Heavy duty paper cutters rebuilt by Colter & Peterson

May 30, 2019 [Updated on December 12, 2019]

Reconditioned Paper Cutter Buying Guide: What You Should Know

Buying a reconditioned industrial guillotine machine over a new one is for most businesses a win-win proposition: your shop saves money while still getting a reliable machine that will last for years. But it requires doing a little homework first. We’ll try to help by answering the most common questions about these cutting machines: What exactly consitutes a “rebuilt” paper cutter and what does the process involve? What are the limitations of a reconditioned paper cutter? Is warranty an option?

One of the best alternatives to a new paper cutter is a reconditioned one: these industrial guillotine machines cost anywhere from 30 to 50% less than their new counterparts yet can function like a new paper cutting machine. While more expensive than used paper cutters, reconditioned paper cutters carry a warranty and added peace of mind.

During the reconditioning process, new cut and clamp controls that meet current ANSI safety requirements may be added, bringing just about any legacy machine up to modern standards. Computerized backgauge controls greatly improve productivity and ensure the paper cutter will perform for many more years to come.

While certain features found on new paper cutting machines can’t be added to older machines, for most applications these features are likely unnecessary. In some cases, such as when it becomes necessary to handle difficult material, an older industrial paper cutter may actually perform better than a newer model.

What does ‘reconditioned’ mean?

Companies have different ways of defining “rebuilt” when it comes to paper cutters.  Some vendors consider a machine that has been cleaned, repainted and given no warranty to be rebuilt. At Colter & Peterson “rebuilding” an industrial paper cutter means from the ground up: the complete disassembly, re-machining, re-assembly, re-painting, updating and testing of a paper cutting machine. After passing inspection, the machine receives a warranty.

The Colter & Peterson paper cutter reconditioning process, from start to finish:

  1. Inspection. The rebuilding process starts with an evaluation of each machine. The conditions of all mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical components are inspected.
  2. Disassembly. After inspection, each machine is disassembled for cleaning.
  3. Re-surfacing. Mechanical parts are sent to the machine shop to have all guiding surfaces renewed.
  4. Parts Replacement. Worn mechanical parts are replaced or repaired and after preliminary painting of interior surfaces, the machine is reassembled mechanically.
  5. Parts Rebuild. Hydraulic units and gearboxes are rebuilt and reattached to the machine.
  6. Electrical & Safety Updates. The electrical and pneumatic systems are updated. (The type of work done on an electrical system will depend on the original manufacturer’s design and its compliance with current ANSI safety standards). For a few models, the electrical overhaul involves simply checking the circuitry and possibly adding a backgauge computer retrofit. For most machines (especially older models), the electrical system requires a complete update. This brings the paper cutting machine up to current ANSI safety standards.
  7. Re-paint & Re-assembly. Once all updates are complete, the machine is re-painted, re-assembled, run and tested.
  8. Inspection & Warranty. After passing inspection, the machine receives a warranty.
  9. Delivery & Install. Arrangements are made for delivery and installation. 

The time required for rebuilding a paper cutter varies by the type of machine and work required, but most are ready in about 6 to 10 weeks.

What can be updated on an industrial paper cutter?

While the mechanical design of a paper cutting machine can’t be changed, the control systems and safety featues can be updated. Control systems concern two parts of the paper cutter: clamp and cut circuitry and backgauge drive system. 

The clamp and cut circuitry controls actuation of the paper cutter clamp and knife. On older mechanical machines, there was a mechanical system for engaging the knife. Later models use electrical control circuits. During the paper cutter rebuilding process, outdated electrical components and mechanical systems are replaced with new circuitry that complies with current ANSI safety standards.

While safety requirements are complex, the primary factors to be considered when installing updates are:

  • compliance with OSHA two-hand start, two-hand hold, anti tie down requirements
  • elimination of the crush hazard associated with the use of a machine’s foot pedal

The original backgauge control system can vary depending on the age and manufacturer. Older systems may include anything from a hand operated chain wheel to an electric power backgauge or a mechanical spacer. Tape spacers were the first step into electronic control systems, before machines were manufactured with computer controls.

Updating a backgauge control system involves replacing the older controls with a new computer retrofit system. These control units (such as the Microcut® computer control system) have been on the market for decades and offer an economical way to bring new life to an old paper cutter. These units are designed to be added to any type of paper cutting machine.

Our machine or yours

While it is not uncommon for Colter & Peterson to rebuild a customer’s machine, this does involve some extra cost (eg additional shipping) and the down time associated with losing a production machine for up to two months.

For some operations with multiple machines, this is acceptable, but most prefer to purchase a rebuilt machine from our extensive inventory and trade in their existing machine. This allows their shop to continue operating until the reconditioned machine is installed and running. 

Now is the time to consider whether your shop’s paper cutter model and size is still right fit. Sometimes a larger (or smaller) machine would be a better fit, and this is the time to make the switch. The model of machine should also be evaluted now: are features available that would increase capacity or productivity? Our paper cutter experts can help you figure out if a trade-in for a newer machine is right for you.

Reconditioned paper cutters: pros and cons

The pros and cons of using a rebuilt industrial guillotine machine largely depend on a customer’s needs but the two main points to consider are:

What the machine will be cutting

While some manufacturers claim their machines can cut any type of material, experience has proven that certain machines and designs are suited to cut certain types of material. With the right fit, a rebuilt paper cutter could perform better then a new one

Size of machine required

The larger the cutter required, the more attractive the cost savings will be. While there is always a price difference between the cost of a new and a rebuilt machine, savings increases with the size of the machine

Other considerations


The warranty on a reconditioned paper cutter can vary as much as on a new machine. One thing is for certain: always deal with a reliable company that has the knowledge and experience to do the job.

Don’t forget that paper cutters are called guillotines for a reason. (Their origin dates back to the French Revolution where they were designed for a very different purpose). They are inherently dangerous machines and so every safety precaution must be taken.


An additional safety measure we strongly recommend is to inspect and test your paper cutting machine prior to delivery. As the foremost rebuilder of paper cutters in the country, Colter & Peterson welcomes and encourages customers to inspect and test their machines prior to shipment. We offer this inspection with the guarantee of a full refund of deposits paid if the machine cannot perform as required. This ensures every customer receives a machine that has been rebuilt to their satisfaction and will do the job they expect.


Before you buy, remember to: find a reputable company, check references and inspect your machine before delivery.

And finally, bask in the joy of breathing new life into an old machine, one that will work hard for you for years to come.

Have questions about reconditioning a paper cutter? Contact a paper cutter expert at Colter & Peterson. Whether you purchased your machine from us or not, we're happy to help. We've been the Paper Cutter People since 1932 - it's in our blood.


Related Articles:

Finding The Best Industrial Paper Cutter: What You Need to Know, Part 1

Caring for Industrial Paper Cutter Blades: Quality Cuts, Greater Savings

Before you buy, remember to find a reputable company, check references and inspect your machine prior to delivery.

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