Nowadays—especially during more than a year of social isolation—it’s commonplace to become a do-it-yourself (DIY) pro or partake in hobbies that require usage of various tools. Utility knives are popular tools that are suited for professionals and amateur DIYers. They’re a standard staple that should be in every user’s tool arsenal.
Investing in a good, quality utility knife means investing in your safety as well as efficiency. You can find utility knives on the market that fulfill both of those aspects. Utility knives can also cut a wide variety of materials and boast an impressive lifespan. It’s crucial that you do your own research to find the latest in utility knife technology though.
Let’s dive into what utility knives are and what features you should think about while on the hunt for the perfect one for your toolbox.
What Is a Utility Knife?
Utility knives are tools that are used for general purposes, mostly in the realm of manual work. Utility knives are also referred to as X-Acto knives. You can use them to cut cardboard, foam insulation, old carpet, vinyl flooring, drywall, dried caulk, plywood, rope, nylon window screen, and much more.
They sport handles that are usually composed of plastic, wood, stainless steel, titanium, nylon, carbon fiber, and micarta. Their blades are typically made of stainless steel, titanium, and ceramics.
There are also common safety features you should be aware of. For example, these safe utility knives have a spring-loaded retractable mechanism that helps protect users from accidental blade exposure.
Auto-retractable utility knives give the user the option to retract the blade only when their finger is on the slider. Self-retractable knives allow the blade to retract when it loses contact with its cutting material. Manual-retractable utility knives have an added step for flexible cutting; they allow the user to manually control the length of the blade.
Now that you know some of their common uses, materials, and safety features, let’s evaluate some more options you should be looking for when purchasing a utility knife.
Utility Knife Features to Look tor
It’s important to have a utility knife with a sturdy, durable handle. Consider buying one that sports a glass-filled nylon handle. Not only can it withstand the elements, but it’s comfortable to hold.
The last thing you want is to suffer from repetitive strain injuries after holding a utility knife that’s uncomfortable to wield. You’ll be getting more bang for your buck when you invest in a utility knife with a glass-filled nylon handle.
Safe and Effective Blade
You want the best of both worlds when you’re looking for a quality utility knife blade: safe and effective. Safe doesn’t mean “dull.” Think about getting a utility knife with a blade that’s composed of zirconium oxide, an advanced ceramic.
Zirconium oxide holds the distinction of being tougher than steel. It’s safe to the touch, and it doesn’t dull quickly like steel. It can also slice a myriad of materials with different consistencies.
If you’re a leftie, chances are you want to invest in a utility knife that works for you. There are knives out there that only require a simple switch of the blade orientation to make them suited for left-handed use. Buy a knife that can make a seamless switch for lefties without requiring another tool, or a process that interrupts your workflow.
Compatible With Different Blades
Sometimes different tasks require different blades. For example, a rounded-tip blade may be better for slicing foam while a pointed-tip blade may be the winning ticket for cutting cardboard. Consider purchasing a utility knife that’s compatible with multiple blade types. You’ll ultimately save money if you buy one utility knife that can really do it all.
No-Tool Blade Change
Injuries can transpire when you’re changing blades on a utility knife that requires an extra tool for the process. Additionally, throwing in an unnecessary tool can slow down your production.
Thankfully, there are utility knives that don’t need a tool to switch blades. Think about buying a utility knife that boasts seamless, no-tool blade changes to prevent potential cuts and keep your work flowing.
Longer Blade for Thicker Cuts
You can get thicker cuts with longer blades, and if that’s what you need, then look into purchasing a utility knife that has a longer blade. Now, “longer” doesn’t equate to “more dangerous,” especially if you get a knife with a retractable mechanism that controls when the blade is exposed. For example, a blade made of zirconium oxide will keep your fingers safe while you cut with a longer blade.
Which Utility Knife Should You Choose?
Utility knives are a must-have for every toolbox, regardless of whether you consider yourself an expert DIYer, a novice hobbyist, or a professional who works in the industrial space. Their versatility can unlock possibilities beyond your wildest dreams.
As long as you consider investing in a utility knife with a durable handle, a safe yet effective blade, one that doesn’t require a tool to change blades, a longer blade for thicker cuts, one that’s compatible with multiple blade types, and a knife that’s suited for ambidextrous use, you’ll be good to go. Find yourself one of these handy tools for life.