Doug Mahoney had the unenviable job for The Sweethome to pick “The Best Utility Knife.” I have a huge issue with his pick: it’s a folding utility knife. Yuck.
To be fair, he does state:
To get the full range of use out of the knife and as much safety and portability as possible, we recommend going with the folding style over the retractable. They’re smaller to store, tend to come with belt hooks, and because of the way the folded blade nests in the body, there is a lower chance of their accidentally deploying in your pocket. Retractable knives are nice, but their feature set is more geared toward the professional tradesman.
If that’s your caveat, then you need your headline to read: “Best Household Utility Knife”, anything less is disingenuous and annoying to anyone who actual wants the best utility knife.
Now, you may wonder what my background here is, so let me tell you: my grandfather, and father, own and have run a construction company since he left the military in the early part of the 1970s. I had my first tool belt (not a toy one) when I was 6. From 16 to 23 years of age I worked all school holidays in the field of my father’s construction company. To this day, my office, is inside a construction company office.
Next to a tape measure, pencil, and hammer is where the utility knife stands in usefulness — It’s something every construction worker that is worth a damn carries. I know what I am talking about when I talk about utility knives because I used them day in and out for a very long time in very tough conditions. I’ve sliced my hand open a ton with them, and demolished a great many things with the help of them.
These folding utility knives aren’t good for much. Sure, you may think they are safer, they are smaller (when folded), and have a belt clip (really?), but they are worse than a “normal” utility knife in just about every task.1 They usually are less sturdy, less comfortable in your hand, and far more fiddly to open.
If you are worried about safety, but you still want a really good utility knife, then you buy this Stanley one. I have about six of them, and have had them forever. What’s not great is that if the blade gets gummed up you can’t retract it, and with too much force the blade may retract on its own. What is great is how grippy the handle is, how well they work, and the fact that they are seemingly indestructible. I’ve never had one accidentally open — so I think they are just as safe as those folding ones.
My favorite utility knife? This one for $6. It doesn’t retract, has a flat head screw (the philips ones always strip out) and stores blades. This thing is light, always ready, and even more indestructible than the retractable version. Even if you do destroy it… it was $6.
A lot of people don’t like non-retracting blades, and I get that, but this is the best utility knife you can buy — not those folding pieces of shit.2