I know there are so many of you out there who hand-cut regularly and my hat is off to you!
I have had 3 separate times in the last month when I ordered cutters that did not arrive in time or arrived and were not what I planned (much smaller than what I needed!) and I ended up hand-cutting the shapes from images I printed from the computer.
My primary frustration (aside from the additional time it took me!) is that I don't get a straight edge and curves are really tough - my cookies are thick (3/8" uncooked) and the x-acto I'm using can easily go into the dough at an angle.
Any suggestions on a better tool to use than an x-acto blade (#11)?
Any other suggestions for easier/nicer looking hand-cut cookies?
I use a sharp paring knife, and it seems to work pretty well. Once the cookie has been cut, I tap the edges smooth with my finger. In tight areas where a finger can't fit, I will use the point of the knife. It takes a bit of extra work, but it has to be done if I want clean edges.
I do the same thing Gemini mentioned.... I also find that the colder the dough, the cleaner the cuts. I like to have the dough rolled and in the fridge for several hours or over night before I hand-cut.