9 Best Utility Knives (Foldable, Retractable, and Hidden)

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may earn a small commission for qualifying purchases.

There are certain tools that an individual can almost certainly count on being present in every garage. Each of these tools tends to be frequently used, and make life easier for the avid DIY enthusiast. Of these tools, few are quite as common as the utility knife.

The use of a quality utility knife makes it possible to cut a nearly endless array of materials, as necessitated when attempting to complete a particular job or task. Beyond this simple fact, a utility knife is also quite handy to use, as its blades can be replaced on-the-fly, whenever they become dulled from prolonged use.

Read on to learn more about today’s top utility knives, as well as additional information pertaining to utility knife use.

Our 9 Favorite Utility Knives

 ProductTypeBelt Clip?Blades IncludedBlade Storage?
best-utility-knifeMilwaukee FastbackFoldingYes2No
best-folding-utility-knifeBosch ProfessionalFoldingYes3Yes
best-retractable-utility-knifeLenox GoldRetractableNo3Yes
best-box-cutterOlfa Silver SVR-2PrecisionNo1No
wood-handle-utility-knifeWorkpro W011021AFoldingYes11No
hidden-edge-utility-knifeStarrett "Hidden Edge"Hidden EdgeNo1Yes
folding-box-cutterSheffield 12113FoldingYes1No
husky-lock-back-utility-knifeHusky 99736FoldingYes1No
stanley-fatmax-utility-knifeStanley FatmaxRetractableNo5Yes

Utility Knife Reviews

#1 – Milwaukee Fastback 48-22-1901F Folding Utility Knife

best-utility-knifeThe Milwaukee Fastback utility knife is perfect for the avid DIY enthusiast or professional contractor, who is always in the midst of completing a new project.

Each knife is this 2-pack features a tool-less blade retainment mechanism for simplified blade replacement, as well as an integrated wire stripper to assist with on-the-fly electrical work. Also included is a handy wire-framed belt loop.

Milwaukee Fastback knife

While it is certainly true that there are a number of cheaper utility knives available on today’s market, one can easily justify the expense associated with this particular model. Milwaukee carries a superb reputation for excellence and is known for producing tools that are able to withstand the test of time.

The fact that there is no on-board storage for extra blades is probably the knife’s only negative so if that’s one of your must-haves, you may want to consider the Bosch below as an alternative. Otherwise, Milwaukee makes a good case for having the best utility knife on the market today.

>> Check current price <<

 

#2 – Bosch Professional 1600A016BM 2-Piece Knife Set

best-folding-utility-knifeThe Bosch Professional utility knife set is perfect for those that find themselves regularly tackling a wide array of projects.

This set comes with one folding and one retractable utility knife, both of which are engineered to provide long-lasting, reliable service. This provides consumers with an unparalleled degree of versatility when attempting to tackle their to-do list.

The main foldable utility knife includes a belt clip and built-in blade storage in the handle and takes standard size blades while the retractable knife uses the snap-off type.

Several consumers have stated that special care should be taken when attempting to replace blades in either Bosch utility knife. Blade replacement is said to require a little more force than one would expect in most situations. However, the use of a quality pair of gloves during this procedure should protect one from any potential harm.

>> Check current price <<

 

#3 – Lenox Gold Retractable Utility Knife

best-retractable-utility-knifeArguably the best retractable utility knife out there, Lenox Tools (known for their excellent hole saw kits) has another quality product on their hands. If you’re a tradesman who uses a utility knife on a daily basis, this product is for you.

This knife is built to last and features a titanium-coated stainless steel nose, which resists wearing even under the most demanding of circumstances. The Lenox knife also features a quick-release mechanism, which allows for rapid blade replacement.

Speaking of blades, Lenox titanium-edged blades have a reputation for being the sharpest and most durable in the biz. These replacement blades are a bit more expensive but you have the option to use any other brand of standard size blade if you so choose.

Some users express dissatisfaction at the Lenox’s larger than standard profile. While this should be of little concern for most, those needing to make concise cuts in tight places might feel somewhat hindered.

>> Check current price <<

 

#4 – OLFA 5019 SVR-2 Auto-Lock Utility Knife

best-box-cutterIf you’re looking for a compact utility knife or box cutter that can be packed virtually anywhere, then the OLFA stainless steel auto-lock utility knife is worthy of a second look. This knife features handy snap-off blades, as well as a built-in pocket clip for simplified carrying.

The OLFA Auto-Lock Utility Knife also utilizes an integrated blade-lock and accepts AB and ABB replacement blades.

In rare cases, the OLFA’s plastic slide adjuster can become damaged if exposed to direct, excessive pressure. Therefore, it’s considered good practice to carefully choose how to store this knife.

>> Check current price <<

 

#5 – Workpro W011021A Folding Utility Knife

wood-handle-utility-knifeThe Workpro knife checks off all the boxes of a good utility knife. It has a stainless steel body for durability, contoured rosewood handle for comfortable use, a belt clip, and even includes 10 extra blades so you won’t have to worry about running out of blades anytime soon.

