To be effective on any construction site, tradespeople need the right tools designed for the job at hand. Of all the tools out there, utility knives are often considered the stars of the construction industry thanks to their versatility in handling the largest multitude of tasks – from cutting plastics, foam board, insulation, vinyl flooring, cardboard, and more; to scoring drywall or cement board. The list of tasks these knives tackle daily goes on and on. But what makes a utility knife a good fit for the construction world? In this article, we will outline what you should be looking for in a utility knife and how OLFA’s large family of knives can help you make your job faster and easier.
- Blade Size
In the construction field, the size of the blade matters more than anything. Choosing a 25mm utility knife can cut down your time significantly, as they make tackling tougher materials easier. According to Andrew King, an experienced commercial building engineer, “25mm blades are better for heavy-duty applications due to their stiffness and being less likely to deflect while cutting through hardy materials. They also bring added strength due to the deeper blade depth, which prevents it from snapping off”. 25mm blades are in fact ideal for cutting thick or dense materials like rope, foam, nylon, rubber, or rigid insulation boards. "I think it's key to use 25mm blades when tackling heavy-duty applications. They just don't snap as easily as the 18mm blades, which in turns makes your work faster, easier and safer", said Chris Milton, a professional red seal carpenter. This extra-heavy-duty blade size also adds leverage and width to the knife itself, thus giving you a tool that you can easily hold on to. In addition, this size is helpful during extended cutting applications.
- Snap-Off Mechanism
Snap-off blades are a must-have in all construction jobs. We asked James West, an experienced construction welder, why he recommends using snap-off utility knives: “Safety is the number one priority in my shop, therefore it is extremely important to keep all knives sharp. Blunt or dull utility knives are dangerous, because they require more pressure and are more likely to slip and cause an injury”. In fact, when users cut on rough, uneven surfaces like concrete floors or the ground, it dulls the blade faster. Aron Jones, professional residential and commercial carpenter, couldn’t have said it better: “A snap-off blade gives you the ability to always have a sharp blade. And a sharp blade not only performs better, but it’s a safe blade as well!” These types of blades usually feature 7-8 edges per blade, which means they last longer than traditional utility knife blades. In addition, when it is time for a blade change, snap-off knives don’t require a long blade change process. Simply grab a pair of pliers or a blade snapper to yield an instant sharp edge the second the dull segment of the blade is removed.
- Sharpness of the Blade
And for construction professionals where efficiency is key, having an ultra-sharp snap-off blade can make all the difference. “Having sharp blades doesn’t only get the job done more effectively, but it also means a safer work environment. Snap off the blade frequently for a fresh point: blades are cheap – it’ll make you more profit in the long run” said Desmond Tse, a professional siding installer with over 15 years of experience in his pocket. A sharp snap blade indeed brings consistency to your work, since you can avoid continuous stops and starts to sharpen or change blades. The OLFA 25mm HBB Black Snap Blade is made of Japanese carbon tool steel combined with a double-honed edge for a blade that is 25% sharper than standard silver blades. This enhances productivity, allowing for more work with less blade changes. Living Legends Construction, a professional residential framing contractor, said he wouldn’t be where he is without having sharp blades at hand: “Having sharps blades on our utility knives is crucial as we cut exterior drywall and building paper all the time, which dulls the blade so fast. Having sharp blades makes us more efficient, productive and most importantly faster. Having the ability to snap off the full portion of a blade and getting a fresh sharp edge without stopping is what makes what we are”.
For those of you using an 18mm utility knife, the OLFA Heavy-Duty LFB-10B Ultra-Sharp Black Speed Blades take sharpness a step further. These blades feature a special non-stick coating that reduces resistance and allows the blade to cut up to two times faster than regular silver blades. Saving you time and money.
Understanding the ergonomics of a utility knife is critical in deciding which knife a construction professional should be using on the jobsite. Apart from giving superior cutting power, OLFA utility knives are built with durability and safety in mind. The heavy-duty, long-lasting construction guarantees that these tools will remain in your tool box for many years to come. Explore the full line of OLFA 25mm Extra Heavy-Duty Utility Knives featuring different locking mechanisms and handle types— to satisfy all your cutting preferences.