Having the right tool for a job can be half the battle. This is especially true when it comes to the best types of utility knives because there really is no “one size fits all” option.
Instead, there are various types of utility knives available, all with their own unique strengths and benefits.
Understanding the differences can help you to decide which one is the most suitable for a specific project or task.
Best Types of Utility Knives and the Uses for Each
This type of knife is probably the most well-known among utility knives. The retractable style is in use for many years on various job sites, as well as around the home.
The retractable utility knife designs with a full-sized handle. And some sort of mechanism that retracts the blade into this handle. The retraction function can be manual, auto-retracting, or even self-retracting.
The biggest differences between these options are the method in which retracting is set up. With manual, the user has to initiate or manipulate some slide or button to expose as well as hide the blade.
With auto-retracting, there is a slider that you must hold or press to activate the blade. And when you release the slider, the blade automatically retracts.
The last option is self-retracting and is designed to retract the blade anytime the cutting surface. Or the slider mechanism senses a loss of contact.
This means that there is an added layer of protection in case of drops or slips. Utility knives like these are probably the most versatile in their uses and would be considered multi-purpose.
Common ways that you might see a retractable utility knife used include: breaking down boxes; cutting carpet, linoleum, foamboard, roofing shingles, or drywall; trimming window screen, landscape fabric, or styrofoam; deburring plastics or PVC piping; and removing old materials like grout, caulk, and sealants.
As the name suggests, this style is designed with a blade that doesn’t usually retract. It folds into the handle instead. Many people choose the folding utility knife. Because it can be more compact to store and carry. While still offering a full-sized tool when deployed.
Most folding utility knives will have some sort of mechanism that locks the blade in either the open or closed position. This prevents it from opening accidentally when stored or closing unexpectedly when in use.
One quite distinguishing feature of this style of utility knife is the inclusion of a belt clip or lanyard hole. Making it much more practical to carry on your person.
Because of this, the folding utility knife has gained popularity among outdoor enthusiasts. And has become an alternative to a traditional pocket knife. It is even being incorporated into some people’s everyday carry (EDC) routines.
Some of the most practical ways to use a folding utility knife include: cutting rope, fishing line, zip ties, box strapping, or twine; opening clamshell packaging or cardboard boxes; scoring duct or packing tape; cutting out fabric or nylon patches for tent or outdoor gear repairs, and using in an emergency situation such as to remove a seatbelt in case of a car accident.
Resembling an ink pen in both size and shape. This style of utility knife is most popularly used within crafting circles and among hobbyists.
It is designed with a handle that is easy to hold and maneuver. Making it an ideal tool for getting into tight places or making intricate cuts.
Some pen cutters have retractable blades, while others are fixed. With some sort of cap to cover the cutting edge when not in use.
Most are relatively lightweight, and incorporate some sort of grip or texturing for greater dexterity.
The best uses for a pen cutter typically involve tasks and materials that require a more delicate or fine cut. Such as carving designs and patterns into leather, soap, candles, or stamping rubber; cutting shapes out of cake fondant, felt fabric, thin sheet metal, and leather applique; and shaping wet beads for nail art.
The phrase “small but mighty” comes to mind for this style of the best types of utility knives. As it is essentially a safety blade housed in a micro handle.
The compact size of this tool makes it ideal for storing just about anywhere. And can be great to grab when you need to make a quick cut.
Mini cutters are famous for their convenience factor. And often feature built-in magnets for storing on a fridge or toolbox, or lanyard holes for easy tethering.
Whether you add it to your keychain with a carabiner or throw it in a small desk drawer at work. Mini cutters are handy tools to have at arm’s reach.
There are so many ways to utilize a mini cutter, but some of the most popular include: removing a sales tag or stray thread from clothing; opening sealed envelopes, shipping boxes, product or food packages; cutting out coupons, UPC’s or labels; and trimming family photos to frame size.
The Bottom Line
The best types of utility knives come in a variety of shapes and sizes, all designed for particular uses and purposes.
In order to make an informed decision on which is the best for a particular project, take time to consider things like desired cut quality, storage or carry capacity, and frequency of use.
Hopefully, some of the tips above will help you narrow down your search to find the best types of utility knives that suit you the best.