymer clay. It was a pretty slap-dash affair. I know people want to go home with something after a workshop, and one day is not much time to get into the details. But, I left with a couple of distorted canes, a few beads appliqued with canes, and not much else. There was definitely not enough information to keep going. I tried, with sadly disappointing results, a few things on my own, and knew I needed help. I checked books out of the library and started trolling You Tube. That’s when, thank goodness, I found your videos. The basics classes were just what I needed. I could see you doing what the books described and doing it step by step and explaining why. Now I feel confident enough to play and experiment and my results have much improved. Thank you!

    The only thing I was left with questions about after the basics was the sanding and polishing. I know you’ve gone back to it in later videos. But, I wasn’t clear about how long I needed to sand or how I was to know when I had sanded enough—what should it look like or feel like–with each grit. And, that I was only going to get a mellow glow after buffing with a cloth, and a high shine only after hours with a cloth or a few minutes with a buffing wheel.

    I also want you to know that I appreciate your business reliability. You respond to emails and phone calls. The videos and the payments come out when promised. I feel very fortunate to have found you.

    Judy Franklin

  18. Cindy Lietz, 21 May, 2014

    Thank you Judy for your wonderful comment! I really appreciate all the kind words. It makes me happy that you are learning so much from the videos.

    In the next release of the Beginners Course, I am will definitely be updating the info about sanding, buffing and finishing. If you have not done so, be sure to search on those topics here at the blog. There is lots of updated info already posted in the many articles, videos and comment threads that have been accumulating over the past few years.

    Thanks again… you are wonderful!!

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