A Simple Guide on How to Choose the Right Retractable Knife

Learning how to choose a proper retractable utility knife will go a long way in ensuring you’ll be able to easily slice through materials and other products with relative ease. Here’s a simple guide on how to choose the right retractable knife.

A lot of people refer to retractable utility knives as box cutters, but a solid utility knife will be able to cut through a lot more than just cardboard and tape that’s used for packaging.

retractable knife

Any person in the construction industry knows how useful a strong, sharp, and durable utility knife is. It’s a tool that you’ll pull out of your tool belt at least once a day depending on the current task that you’re working on.

Retractable knives aren’t overly expensive, and every DIYer will want a good one with them for whatever task they’re tackling. You really never know when you’ll be using a retractable knife. Some jobs require heavy usage of one, while other jobs might not require the use of one, at all.

If you’re doing drywall or shingles, a retractable knife is mandatory to get the job done properly, and with such heavy usage of the knife, you’ll want to be investing in one that’s high-quality. No one wants to be pulling out a retractable knife that can barely cut through anything.

A retractable knife can be used for cutting through many things, such as:

  • Drywall
  • Sheet plastic
  • Linoleum
  • Boxes
  • Shingles
  • Rope
  • Wallpaper

With a sharp retractable knife, you’ll save a lot of time and effort when cutting through things. Having a sharp knife that cuts through things seamlessly is also a lot safer than a knife that isn’t working very well.

Retractable knives that have a sturdy encasing body usually have the ability to store replacement blades in them. This means you won’t have to run to your local hardware store and purchase more blades while you’re up on the roof and your knife goes dull. It just makes it much more convenient.

Drywallers and shingles make cuts hundreds of times per day, so you’ll always want a backup set of blades in your retractable knife for some added convenience.

What Are Some Features Of A High-Quality Retractable Knife?

There are always some distinguishing features of a high-quality retractable knife that will set it apart from the other ones on the market. If you’re looking at a retractable knife that doesn’t contain some of the features, you should probably consider a different one. You don’t want to be risking your safety just to save a couple of bucks on a cheaper knife.

Notch/Grip For Fingers

You’ll always want to get a retractable knife that feels comfortable in your hand. The best retractable utility knives have a notch in them that will reduce the chances of your finger sliding while you’re cutting. The knife should have a non-slip grip that prevents your hand from moving around as you’re exerting effort to cut materials.

Body Material

Purchase a retractable knife that has a metal body. The ones that are manufactured with a plastic body aren’t durable enough for some of the jobs you might need them for. If you’re doing a single job, there’s a good chance that a plastic knife won’t even get you through that one job. The retractable knives with a metal body might end up costing a little more, but it is worth the extra money.

Blade Changing Simplicity

Some of the retractable utility knives on the market make you get a screwdriver to swap out dull blades for ones that are encompassed in the body of the knife. You’ll want a knife where you can easily swap out blades with the push of a button.

The best retractable utility knives will contain a finger release button where you simply just push it down and it will open up to the storage area where your replacement blades will be.

What Are The Different Types Of Blades?

When it comes to retractable utility knives, you won’t want to cheap out on blades. Have you ever tried cutting a piece of steak with a dull knife? The frustration can add up pretty quickly, and when you’re on the roof trying to cut through singles in the heat, the last thing you want to be worrying about is using a dull knife that can lead to accidents.

There are a couple of different types of blades that you can get for your retractable utility knife. If you’re using your knife for jobs that require heavy-duty cutting such as shingles, you’ll want your blade to be as strong as it can possibly get.

Non-Heat-Treated Blades

Non-heat-treated blades aren’t heat-treated, and that makes them a little less durable than the other blades out there, and the cheaper price will also reflect that.

Induction-Hardened Blades

Induction-hardened blades are treated with heat and this makes them a lot more stiff and sturdy in comparison to non-heat-treated ones.

Bi-Metal Blades

Bi-metal blades are composed of two metal pieces that are melded together. This ensures that the blade will stay sharp and remain durable.

Carbide Blades

These are steel blades that come with a powder that makes the blade extremely strong and durable while cutting.

Choosing A Retractable Knife Or a Fixed Blade?

You can either choose between a retractable utility knife or a fixed blade. If you’re extremely comfortable with knives, a fixed blade might work for you, but if you’re just a DIY person that doesn’t require daily use of the knife, then a retractable knife will work just fine.

Features Of A Retractable Knife:

  • The blade slides into the body for convenient storage and safety
  • Great for drywall jobs what you need the blade to slide to certain lengths
  • The blade might bend or snap in certain circumstances
  • Perfect for the average DIY person
  • Doesn’t cost too much

Features Of A Fixed Blade:

  • The blade is fixed in place, which leads to increased durability
  • A little more precision in cuts
  • The blade is accessible, making it quick for tradespeople

There are a couple of knives on the market that contain a number of different features that you might or might not be interested in using:

  • Wire stripper for stripping wires
  • Gut hook to speed up cutting
  • String cutter
  • Specific blades to cut specific materials
  • Belt clip for quick accessibility to your knife
  • Lanyard hole for those that like their knives dangling from their tool belts

Out of all of the different tools that a construction worker will be using on a daily basis, the retractable utility knife is extremely useful and a necessary tool on the job.

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