Features to Look For in a Utility Knife
Oxford Languages defines a utility knife as a “knife with a small sharp blade, often retractable, designed to cut wood, cardboard, and other materials.” It can be utilized for a wide variety of tasks from household renovations to on-the-job industrial work. It really should be called a multipurpose utility knife, since it’s so versatile.
There are several features you should look for when purchasing a utility knife. You want the best of the best: a knife that’ll outlast the rest and maintain durability for years to come. Here are eight vital utility knife features to keep in mind before you buy one.
An ergonomic grip
What does ergonomic mean? Oxford Languages defines it as “relating to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment.” You want a good grip on your utility knife. In addition, ergonomic tools help reduce hand and wrist strain. Strains could lead to life-altering injuries.
So, you should look for a utility knife that sports an ergonomic grip. You want to control your tool, not the other way around. Check for a durable handle while you’re on the lookout for the perfect utility knife. The sturdier, the better.
A blade that’s safe to the touch
A safe blade doesn’t necessarily mean a dull blade. You can still cut yourself on a butter knife, after all. Invest in a knife with a blade that’s safe to the touch, but cuts just as effectively. Yes, the two can coexist.
Consider a ceramic blade (zirconium dioxide). You’ll find the edge is harder than steel and can cut through a wide array of materials, including triple-walled corrugated cardboard, drywall, carpet, asphalt, and more. But safety should always be first and foremost.
Blade change that doesn’t require a tool
What’s more of a time waster than changing blades with a tool? Why not purchase a utility knife that doesn’t require a tool to change blades? Not only will this save you money, but it’ll save you precious working time. You can switch out a blade with ease and avoid interrupting your workflow.
You should look for a utility knife that only requires you to withdraw the old blade and install the new one by hand. If it’s safe to the touch, then this shouldn’t be an issue.
Not all plastic is made the same. “Glass reinforcement” for nylon (plastic) handles has multiple benefits. This includes keeping the blade in place and minimizing movement of said blade in the handle. Glass fibers enhance the nylon handle’s stability at high temperatures and its long-term durability.
Additionally, utilizing a glass-filled nylon handle helps maintain your utility knife blade. It prevents wear and tear, and keeps the blade in better shape.
Left-handed folks have it tough when it comes to using tools. Constantly adjusting your grip and trying to keep the blade steady can be difficult if your utility knife is meant for right-handed use. You should look for utility knives that boast an ambidextrous design.
More specifically, keep your eyes peeled for a knife that allows you to quickly rotate the blade edge without using a tool. Again, this helps prevent workflow interruption and saves you from having to invest money in another tool. Instead, invest in a knife with an ambidextrous design and you’ll have a tool that works for you and your family or coworkers.
Chemically inert and rust-free blade
You’ve seen it — the blade that begins to rust in no time flat. It seems like only yesterday you purchased it. But what if you could buy a utility knife with a blade that’ll never rust?
Ceramic blades are built to be chemically inert, non-conductive, and rust-free. They stay sharper for much longer than your average steel blade as well. The inherent properties from the zirconium dioxide help extend its longevity. It’ll remain rust-free and resistant to chemicals for years to come.
Safety is paramount whenever you’re working with tools. Auto-retractable utility knife blades are worth considering. The plus side to having an auto-retractable blade? Whenever it’s not in use, the blade retracts by itself. No work on your part is required. What could be more safe than that?
Think about how many injuries you’re preventing by purchasing an auto-retractable utility knife. You don’t have to worry about potential hand lacerations or setting it down while the blade is still out.
Compatible with different blades
Sometimes different tasks require different blades. Consider investing in a utility knife that’s compatible with multiple blade types. Different blade types include a rounded tip, which handles most jobs, or a serrated edge, which might be better for slicing foam insulation or softer materials. There’s also a pointed tip which is perfect for cutting through flexible materials.
Having a utility knife at your disposal will make your life so much easier. Ensuring that you have one with all the bells and whistles is even better. This is a must-have for every toolbox.
JR Dominguez is the technology, finance and music editor for MiLLENNiAL. When he's not writing, you can find him day-trading stocks, playing video games, or composing commercial scores.