How To Choose Best Type of Utility Knife

The 4 Most Popular Utility Knife Designs For Every Job

Whether you are a Utility Knife expert or new to using utility knives, choosing the Best Type of Utility Knife for specific kinds of work is essential.

Choosing the best can be challenging if you don’t know what features to consider and doubly hard if you’re unsure what utility knives are available.

The Utility Knife is the essential tool of choice as a box cutter, doing craft projects, or completing DIY jobs around the home. In addition, the utility knife is a must-have for hunters, builders, and electricians alike.

To make this easy, Let’s break down this highly efficient cutting tool – piece by piece -starting with the basics of a utility knife and its most prevalent features.


Types of Jobs Requiring a Utility Knife:

  • A Utility knife can be used for general cutting or “specific” purposes. Utility knives include short blades that can be fixed in place, spring-loaded, or folded.
  • A Utility knife has a handle made of metal or plastic and a molded grip to hold the tool in place.
  • Utility knives are used most often for cutting cardboard boxes, multiple household chores, and nearly all professional building trades.
  • Utility knives can handle tough jobs, such as cutting drywall, vinyl flooring, carpeting, and trimming roof shingles or carving wood.

How to Choose the Best Type of Utility Knife

Choose a Utility Knife based on These Essential Features:

1)    Use “Safe & Durable” Utility Blades

Your safety is critical regardless of the type of material you’re cutting or the task you’re doing.

Consider a utility knife with a safe, durable blade. For instance, utility knives like these include blades made of zirconium oxide, which is more durable than steel.

Zirconium utility blades are blades made from advanced ceramic with impeccable hardness, which adds to their safety and durability. As a result, you won’t need to change blades as often because of their extended durability.

2)   Choose “Heavy or Light Duty” Use

Utility knives are sold for heavy-duty use, such as in construction, or for light use, such as in opening boxes or working on small craft projects.  Select the utility knife that best meets your tasks.

3)   Find a “Comfortable Grip”

If you use a utility knife daily, or even several times a day, buying a utility knife with a good grip is vital.  Hand muscle fatigue can quickly set in if your utility knife grip is an uncomfortable fit for your hand or challenging to hold.

4)  “Tool-Free” Blade Exchange

For someone who uses a utility knife daily, your utility knife must allow for quick-change blade replacement. Nothing can slow down your efficiency more than grabbing a screwdriver, removing the handle, accessing the blade, to replacing the utility blade every time It gets dull.

Nowadays- there are many utility knives made with the quick-blade-change feature.


Four Best Types of Utility Knives;

1). The “Fixed Blade Utility” Knife

 

fixed blade utility knife - best home gear
Fixed Blade Utility Knife – besthomegear.com

The Fixed Blade utility knife is the most economical, functioning just as described. The utility blade is held in a fixed position within the handle – and cannot be retracted. The best “fixed blade” utility knife will be able to change blades without a screwdriver.

2). The “Auto-Retracting” Utility Knife

 

auto retracting utility knife - best home gear
Auto Retracting Utility Knife – besthomegear.com

 

Auto-retractable utility knives are safer and can prevent accidental cuts or lacerations due to a spring-loaded mechanism, which allows the user to release the button and automatically slide the blade inside the handle.

The best auto-retracting utility knife will provide a smooth retraction (spring back) of the utility blade once the knife button is released. 

The auto-retracting utility knife is the #1 choice amongst contractors who rely on the everyday use of a utility knife tool.

3).  “Smart-Retractable” Utility Knife

smart retracting utility knife - best home gear
Smart-Retracting Knife – besthomegear.com

Smart-retracting utility knives take the safety aspect to the “next level.” Smart-retractable utility knife blades instantly retract when they lose contact with the cutting surface. You don’t have to worry about physically retracting the blade yourself.

Additionally, if you leave your utility knife unattended, you don’t have to worry about a passerby or child getting hurt by an exposed utility blade. Overall, it’s an intelligent and safe function on any utility knife.

4). The “Folding” Utility Knife

folding blade utility knife - best home gear
Folding Utility Knife – besthomegear.com

While manual and auto-retractable blades are commendable in their own right, so is the folding utility knife.

With a manual utility knife, you must keep it closed when not in use. With an auto-retractable blade, especially with smart-retracting blades, the pressure must be proper to keep the edge steady for slicing.

A Foldable utility knife is often considered the best type of EDC utility knife. It is shorter than most traditional utility knives and can safely be carried and concealed in any pocket when folded.

