What is a Craft Knife? Elements to Consider

It’s a tool every crafter needs, but what is a craft knife? This general term can refer to various all-purpose cutting tools. Finding the right craft knives and blades will make your projects easier, safer, and more enjoyable.

What is a Craft Knife Used For? Different Styles for Different Uses

When most people picture a craft knife, it’s the traditional tool that features a handle with a pointed, replaceable blade at one end that’s about an inch long.

This remains a popular style for crafters. But it is not your only option. Other types of craft knives include the art scalpel, precision cutter, pen cutter, and utility knife.

Tools will vary by handle design, blade size, and type of blade—embedded or replaceable blades, and fixed or retractable handle designs. There is crossover in use—for instance, you can use almost any craft knife for paper cutting—but different tools will be better suited for different types of use.

Small, embedded blades often featured in precision cutters are used for detail work. The traditional utility or other mid-size-blade knife like a pen cutter is great for general purpose cuts in a wide variety of materials, and is useful for details that aren’t too intricate.

Retractable knives with larger blades are good for thicker materials, and making long straight or wide curving lines.

Handles that Handle Well

The handle of your crafting knife plays a critical role in how the tool performs. Is it designed to fit comfortably in your hand and make the tool easy to use? A tool that is awkward to hold, causes discomfort over time, or is hard to handle will cause hand fatigue and make it difficult to create clean, accurate cuts.

Another consideration is durability. Does the handle look and feel solid? Choose a tool that’s built to last and has a nice weight to it.

Can you get a good grip on your craft knife? This is important. Good grip means good control and no slipping. Also consider if that surface will be comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

The Precision Cutter and Craft Knife by Slice are examples of tools that fit these criteria. They are ergonomically designed and have a comfort grip surface, and their weight is balanced for excellent control. The Precision Knife features a unique ring-style grip.

Safety First

Artistic pursuits are fun, but they can also be dangerous, and cutting tools are a common hazard. Learning proper use is important, as is choosing tools that are as safe as possible. Consider the following:

  • Does the handle have a non-slip surface?
  • How is the blade stored when the tool isn’t in use?
  • Do the mechanical parts of the tool move easily and appear well made?
  • Are the blades safe? Learn more about what makes a blade safe.

Choose a cutter that doesn’t slip, and not just because that will make the job easier; a slipping knife is a major safety hazard.

Tools that don’t feature a retractable handle design should come with a protective cap to cover the blade when it’s not being used. The cap often fits over the end of the handle, like a pen cap, when you are using the blade.

Retractable handle designs keep the blade inside when it’s not in use. It’s important that the handle’s moving parts perform smoothly and withstand use over time.

Since metal dulls relatively quickly, metal blades out of the package are overly sharpened, which makes them dangerous. A dull blade is also an unsafe blade, so metal-bladed tools especially should be assessed frequently.

Slice blades offer an alternative. They feature a proprietary finger-friendly® design—that is, they resist lacerating skin. Slice’s ceramic blades also last over 11 times longer than metal blades for greater value and fewer blade changing hassles.

Does It Get the Job Done?

Crafts require cutting many different materials, and your all-purpose knives should handle them all well. Moreover, the cuts should be clean and accurate, with no bunching, tearing, or fraying.

Creative professional Tracy Moreau finds that Slice tools meet the rigors of her multiple crafting demands. She particularly relies on the Precision Cutter, Craft Knife, and Ceramic Scissors, as they measure up to her clean-cut standards.

“I haven’t found anything yet that my Slice knives and scissors don’t cut well,” says Moreau. “And I cut some unusual things: vinyl, plastic, Mylar, metal foils, heavy cardstock, felt, foam sheets, compressed sponges, plastic tubing, chipboard, fibre, threads, ribbon, cording, Jute rope—I have found that my Slice tools can handle them all with ease.”

See for yourself how Slice tools cut through a delicate material like crêpe paper:

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By contrast, here’s the Slice Craft Knife easily getting through tough gator board.

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The Craft Knife For You

The right craft knife is a cherished tool. On your “What is a craft knife?” quest, thoughtful consideration will lead you to your ideal all-purpose cutter.