Tool Test: Stanley Safety Knives
Stanley Tools introduced its first utility knife back in 1936—more than 82 years ago! So, when I heard the company had launched a new line of specialty utility knives, I just had to check them out.
Known as Safety Knives, the line includes 16 new tools that are specially designed to provide a quick and very safe way to slice open cardboard boxes, shrink wrap, packing tape, and plastic strapping. I tested six of the knives, and found that all performed admirably. Here’s a brief description of each knife:
Auto-Retract Squeeze Knife (Model FMHT10370; $23) has a durable metal housing fitted with a large squeeze handle. To expose the blade, simply squeeze the handle. When you release the handle, an internal spring automatically retracts the blade. In fact, I discovered that in most cases, you can release the handle as soon as the blade is engaged in the cut. Then, at the end of the cut, the blade instantaneously snaps back into the housing. Other features include a blade-lock switch that prevents you from accidentally exposing the blade, and quick, pushbutton blade changes.
Right-Handed Box Top Knife (Model FMHT10363; $9) is similar to the squeeze knife mentioned above: It has a large squeeze handle, auto-retract blade, and pushbutton blade changes. However, this lightweight plastic knife has one additional feature that makes it especially useful for safely slicing open cardboard boxes. Affixed to the nose of the tool is a green metal flange that acts as an alignment guide. Simply rest the flange on top of the box, squeeze the handle to expose the blade, then pull the knife along to quickly slice through the tape or through the box top itself. This knife also has a built-in storage compartment for extra blades, and switch that allows you to choose from three different blade-depth settings, or to lock the blade. (Note that Stanley also offers a left-handed version of this knife.)
Auto-Retract Tri-Slide Knife (Model FMHT10367; $23) is a heavy-duty metal knife that’s outfitted with a thumb-operated slide on top. Push the slide forward to expose the blade, release it and the blade snaps back. The slide is designed so you can push it from the top surface, or from either side. Directly behind the thumb-slide is a switch for choosing three different blade-depth settings, or lock-off mode. This knife also features a blade-storage compartment for extra blades and easy pushbutton blade changes.
Pull Cutters have unique, hook-shaped noses that conceal recessed blades, making these some of the safest utility knives on the market. To use a pull cutter, simply engage the hooked tip and pull! The recessed blade quickly slices through corrugated cardboard, tough plastic strapping, shrink wrap, and the toughest, stickiest packing tape. Three models are shown below: Double-Sided Pull Cutter (Model FMHT10372; $17) has two cutting edges and a replaceable blade. Single-Sided Pull Cutter (Model FMHT10358; $10) has one blade and a replaceable cutting head. Single-Sided Pull Cutter (Model FMHT10356; $2.50) is a super-lightweight, disposable knife that has one blade, which can not be replaced. Note that protruding from the handle of each tool is a small metal nib, called a tape splitter. Although the nib isn't sharp, it’s great for piercing and cutting through multiple layers of tape.