The folding utility blade, when closed, rests safely inside a steel handle. Because of its portability, it will also rest snugly in your pocket.

The downside of a foldable utility knife is that it requires a two-handed operation to open or close the blade. In contrast, the other utility knives in our article are a one-handed operation.  In addition, almost all folding utility knives will require tools to change out the utility blades.


What are the Best Utility Knife Features?

1). Lightweight, Comfortable Handle

Awkward or uncomfortable tools can make for an equally clumsy and awkward work experience. Also, repeated work with a utility knife that doesn’t sit well in your hand – can lead to potential muscle strain over time. That’s why it’s so crucial to look for a tool that feels comfortable to hold.

Consider buying a practical utility knife with a handle composed of glass-filled nylon. It’s pretty durable, with excellent tensile strength compared to standard nylon. You’ll have a handle built to last and save you money in the long run. Additionally, it’s surprisingly lightweight and sits comfortably in your hand.

2). “Tool-Free” Blade Change

Utility Blade changes should be seamless and quick. You don’t want to use extra, unnecessary tools to change the blade on your utility knife, as it cuts into your productivity. Consider purchasing a tool-free utility knife that doesn’t need a screwdriver to replace dull utility blades.

Your time and your safety are precious. By investing in a utility knife that doesn’t require tools for blade changes, you’ll be saving time and giving yourself that extra level of safety.

3). Use a Longer Utility Blade

Longer blades lead to thicker, deeper cuts. You want a utility knife blade that can cut through anything, from triple-walled, corrugated cardboard and heavy rope to thick foam insulation.

Remember that a longer blade cuts deeper and can be dangerous to contents when opening boxes.

Additionally, long utility knife blades don’t necessarily mean unsafe utility knife blades. A longer blade won’t impede your safety if you purchase a utility knife with an auto or smart-retracting function for the above protection.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What’s the Difference Between a Utility Knife and a Box Cutter

A typical box cutter is designed solely for one purpose – cutting boxes.  Therefore, regular box cutters use a short blade and handle for slicing open packaging tape or corrugated cardboard.  

On the other hand, a Utility Knife is a multi-purpose tool with a rugged full-grip handle designed with a longer blade, capable of slicing much sturdier materials, such as wood, drywall, insulation, and even cardboard.

What is the Best Type of Utility Knife?

That’s easy.  The best type of utility knife is the type that suits your everyday use.  If you’re in construction, you will require a sturdy, quick-access (belt holder) FIXED BLADE utility knife. We like the auto-retracting utility knife best if you access your utility knife only occasionally.

However, if you primarily use a utility knife for opening boxes, a light-use utility knife such as the box cutter knife may suit your purposes better – and safer. Like This One from “Slice”

utility knife box cutter - best home gear
Slice Utility Knife – Best Home Gear

Lastly, If your daily tasks vary from heavy-duty to light work, you may wish to buy more than one type of utility knife.

What is the Safest Type of Utility Knife?

The safest type of utility knife is undoubtedly the Smart-Retracting Utility Knife.  The Smart Retract design retracts the blade into its handle – as soon as it loses contact with the cutting material, even if you still have your finger on the forward slider button. 


Conclusion

Regardless of which Utility Knife you choose, buy the best utility knife for your everyday needs. This fantastic all-purpose cutting tool can be carried loose in your pocket, worn on your belt, kept in a toolbox, or hung from a tool bench pegboard.

Because of these and many more options, consider the type of use you will most often use for your utility knife, which will determine the best one for your specific needs.

If you keep the above features in mind while hunting for that perfect utility knife, you’ll find a great addition to your workspace arsenal. Of course, it’s always prudent to research when buying any tool.

In the end, Investing in a safe, durable, high-quality utility knife will take your work to the next level and be a long-lasting purchase worth every penny.

Additional Reading and References:

Kevin Carroll
Kevin Carrollhttps://www.besthomegear.com
Kevin is the author and editor for Best Home Gear, and uses his 25+ years experience in Commercial and Residential Construction Management to author and publish the work for this website. In addition to publishing Best Home Gear; Kevin enjoys the outdoors in Michigan and Arizona, hiking, cycling, fishing, golf, and completing DIY projects at his Home and Garden.

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Image of Kevin Carroll, author and publisher @ Besthomegear.com
Author and Publisher for Best Home Gear

Kevin is the Author, and Publisher @ Best Home Gear, which he began In 2018.

As a Professional in Construction, Real Estate and Property Management, Kevin uses that experience to publish Useful Articles, and help homeowners improve (DIY) their own homes, lawns, and outdoor spaces.

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