The best utility knife can serve as a box cutter and more. You’ll find that it can serve also as a pocket knife, rescue knife, and even in light use cases, as a camping knife. A utility knife’s utility or usefulness is far more than what most people expect (hence the name). Here are some ideas on what to look for when shopping for the best utility knife.
Utility Knife Uses
Most people use utility knives for household purposes. This type of knife is most often used when cutting materials that are too heavy for scissors, such as cardboard, wood, or plastic. Some utility knives have adjustable blades, so you can extend the blade out as far as you need it to go for scraping, cutting, or scoring. However, the blades for these knives are not the forged and tempered steel of high-quality knives. This means that the knife is sharp but will (and can) chip. Don’t use a utility knife as a pry-bar.
What to Look for in the Best Utility Knife
One of the features of a utility knife is the replaceable blade, a feature you don’t find on other pocket knives. Since the blade is not intended for lifelong use, your focus, when choosing the best utility knife, will be on its handle.
The Knife Handle
The knife handle for your utility knife should fit your hand. If it is too large, you won’t be able to grip the knife when you’re using it, and if it’s too small, the knife will turn in your hand, preventing you from having control of the blade. The knife should not get slippery when your hand is wet, and there should be some form of contour to the handle to keep your fingers in place. You don’t want your hand to slide forward onto the blade. However, while you don’t often see finger guards on utility knives, you should see finger grooves that provide security when you’re holding and using the knife.
The handle of retractable or folding utility knives should have a strong lock. Retractable knives usually have a button of some sort that you use to extend the blade. A folding utility knife operates like a pocket knife, with a lock that pops into place when the blade is open. You depress the lock to close the knife. The lock should not be easily depressed if the knife slips in your hand. The lock should also be located in an ergonomic location so opening/closing the knife would not cause pain after a full day’s use.
The blade itself should be made of stainless steel. This will allow it to retard the formation of rust and corrosion. Since your utility knife will be used for cutting a wide variety of materials, care should be taken that the blade is fresh and ready for use. Knicks and dings in the edge may cause the knife to make ragged cuts. The edge may even break, causing an interference with the cutting motion. In addition, a blade with damage may cause the knife to slip out of control during your cutting motion, presenting a safety hazard.
You can purchase blades for your utility knife for different uses.
- CARPET BLADE is double-edged, and built to withstand the friction of cutting the jute backing on most carpets
- HOBBY or CRAFT BLADE makes it possible to carve and whittle many different materials. These blades are usually curved and have a low angle.
- HOOK BLADE is also useful for cutting carpet, and is also used in roofing and for cutting cartons. The hook blade is usually oversized so that it can cut thicker material.
- LINOLEUM BLADE cuts flooring materials other than carpet, providing a clean, smooth cut.
- ROUNT-POINT BLADE protects the user from stab injuries as they strive to jab a hole in the surface being cut.
- SCORING BLADE is necessary when cutting acrylics or laminates. The user scores the material to achieve a clean break.
- UTILITY BLADE is used for general duty, adaptable to different thicknesses and different materials.
WHAT’S THE BEST UTILITY KNIFE: TOP 10 PICKS
There are many different kinds of utility knives on the market, available according to the manner of use for which they are intended. Brightly colored plastic handles make some utility knives easy to spot in a cluttered toolbox, while others look more like classic pocket knives. The common denominator is that they all have replaceable blades. Here are reviews of our 10 best utility knives. The criteria we used was based on verified owner feedback as well as promotional material and criticisms of the product found on Amazon and on other forums.
Bosch is arguably the most “high-end” and best quality tool company on planet earth. They manufacture a wide variety of products, but among their best-known products are various contractor construction tools like drills, sanders, grinders, etc. The price points are a bit higher because of the stellar quality, and this set of utility knives is no exception to the quality rule. The price point is also a bit higher, but not restrictively so (especially since you’re getting two knives in this deal). The Bosch is the best utility knife on our list because of sheer quality and integrity.
