What Is An Exacto Knife Used For?

Whether you study in a school or just looking for the perfect utility tool for all of your activities, you should use Exacto Knife.

Let’s study more about this wonderful tool that everyone should consider to carry out DIY tasks.

What is it?

The word “Exacto” or “X Acto” is derived from the “Exact” word.

It simply refers to the particular type of craft knives that carry out all the cutting tasks with maximum precision.

It is due to this reason, they are also known as precision knives and you may have also seen them written like “X-acto” knives.

These knives are also known as hobby knives as well as precision knives.

What does X-Acto actually mean?

Basically, the term X-acto is not particularly used for Exacto knives; instead, it covers all the sharp cutting tools that are used for the precise cutting of the objects.

So do not confuse yourself with the terms Exacto and X-acto.

The origin

Ancient Exacto knives were mainly used for medical purposes.

In 1930, the medical industry created the first Exacto knife, and it serves as the surgeon’s scalpel.

However, the surgeons and doctors abandoned its use very quickly and explained its the biggest drawback that it can never be cleaned.

After knowing about this fact, the inventor of this tool displayed it as a commercial knife and started promoting its use as a craft tool.

The interesting thing to note?

Nowadays, almost all the Exacto knives come up in the same sizes and structures, irrespective of the brand and the company that manufactured them.

The blade

Though all the blades of the Exacto knives are essentially the same, their sizes may vary depending upon the structure of the handle.

However, here we are going to discuss various types depending upon their specific uses.

Let’s get started.

  • The first type of the Exacto blade is the number 2 blade.
  • It is the most common type of Exacto blades.
  • While generally talking about the Exacto knives, you will end up with this type.
  • It is a very sharp blade with a pointed tip and makes it extremely easy to handle the blades.
  • Another type of the Exacto blade is the general purpose blade that looks like the swiss-knife blade and can only be used to carry out simple tasks.
  • Its edges are round so you cannot use it for heavy-weight cutting, instead, you can only use it for the basic kitchen or general purposes like cutting, slicing and carving, etc.
  • Number 16 Exacto blade is the type of Exacto blade that makes this knife a truly hobby knife.
  • The interesting thing about this blade is the unique design as well as the ability to change direction.
  • The soft material changes direction quickly without harming the basic material and can be used for the purposes like delicate cutting of the light-weight materials, etc.
  • You can also use it for curve cutting.

Other kinds are also available as well.

What is it used for?


The Exacto knife is commonly used in stencil printing in which it is used to cutting out a shape from the suitable material and forcing ink.

By using it, the edges and shapes become very sharp and precise.

To carry out the stenciling tasks using the Exacto knives, you should be very careful and it is better if you do it under the supervision of the teachers or the experts.


You can proceed with high-quality sharpening and highlighting using it.

For this purpose, you will line up the area with the colors using the color pencils and then use the sharp tip of the Exacto knife to create the highlights.

Nail art

It seems quite interesting to note that these knives are perfectly used for the creation of the beauty space.

One of their uses in the beauty niche is seen in the designing and reshaping of nail extensions.

Cake art

Have you ever used the precision knife for cake art? You can make perfectly accurate and highly precise cake designs.

The pro tip?

Wait for at least 10 minutes before cutting the freshly made fondant for very precise results.


The use of precision knives for the incisions on the leather is not new.

For this purpose, you peel to bring out a design using the hobby knife.

Leather Incision Art has been gaining immense popularity among art lovers over the past few years.


Now you have read about the Exacto knife, keep in mind that you should never be using it vertically, instead keep it at a 45 degrees angle.

Moreover, make sure to proceed with the cutting and reshaping process very gently and slowly.

Hope this article has increased your knowledge about Exacto knives.

If you still have questions, you can ask them in the comments section below.

Last Updated on July 22, 2021 by Andy Wang

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My name is David Strong. I'm a knife expert and a US Marine veteran. I used to fight in Iraq, so I gained lots of combat experience there, especially when it comes to combat, tactical, and outdoor knives. And this blog is where I share my expertise with you alongside my friend Andy.