Waaay sharper than Xacto blades

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Forum topic by UncleStumpy posted 04-15-2014 11:54 AM 10390 views 6 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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734 posts in 2280 days

04-15-2014 11:54 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tip blade carving shaping veneering joining trick scalpel sharp blade

I have always used Xacto knives for all kinds of things, but came across something much better.
What could be sharper than surgical scalpels? You use them exactly like an Xacto knife but these cut a much thinner line – perfect for cutting picture frame matting or anything else that requires a fine cut.

I found them on Ebay. Since hospital quality scalpels are very expensive, the alternative is veterinary tools!
You have to look around for the best deal, but I always get the combo of 1 scalpel handle with 100 blades.
There are about 25 different blades to choose from…. just find one of the listings that show drawings of different blades with the corresponding number (ie #21). Pick one and the hunt is on.

The average price is about $7.50 for 100 blades and the handle, but you can find it for less if you feel like rooting around in the listings. If you want to just “Buy it Now” it will be anywhere from $7.50 to $9.99. So you don’t have to feel bad about changing blades as often as you like…. and I do! That’s just 7 to 10 cents per blade.

On Ebay go to: Business and Industrial/ Healthcare, Lab and Life Sciences/ Medical Instruments/ Surgical/ Scalpels.
Sounds complicated, but if you are familiar with Ebay at all, it’s a breeze.
I still use Xacto knives for the sort of bulkier stuff, but you can’t beat a scalpel for precision.

I hope you find this info helpful!!! Uncle Stumpy

-- "They don't want it perfect - they want it SPECIAL"

22 replies so far

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1857 days

#1 posted 04-15-2014 12:14 PM

Thanks for the tip. I’m always restoring planes, and taping off machined mating surfaces can be a pain especially on the bed area. If a blade isn’t sharp it just shreds the tape.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5096 posts in 1688 days

#2 posted 04-15-2014 12:20 PM

My sister in-law is a vet and I once asked her about getting scalpels. In her practice they use the same ones used in hospitals for people = no savings. Not sure if they all operate this way or if just where she works?

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2939 days

#3 posted 04-15-2014 01:12 PM

Jewelry suppliers have them. We use them to make rubber molds.
This a is a link to one such source.
The Swann-Morton blades are made in England, are the best I ever used, and sell for ~$21 per 100.

Be very careful with these. It is not at all uncommon to cut yourself and not know it till you see blood everywhere. Seriously!

View doubleDD's profile


7321 posts in 2011 days

#4 posted 04-15-2014 02:35 PM

i do use a xacto knife from time to time, this may be something to look into furtrher. Thanks.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View jmartel's profile


7808 posts in 2118 days

#5 posted 04-15-2014 05:09 PM

I will have to remember that, thanks.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Roger's profile


20923 posts in 2772 days

#6 posted 05-06-2014 11:13 AM

Thnx for the tip U.S. That should give you some very fine cutting

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View JAAune's profile


1788 posts in 2284 days

#7 posted 05-06-2014 12:49 PM

Post-mortem blades might be the best option. They aren’t sterilized so they’re cheaper than actual surgical blades.

-- See my work at and

View UncleStumpy's profile


734 posts in 2280 days

#8 posted 05-06-2014 12:58 PM

JAAune, where the heck would you find those? Since you mentioned it, you probably have an idea.
Love to hear about it!

-- "They don't want it perfect - they want it SPECIAL"

View Underdog's profile


1076 posts in 2003 days

#9 posted 05-06-2014 01:44 PM

I wonder, would they work for carving too?

I’ve been using my folding utility knife for carving and love it. If you break or dull the edge, just flip it to the unused end or replace it. Boom! Back to razor sharp again.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4907 posts in 3928 days

#10 posted 05-06-2014 01:47 PM

Now I can REALLY hurt myself. :)


View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 2921 days

#11 posted 05-06-2014 01:50 PM

I’m also an avid user of the Swann-Morton scalpels and blades. There are many shapes, but I use the 25A for everything. I have several always close at hand on the bench. Blades are inexpensive, but can be extended with a couple passes over 1000 grit paper. Scary sharp. In the shop, these have replaced all the utility knives, Xacto knives, craft knives, etc. For precise work, they are unequalled.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View ChuckV's profile


3111 posts in 3495 days

#12 posted 05-06-2014 02:05 PM

I started to use these when I took an inlay workshop. I no longer worry about dulling my utility knife by hacking through something like a corrugated box.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View JAAune's profile


1788 posts in 2284 days

#13 posted 05-06-2014 02:24 PM

I’m not really sure where to get the post mortem blades since I never bought them myself but I did use some purchased by someone else. They were the Swann-Morton brand. A look at their website indicates they have “PM” in the item number if they are the non-sterile products.

I’d guess lab supply catalogs that provide dissection tools for biology labs would be another source to check. Perhaps Fischer Scientific might have some.

-- See my work at and

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2834 days

#14 posted 05-06-2014 03:11 PM

Thanks for this post. I’m sure going to check them out.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View UncleStumpy's profile


734 posts in 2280 days

#15 posted 05-06-2014 03:18 PM

JAAune, thanks for the info. I looked them up and the PM blades are still a little pricey.
I’ll stick with the veterinary blades for now.

-- "They don't want it perfect - they want it SPECIAL"

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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