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Utility Knives

Utility Knives: A buying guide

Utility Knives: The Ultimate Multi-purpose Tools

No toolbox is complete without a utility knife. Whether it features a retractable, fixed or breakaway blade, a utility knife will undoubtedly prove to be one of your most indispensable tools. It can be used to trim wallpaper, cut carpeting and roofing materials, score wallboard or acoustic ceiling tiles and a host of other functions.

Be sure to make safety a priority; regardless of what function the utility knife is being used for, ensure the blade is locked in place and proper eye protection is worn.

Choosing the Right Utility Knife

Retractable Knives

Retractable knives feature a button that allows you to slide the blade in and out. The two primary advantages of this style are increased safety and greater ability to control the depth of your cut. Simple knives let the blade slide all the way out and then lock into place while more advanced knives allow you to lock the blade into multiple positions.

  • A thumb-operated slider moves the blade in and out of the housing
  • Knife bodies may be straight or ergonomically curved to fit your hand

Fixed-Blade Knives

Fixed-blade knives have blades that are securely locked into place, making them ideal for heavy-duty cutting jobs. They do not experience a wobbly side-to-side movement that can sometimes occur with retractable knives.

  • Accept a wider variety of blades for increased versatility
  • Hobby knives are often constructed from strong, lightweight aluminum and have a round, slender body for more precise control

Breakaway-Blade Knives

These knives are usually housed in plastic casing and feature segmented blades that can be broken off in sections to provide a fresh, sharp edge whenever you need it. Their design makes them ideal for tasks that constantly dull or otherwise affect blades, such as cutting through packing tape and other adhesive material.

  • Ideal for light and medium-duty cutting tasks
  • Blades usually have between 8 and 13 segments

Tip:
Be sure to break off blade tips as soon as they become dull to reduce the risk of slipping.
 

Blades

In addition to standard utility blades, there are a number of specialized blades available for more specific tasks.

Carpet

  • Double-edged blades used for cutting carpeting

Hobby and Craft

  • Used for cutting, carving, whittling, modelling, trimming and scoring a wide range of materials
  • Blade designs include low-angle and curved

Hook

  • Used for cutting and trimming roofing, carpet and flooring materials as well as cartons
  • Will not cause damage below the cutting surface

Linoleum

  • Used for making clean cuts in vinyl or linoleum floor covering and similar materials

Scoring

  • Used for scoring deep grooves to make clean breaks in acrylics, laminates and other sheet materials

Utility

  • Used for cutting sheet materials of varying thicknesses
  • Used for general cutting tasks

Round-Point Utility

  • Designed for general cutting tasks
  • Blunt ends help prevent stab injuries
     

Features

Folding Fixed-Blade

Folds in a manner similar to a pocket knife which eliminates the dangers of an exposed blade.

Self-Retraction

Self-retracting blades require you to keep a button depressed while you are cutting. Once you release the button, the blade automatically retracts, helping to prevent accidents that can occur if you forget to retract the blade manually.

Blade Storage

Internal storage keeps blades handy. Look for knives that use a guide or magnet to keep blades in place rather than letting them rattle around loose inside; loose blades can dull over time.

String-Cutting Tool

Some knives have a small slit in the body located just behind the head of the blade that is ideal for sliding strings and twine through for quick, easy cuts.

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