Box cutters: They’re not just for boxes any more.

Posted: January 24, 2012

Indeed, these versatile instruments, beloved of mail room supervisors, office managers, and shipping and receiving workers, are so broadly useful that some prefer the more general names “utility knife,” “safety knife,” or at least “package opener.” Given the strides manufacturers have made in safety, perhaps “safety knife” makes the most sense. Many of these little blades now feature in-handle blade storage, easy blade changeout, ergonomic handles, and automatically-retracting blades, among other safety features. These innovations make safety knives useful for anyone who regularly deals with packaging—which is most of us. Safety knives have moved from the stockroom to the living room.

Of course they’re useful for anyone who receives packages in the mail. (If you made a purchase in the last year online, you should consider having a safety knife on hand.) No set of moving supplies is complete without a safety knife. But here are some household uses you may not have thought of:

  • Clamshell packaging. Everyone who shops knows the frustration that comes from trying to open some of today’s “safety” packaging. Pliers, scissors, and cooking knives are all enlisted to rescue that lightbulb from that plastic package—with often-painful results. Why not have a knife on hand that’s designed to crack the case—quickly and painlessly?
  • Food bags. From the thick plastic wrap that encloses six-packs of bottled water to the tortilla-chip bag you can’t open without sending flying chips everywhere, we all have to deal with food packaging. Safety knives make life in the kitchen easier. They’re designed to open it up without spilling it out.
  • Fertilizer bags. These gardeners’ favorites are hard to open, and with good reason—you don’t want that stuff on the floor of your hardware store. With a safety knife in your home toolbelt or gardening kit, you’ll never have to worry about it.
  • Pet food bags. Those tough, giant bags will be a lot easier to manage with a safety knife. Rather than tearing them open and making it easier for your pet to sneak a between-meal snack, a safety knife will make a nice, thin clean cut. Now if only it helped you carry the stuff from the supermarket to your car!
  • Gift wrap. Every family has at least one—that aunt or uncle who wraps packages so securely (perhaps for long-distance travel or the mail, or perhaps from sheer perversity) that no one can open it. A safety knife will make Christmas morning a lot less frustrating.
  • Assemble-it-yourself furniture packaging. From the stapled-together boxes to those plastic straps that hold boards in place, that new bookcase you bought will be as hard to get out of the package as it is to assemble. A safety knife can really save time—the time you need for quick assembly.
  • Yarn/knitting. Sewing scissors aren’t forever. If you’re a serious knitter, why not spare your hand muscles the frustration, and buy a safety knife?
  • Windows. Purchasing new windows? Make sure you’ve got a safety knife to help you get them out of the covering.
  • Clothing tags.
  • Fishing wire.
  • Gardening.
  • Flower shops.

You get the idea!

Gardeners, shoppers, handymen and handywomen, pet owners, eBayers, and more—everyone should have a safety knife (or three) in the house. They’re perfect for the toolshed, garage, kitchen, or home office, for your garden-supplies box or your knitting bag.