Blade changes are super easy with Workpros’ patented quick-change mechanism which accepts all standard utility blades. It folds up quickly and the body is put together via torx screws making them easy to tighten if they ever become loose.

Some consumers have stated that the knife is a bit heavier than others but this also says something about its build quality (which is quite good).

>> Check current price <<

 

#6 – Starrett S011 ProSite “Hidden Edge” Utility Knife

hidden-edge-utility-knifeIf you are currently passing down your DIY abilities to the younger generation, yet worry about your little helper’s safety, then the Starrett Hidden Edge utility knife is exactly what you need.

The Starrett features a safety mechanism that keeps its blade tucked away until the unit’s handle is squeezed together. Upon releasing the handle, the knife’s blade automatically retracts.

The knife also features a tool-less blade mechanism for ease of replacement and an easily adjustable cutting depth. Spare blades can be stored on-board in the lever.

The Hidden Edge utility knife is not designed to withstand repetitive and prolonged use, for years on end. Therefore, it is not likely to make the best choice for those working in an industrial or trade setting. However, the general at-home consumer should find immense favor in this unique utility knife.

>> Check current price <<

 

#7 – Sheffield 12113 Foldable Utility Knife

folding-box-cutterThe Sheffield Ultimate Lock Back utility knife should be ideal for any demanding tradesman, who makes their living by the sweat of their brow. This knife is constructed of lightweight, yet sturdy aluminum and features carbon-steel blades.

The culmination of these characteristics promotes unparalleled durability. The Sheffield utility knife also features a specialized Lock Back mechanism, which holds its blade firmly in place when in use and a handy belt clip so you’ll never have to search for it on the job.

Much like other folding utility knives on the market today, the Sheffield can be somewhat tedious to open at times. While the manufacturer claims easy one-hand opening, it’s rarely the case. However, this is a problem that appears to remedy itself with regular use and break-in.

>> Check current price <<

 

#8 – Husky 99736 Folding Lock-Back Utility Knife

husky-lock-back-utility-knifeIf you’re in search of a quality yet affordable utility knife, that is also quite striking in appearance, then the Husky wood-handle knife should be right up your alley.

This knife includes all of the essential features one would expect from a folding utility knife, such as an integrated lock back mechanism and a simplified blade carrier. However, the Husky knife also features an aesthetically pleasing wooden handle on top of a dark metal exterior.

Some consumers have expressed dissatisfaction with the build quality of the integrated belt clip. These reports claim that this clip bends quite easily with frequent use. However, this does not impact the functionality of the knife itself.

>> Check current price <<

 

#9 – Stanley Fatmax Retractable Utility Knife

stanley-fatmax-utility-knifeThe Stanley Fatmax line of tools (hand saws, hammers, and others) are a good combination of performance, comfort, and price and this utility knife is no exception.

This Fatmax utility knife should be perfect for anyone who spends long hours at work, making precise cuts. It features a rubberized grip, which promotes unparalleled comfort and next-level slip resistance, additional blade storage within its handle, and an exposed magnetic slider.

Some users have found fault in the Stanley Fatmax utility knife’s somewhat bulky design. While these consumers have stated that this knife can seem cumbersome at first, most acclimated to its size, in short order. If you have large hands, this may end up being your favorite utility knife.

>> Check current price <<

 

Utility Knife Buying Guide

types of utility knives

What is a Utility Knife Used For?

A utility knife, also known as a box cutter, can be used to complete any number of tasks where the cutting of material is necessary. In many situations, a utility knife is preferable to the use of a pocket knife, due to its simplified design.

There are also many different types of utility knives, which allow consumers to select the perfect model to suit the application at hand.

Utility knives can be used to cut a wide variety of materials, including carpet, cardboard, and plastic. Additionally, knives of this type are heavily employed in construction settings, where they are commonly used to cut both roofing and flooring materials.

As a general rule, the cutting of rather thick materials, such as drywall, is best reserved for the use of a heavy duty utility knife. However, general purpose models can be used to cut lighter materials, such as cardboard boxes.

Types of Utility Knives

As mentioned above, the common utility knife comes in a number of different forms. As such, consumers can select the particular model of knife that best suits their needs. Each of these individual utility knife types carries their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.

The following are several of the most popular types of utility knives.

Fixed

fixed utility knife

As their name would suggest, fixed blade utility knives feature a blade that remains in a singular position, and cannot be retracted when sitting idly by.

While a knife of this design certainly poses a risk for those reaching blindly for tools, it can be quite convenient in any situation where frequent cuts are to be made.

Retractable

retractable utility knife

A retractable utility knife features a blade that can be manually withdrawn into the assembly’s housing. This is accomplished through the use of a track and sliding blade carrier, as well as a depressible thumb button.

One can deploy a retractable utility knife’s blade by simply pressing down and pushing outward on a specialized lock button.

Foldable

foldable utility knife

A foldable utility knife operates in much the same manner as a standard pocket knife. Prior to use, one simply folds the knife’s blade carrier upward, thereby exposing the blade itself.

When fully deployed, the carrier and blade of a folding utility knife lock into place.