The body of these best utility knives is die-cast aluminum for a long life. The back of the handles on both knives has a rubber lining for comfort, and blades can be quickly replaced with spares held in the housing of the handle of the folding knife. Three blades are included for the larger folding knife. Blades are 18 mm.
This is one deal that no one regrets and with a 4.7 out of 5.0 rating on Amazon (out of nearly 900 people), it certainly can be declared as the best utility knife!
Bessey sounds a lot like the name of an old cow, but I assure you this tool is anything but run-down and past its prime! This handy tool is much more than a utility knife. It’s a very tough, durable and amazingly useful Lockback pocket knife. It features a quick change mechanism that needs no extra tools (just opposing thumbs) and the blade can be operated with one hand. It also fits most standard utility blades on the market.
The Bessey features a compact design so you can use it as an EDC pocket knife any day of the week! The handle is ABS for comfort and durability and the 1-inch blade (while not exactly huge and intimidating) can complete most tasks for which you typically want a knife (box cutting, string cutting, emergency food cutting, clamshell packaging opening, etc.). It comes with a 5-blade storage compartment and guess what? The 5 extra blades are included!
Here’s a great alternative and competitor to our Bessey at #2. In many ways they offer the same thing, but there are some differences. This EDC utility knife from Holtzman’s Gorilla Survival is a bit bigger and heavier (weighs 0.64 ounces). This knife is also packaged as a gift, and includes an additional smaller pocket knife with blade and mini-scissors. A screwdriver is included so you can change the clip to be carried in a variety of ways.
When it’s folded, the knife is 3.8 inches long and it’s 9.7 inches long if you open up both blades fully. The handle is black hardwood, so it has the charm of a valued gift, but the durability and functionality of a serious tool for everyday use – even in the commercial workplace. There’s also a lifetime warranty so you know this is not a gimmicky piece of junk!
The Fiskars name is one of those names that speak of quality and robust feel. I know because I own 3 or 4 Fiskars products (like garden shears). This great-looking utility knife is one of the better-priced models on our list, and yet it carries the features of a more expensive knife. It features a dual-locking system to prevent accidental blade release and it offers one-handed easy flick opening like most EDC knives. The ergonomics of the handle includes a variety of deep grooves that give you options for different grip styles for different purposes.
The butt end is metal and that provides a tough resistance against damage from drops or hits of any kind. The CarbonMax blades stay sharp longer than even carbide blades found on competitors’ knives.
Also, the cool thing about this knife is that if you click the link to Amazon, you’ll see the option of SIX more knives that look really similar but offer slightly different features for different purposes. I want at least 3 of them!!
We couldn’t just NOT include the Gerber EAB Lite in this best utility knife list – given the iconic name in the industry and the captivating style and functionality of this little gem. It fits contractor-grade (2.25-inch) utility blades or standard size utility blades. The tough stainless steel handle means it can withstand any commercial use. The deep finger grooves offer a secure grip and the handle itself can be used as a pocket clip, or if you’re super-rich, it can be a money clip too!
Okay, fine, I admit it! I just liked the look of this knife – very “Star Trekky”. However, that’s not the only reason it’s on our list. In fact, over 300 people gave it a nearly perfect rating on Amazon. The most obvious feature on this tool is the knuckle guard which effectively protects a warehouse worker’s hands from hours of daily cutting which will eventually lead to some knuckle scraping stories without a tool like this one.
The blade is fully retractable and locking, but it can be locked at 1- inch, 3/4-inch 1/2-inch and 1/8-inch. With those features, it seems designed for a professional instead of a soccer mom opening a box from Amazon every now and then at the kitchen table! There’s an easy change button (the bright, shiny red one) for quick blade changes, and on-board blade storage is accessed by flicking the black handle down (much like a Lever Action Winchester rifle).
Its heavy-duty zinc alloy body speaks to its durability and the 5 heavy-duty reversible high carbon SK5 blades are another welcome addition to seal the deal!
