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Workbench Essentials: Folding Utility Knife

I found myself sitting in the garage this week, as I often do, pondering what I’d cover in my next blog entry. It was then that I noticed a tool that I don’t often give much thought to: my trusty folding utility knife. I have used this thing daily since I got it five or six years ago, so much in fact that I have almost completely worn the anodizing off of the handle. I wouldn’t say it’s the most versatile or multi-faceted tool I can possibly imagine, but it comes in handy so often I simply must give it some time in the spotlight.

Ok, so utility knives are nothing new. The fact that this one folds like a typical pocket knife, however, sets it apart. The locking mechanism is easily operated with one hand, both for opening and closing. It’s more compact and elegant than the clunky, rattly institutional retractable knives we’re all familiar with, and it’s far more elegant than those perpetually frightening geez-I-really-hope-this-thing-stays-closed-in-my-pocket razor blade box cutters. The sturdy, triangular utility knife blades stand up to a considerable amount of abuse, and when they do finally get too dull it’s super easy to swap in a new one. Each blade is double-sided as well, which means it’s exactly twice as convenient.

I use my folding utility knife for anything and everything. It’s great for opening sealed screw bags – just place the bag down on your work surface and slice open the top. It’s far quicker and easier than scissors… but you won’t want to try that trick on Mom’s kitchen table. The razor sharp blade edge is great for removing flashing from plastic parts and it’ll cut through zip ties like melted butter, but please BE CAREFUL – this knife will cut through fingers even better than that. You can use it to strip wires, cut cardboard, score Lexan, or even pick the dirt out of a screw head.

I’m really not sure how to sum up the folding utility knife. It’s not one of those key go-to tools for the big jobs, but I find myself in constant need of it in little bits here and there throughout the day. It fits nicely in a pocket, it’s well made, cheap, easy to use, and just plain reliable.

You can get yourself a decent one of these at just about any hardware store for around eight bucks, more for a high-end brand. Most knives come with an ample stash of extra blades, and additional replacement blades are cheap and easy to find.


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