Utility Knife Blade Types

Just as utility knives differ in style, there are also multiple types of individual utility knife blades. Each of these blades is intended to serve a specific purpose and can simplify sometimes difficult tasks.

The following are the six most common types of utility knife blades.

Pointed Tip Blades

standard-pointed-utility-blade

Blades of a pointed configuration are often seen as the gold standard for utility knife use. These blades are excellent for general purpose use and are often employed to cut a variety of materials of differing thicknesses.

Rounded Tip Blades

rounded tip utility bladeRounded tip blades are often seen as a safer alternative to the use of pointed tip blades. Blades of this style prevent one from inadvertently puncturing skin, yet can be used to cut a wide range of lighter materials.

Serrated Edge Blades

serrated edge utility bladeSerrated blades feature a “toothed” edge, which is prominently used to saw through tougher materials that could not be cut with a standard blade. Blades of this type are heavily used in construction settings.

Hooked Blades

hooked utility bladeHooked utility knife blades are designed to cut through thicker materials, by facilitating a slicing motion when in use. Blades of this type are a favorite of roofers and those who lay flooring.

Scalloped Edge Blade

scalloped edge utility bladeScalloped edge utility knife blades are commonly used to cut fruit, or other soft objects, where a clean concise part is desired. These blades are also commonly used when cutting thin insulation.

Snap-Off Blade

snap-off utility bladeSnap-off utility knife blades are extremely popular, due to their ease of use. Blades of this type feature indented seams, which cleanly fracture when placed under pressure.

The segments in between these seams form an ideally suited cutting edge. When the blade’s tip becomes dull, the end segment of this blade can be broken away, exposing a fresh tip.

What is the Safest Kind of Utility Knife?

The safest kinds of utility knives are those of a self-retracting design. These knives are a revised variant of the standard retractable utility knife, yet feature a return mechanism, which retracts the knife’s blade when not in use. 

As a result, the chance of injury when using a knife of this type is greatly reduced. Many large retailers supply knives of this design to their employees, for this specific reason. Boxes can be opened with ease, all while greatly minimizing the chance of injury.

Related: 10 Most Dangerous Tools a the Garage

Are Utility Knife Blades Universal?

While many utility knife blades are universal in size, this is not always the case. Utility knives themselves now come in many sizes, leading to the sale of specialty-sized knife blades. In the vast majority of instances, these blades are not designed for use in a standard utility knife.

Additionally, snap-off utility knife blades are generally considered a design of their own, and do not fit any other type of utility knife. These blades are engineered for use in a duty-specific style of a utility knife, which more closely resembles an Exacto Knife with a retractable blade.

In the bulk of cases, standard utility knife blades of any type will carry a “universal” designation somewhere on their packaging. This signifies that the blade in question should fit most any utility knife the typical size.

Blade Change Mechanism

blade change mechanism

One of the most convenient characteristics of a utility knife is that one can change out blades in relatively short order. The exact manner in which this task is completed differs slightly from one style of knife to the next. 

Fixed Blade

The blade found in a fixed position utility knife can be quickly changed by opening up the knife’s outer shell. This often involves removing 1-2 screws from the knife’s housing. With all fasteners removed, this housing can be parted, and the blade within removed.

Retractable Blade

The blade found in a retractable utility knife can be replaced in much the same manner as those used in fixed blade utility knives. The shell to this knife is parted by removing one or more fasteners, thereby exposing the blade itself.

In a retractable design, this blade sits in a special carrier and is aligned with a set of ears at the blade’s upper edge. Replacement can be accomplished by placing a new blade in place of the one removed, and lining up these alignment ears in a fashion that allows the carrier to be cycled freely when the knife’s thumb button is depressed.

Folding Design

The blade found in a folding style utility knife can be replaced by opening the unit into its outward position. The button of a built-in release mechanism can then be depressed, allowing the blade to pull free from its carrier.

A new blade can then be installed, and before releasing the previously mentioned button.

Blade Storage

Utility knife blades typically come cloaked in a piece of folded cardboard, which prevents one from being cut when removing these blades from their packaging. Alternatively, some utility knife blades now come packaged in a hard plastic safety case, from which they can be dispensed prior to use.

Many newer utility knives also hold a predetermined number of blades within their shell. This ensures that you always have fresh blades at the ready and that they are not laying exposed where incidental contact might take place.

In any event, utility knife blades should be stored in the safest manner possible. This is especially true around children, who can easily injure themselves if they were to come into contact with a sharp object such as a razor blade.

When not in use, utility knife blades can be stored in an empty pill bottle, or a locked tool cabinet.

See Also: Top 6 DIY Safety Tips

Utility Knife vs Box Cutter

It is quite common to hear the terms box cutter and utility knife used interchangeably. In reality, these two cutting tools are quite similar in nature.

However, utility knives are often seen as the heavier-duty industrial version of the standard box cutter. Knives of this type are built to robust standards, and can cut through reasonable thick material.

Alternatively, box cutters are designed to cut through thinner materials, such as cardboard. These knives are seldom as heavily constructed as the standard utility knife and are typically intended for home use.

Leave a Comment