Tip of the Day: Blade Disposal

We all know we should be changing our knife blades frequently. Dull blades make displeasing cuts and are more likely to harm you. But it’s a nuisance to stop in the middle of working to wrap each blade for proper disposal (and we do this, of course, because we care about our trash collectors and the roaming animals sampling our bins on garbage night… right?).

Or else the blades sit out on our work tables waiting to be disposed of. Need I even mention why this is not such a good idea?

There is a better way. If you don’t have one already, consider making yourself an arts ‘n crafts sharps collector. Get a container with a tight-fitting lid. Something like a margarine container will work.

Cut a slit in the lid that will comfortably fit your blades. Securely attach the lid to the container.

And since this is for arts ‘n crafts, you might want to appropriately decorate your new item. At the very least you should write on it to make it clear it has dangerous sharp things in it. (And, of course, this is only for adult-friendly workspaces! Very dangerous, not a plaything, use caution, blades are sharp, you have been duly warned, I’m not legally responsible if anything bad happens, etc.)

I made this one here several years ago. It’s one of the most used things in my studio. I’ve been dumping all my old scalpel and rotary blades in here for all that time, and there’s still room for more. (Although I have to slip off the lid for the big rotary blades.) Nothing has ever cut through or poked out of the plastic container, but I’m sure that doesn’t mean it still couldn’t at some point.

When it’s full, I might carefully seal the blades in a sturdy container and dispose of it in a garbage company-approved manner. Or I might fill a jar with all these scalpel blades and keep it as a decorative piece in the studio.

14 thoughts on “Tip of the Day: Blade Disposal”

  1. Oh, yes. The sharps bin. And you’ve reminded me that, long before the punk fashion for safety -pins -in -earlobes was a fashion statement….I had an old safety razor blade on a chain! I’d scraped the edge off it, of course!

  2. I loved your sharps container. It made me smile more broadly than much has this week. Why didn’t I have one when I was doing patchwork and the cutter’s blades were blunted far too easily. The decorative piece in the studio has charm as well.

  3. Cool idea. I must admit that I throw mine in the trash — the trash that gets thrown into a bag, that gets picked up by the bag and tossed into the garbage truck, that gets shoved around the floor of the transfer station with a backhoe. I don’t believe ungloved hands will ever get near that sharp thing once I throw it out.

    • Less of a problem now that we have an animal-resistant can, but our garbage used to get raided and spread around from time to time. It was as much because of that as anything. And I also don’t want to injure myself while pushing the bags down into the can. But true, the odds of anyone at the garbage pick-up end actually coming into bare-handed contact with anything inside is likely remote. If it were a problem, we wouldn’t be able to throw away broken glass, for instance. To be honest, I think part of what I like about having this is that it’s like having a little sign next to my table reminding me to change my blade. It’s become a part of my ritual and encourages me to keep a sharp blade.

  4. Long ago I knew someone working in a San Francisco graphic design shop. He said they typically got rid of their blades by loosening them then flicking them into the ceiling panels. This was fun and ‘decorative’ but during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, many of the blades came raining down. I believe that put an end to that practice. (ouch)

    Your way is much better.

    • Scary! Fortunately there are no scalpel blades in my ceiling (that I know of), but I must confess that one place I do not want to be during a huge quake is my studio. It’s so piled so high with stuff. It’s enough to make me feel claustrophobic thinking about it. And I’m not normally claustrophobic. Even typing it makes me feel mildly superstitious…

      Years ago right around Christmas I visited friends in Eureka. Jokingly my husband and I looked up at all the plates and tchotchkes up on a high shelf that went all around the kitchen and inquired if they weren’t, perhaps, worried about earthquakes? They’d never really thought about it, they said. In less than 24 hours we had a big one centered quite close to Eureka. It knocked all those plates and everything off the shelves, including a bottle of vinegar that landed on the computer, ruining it. The one friend still occasionally narrows his eyes and hisses “Witch!” at me.

  5. Absolutely love this idea Ellen. I am always in quandary what to do with my blades. When they are finally disposed of I know they will probably go to landfill. I try to wrap them up as best I can. I know lots of birds (mainly gulls) eat at landfill sites and hate to think of one of them being injured by the blade. Not too worried about the humans who take away the rubbish – they have protective clothing :-)

    • Thanks Angela. Of course, this does mean that eventually you’ll wind up with a tub of blades to dispose of, but I still haven’t gotten there yet! I hadn’t thought of the gulls (good point), but animals getting into our trash on garbage night have been a big problem. It’s usually raccoons, but occasionally some bigger visitors. I keep meaning to take a picture of a souvenir cat food can that was left behind some years ago by a bear that had made off with the rest of our garbage. (I actually was in my studio at the time and saw it–or at least its large hairy back that took up the whole window.) The can has some impressive claw (or teeth?) punctures in it. Still, I wouldn’t want a bear, or raccoon, to get torn up with scalpel blades.


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