How to Safely Use a Utility Knife

Utility knives are useful because they can perform a variety of functions. They're great for cutting carpet, boxes, and plastics, but because a utility knife uses a thin razor blade, use great care while cutting. Most utility knives have retractable blades. Some have permanent handles that store the blade, requiring you to take the handle apart and replace the blade when it becomes dull or breaks. Others are disposable, featuring longer blades that can be broken off when the tip becomes dull.

Take care to use a utility knife correctly.

Place the item you wish to cut on a flat, stable surface. Be sure the object will not slip or wobble because that can cause you to lose control of the knife and cut yourself.

Press the button down on the knife and slide to expose the blade to your desired length. Always point the knife away from you when you are exposing the blade. Do not expose more of the blade than necessary when you are cutting because the pressure on the blade can cause it to snap.

Stabilize the item you are cutting with your non-cutting hand. Do not put your hand near the area where you will be using the blade to avoid cutting yourself. Keep the item you are cutting stable so that the blade does not slip, causing you to accidentally cut yourself.

Press the button and retract the blade. The blade should not be exposed when you are not using it.


  • A disposable utility knife has hatch marks on the blade to guide where you can break the blade. If your blade becomes dull, expose just enough of the blade so the next hatch mark comes to the end of the handle and the dull part is exposed. Grip the blade with a pair of pliers and break the blade away from your body and away from anyone else in the room.


  • It is a good practice to wear safety glasses when using most tools, and this is particularly the case with a utility knife. A utility knife blade can snap when used on a hard surface. Safety glasses will prevent a piece of the blade from entering your eye.

About the Author

Hal Bartle has been writing professionally since 2009. He has been published on various websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Saint Joseph's University and a Juris Doctor from Duquesne University School of Law.

Photo Credits

  • Utility knife image by Andris Daugovich from Fotolia.com