Just How Wide is Fine in Hooked Rugs?

What is meant by the terms ‘fine cut’ and ‘wide cut ‘ when we are referring to hooked rugs? These terms refer to the width of the wool fabric strips used to hook a rug. The width of a strip is determined by the size of the cutting wheel used in a cutter.

On the left is a picture of my cutter and, on the right, my set of numbered cutting wheels; the smaller the number, the finer the cut.

cutter one            cutter two

A cutter works much like a pasta cutter.

cutter three

As you can see from the chart below, a fine cut is a #2, #3 and/or #4. A wide cut is a #6 and higher. A #5 falls in the grey area and can be considered either a fine or wide cut. The size or number of the cut will determine how many strips you will get from each pass of your wool fabric through the cutter. Please refer to the chart below as an example.

Number of Wheel Width of Strip Strips Per Pass Fine or Wide

Number of Wheel Width of Strip Strips Per Pass Fine or Wide
#3 3/32” 6 Fine cut
#4 4/32” 4 Fine cut
#5 5/32” 4 Either
#6 6/32” 4 Wide cut
#7 7/32” 4 Wide cut
#8 8/32” 3 Wide cut
#8.5 5/16 2 Wide cut

This above chart refers to the cutter shown. Available sizes of cutting wheels vary by brand of cutter.

There are things to consider when choosing the size of cut to use in your rug.

Fine Cut Wide Cut
Use a #3, #4 and possibly #5 cut. Use a #5 cut or larger
Use a fine to medium size hook. Use a primitive or coarse hook.  May wish to use a bent hook for ergonomic reasons.
Uses a more finely woven backing such as fine Scottish burlap. Uses a backing with a larger open weave.
You can easily hook fine details in a design. Your rug design needs to have large elements and spacious backgrounds to be easily hooked.
Hooking seems slower as it takes more pulled loops and therefore time to fill in the design area of your rug. Wide strips can quickly fill in the design area of your rug.

Strips wider than ¼” can generally be cut by hand using a quilter’s cutting wheel and cutting mat. Additionally, you can use yarn to achieve the detail of finer cuts.

Some people would suggest that a fine cut is easier on arthritic hands and problematic wrists, and that a wide cut is easier to use if your eyesight is compromised. I believe that in either case, fine cut or wide cut, the right combination of lighting, hook, backing and design will provide you with hours of comfortable hooking. As we age, we can adapt our designs to whatever will make our rug hooking experience more comfortable.

oriental rug

Here is an example of the small details found in a design that is only suitable for a fine cut. (Oriental)

prim rug

This rug has large design elements that are more appropriate for wide cut. (Primitive)

Whichever cut may you wish to use in your rugs, at some point, you will likely want to have access to a cutter. Fortunately, KnitTraders not only carries rug hooking fabric and supplies, but they also have a cutter in their shop that is available for use by their customers. What could be easier?


Happy Rug Hooking,

Rhonda Kellett of H’ewePhoria

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