Utility knives are a tad bit different from the conventional household knives that you may be using to cut vegetables or meat. How? These knives are most often used on materials that can’t be cut apart with scissors or a regular knife, such as – wood, plastic, rubber, etc. Utility knives are often used for a variety of tasks including scraping and scoring. However, apart from durability that remains a top priority with these knives, you would also need to consider factors like weight and ease of use. Thus, investing in a high-quality blade would obviously enable you to work faster, more efficiently and help maintain your deadlines.
Best Utility Knives in the Market
Bessey D-BKWH Quick-Change Folding Utility Knife
Made in Canada, the Bessey D-BKWH is far touted to be among the best utility knives in the world. Given Bessy’s long 110 years of unmatched excellence in this segment, it is easily deduced that they remain the best in the business. The Bessy D-BKWH is light and easy to carry and even has an attached belt clip. The blade is replaceable with any standard sized blade, so replacement won’t be an issue in case the blade breaks. The wood grain handle of the knife ensures a comfortable but firm grip and the patented Quick Blade Replacement Mechanism makes changing blades are a breezy affair. A spring mechanism allows you to open the blade with one hand only. Thus provides unmatched ease of use and is unlike most other knives you are likely to come across in the market.
Gerber GDC Zip Blade [31-001742]
Gerber believes in the Scouts motto of being prepared and so the Gerber GDC Zip Blade aims to do just that. The blade is extremely handy when it comes to common household chores like opening boxes and cutting wires. The blade is made from stainless steel and of import quality. The blade comes equipped with a patented Frame Lock safety function that is a bummer considering you may leave it lying around the house. The Gerber GDC is also extremely easy to carry around and to facilitate this, the makers have added in a Zipper attachment.
There is also an added feature called Quick release. The Quick release clip helps you to open the knife with one hand thus keeping your other hand free. There is also a frame lock that helps to hold the blade in place when using the knife. An extremely capable knife built with safety features for the daily user. You would do well to invest in this.
The Original Pink Box PB1UKN Pink Utility Knife with Retractable Blade and Twine Cutter
You are either going to love the PB1UKN or absolutely detest it and the reason is simple – Pink. This utility knife comes in only a pink color variant and that I think would put off some serious customers. However, if pink is your cup of tea or color isn’t your concern, read on. The PB1UKN has a contoured handle that provides the user a comfortable grip. The blade is retractable and can be adjusted to suit a length according to need. The defining feature of this utility knife is that you can actually store up to two knife blades inside the body to be used as a replacement. The blades can be replaced efficiently, and you don’t need screwdrivers or tools to do it. Overall a decent utility knife to use. However the blade has been reported to break easily under tough conditions, for instance you can use it on cardboards but not vinyl flooring.
Stanley 10-175 Homeowner’s Retractable Blade Utility Knife
The Stanley 10-175 is loaded with a plethora of features that ought to make this product one of the most sought after utility knives in recent times. The knife has a retractable blade which can be adjusted to three various lengths. There is an interlocking, overlap nose that helps the knife blade to be held steadily while in use. The knife is extremely compact and economical, giving you a good value for your money. However, assembling the knife and changing blades might be a problem as there are screws involved.
You need to have screwdrivers at hand for this very reason. The knife does not work on razor blades as a replacement and uses standard two notch utility blades should you need to replace them. The major disappointment with what would’ve otherwise been a fantastic product is the cheap plastic body. The plastic body gives a cheap feel and is prone to slip if your hands are sweaty.
Stanley 10-099 6-Inch Classic 99 Retractable Utility Knife
A Stanley product always has the potential to take the utility knives segment by storm, and this is precisely what the Stanley 10-099 does. The knife has the standard multi-position retractable blade and an interlocking overlap nose to hold the knife steady. However, apart from this, the 10-099 also has a blade storage in its handle that can store three extra blades in case the blade in use breaks. The blade is of great quality and lasts longer than most heavy-duty ones.
The blades of these models are termed as “Application Specific Blades”. These are reportedly made of a carbon steel alloy that uses a patented S3 technology and thus can be used for cutting drywall and roofing shingles. The blades provide better and more precise cuts than normal heavy duty blades and are more durable than their competitions.
Factors to Consider While Buying
Blade Quality – Blade quality is one of the most important factors to consider while buying a knife. Needless to say that those utility knife blades come in a variety of sizes and materials ranging from the common aluminum and steel to the premium obsidian and ceramic and this alone makes it a difficult choice. Though obsidian and ceramic are extremely effective, they usually are very expensive as well. So, for the budget user, stainless steel remains the most popular option. The feature to look out for therefore is a high carbon stainless steel blade since such blades usually retain their sharpness for a longer duration. You might also do well to invest in a decent knife sharpener as all utility knives lose their edge after a while.
