Polymer Clay Blades, sometimes referred to as Tissue Blades are thin flexible blades popular for cutting fine slices from canes of polymer clay. The blades most often used are very thin flexible carbon steel, 4 inches (10 cm) in length. Six inch (15 cm) blades and 8 inch (20cm)"floor stripper" blades are also commonly available from polymer clay suppliers for larger projects.
As the blades are flexible, they can be used to cut gentle curves, as well as to slice thin sections from firm polymer clay canes. The blades are supplied sharpened along one long edge.
Single Edge Razor Blades For Polymer Clay
Another form of polymer clay blade is the single edged razor blade, sometimes called "Scientific Razor Blades" with one covered edge. These are used by many for thin cane slices and working on small projects. The blade length on single edged razor blades is roughly 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) long, which limits their use to smaller projects. Like the polymer clay blades, they are available from craft stores, online polymer clay suppliers and scientific supply houses.
Polymer Clay Blades with Handles
Some blades produced specifically for the polymer clay market are available with handles to allow easier control, but most are sold without handles. One blade sold with handles on either end is the Sculpy Super Slicer available from Dick Blick. Buy Direct The Sculpy Super Slicer is available with flexible, wavy, rigid and rick rack blades. If handles offer you better control for your projects, you can easily make small handles for either end of non handled tissue blades using scraps of waste polymer clay. As the blades are metal they can be placed in the oven to allow the clay handles to cure in place
Rolling Blades for Polymer Clay
Some craft companies also produce rolling clay blades similar to pizza cutters, in both wavy and plain forms. These are not as suitable for fine work as are the tissue blades as the angle of cut can be difficult to control.
Are Tissue Blades the Same as Regular Polymer Clay Blades?
Tissue blades were originally designed to cut thin slices of tissue in lab situations, but have found their way into use for cutting thin slices of soft (uncured) polymer clay, especially for canes. The blades are available from craft stores as well as scientific supply houses. When not in use they should be kept safely covered to protect against accidental cuts.
Wavy Polymer Clay Blades
A "wavy" polymer clay blade variant exists, which slices wavy bands of soft materials, similar to blades used to slice decorative pickle and potato chip slices. These blades are used with grouped colors of polymer clay or mica shift polymer clays for special effects. Wavy blades create special effect polymer clay blends like "abalone".
Caring for Polymer Clay Blades
Polymer clay blades can be kept sharp using fine grit micro abrasive honing papers, very fine silicone and carbide grit papers which are available for polishing car bodies and sharpening and honing tool blades. Information on making a honing block and honing knife blades to keep them sharp can be found at the bottom of this list of craft and carving knives for miniatures. One online source of these speciality paper is Lee Valley Tools. The honing paper should be glued to a smooth surface, I use a section of porcelain tile. The blade edge is then drawn across the paper at a slight angle to sharpen or 'hone' it. Blades should be safely disposed of. One method is to cover the blade with waste polymer clay and bake it before throwing out the blade.