Tool Review
X-Acto Z series blade
X-Acto Zirconium Nitride coated blade
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by: Russ Amott [ RUSSAMOTTO ]


One of the most common tools for modelers of all types is the hobby knife with a #11 blade, and one of the biggest complaints is the short life span some blades seem to have. Having a blade dull quickly or snap while using it is not only frustrating, but can be damaging to the model and dangerous for the operator. There are many in the hobby, myself included, who carry "battle scars" from a slip with a blade.

a new blade

X-Acto is one of the largest manufacturers of hobby knives and blades on the market and their name is well recognized. They have released a new product, a #11 blade with a Zirconium Nitride coating on the blade. The packaging states the blade will be sharper, 5X stronger and last 7-10X longer than other blades. I purchased a set of five blades from a local Hobby Lobby store for $3.99 US, but online they are available from other retailers.

I selected a blade and began to use it for my own evaluation. The blade is very hard, and will cut through stiff material more easily than a standard #11 blade. The edge does seem to hold better. The problem is, when trimming fine material I found the blade didn't hold the surface as well as a standard #11 blade. It felt like the blade edge had a broader angle, and didn't cut as close. Instead of trimming the surface smoothly, it seemed to dig in more.


My experience with the blade is that it will be fine for those projects that require force, but not finesse. It is a nice tool to have available, but it doesn't replace the standard #11 blade completely.
Highs: Very durable, good for hard projects.
Lows: Not as good where fine, precise control or cutting is needed.
Verdict: A useful tool to have when you want to spare your regular blades.
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: XZ211
  Suggested Retail: $3.99 US
  PUBLISHED: Sep 26, 2011

About Russ Amott (russamotto)

I got back into the hobby a few years back, and wanted to find ways to improve, which is how I found this site. Since joining Armorama I have improved tremendously by learning from others here, and have actually finished a couple of kits. I model to relax and have fun, but always look to improve. ...

Copyright 2021 text by Russ Amott [ RUSSAMOTTO ]. All rights reserved.


I've been using one blade for everything. Cleaned up a plaster casting, tested on every type of kit plastic I could find; Tamiya, DML, HobbyBoss, Trumpeter, Academy, AFV Club and Fine Molds, cutting, trimming and even as a scraper to clean up seam lines. The blade has lasted much longer than a regular blade. I found that it did better at fine trimming with harder plastic, not as well when the plastic was softer.
SEP 26, 2011 - 02:19 PM
I just bought a 100 pack of Excel no.11. With each model I complete, I change the blade. Have one just for pe and one for trimming. I've found the Excel blades are sharper than the Xacto ones and I've never had one break on me. I've broke six Xacto blades.
SEP 26, 2011 - 07:07 PM

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