“Rug hookers measure fibre by width. We have special machines called wool strippers or cutters. They come with special heads that cut our even weave wool fabric to specific widths. A #3 is 3/32 of an inch wide, #4 = 1/8″, #5 = 5/32″, #6 = 3/16″, #7 = 7/32″, #8 = 1/4″, #9 = 3/8″, #10 = 1/2″. I use a #6 width for the most part. Sometimes up to a #8. A wide cut is anything #6 and over.”
There are many excellent cutters or wool strippers on the market. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. If you know of other makes and can give a review, please leave a comment for others.
Wool cutters are the most expensive part of rug hooking. Most new rug hookers use ones that belong to a rug hooking group they belong to, buy one secondhand, or hand cut with a rotary cutter and mat, or scissors. Alternatively, some rug hookers just use yarn and avoid the cutter issue altogether!
Bliss cutters have suction cups that attach to a surface and metal wheels that cut wool the desired width.
Fraser cutters clamp to a surface and use metal wheels to cut wool the desired width. The wheels need to be sharpened every now and then…about every five to ten years in my experience. I found it cheaper to just buy new wheels than to send the others for sharpening.
There are also Rigby (I think these are only available used now) and Honeydoo cutters. I have no experience with them.
Then there are the Bolivar and the Beeline Townsend. The Bolivar is the Canadian equivalent of the American made Beeline Townsend cutter, but it is heavier in weight. Though that is only an issue if you want a portable cutter.
Bolivar and Beeline Townsend are excellent cutters. I own a Beeline Townsend and love it. It cuts through wool like a knife through soft butter. Just beautiful! The Townsend and the Bolivar cut by using pressure against a steel cylinder.
One caveat with wool cutters – be sure you cut only 100% wool with them. Synthetics, blends, and other fibres will pit and dull the cutting wheels and damage the more expensive wool cutters.
Cutters do not come cheap. Expect to spend from $350 -1000CAD for a new one (including wheels). That is why so many beginners look for a nearby guild or rug hooking group that may own a communal cutter. Or buy a rotary cutter and mat to hand cut their own strips. While doable for primitive or wide cut rugs, this becomes problematic with fine cuts. You really need a proper cutter to do fine cut rug hooking.