What Is the Difference Between a Box Cutter and a Utility Knife?
There are many different types of knives and blades out there — each type was intended for a particular use because of its shape and ease of use. Some of these knives were used for hunting, while others were used to cut materials such as wood. Today we’ll be discussing two of these types: utility knives and box cutters.
Given their blade similarity, it’s easy to see how a box cutter and utility knife could be mistakenly assumed to be the same. There are very subtle differences between the two, however, and we’ve elaborated on them below:
Box Cutters: What Are They?
Often found in art craft supplies and a DIYer’s toolbox, a box cutter is a small, handheld tool with a double-edged retractable blade that’s angled at 45 degrees. It has a lightweight ergonomic handle designed to make it easy to control while cutting. The blade is usually protected by a safety guard that keeps you from cutting yourself while using it. Some box cutters also have ambidextrous handles.
Weighing less than 12 ounces, box cutters are often used by professionals who want to make precision cuts on packing materials such as cardboard boxes, but they can also be used for trimming foam insulation boards.
Depending on the type and brand, a box cutter can have the following features:
- Built-in magnets
- Non-slip handles
- Lock button
- Side sliders for blade extension
Are Utility Knives the Same as Box Cutters?
The simple answer is NO! Often used by contractors, electricians and other professionals, a utility knife comes equipped with either one or two flat-edged or serrated blades, making it easy to slice through the material with efficiency. The blades are usually stored in a slot in the handle of the knife, which is similar to that of a pocketknife. The handle is made from plastic or metal and has an enlarged knob or a hole for gripping with one’s thumb to facilitate control during use. Pocket knives are also an everyday carry option and can serve a number of everyday use cases.
The blade also has an offset handle which helps prevent your knuckles from getting scraped against rough surfaces when cutting foam rolls, trimming wood or drywall material. Also known as a Stanley knife or X-Acto knife, utility knives can be used for cutting wire mesh and PVC pipe as well as stripping wires and cable insulation without damaging the conductive parts inside them. Some other uses of utility knives are as follows:
- Trimming carpet
- Cutting floor tiles and linoleum
- Removing drywall
- Stripping paint off woodworks
- Slicing through softer materials such as leather upholstery
Do Both of Them Have the Same Blades?
The blade of a utility knife and a box cutter is usually the same, except for a few differences. Utility knives have a short, sharp and folding blade with a length between 4-6 inches that make it easier to cut through thicker objects without having to apply excessive pressure on the object being cut or pressing down too hard on the blade itself which can lead to injuries if mishandled.
On the flip side, a box cutter has a long and thin retracting blade measuring between 4-8 inches. The blade can be retracted by using the slide button on top of the handle and can be locked once used. Both of them are forged with either stainless steel, carbon steel or titanium for maximum durability and rust resistance.
Another difference between the blades of these tools is that you can easily sharpen the blade of a utility knife using a whetstone or honing stone after every few days to enhance its effectiveness, but you can’t sharpen the blade of a box cutter because of its thin profile. Once rusted or damaged, you have to swap out the whole blade with a new one.
Box cutters and utility knives are both great tools for the job, but they each have their own unique strengths. If you’re looking for a versatile tool that can be used for more than one task, then a utility knife might be right for you. If you want a tool that’s specifically designed for cutting through cardboard, then a box cutter is likely your best bet.