Utility Knife

Cut your work time with utility knives

The utility knife is an essential part of any toolbox. Different kinds of utility knives are handy for making precise cuts along wood, plastic, wallpaper, carpet and metal. It's important that you carefully pick a knife that fits the project at hand, and that you're well aware of the dangers associated with using a utility knife.

In addition, owning one of these knives may change the way you think about your hand tools. Never lock your toolbox before? Well, if it is ever accessible to children, a utility knife is a good reason to think about securing your tools in order to keep little hands away from such objects.

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But for adults, a utility knife is one of the handiest tools, so here's a look at some of the more popular options.

Folding Utility Knife

Looking to save space in that already-cramped toolbox full of wrenches and screwdrivers? Then the folding utility knife is a good idea. Many folding utility knives are about 7 inches long when open, meaning they're just 3½ inches after the blade has been retracted into its snug enclosure. Folding models often feature interchangeable blade styles that can be used for cutting, paring and ripping. Their best feature: they can fit right into the average jeans side-pocket with ease.

Retractable Knives

Retractable knives slide in and out with the push of a sliding button. The advantage of this feature is that they can be quickly and easily retracted after every cut, maintaining a comfortable level of safety. In addition, sliding the blade can allow you to manage the depth of your cut—the farther out the blade extends, the deeper the cut can be made. More advanced models will allow you to lock the blade at varying lengths.

Breakaway-Blade Knives

A breakaway-blade knife, sometimes referred to as an X-Acto knife or a box cutter, is similar in design to a retractable knife, but its disposable blade is housed in a plastic casing that makes it lighter and easier to wield. The obvious disadvantage of this utility knife is that it's more likely to get crushed or smashed on a construction job site. Still, for common usage in all types of environments, this kind of utility knife is hard to beat—it's even great for supply or shipping boxes in the warehouse.

However, if you need to make cuts to heavy plastic or piping, then a cutter may be a better option.