This article's lead section may be too short to adequately summarize the key points. Please consider expanding the lead to provide an accessible overview of all important aspects of the article. (January 2024)
Founded1930; 94 years ago (1930)
FounderSundel Doniger
Westerville, Ohio, United States
ProductsUtility knives, office supplies
ParentElmer's Products, Inc.

X-Acto is a brand name for a variety of cutting tools and office products owned by Elmer's Products, Inc. These include hobby and utility knives, saws, carving tools and many small-scale precision knives used for crafts and other applications. An X-Acto knife may be called an Exacto knife, utility knife, precision knife, or hobby knife.


The original knife was invented in the 1930s by Sundel Doniger, a Jewish Polish immigrant to the United States. He started a medical supply company in 1917 producing medical syringes and scalpels with removable blades.[1] This would later be his inspiration for the X-Acto brand of knives.[2][3] He had planned to sell it to surgeons as a scalpel but it was not acceptable, because it could not be cleaned. His brother-in-law, Daniel Glück (father of poet and 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Louise Glück), suggested that it might be a good craft tool.

In 1930, a house designer asked Doniger if he could create something for him that would help him crop some advertisements, Doniger agreed and created what is now known as the X-Acto Knife.[2]


An X-Acto knife equipped with a "Number 2" blade
Parts of an X-Acto knife from left to right: (1) handle, (2) collar, (3) collet, (4) blade

An X-Acto knife is a blade mounted on a pen-like aluminum body. A knurled collar loosens and tightens an aluminum collet with one slot, which holds a replaceable blade.

There are numerous other knives on the market with very similar designs. Blades are typically interchangeable between different brands.


X-Acto knives are generally used for crafting and hobbies, such as modelmaking.

Before the availability of desktop publishing tools, preparing copy for use in printing (literal cut and paste or paste up) depended heavily on the use of knives like the X-Acto for trimming and manipulating slips of paper.

Other products

In addition to knives, blades, and tools, X-Acto produces office supplies including pencil sharpeners, paper trimmers, staplers, and hole punchers. X-Acto sharpeners are electric, battery, or manual. X-Acto has three types of trimmers: razor, rotary, and guillotine.

Through 2012, the company sold ceramic and convection space heaters and fans under the Boston brand name.[4]

In culture

The use of the X-Acto knife gained notoriety in Canada in May 2012 as it was used by Luka Magnotta who killed and dismembered Lin Jun in an Montreal apartment. During the trial in 2014, the knives were recovered but it is possible the X-Acto knives could be definitively linked to the murder.[5][6]

See also


  1. ^ Busta, Hallie (25 February 2014). "A Slice of Design History: How X-Acto Built a Better Knife". Architect Magazine.
  2. ^ a b Stamp, Jimmy (11 March 2014). "For 80 Years, X-Acto Has Been on the Cutting Edge of Edge Cutting". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Seder ritual" (PDF). Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Ceramic Heaters | Heater with Fan | Convection Heater | X-ACTO". 24 May 2012. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  5. ^ Shivji, Salimah (27 October 2014). "Luka Magnotta called courteous and cultivated by French witness". CBC. Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  6. ^ Banerjee, Sidhartha (27 October 2014). "Crown's last in-person witness testifies at Luka Magnotta trial". CTVNews. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2014.