Utility Knife Vs Box Cutter: Differences, Uses, and Types

Heather Robbins
by Heather Robbins

You’ve most likely seen the terms ‘utility knife’ and ‘box cutter’ used interchangeably, almost as if they’re the same tool. However, while they have a lot of commonalities, there are also some subtle differences in their design and use. And of course, that begs the question, what is the difference between utility knives and box cutters?

The main difference between a utility knife and a box cutter is in what they’re used for and what they can cut. The utility knife is more of a multi-use tool with the ability to cut everything from timber to food. The box cutter is mainly used to cut boxes, tape, plastic stripping, and more.

It takes more than just a few simple sentences to really tell the differences between these two valuable tools. In this article, you will learn what they’re both used for, what they can cut, as well as some safety tips to avoid any injuries.

What Can Utility Knives Cut?

A utility knife has many uses. With utility knives, you can cut various objects such as cords and rope. You can also do other tasks like reshaping timber, cleaning fish scales, scraping hides, and more. This blade is longer than a paring knife but narrower than a chef knife.

Interestingly, you can also use a utility knife to slice fruit, tender pieces of meat, and sandwiches. Think of a utility knife as one of the best multi-use knives on the market.

What Are Utility Knives Used For?

Utility knives are often used in factories, warehouses, building projects, and other places where a tool is needed to mark cut lines. The utility knives are also used to trim plastic or wood items or cut tape, wire, strapping, cardboard, or other packing material.

Additionally, depending on the type of utility knife, it can also be used in the kitchen to cut different kinds of food. However, make sure you’re not using your food utility knife to open up the packaging, and vice versa.

What Can Box Cutters Cut?

Box cutter blades are razor-sharp enough to sever any cardboard box, particularly thick cardboard-like apple boxes and moving boxes. This is why you will often see stock people in warehouses and stores with box cutters. They make it easier to cut boxes, break them down, and slice through the thick tape without getting stuck.

What Are Box Cutters Used For?

A box cutter, often known as a utility knife, is a common instrument in today’s workplace. While its primary purpose is to cut and open boxes, it may also be used for other tasks like cutting plastic string, stripping materials, making precision cuts, and so on.

Are Box Cutters Illegal?

Box cutters should not be in the hands of anyone under the age of 18. While box cutters as a whole are not illegal, they may be regulated in specific states or communities. Therefore, it’s vital that you check with your local authorities to figure out the legalities surrounding box cutters.

However, there is one truth that’s countrywide, which is: Any person who sells or offers to sell a box cutter to anybody under the age of 18 is breaking the law.

Which is the Safest Blade to Use for Opening Boxes?

The safest blades to use when you are opening boxes with a box opener are safety blades by Slice. What sets these special box cutting blades apart from others is their unique grinding process; they have a safety edge built into the design.

The blades are created using Zirconium oxide blades, or ceramic blades, and they can cut the skin. Furthermore, they won’t rust, and they last up to 11 times longer than metal blades.

Types of Box Cutters

Find out which box cutter is ideal for the job. It’s best to look into the various blade kinds out there.

There are six different types of blades available:

  • Serrated blade: A box cutter with a serrated blade may be a better choice for those who need to cut through more rigid materials like plasterboard. These edges are similar to those of a steak knife.
  • Round tip blade: Rounded tip blades are box-cutting blades with rounded ends, as the name implies. People who wish to cut something but not necessarily penetrate it will utilize these blades.
  • Scalloped blade: The scalloped edged blades are great for cutting through Styrofoam to avoid a potential mess because of this ability.
  • Hook blade: Construction workers who lay carpet or linoleum, as well as roofers, frequently utilize a hook blade. The hook-shaped edge aids in piercing and controlling the cut. 
  • Pointed tip blade: An excellent option for individuals who need to cut plastic or fabric.
  • Snap-off blade: A snap-off blade is segmented, allowing you to break off the dull portion and immediately use the sharp edge.

Sizes of Box Cutters

Box cutters come in different sizes depending on the task at hand. For example, there are mini box cutters that are equivalent to a pocket knife. These are often retractable and compact and great to use around the home.

Or, there are larger box cutters that are great for opening large packages inside of a warehouse. The size you choose to use depends on how much control you want over the blade and the project at hand.

Is a Box Cutter Sharper than a Knife?

A box cutter is sharper and smoother, but it still requires a lot of changing with the blades in terms of blades, so it’s a little harsher of an edge. However, it’s incredibly sharp since they have to be mass-produced for sanitary reasons.

A box cutter can be a piece of risky work equipment because of the sharp blade and regular use. Lacerations account for roughly 30% of workplace injuries, with 70% on the hands and fingers. While box cutters are necessary, they can be deadly if misused. That’s why it’s ideal to use the Safety Blades to decrease these risks further.

Box Cutter & Utility Knife Safety Tips

Since knives and box cutters are rather dangerous tools to use, there are some safety tips surrounding these tools so that you can keep yourself and those around you safe.

Make Sure You Wear Gloves

If at all feasible, use cut-resistant gloves when using box cutters. This protects you from nicks caused by the cutter while cutting. The gloves also help you keep your grip on the box cutter while you’re cutting, preventing it from slipping out of your fingers.

Keep The Blade Short

You may adjust the blade length on retractable box cutters for a more comfortable cutting experience. You can apply pressure efficiently to the object you’re cutting while avoiding the chance of the blade snapping if you keep the blade short.

Ensure the Knife is Retracted When Finished

Always remember to properly retract the box knife once you’ve finished using it. All retractable box cutters have side locks that prevent the blade from moving while in use and when not in use.

Cut with the Blade Away From Yourself

Make sure the box cutter’s blade movement isn’t directed at you when slicing an item. If you make a mistake when cutting, the box cutter may slide toward your body and cut you.

Instead, angle the blade away from your body so that, in the event of an accident, the box cutter can drop or fall next to you rather than towards you.

Change Out Rusty Blades

Because not all blades are made of stainless steel or ceramic, aged blades tend to rust, especially in warm, humid conditions. If this happens, it’s time to replace the rusted blade or snap off the blade portions.

Furthermore, rusted blades are no longer sharp, requiring much more force to cut through stuff. This is a safety problem since applying more pressure to the box cutter impairs its control.

Make Sure The Blades Are Sharp

Blades get dull over time. If this happens, replace or sharpen the blade, if possible. A dull blade does not create a clean-cut and may require more force to achieve one. Box cutter blades are inexpensive and easy to replace, which is fortunate for you.

A snap-off blade is included with some box cutters. When the blade’s tip becomes dull, users can break off a section to reveal the sharp edge of the following segment.

Which One Is Better: a Box Cutter or a Utility Knife?

While both tools have their advantages, utility knives are better for everyday use because of their versatility. They’re compact and easy to store, just like box cutters. On the other hand, Utility knives feature greater blade control options, increasing your level of safety if you need to utilize your instrument quickly.

When it comes to everyday carry, utility knives may be the way to go. However, it’s important that you make sure you have the tool that works best for the tasks you encounter daily.

Heather Robbins
Heather Robbins

Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.

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