What is a rotary cutter and tips for rotary cutting success?

What is a rotary cutter and how is it used in quilt making?
This is a popular question asked by beginner quilt makers.
A rotary cutter is a tool generally used by quilters to cut fabric. It consists of a handle with a circular blade that rotates, thus the tool's name. Rotary cutter blades are very sharp and are available in different sizes: usually smaller blades are used to cut small curves, while larger blades are used to cut straight lines and broad curves. Several layers of fabric can be cut simultaneously with a sharp (fresh) blade, making it easier to cut out patchwork pieces of the same shape and size than with scissors. Quilters use rotary cutters with specially designed templates and rulers made of approximately 1/8-inch thick clear or color-tinted plastic.
The invention of the rotary cutter has had a huge impact on modern quilt making. Not only does it save an enormous amount pf time, it has introduced new skills and techniques into the quilt making process.

Rotary cutters are also probably the most dangerous part of quilting, so here are
a few tips to help with your rotary fabric cutting.

*Always cover the blade with the built-in cover when you set it down.
Get into the habit of doing this every time you use the rotary cutter.
An exposed blade can be very dangerous, and a nick in the blade can cause problems when cutting.

* When using your rotary cutter, always cut away from your body, not towards you.

* Use a quilt making ruler and quilting mat when cutting, don't be tempted to cut fabric
without these.Keep fingers well out of the way.It is best to position your hand flat over
the ruler and then apply download pressure as you cut through the fabric.

* Replace your blade when it becomes blunt and stops cutting well. Remember a blunt knife will
always be the one to cut you, not a sharp one.The same is true of a rotary cutter.
Working with a dull or damaged blade can cause you to cut in an unsafe manner by using excess
pressure to cut through your fabric. It can also cause you to cut though fabric numerous times
rather than in one swift movement.

* Only use the rotary cutter to cut textiles. As with scissors, using a rotary cutter to cut through
paper or cardboard will blunt the blade quickly.

 * When measuring and cutting fabric it is more accurate to use the lines on your ruler or
template for a straight edge, not the lines on the mat.

* Using a rotary cutter can also be hard on your back, so where possible try to cut on
a counter height surface.

I hope these rotary cutter tips will enable you to have success with your fabric cutting and quilt making.