Friday, December 6, 2013

Talking Turkey about Cutters

 One of my followers has asked if I would compare cutters and frames, so today I'll talk about cutters.  Like many of you, when I first started hooking I used a rotary cutter.  Since I wasn't sure if rug hooking would be something I'd continue to want to do didn't desire to spend a lot of money investing in tools at first.

When I did decide to purchase a cutter the Townsend wasn't even born yet.  The options were Bliss, Fraser, Rigby and I had heard the word Bolivar, a Canadian cutter, but also heard it was expensive and with an extensive waiting list.  The waiting list was enough to thwart any ideas for that cutter if the cost wasn't. 

As I pondered my decision the Bolivar was eliminated but couldn't decide which of the other three I wanted.  My thoughts were that having one with suction cups would be great and could put it on a table top ~ plus it was a wee bit cheaper than the Fraser.  So the Bliss was my choice and I purchased it used from a hooking teacher reducing her stash. 

But then a friend had a Fraser 500-1 and I could see how fast the strips came out of that cutter compared to mine.  Once I had a little more disposable income I purchased a Fraser 500 and did like it better.  Besides, now I had two cutters and could have different size strips on each.

Oh, but then the Townsend was born.  And a happy birth it was and cheers were heard around the hooking world (yeah, I know I'm getting rather dramatic here aren't I?)  While there was a long hesitation on putting out that money at first, I decided to purchase the Townsend cutter and 3 cartridges.  I got the #6 for free (my choice) and purchased #7, #8, #8.5.  Later I decided to purchse the #9 and just recently treated myself to the #10 (1/2").  I just LOVE my Townsend!!!

Prices of cutters and blades are different now than then so I'll give you today's known cost:

Bliss ~ Manufactured by Harry M. Fraser Company, has suction cups to mount on table.  It takes more cranks to cut the same length of wool than the Fraser 500-1 but does not require attaching to a table or other object.  Cost is $300 new from Harry Fraser and sometimes you can get them used either from Fraser, e-bay or other hookers who are upgrading to a Townsend.  Blades cost $37.50 and are interchangeable with the Fraser 500-1.
Bliss Model A
Fraser 500-1 ~ Olso manufactured by Harry Fraser Company requires attaching to a table side.  OR you could do what I did and buy a cheapo unpainted stool from AC Moore or Michael's and then it can be placed on top of a table instead of teetering on the edge.  It takes fewer cranks of the handle to go thru that strip of wool than the Bliss.  Cost new from Fraser is $340 and the blades are $37.50.  Again these can be purchased used on eBay or hookers who are upgrading.

Downside to these cutters is that changing blades requires to loosen and remove the blade and loosen the tension of a knob either on top or under the particular cutter.  Then replacing the blade with the desired size and tightening the bolt and tightening the tension again until it cuts properly.

I would like to add that Fraser gives EXCELLENT service and I still own one of each and it is on those cutters that I have my small blades attached.  Since I rarely use anything small just didn't want to spend the money for a Townsend cartridge for anything under #6 so kept my dependable Bliss and Fraser, just for small cuts IF I needed them for eyes or flower centers.
Fraser Model 500-1
The Rigby requires "fingers" to go with the cutter.  I don't know what the new price is for this cutter.  I owned one briefly and sold it as soon as possible.  Frankly I didn't have much luck getting service from the manufacturer but perhaps that issue was something of the past.  While I've heard people who like this cutter, it is not one I would tell my best friend to buy.
The Bolivar Cutter has 3 types of cutters.  The Standard has 3 fixed blades (you get to choose the sizes) and the entire unit rotates around in a circle until your cut size appears.   There is a Model 5 which you can interchange blades, and also offer a single blade option.  You can check out their web site at the link just above.  The cost of the Standard is $600 plus shipping from Canada.  If you check out their web site you can see the complex pricing schedule depending on which model suits you best and for what price.
Bolivar Fabric Cutter in action
Then there is the lovely Townsend frame which is now being manufactured by Beeline-Townsend.  The cost of the cutter body new is $540 and comes with one cartridge (your choice of size), a cutter caddy, hex wrench and brush .  Additional cutter cartridges are $156 each.
I cannot think of any down side to owning a Townsend cutter.  If you have ever changed blades in a Bliss, Fraser or Rigby, the first time you change a blade on a Townsend you will be sold.  All you do is slide over the black top section, pull out the whole cartridge, insert the new cartridge and close the black top lever.... VOILA!!!!!!

No, I don't work or get any commission for this, I am just one happy hooker using the Townsend cutter.   I hope that I've been able to answer some questions for you.

Have a great evening.



  1. I second that. The Townsend cutter is worth it's weight in gold !

  2. Your assessment is perfect. The investment in a Townsend is never regretted. Slick, smooth, virtually trouble free.

  3. The Townsend is worth every penny!!! I am so happy to own one.
    Great comparisons.
    Hugs :)

  4. Thanks ladies I guess I will have to start saving my mad cash.

  5. Rug hooking, for the most part is a simple art form but boy is it expensive! Probably because theres not many people doing it and theres not many companies competing to meet your rug hooking needs. Must get more rug hookers out there so I can afford a cutter!! Until then Ill be hand tearing strips and occassionally using my fabric cutter ;)

  6. I loved using that Townsend at the show I went to and was sold with how easy every thing was. After reading your post though, I am even more sold. I loved your thoughtful way you addressed each cutter. I am happy with my Frazer and it is a little work horse, but knowing the difference is something Thank you I loved this post so much and it answered so many questions. I thought up a question to ask, could you tell us how to do letters on a rug? I just finished one and I am just not happy with the look, I thought maybe you might have some tips.
    Thank you

  7. Does anyone know of anyone selling a used cutter

  8. Does anyone know of anyone selling a used cutter

  9. Hi Saundra, Do you know if the cutter heads are interchangeable between the Fraser 500-1 and the Fraser 500, please? Thank you, Jennifer

  10. As a newbie wanting to purchase a Towsend wool cutter what blades would you recommend I start with? I do know that the 1/4" is one that should be my first but what would the second one be. Thanks for a terrific comparrision email of all cutters.

  11. Can a Fraser cutter successfully handle fabric other than wool without damaging the blade?

  12. Can a Fraser cutter successfully handle fabric other than wool without damaging the blade?


Thanks for taking the time to visit and I always welcome comments.