How-To Ideas

Different Knives and the Best Uses for Each of Them


Whether you are buying a knife for the first time or are a seasoned collector, choosing from a number of different knives can seem daunting. It is easy to get lost in the blade or creative designs without really understanding how to properly utilize their features. Having a definitive knife guide on hand could resolve a lot of confusion.

If you’re a hiker, a hunter, or an avid camper, do you know why you may need a hunting knife versus a utility knife? Can a pocket knife do the same tasks as a craft knife? If you’re around water, why is a diver’s knife the way to go? Do they all look the same to you? They’re not. Understanding what these knives are and what tasks they are designed for can help you in selecting the choice that makes the most sense for your needs.

Utility Knife

You probably have a utility knife in your home, even if you don’t realize it. Often called a box cutter, a utility knife has a wide array of uses in both a professional setting and around the house. You can keep it handy for chopping smaller foods and vegetables more precisely than other kitchen knives, or use it to pry open the package you just received in the mail.

By design, most utility knives have retractable blades. Some manually retract, by pushing down a sliding button on the top or side to expose the blade. Others have auto-retractable features. Retraction occurs once you release the button or the blade loses contact with the cutting surface. Ambidextrous users, as well as those who favor one hand over the other, may choose utility knives that have rotating blades. With utility knives like these, you can adjust for left- or right-handed use without any extra tools.

Hunting Knife

If you enjoy going camping or hunting, then you probably want to own a hunting knife. These knives have curved blades with a sharp edge; some even have a hook at the end of the point.

The straight edge is not designed for stabbing. It is made to slice instead. The original purpose was to dress game while in the field. Over time, the hunting knife has evolved to handle functions that a machete or hatchet would usually be used for.

Before your next camping trip, consider purchasing hunting knives—fixed blades or folding knives. The fixed blade is more practical because you don’t have to unfold it to use. However, the folding design is easier to conceal and is safer to carry.

Pocket Knife

Pocket knives are a common everyday knife that you can carry with you. These knives typically have folding blades and are small enough to fit in your pocket. Blade lengths vary from 2-6 inches. Before you carry one in your pocket, make sure it isn’t illegal. Some areas have laws limiting the size of the blade to 4 inches or less.

The pocket knife can handle a variety of tasks. You can use it to cut twine, slice fruit, or open an envelope. The sharp blade can be used in self-defense if necessary.

Safer varieties have a locking blade; press a button or push a lever to close it. Users should be careful with pocket knives that do not lock. Make sure to use caps or sheathes to keep the edge covered when not in use.

Electricians often use pocket knives in their daily jobs. While traditional metal blades can be conductive, they may opt for finger-friendly ceramic blades that are non-conductive. Others may choose to purchase a knife with an insulated handle.

Craft Knife

If you are a hobbyist, you probably have at least one craft knife in your collection. These small pencil-sized knives are a good choice for the intricate cuts required for your project.

Craft knives work on multiple types of surfaces, making them ideal for almost any hobby. You can use them to cut through paper and cardstock for scrapbooking or homemade cards. The blade also works on thin vinyl and craft foam.

If you like to carve pumpkins, the craft knife should be part of your carving kit. You can use it to carve out smaller shapes to make a spooky, detailed pumpkin for Halloween.

Diver’s Knife

If you spend time in the water scuba diving, you probably own a diver’s knife. If not, you should add one to your scuba gear paraphernalia. The design of this knife is ideal for underwater use.

These sharp knives have heat-resistant handles with a sturdy sheath. The sheath has a strap that allows you to attach it to your leg or arm to keep it in reach while you are underwater. The metal blade is usually made from titanium, which is lightweight and corrosion-resistant.

You can use the knife to cut through fishing lines or other things that may get caught on your tank or around your person. Some use the handle to tap on their diving partner’s tank to get their attention.

Kitchen Knives

In the kitchen, there are several knives that you may use regularly. In addition to utility knives like these, one of the most popular food preparation knives to have is the chef’s knife. At 8-12 inches long, this knife can chop, cut, slice, and dice. The gradual slope allows you to rock the blade, making it easier to chop vegetables.

Another everyday kitchen knife is the paring knife. It is a smaller blade, measuring only 3-4 inches, and is ideal for preparing garnish or cutting fruits and vegetables.

You should also have a bread knife handy. This knife has a long, serrated blade that allows you to cut through soft bread without pushing down on it. The blade design keeps you from squishing the bread and produces fewer crumbs.

So now that you know the difference between some common knives’ uses and features, which one works best for you? Hunting knives and diver’s knives are more specialized than a pocket or utility knife, but that doesn’t mean you need all of the above. Take stock of what you have now, what you could realistically use, and how much value it would add to everything from your next meal preparation to a dip into the ocean.

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