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What Is a Utility Knife?

Oct 24, 2007
A utility knife -- also called a box cutter, a razor blade knife, a carpet knife, or a stationery knife -- is a common tool used in various trades and crafts for a variety of purposes. In case you are wondering how to best handle utility knives, here is a brief guide their use.

A utility knife is usually has a simple and inexpensive holder, typically flat, approximately one inch (25 mm) wide and three to four inches (75 to 100 mm) long, and typically made of either metal or plastic. Some knives use standard razor blades while others have specialized double-ended blade.

The user can manually adjust how far the blade extends from the handle, so that the knife can be used to cut the tape sealing a box or package without damaging the contents of the box or package. When the blade becomes dull, it can be quickly reversed or switched for a new one.

Spare blades are often stored in the hollow knife handle, and can be accessed by removing a screw and opening the handle.

The Stanley Knife

This type of tool is known in British English, Australian English, New Zealand English and Dutch as a Stanley knife. Named after one of the first manufacturers of the utility knife, the genuine Stanley knife has a cast-metal body. It comes both in retractable versions and in fixed blade versions which allow no depth adjustment. There have been a number of versions of the classic retractable Stanley No. 99. The current model is the 99E.

Fixed blade versions of the Stanley knife are widely used for handcrafts.

The blades for utility knives come in both double and single ended versions, and are interchangeable with many but not all of the latest knives. Specialized blades also exist for cutting string, linoleum and other purposes. Spare or used blades may be stored in the handle.

Another style of utility knife is one in which a handle, usually of plastic, contains a long, segmented blade which slides out from it. As the endmost edge becomes dull, it can be snapped off from the rest of the blade. This exposes the next section which is sharp and ready for use. When all the individual segments are used, it is thrown away or a replacement blade is inserted. This kind of knife often comes in bright colors like orange, blue and yellow and they are commonly known as wallpaper knives.

A style that is often used for the cutting of boxes consists of a simple sleeve around a rectangular handle into which single-edge razor blades can be inserted.

The sleeve slides up and down on the handle, holding the blade in place during use and covering the blade when not in use.
About the Author
Ann Knapp writes for Safecutters, Inc., distributor of the Klever Kutter and Klever Koncept, two of the safest utility knives available. Klever Kutter virtually eliminates the risk of workplace injuries, while the permanently shielded blade protects packaged products. Klever Kutter has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security for safe air transport. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products, visit Safecutters
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