Every home needs a reliable utility knife in their tool drawer or kit. But with such a wide selection available online and at local hardware stores, which knife do you choose for your home or at work? Having a solid understanding of both household and industrial use is vital.
First, you should determine the purpose of your knife and the manufacturer’s reputation, asking yourself whether this is the knife for you. Along with durability and efficiency, safety is a top priority, too. After all, lacerations are a major cause of injuries in the workplace and at home. The good news is they’re highly preventable.
Because there are a wide variety of utility knife options, let’s look a little deeper into a few of the many types and features of utility knives.
What Is a Utility Knife?
A utility knife or fixed-blade knife has durable cutting edges suitable for rough work such as opening and breaking down corrugated boxes, cutting pallet wrap, trimming flash from plastic components and cutting raw materials. Primarily, these knives are used for tough manual work purposes. However, the utility knife is commonly used for both household and industrial applications. Higher quality knives may come with chemically inert blades (meaning they never rust), finger-friendly blades (to avoid higher risks of accidents), ambidextrous designs (a gift to both right-handed workers and lefties), and durable blade materials like zirconium oxide. So what else should you know about utility knives?
Manual Utility Knives
Not to be confused with a box cutter, a utility knife is an all-purpose cutting tool that makes it easy to break down boxes, and cut paper, plastic, or cardboard. Because most jobs require a different size blade tool, a manual knife offers different blade positions, allowing the user to choose the correct blade depth for the job. The best manual knife will adjust positions for the blade, allowing the user to choose the appropriate blade depth customized for each job.
The Auto-Retractable Utility Knife
Depending on the project, this knife type is one of the most popular types of workplace utility knives. One of the most important features of an auto-retracting utility knife, such as one of these safe utility knives, is the user must keep a thumb or finger on a slider in order to keep the blade exposed. As soon as the slider is released, the blade retracts through an automatic spring mechanism.
By far, safety is the stand-out feature of an auto-retractable utility knife. This type of knife has proven to lower the number of laceration accidents because the blade is only exposed when the slider is actively engaged.
Manual Pen Cutter
A pen cutter is a versatile tool for use both at home or on the factory floor. A retractable pen cutter is a safer alternative to a traditional pen knife or utility cutter. Although unique in its design, its slimmer cylindrical shape is ideal for hard-to-reach areas common in some projects.
Manual Box Cutter
Originally, the protective handle for the single-edged, razor-like-blade, now known more commonly as a box cutter, is believed to have originated in the 1920s as a popular hand tool. It’s earlier design was derived from a combination of utility knives and straight razor blades. More advanced box cutters today revolutionized safety with an innovative safety blade and some with ergonomic handles.
Auto-Retractable Box Cutter
With this tool design, like auto-retractable utility knives, the auto-retractable box cutter is a safety manager’s best friend. The user must keep a thumb or finger on a slider in order to keep the blade exposed. As soon as the slider is released, the blade retracts through an automatic spring mechanism. The retraction mechanism determines control over the blade.
Manual Industrial Knife
These industrial utility knives are used to help quickly open boxes and packages in warehouses and factories. Typical uses are for cutting thick materials like foam, extremely thick corrugated materials, and insulation. Because industrial utility knives are tools used to cut in extreme conditions, it’s best to consider worker safety. With the growing number of manufacturing workplace injuries that are easily preventable, an industrial tool that features safety is a top pick.
What Are Utility Knives Used For?
At home, a utility knife is good for chopping smaller foods and vegetables. When working with smaller food items, it allows for more precise cutting work. Besides food processing, there are also a wide array of industrial uses for these tools, including for rubber tires, paper, plastics, metal, and wood. In other words, a utility knife has many uses, which means there is plenty of room for injuries and lacerations. This is why the safety measurements mentioned above are so significant.
Do Your Research for the Best Purchase
Just like any purchase, especially if you’re going in blind, rule of thumb is to do consumer research. Shopping online or in the store without knowing the product can mean either overpaying or buying the wrong product for what they need. With such a wide variety of utility knives on the market, being prepared is your best option!