Does Cutting Paper Dull A Knife, Or Is It A Myth

Sometimes ago, I discussed how to check if your knife blade is dull. One of the many methods mentioned in that piece is conducting the paper test.

In a funny twist of events today, I’ll be working backward from that piece with a question that must have been on your mind too:

Does cutting paper dull your knife or you don’t have to worry about it?

Cutting a piece of paper with your knife cannot dull the blade instantly. Depending on the texture of the paper, the knife blade will have to be repeatedly used on the piece of paper to dull it. Like other methods of using a knife, repeated use is sure to cause the blade to get dull.

Can a knife cut through paper?

Yes. Over and over again.

Of course, some things need to be considered here, such as:

  • The sharpness of the blade – a knife has to be considerably sharp to cut through paper convincingly. Otherwise, it gets caught in the paper during the cut.
  • Type of paper – different grades and textures of paper will provide varying levels of resistance to knives. For example, you’ll find it easier to cut through printer paper than glossy paper.

Unless a knife is the only handy tool that you have, or you’re testing the sharpness of the blade, it is not recommended to use a knife in this way. You can get much better success with a razor, scissors, or specially designed craft knives that are suited to cutting paper.

If you were trying to dull the knife instead, there are other proven methods to get you there faster.

Why would paper cutting dull your knife?

First off, cutting anything with your knife at all will cause it to go dull.

This is no cause to sharpen the knife after every use – but you can do well to hone it instead so that it retains its edge for longer.

That said, paper (different textures) contains diverse concentrations of abrasive on its surface. This is why you can use cardboard to strop since it is not as smooth as the surface would make you believe.

Cutting through paper repeatedly will, thus, cause some resistance to the knife-edge which starts dulling with time.

It would take a lot of time to see any considerable effect here but the knife starts to get dull from the first paper cut.

What kinds of paper dulls your blade faster?

Not all the pieces of paper that you cut will affect your knife the same way.

Below, I have grouped the most common pieces of paper under categories that let you know what to expect, and why.

Glossy Paper

Paper manufacturers have some pretty neat tricks up their sleeves, and clay is one of such.

The glossy paper contains about 35% of clay to keep the integrity of the material. Cutting through this kind of paper is one of the fastest ways to get your knife to lose its edge.

Recycled Paper

Everyone is clamoring for recycled items these days since it helps the planet. Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for the knife that has to cut through that paper, there is recycled paper also.

The issue here is that the knife catches on to bits of metals, strings, and other materials that were mashed together to form the paper.

You can see where I’m going with this and why your knife will dull on repeated impact with such a piece of paper.

Pure Paper/ Printer Paper

With a low level of abrasiveness and no foreign material inside it, it would take a very long time for the knife to become dull from cutting this kind of paper.

If cutting with a knife is your thing and paper is what you have to cut, take the knife to this kind of paper.


Woah, now we’re pushing it.

Run your fingers across the grains of cardboard – whether the box or those fancy colored ones you give kids to paint on – and you can feel the roughness of the surface.

Don’t think your knife can’t feel that roughness too. Going up against such abrasiveness will break down the edge defenses of the knife with time.

Knowing that cardboard comes with some of the strangest additions (from recycled glass to plastic and metal shavings, among others) contributes to how effective they are at dulling your knives.

Wrapping Up

A lot of things can cause a knife to dull and paper is surely one of them. As long as the knife is used on the surface, some of the edges will be taken off which translates into the knife being less sharp than it was when you started.

This is why I always recommend investing in a good knife sharpening tool so that you can get your knife back to its past glory when it starts losing its edge too much.

Before that, though, make sure you have bought a good knife so that you don’t have to worry about sharpening more than 3-5 times per year.

If you ever have to use your blade on a piece of paper, make sure it is a one-time thing till you can get the proper tool for the job. Well, unless the knife is the proper tool for the job.

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