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How to choose the right utility knife

February 11, 2019
Utility knives

Utility knives or cutters are used by many businesses for a number of tasks, as they are the most all-purpose work knife and have the ability to cut through a variety of surfaces.

But do you know if you’re using the right utility knife for your application? In this blog we dive into the ins-and-outs of utility knives to give you a broad overview of what you should be looking for when choosing your next work knife.

View the Primepac range of knives and cutters here to see how they can work with you and your team to perform day-to-day tasks.

Consider the application

First and foremost, it’s important to know what you’ll be using the knife for. This includes what you will be cutting and how often it will be used.

The blade will often be dictated by what you are cutting, as you will need to ensure that your knife is able to last prolonged use without becoming blunt or breaking. You should also consider what kind of safety standards you need to adhere to, like if you’re working with food (for example). In this case, you need to ensure the materials that are coming into contact with (or in the vicinity of) the food are up to scratch with that regulations your organisation is obliged to follow. Most food industry applications also need to use a solid blade that can not be broken off and lost in the food.

The type of handle you use is often dictated by how often you are using the knife. If you’re using repetitive motion to cut things often, you will want to ensure you are using a knife that considers ergonomics in its design so you’re less likely to receive a strain injury.

Also consider how long your team will be using the knife for (the life span of the knife). If they are prone to losing knives regularly, then providing cheaper options might be best so you don’t waste so much money on lost goods. On the other hand if they tend to last a long time in your team, it’s worth choosing a higher quality knife that will keep cutting with ease for longer.

The Handle

As mentioned, if you are using a utility knife quite often it pays to ensure the ergonomics of the handle have been considered. This includes how the user will hold the knife, the grip of the handle (especially if gloves are worn while cutting), the angle at which the knife needs to be held, and any buttons if a retractable blade is being used. Consider how simple or cumbersome the knife is to use, and how sturdy it feels in your hand. If it feels flimsy you run the risk of injuring yourself while using it, due to slips, incorrect handling or breakages.

The Blade

Not all blades are created equal. The blade that you choose will depend on what you are cutting, as this will impact the following three points.

Corrosion resistance

This includes how the steel resists rust and discolouration. This is not only important where water and moisture are present, but also food. Acids from foods (like tomatoes) can corrode a blade, so it’s important to understand how your utility knife could be affected by corrosion. Corrosion resistance should also be considered for knives being used outdoors, in places like timber yards or fisheries. In this case, you will need to ensure your blade is corrosion resistant (you could consider using a knife with a ceramic blade), and any mechanisms to prolong the life of your knife.

Blade casing

Some packing or utility knives have a metal outer casing while others have a plastic outer casing. Metal is usually more heavy duty but can also be more expensive, and may not be suitable for all industries. Plastic utility knives now come in a some really heavy duty options, and also offer the added benefit of insulating from temperatures and electricity. This is beneficial for those working in cold temperatures, and also safer for people working with electrical machinery or equipment.

Retractable or hidden blades

Most utility knives have retractable blades or some other design feature to protect users from the sharp blade when it’s not in use. The type of blade locking mechanism or knife design used will usually depend on the users’ personal preferences. There are a wide variety of options available, such as blades with screw locks or sliders, self-retracting blades that slide out of the casing when in use and self-retract when not in use, or hidden blades where the design of the knife covers the blade.

Trimming knife blades

In short, trimming knife blades are much shorter than a standard utility knife which usually use the replaceable snap-off blades. This difference won’t have much affect on the application of the knife, but some users prefer the short blade over the longer ones.

Safety

Above all, safety should be considered when choosing a utility knife for you and your team. This includes safety around sharp blades, and safe use of knives to avoid strain injuries. This is where retractable blade knives can be useful, as they reduce the risk of blades being left out and potentially cutting people.

It’s also important to ensure you and your team are aware of the correct safety procedures for knife usage, to reduce risk of injury. This includes proper induction for procedures in your workplace, procedures for the types of knives your team is using, and when to use a to choose a specialty tool over a utility knife.

Now that you have more information on what to consider when choosing a utility knife, it’s a great idea to start looking at the types of knives available and evaluate the suitability of them for your application. Start by browsing the Primepac range of knives and box cutters here.

View the range of knives & cutters here.

utility knives