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Utility Knives & Blades
A box cutter is a must-have tool for every warehouse, loading dock, or mail room. The thin, super-sharp blade of a utility knife slices right through cardboard and packing tape, and allows workers to open containers with a few quick strokes. When not in use, many box cutter blades retract into their casing, which protects the keen edge from damage and renders the tool safe to carry in a pocket or leave on a workbench.
Fixed Versus Retractable Box Cutters There are two main types of box cutters, fixed and retractable blades. Fixed-blade utility knives have the thin, flexible blade of other models, but they are locked in place and permanently exposed. This design is simple and reliable, with no moving parts to break or jam, and it allows for a larger blade than retractable versions. It's a favorite for cutting drywall and flooring, which is why it's sometimes called a linoleum cutter.
The blade on a retractable knife stays encased in the handle until the user thumbs forward a sliding button to deploy it. Push the slide forward all the way to expose the whole blade and make deep cuts, or push until just the tip is exposed, which makes very shallow cuts and helps keep the strain on the blade to a minimum.
Types of Box Cutter Blades Blades come in two basic designs: solid and break-away. A solid blade is a single piece of sharpened steel that eventually dulls with use. After its useful life, blades of this type can usually be removed from their mount and replaced with a new one, though some box cutter designs don't allow for this and have to be completely replaced when the blade wears out.
Break-away blades are often thinner and lighter than solid blades and are scored at intervals down their length. A break-away blade might have between seven and 13 diagonal lines where the metal has been scored to make it easy to snap off the worn-out tip.
Box Cutter Safety Features Box cutters are very sharp, and so safety is always a consideration. Retractable knives are often designed with teeth along the slide track that let users lock the blade at a given length and reduce the risk of slips, cuts, or sudden breaks. Some knives automatically retract when you take your thumb off of the slide, so their default position is safe. This latter type is ideal for shared workstations where the knife is left out in the open for everyone to use.
Where Are Box Cutters Commonly Used? Box cutters are widely used in commercial and industrial settings to slice open packaging, including shrink wrap and cellophane, to get at the contents in the quickest and most efficient way possible. They are also used for cutting boxes for shipping and shaping materials such as drywall or linoleum.
How Is a Box Cutter Different From Other Knives? A typical utility knife has a blade that's lighter and sharper than most other pocket knives. It is also usually designed with a minimum of aesthetic flourishes and often has a lightweight plastic casing. Knives of this type almost always deploy straight outward from the handle, rather than from the side like pocket knives.
Who Uses Box Cutters? Just about anybody who works in wholesale, shipping, logistics, or transportation needs a good box cutter. They are used for so many different tasks, that it's rare to find a worker who hasn't used one in the warehouse, dock, or delivery van.