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The best hobby knife - your options in 2023

A hobby knife is a crucial tool when building Warhammer, Gunpla, and scale models, so we’ve rounded up the best choices on the market.

Best hobby knife - Tamiya Modeler's Knife Pro

Whether you’re getting started as a model builder, or need to replace a long-serving tool, it’s important to have a quality hobby knife in your toolkit. Clippers are ideal for getting miniatures off the sprue, and files can clean up plenty of imperfections, but nothing is quite as versatile as a hobby knife. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best options available for you to consider.

If you’re a modeller who loves painting miniatures, we have other guides covering the best paints for miniatures, the best miniature paintbrushes, as well as the different options for contrast paints on the market.

These are the best hobby knives:

Best hobby knife - excel light duty knife, a silver hobby knife in a cardboard packet, with spare knives in a small pot

Excel Light Duty Knife

The best budget hobby knife

The Excel Light Duty Knife has a lightweight aluminum body which is textured for better grip. It includes five no.11 blades and a plastic safety cap. For general hobby use this is all you need, and while it’s not fancy, it’s durable.

Best hobby knife - Tamiya modeler's knife pro, a black hobby knife pictured beside three spare blades

Tamiya Modeler’s Knife Pro

The best all round hobby knife

The Tamiya Modeler’s Knife Pro doesn’t cost the earth, but it has a number of quality of life features that we can recommend. This knife’s elastomer grip is more comfortable to hold than bare metal, and Tamiya’s production standards are extremely high. The knife comes with three straight blades, two curved blades (suitable for working on soft materials), and two chisel blades.

The best hobby knife - WINONS hot knife cutting tool, an unusual tool with a plastic body, metal neck tipped by a knife, electricity cable,, pictured with three spare blade tips and a small stand

WINONS hot knife cutting tool

Best for rapid plastic cutting

Cutting neatly through sheet plastic is difficult, as it requires multiple cuts tracing exactly the same path. WINONS hot knife cutting tool aims to speed that process up by heating the blade, so that the cutting action is assisted by thermal energy which splits the chemical bonds in the plastic. Some clean-up is still needed as the heat will create burrs of melted plastic, but you’ll need to make fewer cuts.

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Using this tool will produce small quantities of vaporised plastic, so use it in a well-ventilated area and wear appropriate protective equipment.

Best hobby knife blades - dimensions of a no.11 X-Acto knife blade, 1.57in head, 0.23in head, 0.9in blade edge

No. 11 X-Acto knife blades

The best general hobby knife blades

A No. 11 X-Acto blade is suitable for most modelling activities. It’s a straight edged blade with a triangular body. It offers a good balance of precision and strength, making it suitable for cleaning up mold lines, removing imperfections left after clipping a model from a sprue, and cutting through moderately thick plastic.

Its neck is narrow enough that it will fit into all standard hobby knife bodies, though this does mean it is not strong enough for heavy duty work – for that, consider the larger no. 11-M, or the jumbo no.2, which will require a slightly larger hobby knife.

Always store hobby knives safely out of reach of children. Replace blades as soon as they start to dull; you’ll get worse results, and will be at greater risk of accidents from a dull blade.

If you can’t stop building models but fancy building a kit with no blades at all, Wargamer has great guides to the best Lego sets for adults and the best Lego sets ever made.