Recently we did a comparison of 5 Utility Knives in the first Utility Knife Showdown. We had several utility knives in our possession and wanted to highlight some of the newer features that were available on a few different knives. By no means did this cover all knives on the market just a sampling to highlight a few new features. It did however get some attention from the Irwin folks, who are one of the predominant players in the utility knife world. They made a special point to invite us to their booth at STAFDA to show us a “few new things” coming very soon. These will all be available under the Utility Knives page on OhioPowerTool.com once released.
So what is Irwin’s answer to combat some of the newer knives on the market? How about 4+ new knives specific to individual jobs of the utility knives. Obviously these knives have been in development for some time but seem to really hit one the high points of our first Utility Knife Showdown (where Irwin did not fare so well) including: On Board Blade Storage, Ease of Blade Change, Blade Play, Comfort and Grip Saftey.
The new Irwin ProTouch will probably be the most popular as well as the most universal of their new knives. The blade storage on this unit is much better than the previous model. You no longer need to open the tool up, potentially loosing springs and messing up the inner workings. Now the storage in nice and neat in the handle with a much more user friendly clamp that holds up to 10 blades. The knife is also much safer with a more pronounced bend keeping your fingers away from the blade and a 3rd position on the blade release locks in the middle for "quick release" blade changing, ensuring the button is never accidentally released while using.
The Classic Retract Knife (middle knife pictured above) does open up in a traditional style exposing the inner workings but does so with a simple button and slide mechanism that many it very easy to open. We were really not sure why someone might opt for this model over the clearly more advanced New ProTouch but it’s another option if you don’t want a quick release style knife.
The New Drywall Knife will also be a very nice addition to the line. A fix blade offers almost zero blade play (better than everything in our 1st showdown) and the knife is very easy to open, without a tool for blade changes. Another feature we thought was well engineered is the finger grips at the top of the knife by the blade. It is very thin allowing the user to pinch the knife right by the blade. Drywall installers use their knives like this when measuring a certain distance in on a sheet, then holding the tape measure against the knife to score the full 8ft length of drywall. Well played Irwin.
The New Carpet Knife shares several of the same features of the Drywall Knife but custom made to take the carpet blades. The blade storage on these units is very simple and the opening mechanism is strait forward with few moving parts to fail. Plus it just looks cool when you open it real fast.
Last but not least Irwin has introduced two new Utility Knife Blades (Bi-Metal & Carbon Steel) that feature “4-Point” technology. Basically once the blade is dull you can snap off a small piece of the blade exposing a fresh point. This allows for longer life per blade, less overall blade expense, less waste and less down time.
Overall it looks like Irwin has addressed many of the potential short comings in their pervious offerings and look to again be one of the leaders in innovations in this category. Look for these new knives very soon.