I couldn’t help myself! I’m a sucker for looks! And did I mention I like VALUE? Value doesn’t always mean “cheapest”. In this case, it means the most “stuff” for your money. This Husky set is not only a deal from one of the best-known utility knife brands on the market (who hasn’t seen Husky at Home Depot?), but it gives you TWO knives for the price of one regular utility knife on Amazon. You get a Lock Back Utility knife and a Lock Back pocket knife with a serrated blade. The pocket knife has a 3-inch blade which is the size of a typical EDC.
The handles on both of these knives is actual hardwood, and they can be opened with the typical wrist flick so common among knife enthusiasts. The blade on the pocket knife is 7Cr17 stainless steel and the utility knife accepts standard utility blades.
As most people know, Milwaukee is an iconic name (it’s not the only one) in the commercial tool industry. If you stop by any construction site, you’ll see Milwaukee tools almost certainly (or DeWalt, Bosch or Makita). However, you wouldn’t normally think of a humble utility knife being made by one of these high-end brands. But you should, ’cause here it is! The Fastback 3 Utility knife has an all-metal body, gut hook (not really sure why), wire stripper, wire-formed belt clip, lanyard hole, and a quick blade change feature.
Also, it worth to note that it can lock open at two different angles – fully open and at around 30 degrees.
This little beast is not exactly a traditional utility knife, but we included it because we thought some of you might like it and it has a place in our big world! It’s actually a box cutter that’s finger-friendly and feels good in your hands, but that’s not even scratching the surface! The ergonomic design makes it impossible to scrape your knuckles on any surface like the box top or some other harder edges, etc.
The blade itself is made from high-tech Zirconium Oxide and the Slice ceramic blades are known for their hardness and durability. They are supposed to last up to 10 times longer than steel, and thanks to Slice’s unique manufacturing and sharpening process, they’re safer to hold and use compared to traditional metal blades.
Zirconium Oxide, the key material in Slice ceramics, is chemically inert, non-porous, non-stick and won’t be affected by acids, salt, and rust. Chemically inert means no impact or reaction with what you’re cutting, as well as a strong defense against harmful bacteria. Slice ceramic blades are also free of lubricants and oils that traditional metal blades require to combat premature rusting. Slice ceramic blades never rust. Wow! Is that all?
Did you know metal blades are rated a 5.5 on the Mohs hardness scale while Slice ceramics are rated 8.2. That’s second only to DIAMONDS!! Insane right? Because of this, they require a replacement way less often. Users say they go for months without replacing the blade and that’s when they use it every day for hours! And another fun fact: you can pull the ceramic blade across your finger with some pressure and you’ll not get cut. Why? It’s all in the way ceramic blades are made. You can see a demo in the video below.
Check out a Video Overview of SLICE!
According to SLICE, more than half of the Fortune 1000 companies in America use Slice Ceramic safety box cutters as a safer alternative to metal blades, and to reduce costs and lower the rate of injury. A win/win I’d say! Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the safety part, get this; Every year in America there are (literally) millions of cases of accidental lacerations (cuts) from pocket and utility knives. A big percentage of those cuts come from utility knives in pockets. The Slice is designed to stay OUT of your pocket while carrying it.
As if that wasn’t enough, a portion of every Slice sale is given to fund Autism research! It’s a company that keeps us safe and helps others! What more can we say? Okay, we can say a bit more. Here’s a list of incredible products from Slice that you can also consider.
10. Slice Pen Cutter
As I thought of which utility knife I might like best or which one offers the best value, it was REALLY tough, since I wasn’t fully convinced that any knife was so much better than another. After all, except for the ceramic bladed knives, they all use the same utility blades (mostly) with the same stainless steel heads, so the differences often are found in the details of the grip, aesthetic design, handle size, locking features, on-board storage and other such qualities. I can’t tell you which one is the best utility knife or which one to get. That’s why I put all these on the list and in all honesty, I would love to own EACH one – for real!
Make sure to check our other reviews and buying guides: