How To Choose The Right Utility Knife

29/09/2021 Off By Alina Novikova

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.

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 the 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 motions 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 in 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 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.

 

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 the 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 to choose a speciality 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 their suitability for your application. Start by browsing the Primepac range of knives and box cutters here. To view our full range of logistics and warehousing supplies, visit the products page here.

Common Causes Of Utility Knife Injuries.

  1. Novice users tend to draw the knife toward the body instead of directing it away from the body, increasing the likelihood of injury.
  2. The blade is not replaced when it has become dull. More pressure is needed when using a dull blade, which increases the risk for injury (the added pressure might, for example, cause the knife to slip).
  3. Not using the right tool for the job. The blade on a retractable utility knife can be somewhat flimsy, and it is only a few inches long. Using it to cut more than it can handle is a recipe for trouble.
  4. Storing the knife with the blade extended or without a proper casing. Anyone not seeing the knife or reaching for it assuming the blade is safely housed within the chamber can be cut.
  5. A utility knife is a tool, and when using any tool of this nature there is a need to wear the proper protective clothing and equipment (learn about Trends and Technologies in Making Cut Protective Gloves Truly Comfortable).
  6. Not checking the knife before using it. The blade could be loose and bounce out of the knife as soon as pressure is applied to it, causing a nasty injury.

Utility Knife Accident Prevention.

  • Use the right blades required for the knife. Not only do they will fit and work properly, but also so they will retract the way they are supposed to, which is a built-in safety feature. Use the right utility knife for the job at hand.
  • Wear safety glasses and the properly rated Level 3 sleeved gloves.
  • When you have to hand the knife to another person do so with the handle facing them.
  • Keep up to date with the latest utility knives on the market. They are comprised of better technology and have greater safety features built into them.
  • Whenever possible use an alternative blade that may be safer. For example, rounded blades, or those with a knife shield surface. However, the cutting job will dictate which type of blade is best used.
  • Fully inspect the knife prior to use to be sure the blades are locked in properly.
  • Position yourself for the job so you can make the cut in a safe manner. Be sure you are able to keep your hands back from the cutting area.
  • Don’t apply excessive pressure to the blade at any time.
  • Even though changing the blade seems like a simple task, read the instructions that came with the knife to make sure you aren’t missing anything important.
  • Restrict use of the knife for what it is to be used for. It is not meant for prying.

Making sure that you are using the right type of utility knife for the task is going to help keep you safe. Remember that storing the knife properly is part of the safety needs for these handheld tools. Be sure to dispose of dull or broken blades in a puncture-resistant container.

 

 

Originally, utility knives were only available in fixed blade models. Now, there are models where the blade can be retracted or folded into its casing.

Utility knives are common in many different industries and used in various activities. Construction workers, warehouse workers, and even butchers, chefs, and crafters will often keep one handy.

They’re also a familiar sight in garages and toolboxes. Those with a bit of a DIY attitude can find many uses for it when they’re fixing or improving things around the home.

They are small but mighty. Be sure to follow the proper safety measures when using and storing them.