Imagine you are working on a home improvement project and you need to cut something. You may think about heading to the kitchen to grab a knife from your butcher’s block. While kitchen knives will cut, they aren’t the best option for home improvement projects.
There is a chance the blade could break, or you could inadvertently cut yourself by leaving the knife blade exposed. Kitchen knives are intended for food preparation.
Instead of grabbing a random knife from the countertop, you should get your utility knife out of your toolbox to complete your project. Using utility knives like these helps to ensure that you are safer while working.
Their retractable blades for added safety also make you less likely to damage the cutting edge. Utility knives are ideal for many different types of projects. Let’s explore why they’re so useful.
1. What are utility knives?
Utility knives are standard knives found in almost any toolbox. Also known as box cutters, they can be used for more than breaking down cardboard.
These knives are inexpensive and have a simple design. Their handles are usually made from glass-filled nylon, plastic, or metal. They are approximately 3 to 4 inches long. Most utility knives have hollow handles that allow the blade to retract into the housing for safekeeping.
The blades of utility knives can be single- or double-sided. A double-sided blade allows you to turn the knife around when one edge becomes dull, extending the life of the blade. You can also get a utility knife with a single-sided blade that is segmented so you can break the blade for a new, sharper edge.
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2. Types of Utility Knives
There are several types of utility knives. You should choose one that fits your needs and feels comfortable in your hand.
An ambidextrous utility knife is convenient, not only because it can be used by left-handed and right-handed users in your home, but also because it makes it easy to switch hands when one hand tires.
- A. Retracting: Manual and Automatic
Most utility knives retract into the housing. You can choose between a manual and an automatic retracting blade.The manual retraction blade has a button or slider that allows you to extend the edge. It locks the blade in place until you push the slider again to retract it.
- An auto-retracting knife, like a manual utility knife, has a slider you use to extend the blade. However, the edge will automatically return to the housing if the button is released or the blade loses contact with the cutting surface. The advantage of an auto-retracting blade is that it is not left exposed, so it is unlikely to accidentally injure someone.
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- B. Folding
A folding utility knife doesn’t have a retracting blade. Instead, the knife folds down much like a pocketknife. When it is folded, the edge is covered to keep you from being injured while carrying it. There are different grips to make it feel comfortable in your hand, some of which have a finger loop for better control when holding the knife.
- C. J-Hook
A J-hook utility knife has a unique ergonomic shape that makes it easier to use for a long time without stressing your hand and wrist. This type of knife has a retractable blade, along with a hooked handle design. The hook allows you to hang it on a pocket to keep the edge away from your body.
- D. Blade Materials
Utility knife blades come in different materials. All are pre-sharpened before they leave the manufacturer and can cause an injury if not handled properly. The most common material is metal. The downsides of this type of blade are that it can rust, it conducts electricity, it is magnetic, and it can cause sparks.
- Another blade material is ceramic. While ceramic blades are rust-resistant, non-conductive, non-magnetic, and non-sparking, they are just as sharp as metal. There are ceramic options that are finger-friendly, meaning they are less likely to cut skin but can still cut through other materials.
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3. Uses for Utility Knives
Utility knives can be used to complete a wide array of projects. They are often found on construction sites and in-home toolboxes for that reason.
- A. Cutting Boxes
As utility knives are often called box cutters, it is no surprise that one of their primary uses is to cut cardboard boxes. These blades can cut through corrugated cardboard with ease. You can also use them to cut through the tape holding the box together so you can flatten the container for disposal.
- B. Removing Carpet
There are specially designed carpet knives with a bent handle to make them more ergonomic, but a utility knife will work just as well. Removing wall-to-wall carpeting is time-consuming, but pulling it up and cutting through the backing to create smaller sections can make disposal easier.
- C. Removing Paint-Coated Screws
When redecorating your home, you may need to remove doors from their hinges. Often, when the frames are painted the hinges and their screws get covered in paint. This paint can make it challenging to get a snug fit with the screwdriver. Use the utility knife to scrape away some of the paint to expose the slot for a better fit.Utility knives are designed to be the go-to knife you need in your toolbox. Having a retractable or folding knife offers added safety. Whether you are cutting boxes, removing paint, or sectioning carpet, this is the kind of knife you may not know you need until you have it. And once you get it, you won’t want to stop using it.
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