Handle – The things a handle could tell you if it could ever talk. The handle is perhaps the most important part of any knife. More so in a utility knife where you would need to apply a greater amount of pressure. The more expensive variants tend to be made of materials like high-density wood and resins, and cheaper variants are made of wood and plastic. Some handles are also equipped with a finger grip that allows the user to grip better.
Remember, a good handle should ideally allow you to grip it firmly even if your hands are wet. If you are serious about investing in a utility knife, I would advise you to avoid handles made of plastic as they usually break very easily and may cause injury in the process. Be extra careful to note if the knife stays put at one place or not. The handle is a portion that one must choose carefully and ‘handle with care’.
Knife Edge – The most common variants of utility knife usually sport two edges – straight and serrated. While each of the edges has its area of use, the common user remains woefully ignorant of them. Here’s thus an essential guide – the straight edged knife is mostly used for sensitive cuts, materials such as cardboard can ideally be cut using this knife. A serrated edged knife, however, offers low precision in terms of finesse but turns out to be perfect while cutting materials of a higher density. It is, therefore, advisable to invest after ascertaining what you wish to do with the knife.
Balance – Now this might come as a surprise to most of you, but as you are going to be using the utility knife on a daily basis, it is imperative that you select a knife you are comfortable with. While most utility knives may sport the same size, they would, however, be different in terms of materials used, and this could create differences in balance. A balanced knife would obviously require lesser effort on your part to cut objects. Though this may look like a trivial feature, it is surely one the most important aspects if you wish to wield and use a knife efficiently. A well-balanced utility knife would almost always have the edge over poorly balanced ones.
Replacement Blades – Another factor that you may wish to note before buying the utility knife is the availability of replacement blades. This is an important factor because replacement blades are subject to availability and may not be easily procured should the need arise. It is important to remember that utility knife blades are not built to be durable, they are built to be highly efficient, and so they may not last for long. Thus, the need for replacement blades is of a paramount importance.
Portability – Utility knives are now as good and handy they can get. Too bulky or heavy knives tend to be left around and eventually forgotten only to be subsequently replaced by the lighter variants of the same. The most portable of utility knives tend to be products that have hooks, zips or fobs that can be carried around easily. While for most user size may be manageable if the knife is small enough, however, weight is certainly not an issue that must be taken lightly.
Ergonomics – Most of the times, utility knives are used to cut through materials that cannot be cut using a regular knife or pen knives. Heavy cutting, therefore, dictates that the user has to put in more pressure. In quite a few ways, portability and ergonomics are pitted against each other. While it is obviously you who should be having the last word when it comes to things like balance and grip, it is important to keep in mind that the device you should choose must be easy to open and use. In this regard, do give preference to blades which can be deployed with one hand.
About Retractable Utility Knives
Retractable blades can be changed with a mere press of a button. If you’re not cool with the idea of carrying around an open razor with you, this is perhaps your best blade. Most utility knives armed with such blades feature a spring-loaded blade tensioned to keep the blade tucked into the handle when not in use. You have to slide open the blade using your thumb while making cuts and it will retract back as soon as the work is done. On the negative side, such blades are not ideal for heavy-duty cutting jobs so make sure to get one only for low-key works.
The Law of the Land
It is crucial while purchasing a utility knife to check and consult the knife and arms laws of your state, especially if your work requires you to carry it around with you. Some cities have extremely strict laws about carrying open knives and so it is highly recommended that you do check it out before purchasing one. For instance, the New York City has extremely strict rules about open knives, and to such extent, it is illegal to carry them without proper documentation. So, do be aware of the laws around you before you decide to carry a utility knife with you.
A utility knife is a very important tool to have about the house, you never know when you might need it. The blades are sharp and easily disposable, thus making it ideal to work with as opposed to scissors and pocket knives. It is, therefore important that while buying the utility knife that you pay particular emphasis on safety features as it is very easy to injure oneself with such tools. So, while I do look at efficiency, I would also encourage you to stay safe and use such tools carefully. While this segment is saturated with a lot of lucrative options, each more enticing than the other, it is not necessary that all the knives are calibrated to suit your needs. While the list I provided isn’t an extensive one, it comprises the best of what money can buy, according to me. Choose wisely!