Something as simple as opening boxes is done with a tool that is no bigger than a man’s hand. A safety knife is a spring-loaded, self-retracting type of utility knife that provides safe opening of various packages. These knives are easy to use with either hand and have rounded blades to prevent puncture wounds – that’s what makes them so safe. Reducing injuries isn’t the only purpose of this tool though, they also make cutting various materials more convenient. This is thanks to components such as ergonomic handles and features like quick-change mechanisms and retracting blades.
The blade of a safety knife can be either straight or serrated. Serrated industrial safety knives are able to cut through materials quickly but not as neatly since they have teeth (serrations). Safety knives with a straight blade are more common and they are used for neat cuts but they are not going to allow you to cut through materials very fast.
The material of the blade is also important and there are usually three types of materials when it comes to safety knives. Aluminium blades are pretty light and durable but they are only able to cut though softer materials. Steel blades are costlier than aluminium ones but stronger too and can cut though virtually anything. Stainless steel blades are the best option out of the three because not only are they robust and strong, they are also resistant to rust and require the least amount of maintenance.
It’s important that a handle provides a solid grip and lasts as long as the blade itself. Regarding the grip, a textured design is enough to prevent the knife from slipping from your hand. Regarding durability, the handle material will be a determining factor. For example, a plastic handle will make for a more affordable knife but it won’t be able to withstand a lot of pressure. Rubber handles will provide great water-resistance and often times good grip too, but again, they are not going to be as impact resistant. Fibreglass reinforced nylon is an inexpensive and strong material which needs no maintenance.
This is a convenient feature which allows you to replace blades both easily and quickly. There is a slider or a button that pops out the blunt blade and then you just put a sharp one in. Make sure the mechanism isn’t flimsy so the blade doesn’t fall out when you least need it to.
A lanyard attachment point is always a good addition to every industrial safety knife as well as a wire stripper or a gut hook. They do not increase the value of the product but they do provide great assistance. Consider having a pocket clip too if you want your knife to be at an arm’s reach at all times.
Types of Safety Knives
This is the first type of industrial safety knife to be made which stores the blade in a half-open enclosure. In order to use the knife you need to slide the blade out with your thumb placed on a small designated area. When cutting, the blade stays out and when you stop cutting it automatically retracts. The force of the cut and the thumb are what keeps it extended. With this knife you won’t forget to bring the blade back inside the enclosure – this prevent accidental cuts.
A more convenient version of the semi-automatic safety knife is the fully-automatic knife which retracts the blade regardless of whether you have the thumb on the right spot or not. This type of knife, although safer, is not as convenient in situations where you need to repeatedly cut since it retracts the blade every time you stop cutting.
Concealed Blade Knife
The blade of this knife is always open which is why it is also known as the zero-liability knife. Unlike the former two knives, the concealed blade knife has the blade guarded within what’s known as a cutting channel. Although not as safe as the semi and fully-automatic knives, this knife allows the user to make quick and safe cuts. You can only use the concealed blade knife with thinner materials such as polybag, plastic wrap and plastic strapping. Since these materials provide no resistance, you must be especially careful () as the blade will skip and retract when cutting.
Rolled Materials Cutter
Similar in design to a concealed blade knife, a rolled materials cutter allows you to cut materials that come in rolls like leather, vinyl carpet, landscaping mesh, roofing felt and so on. This knife has an enclosed rotary blade and a solid base which prevents you from damaging the surface under the material that’s being cut. This knife also forces you to cut away from yourself.
Do You Cut Towards Your Body or Away?
The safest way to cut materials is with a sharp blade and away from your body. This will prevent injuries in case the knife slips – it will overshoot in the open and not towards yourself. This mishap is often the result of a blunt knife which is why you should also keep your knives sharp.