What is a Thread Cutter?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The term “thread cutter” may be used in several different ways, with the meaning usually clear from the context. In the world of arts and crafts, a thread cutter is any tool which is designed to cut through thread, yarn, and similar materials. In manufacturing, thread cutters are usually devices which are designed to cut threads into fasteners, pipes, and other objects; threading is used for everything from making geared devices to creating pipes which will fit snugly together.

Craft scalpels, whose thin blades are made to make precise cuts from thin paper, work well as a thread cutter.
Craft scalpels, whose thin blades are made to make precise cuts from thin paper, work well as a thread cutter.

Thread cutters for crafting are alternatives to scissors which are designed to sever threads cleanly and efficiently. Many sewing machines have thread cutters mounted on them for convenience, and people can also buy thread cutters worn on the hands or around the neck so that they have easy access and keep their hands free. These devices are safer to use than scissors. The classic design consists of a mostly concealed disc-shaped blade mounted in a movable housing which allows people to insert thread and push down to cut through it.

Crafters can find thread cutters at many craft stores. They are sometimes touted as alternatives to scissors for flying, although crafters should be aware that some airline safety agencies regard thread cutters as safety threats which need to be placed in checked luggage. If people are not sure about what kinds of devices they can take on a plane, they should consult the airline ahead of time.

For manufacturing, thread cutting is part of the milling process. Facilities which make milled metal and plastic materials keep thread cutters on hand to finish their products. These devices can make cylindrical or tapered threading, with both internal and external threading options available. This type of thread cutter can be quite expensive, and may be capable of cutting multiple objects at once, increasing efficiency on the production line. Such devices are often designed for automation, to streamline the manufacturing process so that costs will be kept low.

Some hardware and home supplies also have a thread cutter available. In this case, the device is used to cut custom threading by request from customers. Plumbers and other professionals who work with threaded materials may also maintain a thread cutter so that they can cut custom threads and rethread worn fixtures. Portable thread cutters which can be taken to job sites and so forth are available from some manufacturers and contracting suppliers, and can be ordered with various fittings.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@sapphire12- I never started using a thread cutter until I moved out and got my own sewing machine and supplies. I also knit a lot and I find it especially useful for yarn. I have a large enough thread cutter to use on bulky and super bulky yarn, which I like because sometimes those yarn types are too thick for your average pair of scissors.


My mother's sewing machine has a thread cutter, but for hand projects she has always used scissors. She does believe in having "sewing scissors", though, a special pair that is reserved for cutting things like cloth, thread, and yarn. Those scissors never leave the sewing room, because they stay sharper longer that way.

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