How to Choose a Knife

Having the right tool for the right task usually means the difference between quickly and successfully completing a project or not. When making a cut is the task, it’s important to use the right knife so your job can be done safely and efficiently. Long experience teaches there are three main elements that go into choosing a knife. 


The first thing to consider is what you want to cut and what kind of cut you want to make. This might seem obvious, but different knives provide vastly different functions. You can use this table a general guide:


Precision or Light-Weight 


Extra Heavy-Duty







Cardboard, caulking, foamboard, molding, paper, wallpaper, etc.

Cardboard, drywall, flooring, gasket materials, linoleum, roofing, rubber, etc.

Cement board, drywall, expansion board, flexible plastics, gasket materials, high-pressure laminates, nylon, rope, etc.




XA-1 Fiberglass Knife

SVR-2 Stainless Steel Auto Knife

L-1 Ratchet Lock Utility Knife

LA-X Fiberglass Utility Knife

MXP-L Die-Cast Aluminum Handle Ratchet Knife

H-1 Rubber Inset Utility Knife

XH-1 Fiberglass Rubber-Grip Ratchet-Lock Knife


The choice becomes even more critical when there is a specific type of material

and a specific type of cut that needs to be made. For instance, when a perfect circle is needed, don’t try to “eyeball” it, use the CMP-2 Heavy-Duty Circle Cutter.

Ergonomics and Comfort

Good handles make for good handling. A knife should feel good in your hand. This means balance, design and structure. The shape of the tool is paramount

because great ergonomics help to make cutting easier and less stressful. A great example of this is the XH-1 Fiberglass Rubber-Grip Ratchet-Lock Knife. The ergonomic shape and larger handle deliver more leverage for easier cutting on tough or thick materials. 


Also, the material the knife is constructed of is a major consideration as well. If you are on a jobsite, knives with stainless steel casings, die-cast aluminum or fiberglass-reinforced handles should be in the tool bag.


A knife should be used to cut what it is intended to cut and nothing else, especially the user. The design and materials used all go in to this.

For instance, knives with rubber grips help secure the knife in the hand to resist slipping. Safety knives with automatic blade retraction make the sharp edge accessible when needed but keeps it safely tucked away when it is not.

“I prefer the knives with the rubber comfort grips, so when possible, I will look for an option which includes this,” Andrew King, a commercial building engineer said. “I also prefer to use retractable knives such as the OLFA products rather than classic folding pocket knives because having less blade exposed helps reduce the potential for harming myself or damaging materials around my workplace.”

It’s been said, the sharper the blade, the safer the knife. This is because less strain and more control can be part of every cut. OLFA is committed to designing products that “not only attain an inimitable level of sharpness but that are also practical to use.”

While these three principles in choosing a knife may seem intuitive on the surface, decades of science, innovation, engineering and hands-on experience have gone into making sure that when the need to cut arises, the right knife can be there to get the job done.