Lock Back Utility Knives are Stupid

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Over the past few years lock back utility knives have been gaining in popularity.They look cool because they look like pocket knives but I just don't find them as easy to use or as safe as traditional retracting utility knives.

Most guys had pocket knives since they were kids. At least I know I did. Locking pocket knives are great because they keep the blade locked open so it doesn't accidentally close on your fingers. But you don't use utility knives like you do pocket knives.

When I first saw them I thought they looked cool too and bought one but it's not the first utility knife I grab when I have a choice.

Just think of how you normally use a utility knife. You're working on a project, maybe hanging or repairing drywall, trimming edge banding, cutting boxes for recycling, etc. In the middle of doing that, you need to cut something so you reach in your pocket or tool belt, pull out your utility knife, slide the blade up, make your cut, slide the blade back then put the knife away where you got it from. The whole thing happens very quickly using only one hand. Leaving your other hand free to hold the drywall square or measuring tape in place for example.

With a lock back utility knife you need to stop what you're doing, use two hands to open up the knife (some knives and some users can manage to open the knife with one hand) make the cut and then stop again to use two hands to close the knife before you put it away. What happens when your other hand isn't free to close the knife. Well, you probably just put the knife down somewhere safer than your pocket while it's still open or risk cutting yourself when you move around or use the knife again.

A utility knife is a tool that's supposed to make your job easier, not harder. Lock back utility knives do the opposite but look cool. You know what's really cool? Not having to stop working so you can open and close your shiny knife!

The lock back knife isn't even the coolest type of knife out there. Why not a butterfly utility knife? At least with some practice you can open and close it with one hand. Although if you hang Sheetrock for a living you'll probably give yourself carpel tunnel opening and closing it like that all the time. Or how about making a switchblade style utility knife with a retracting blade? Oh wait! That's what we had and it works great!

If you want to make a utility knife better and safer it should:
  • Open and close easy with one hand
  • Fast and easy blade changes
  • Store extra blades so you don't have to worry about poor cuts
  • Have space to safely store used blades for proper disposal
That's it.

6 comments :

  1. Check out the Seber auto load

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    1. Slide open, quick change blades, blade storage in handle... even a carabineer hook. Now that's a knife made by someone that knows how people use utility knives! Thanks. Never seen it before.

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  2. Nice concept. Based on the current lowest rated reviews on Amazon, it sounds like they need a 2nd revision to work out a kink or two. Once fixed, I may just get one.

    Thanks for the discussion.

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  3. I've used a folding razor knife for years and I've never had a single issue. I can easily open and close my razor knife one handed in under 2 seconds. Most people buy them on a whim while they're in line at the register. That husky is a good example of what NOT to buy. If you buy a folding razor knife with a complicated locking mechanism then of course it's going to take you much longer to open and close it. You want one that has the frame lock also, not the pivot lock on the spine of he tool where you cab accidentally engage/disengage the lock with your palm or fingers. After those two basic rules most of them only need the fastener at the pivot point to be adjusted so as to allow it to pivot freely easing single handed operation, grease doesn't hurt either. If you have limited manual dexterity, 'stupid fingers', butter fingers, or arthritis then folding knives should probably be avoided all together. Otherwise i find them to be durable, versatile, and easier to use than a fixed blade. For what you give up in blade storage you gain in space savings, a belt/pocket clip, and speedy blade changes. There's a reason most 'old style' slide lock razors have old rusty blades in them because people don't want to hunt down a screw driver and disassemble thier tool every blade change. And it's a good rule of thumb to always throw away your old blades while changing them. If you put your old blades back inside of your slide locking traditional razor knife - what do people always do they pick it up? They shake it, hear blades in there assuming they're all new and they go about their business not realizing that they have a razor knife full of old blades.
    At the end of the day, to each their own. That's why so many tools are made because not every tool is made for every person but I did want to provide an outlook from the other side. -Anthony

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  4. Check out Milwaukee's knife, flips open and closed with one hand. Great tool

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  5. I bought this yesterday and struggled to open and close it. I cut my thumb open trying to get it to close. Deep cut. Three stitches. I'm going to buy a easier to use utility knife.

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