When installing shingles, I usually flip them over and cut them from the back side. I find this works much better/easier than cutting from their exposed side for several reasons.
- It is easier to cut since you are not trying to move your knife through the granules;
- It is easier to get a straight cut since the granules don't "deflect" the utility knife;
- The knife does not dull too quickly since you are cutting the actual shingle material and minimizing it's contact with the granules (rocks!). When you feel the blade hitting the granules or sense you are through the base material, you simply stop cutting and snap off the waste side.
It has worked well for me.
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