Yes, your pocket knife can cut a whole load of things. For many cutting tasks that require maximum precision both at home and in the office, though, they’re hardly the best tool for achieving those smooth and clean cuts. Suffice to say, a utility knife will usually do a much better job. They enable excellent control, they slice with high accuracy, and they cut into many common household items with satisfying efficiency, whether you’re working with a sheet of cardboard, a block of foam board, a bundle of rope, or a package that’s covered in tape.
Here’s a look at 10 of the best utility knives out there today.
1. Slice Box Cutter
We’re big fans of Slice and their lineup of creatively-designed ceramic cutters, but if we had to choose just one, it will definitely have to be this hook-shaped contraption. With a manual slider button that can lock into three different positions, it can through even the thickest cardboards, while the ceramic blade never rusts and stays sharp 10 times longer than traditional steel blades. The hook shape also allows you to hang it on a whole load of things, from pants pockets and backpack loops to wall hooks and random objects. Do note, it’s auto-retracting, so you’ll have to keep your thumb on the button unless you want the blade to reel back in, although it does make for a nice safety precaution. There’s also blade storage at the opposite end, so you can carry spare blades, just in case you need them. The catch? They can’t take standard utility blades, so you’ll have to buy Slice-branded ones as replacement.
A folding utility knife, this compact and lightweight 2.5-ounce cutter measures 5.1 inches when opened and 2.8 inches when closed, making it easy to dump in your pocket and take anywhere. It can use both 2.25-inch contractor-grade utility blades and any standard utility blade you can find at the local hardware store, making it very convenient to use, while a liner lock holds it securely in place. Deep finger grooves and a tapered shape on the stainless steel handle ensure a tight grip, while an integrated clip makes it easy to mount it to the edge of your pants pocket. The downside: you’ll need both hands to open it, which makes it a bit more cumbersome compared to the next one on the list. If maximum portability is what you look for, though, this one’s hard to beat.
Ask any person who’s a heavy utility knife user about the best darn cutter in the business and, chances are, this thing will get mentioned. A lot. Milwaukee’s Fastback 3 folder has an esteemed reputation in the category and every single bit of it is well-deserved. Unlike most cutters, it can lock in two positions: straight like a regular knife and at 45-degree angle, giving you that added leverage whenever you need to put a little more heft on the material you’re cutting. It also has a sturdy all-metal construction, a very comfortable handle grip, and a convenient one-handed opening mechanism, all while having onboard storage for up to four additional blades. And if all that isn’t enough, it also has a built-in wire stripper and gut hook to make it even more useful.
Another folder, this one uses a single-button lock-back mechanism to hold the blade in place, whether it’s folded in your pocket or cutting through a rug on the floor, ensuring it doesn’t accidentally open or close at any time. Granted, you’ll likely find yourself accidentally hitting the black release button a few times when you first use it, although it should pose no problems once you get used to keeping your fingers away from it. Yes, your thumb and fingers will need to learn that “button is bad” because the button position isn’t the most thoughtfully placed. Other than that, though, this thing works great, with a heavy-duty carbon steel blade, easy button-controlled blade swap, and a very durable build (stainless steel and anodized aluminum). It’s a bit large, though, measuring 4.3 inches closed and 6.6 inches opened, although it does have a pocket clip so it doesn’t have to be bulging in your pocket.
Similar to the FC folder, this cutter uses a fold-back mechanism that ensures the blade stays in position the whole time you’re cutting and slashing, along with a quick-change blade design that allows you to swap a new blade in a jiffy. It accepts all standard utility blades, too, and comes with 10 extra, so you won’t have to buy a fresh batch for a bit (depending, of course, on how much you use it). While the frame itself is made from stainless steel, the handle is covered in a rosewood panel with a vintage finish, making the darn thing look a whole lot classier compared to the plastic and metal you’ll typically find in this product category. Suffice to say, if aesthetics matter all that much to you, get this one instead.
If you plan to use a utility knife sparingly for occasional tasks instead of reoccurring heavy-duty tasks, then a simple safety knife like this one should do the trick. With a spring-loaded blade that withdraws into the handle as soon as the thumb slide is released, it minimizes the chances of accidents, while two locking positions allow you to find the optimal blade size for whatever you’re cutting. The catch? The same safety function means you can only grip it in a limited manner, which eliminates using the cutter for many heavy-duty tasks.
Utility knives are intended for precision cutting and when it comes to precision, is there really anything that comes close to X-Acto #1? Sure, it’s not the knife you’re going to use when cutting up boxes, rugs, and foam, but when you’re cutting sheets of paper for arts and crafts in complicated shapes, this is exactly the tool you want to have in your arsenal. The long, slim grip and narrow blade enables an impressively strong grip and exceptionally clean cuts, ensuring you have all the necessary control you need to accurately slice all those tiny curves and angles, whether you’re working on paper, plastic, or thin pieces of wood.
8. Stanley FatMax Locking Retractable Utility Knife
Designed for the workshop, this big and burly cutter can slice through boxes, PVC, and drywall with relative ease, making it a great addition to any serious handyman’s toolbox. It has a three-position retractable blade that allows it to handle multiple cutting duties, while a locking wheel holds the blade in place and prevents shifting for precision slices. A rugged, all-metal construction should let it handle all the hazards of the workshop, while the chunky body provides a satisfying grip that’s easy to secure in your hand. Yes, there are several more feature-packed knives added to the FatMax line in recent years, but this no-nonsense model remains the must-have addition to any DIY enthusiast’s stash.
It looks like a cheap disposable cutter designed for use in the office. Well, the cheap part is correct. While it looks underwhelming, this Japanese-made utility knife is definitely not one you’re likely to want to dump in the trash bin. While the grip looks plastic, it’s actually fiberglass with a slip-free rubber grip that ensures it will stay in your hand through tiring cutting tasks, while an automatic blade lock mechanism ensures no mistakes that can lead to bad cuts and accidents. What really makes it special, though, is the heavy-duty blade that can easily slice through carpeting, linoleum, drywall, roofing shingles, and more. Plus, it’s snap-off, so a single blade can literally last you a long, long time. And don’t fret about having to buy Olfa-branded blades, as the LBB Ultramar black blades it uses are just as inexpensive.
The entry-level cutter in Slice’s roster of products, the Mini-Cutter comes with a unique handle that’s designed to facilitate a precise grip, while the ceramic blade is safe on the fingers (it literally won’t cut you), but should slice through many types of material with ease. Granted, this is meant for general home and office use, so it can cut boxes, packages, and garments without any problem, but will struggle with the kinds of materials a contractor will be using a cutter for. So yeah, it’s not heavy-duty, but if that’s not the reason you need a utility knife, this one just might do. As an extra bonus, it’s ambidextrous, although you’ll need to change the blade orientation by removing it and flipping it the other way. Plus, it’s way too cute for a cutter and that’s never a bad thing.