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How To Choose The Best Type of Utility Knife

The 4 Most Popular Utility Knife Designs for 2021

Whether you are a Utility Knife expert or new to using utility knives, finding the Best type of Utility Knife for your specific needs is essential.

However, choosing the best utility knife can be a challenge if you don’t know what features to consider, and doubly hard if you’re not sure what types of utility knives actually exist on the market.

The Utility Knife is the essential tool of choice as a box cutter, making craft projects, or completing DIY jobs around the home. In addition, the utility knife is a must-have for hunters, builders, and electricians alike. Simply put, a multi-purpose utility knife belongs in everyone’s toolkit, and you can’t find a more versatile tool to own.

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


Utility Knife Features:

  • A utility knife is a tool used for general or “utility” 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, as well as trimming roof shingles, or carving wood.


Choosing the Best Type of Utility Knife


1)    Choose a Utility Knife with “Safe & Durable” Blade

Your safety is critical regardless of the type of material you’re cutting or the type of 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 a Utility Knife for “Heavy or Light Duty” Use

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

3)   Choose Utility Knife with a “Comfortable Grip”

If you’re someone who uses a utility knife daily, or even several times a day, it is vital to buy a utility knife with a good grip.  Hand muscle fatigue can quickly set in if your utility knife grip is an uncomfortable fit for your hand or difficult to hold.

4) Choose a Utility Knife with “Tool-Free” Blade Change

For someone who uses a utility knife on a daily basis – it is imperative that your utility knife allows for quick-change blade replacement. Nothing can slow down your efficiency, than to grab a screwdriver and remove the handle, to access the blade, just to replace the blade every time It gets dull.


The Four Types of Utility Knives


The “Fixed Blade Utility” Knife


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


The most economical utility knife is the Fixed Blade utility knife, which functions 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 include the ability to change blades without the use of a screwdriver.

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, which rely on the everyday use of a utility knife tool.

The “Smart-Retracting” 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 will instantly retract when they lose contact with the cutting surface. You don’t have to worry about the hassle of 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 from an exposed utility blade. Overall, it’s an intelligent and safe function to have on any utility knife.

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

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

The folding utility blade, when closed, rests safely inside of 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, whereas 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.


Best Utility Knife Features:


Lightweight, Comfortable Utility Knife 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 that’s composed of glass-filled nylon. It’s pretty durable with excellent tensile strength compared to standard nylon. You’ll have a handle that’s built to last and will save you money in the long run. Additionally, it’s surprisingly lightweight and sits comfortably in your hand.

No Tools Required for Utility 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. Think about purchasing a 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.

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 to rope to foam insulation.

Keep in mind, 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. If you purchase a utility knife curated for safety listed above with an auto or smart-retracting function, a longer blade won’t impede your safety.

FAQ:   Guide for Choosing a Utility Knife


How is a Utility Knife different from a Box Cutter

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

A Utility Knife, on the other hand, 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, or insulation, and yes – 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 sturdy, quick access (belt holder) utility knife – most likely a fixed or auto-retracting utility knife. 

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:

utility knife box cutter - best home gear

Lastly, If your daily tasks vary from heavy-duty work 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. 



Regardless of which Utility Knife you choose, make sure to buy the absolute 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 your utility knife for, which will determine the best utility knife to use 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 do your research when in the process of buying any tool.

In the end, Investing in a safe, durable, high-quality utility knife will not only take your work to the next level, but It will be a long-lasting purchase worth every penny.

Additional Reading and References:

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