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Using Knives Like a Do-It-Yourselfer Pro

May 22, 2008
For the novice do-it-yourselfer who wants to look like a pro when it comes to handling tools of the trade, a little practice may be in order. The up side is that there are dozens of tools out there to make the job easier. The down side is that there are dozens of tools out there to make the job easier. Before launching into your next ambitious home project, make yourself familiar with some of the more common DIY knives and their uses:

Retractable Blade Utility Knife
This general-use tool is designed to cut materials such as drywall, cardboard cartons, laminates, and plastic. A retractable blade retracts into the body of the knife for safer operation and storage. Some models have been designed with up to three blade positions to handle different cutting depths.

To change the blade, the handle generally unscrews or swivels open to permit blade changes, and some models have extra blade storage in the handle itself. For extra safety, some models feature a spring-loaded blade that automatically retracts when the knife is released. Also look for higher-end models with rubber grips and ergonomic designs for better gripping.

Fixed Blade Utility Knife
Like the retractable utility knife, the fixed blade utility knife is ideal for general-use projects. Fixed blade models lock the blade between the halves of the knife to provide blade stability. To change the blade, the handle generally unscrews or swivels open and unlike the retractable knives, the fixed blade knife accepts larger or special-purpose blades that do not retract into the handle. For storage, the blades can be stored inside the handle.

Snap Blade Knife
The snap blade knife is generally used for cutting light- and medium-duty materials such as wallpaper, rubber, vinyl, and leather, or materials with adhesive backing that will stick to the blade and prevent sharp, accurate cutting. The snap blade is designed with typically eight to 13 blade sections that snap off without the user having to open the tool to change blades. One-inch wide blades are hard and sharp - ideal for nearly any home improvement project.

Carpet Knife
For those do-it-yourselfers who are going to tackle a carpet removal or installation, the carpet knife was designed for trimming and cutting carpet and other floor materials. The carpet knife's angular design provides easier access to hard-to-reach areas. Many models feature retractable blades and blade storage in the handle.

Precision Knife
Also refereed to as an X-Acto or hobby knife, the precision knife is used for precision cutting. The precision knife is a pencil-sized tool ideal for cutting lightweight materials, such as paper or poster board. The ultra-sharp blades are made from surgical steel and come in a variety of triangular and curved shapes. The knife contains a built-in chuck to hold and secure blades and some models feature blade storage in the handle.

Utility Knife Safety Tips

1. Always wear safety glasses when using utility knives. Blades can snap off unexpectedly.

2. Always use sharp blades. Dull blades are a safety hazard that requires more force to make the cut, which can lead to tool slippage. Change your blades often.

3. Always pull the knife toward you when cutting, and make several passes when cutting thicker material.

4. Keep your free hand away from the line of cut.

5. When making cuts on a surface below you, stand or kneel to one side of the line.

6. Make sure the blades are secured properly in the knife to prevent slippage.

When using a straight edge to guide a cut, clamp it down or keep your free hand away from the cutting path of the knife. Don't bend the blades or apply side loads.

7. Remain patient when cutting thick materials. Make several passes, cutting a little deeper into the material with each pass.

8. Never leave a utility knife unattended, especially with the blade exposed.
About the Author
Safecutters Inc., provides an online store of utility knife box cutters for opening shipping boxes and shipping packages, as well as safety knives to open moving boxes and packages. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products contact us!
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