I have been making good progress on my OLFA-sponsored project, taking advantage of the opportunity to try out some new techniques.
Given that the sponsorship is centered round OLFA snap-blade knives, I have fully integrated several of their products into my work, treating it as I would a review.
It started out slow. I would be working on something simple, when the same thought came to mind – “I should use my OLFA knife on this.”
Before long, the thought process changed to “I want to use my OLFA knife for this.” It’s now where I seek it out, as a preference.
The biggest and best parts of these knives is that they have sharp blades – and several of them readily available – and great user-friendly engineering.
These aren’t like the snap blade knives I was introduced to years ago, they’re easier to use, and simply more convenient.
There is one simple truth that I learned about myself. In general, many tool users don’t change power tool accessories frequently enough. They wear down blades and bits until they’re completely non-functional, and even then, some will push the accessories further.
What I realized was that I tend to do the same with utility knife blades, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. With a standard utility knife, I reverse the blade when the first side starts to noticeably lose its performance. But then that second size, I tend to keep the blade in the knife until it’s practically useless, especially when I’m using a knife with no built-in blade storage compartment, or when I know I’m on the last blade.
In using these OLFA knives, I have found that I change blades more often, and in doing so I’ve been seeing less frustrations.
I have used my knife to cut:
- Ceiling tile – as a test, I have a replacement project coming up
- Drywall (scoring)
- Foam insulation (scoring)
- Rubber sheating
- Card stock (for shim and template)
- Wood (marking, and to prevent tearout)
- Small rubber hose
What I found is that in most applications, it performs as well as or better than a standard utility knife.
When setting up layout lines in wood, I typically use a pencil, marker, or knife. A sharp marking knife leaves a crisp and straight line that can be easier to cut to than a thicker pencil line. Thin pencil lines typically lead to broken leads, and marker lines can be even thicker.
I cannot find my marking knife. I have tried using my utility knife for marking wood in the past, but anything other than a fresh blade can make a mess of things. And as mentioned, like many others, I suffer from a reluctance to change utility knife blades as often as I should.
I have been making small boxes as part of a separate project. With the first box, trimming the side pieces to fit has been a trial and error process, in one case resulting in short cuts that I had to scrap.
With my last box, I had my OLFA knife available, and used it as a marking knife as I had in a couple of other projects. I had a fresh blade, made the cut line, and went to the miter saw, setting it up to the line exactly.
Poof, a perfect trim and perfect fit.
With a standard utility knife, there are plenty of times when I think to myself “I should have changed my blade.” When a blade is dull, but not even completely dull, it can fray or tear lots of materials, not to mention increase cutting effort.
The biggest thing about the OLFA knives is that they encourage as-needed blade changes. A single segmented blade lasts a long time, but there are backups at the ready. I don’t change blades frequently, but I don’t wait as long as with standard utility knives, and this has led to better results. This has been my experience with their knives, but I imagine that it’s true for many others.
The blades are extremely sharp, very durable (meaning they don’t dull very quickly), and have impressed me more than I expected. So far, the knives have held up well. To be frank, I was surprised at first, due to the fiberglass construction, but after many drops and rough handling, my main OLFA knife looks almost as good as new, and works the same as Day 1.
Here are some reader comments from the previous giveaway posts:
Scott: Got my trial from the first opportunity it is way better than the Stanley I have. I went ahead and bought a small cutter to match.
The Yeti:Olfa knives are the best. I use the 25mm all the time. Very few brands I would stand behind like I do Olfa. I just dont think they have an equal.
JML: Olfa and Tajima blades and handles are outstanding. The variety of blades is worth checking out – three standard widths, two angles, coated blades, and heavy-duty versions.
ESA: I started using OLFA knives as a little boy in Finland for cutting balsa wood when building free-flight and RC planes. For perfect cuts, there just wasn’t anything better available. Since then, for the past 30+ years, they have been the only knife I use on any project. The 18mm size seems to be the best all around knive. I can’t even start listing all the materials I’ve cut with them over the years while building a house from ground up, doing three complete remodels on my homes, and working on hundreds of other projects. The blades are extremely sharp and deserve respect (I won’t tell you here why/how I know that!)…
RCWARD: I got a free one awhile back and it was much better then I thought it would be. A quality knife that is sharp and works well. Nice edition to the shop.
ca: I use OLFAs on the job instead of the standard utility blade. Just remember they’re designed for cutting, not prying.
KENT: I am a commercial carpenter for over a decade and Olfas are the only knife I’ll use. I use the 18mm x series with the hook on the back. I use the hook on the back as much as I use the knife. If you’re doing drywall there is no better knife.
I can now see why OLFA utility knives are popular, and why their users swear by them.
My OLFA knives have taken the place of my standard utility knives in a lot of areas, but not completely. I still use standard utility knives for cutting cardboard (most of the time), and there’s one with a recessed cutting slot that I have been using on twine.
At first, my OLFA usage was part of the sponsored project exploration process, but then it developed into a natural preference once I become more familiar with them. Once this sponsorship is over, there will still be an OLFA knife at the ready.
Part of my preference stems from the fact that it has made certain tasks easier and quicker to accomplish. Because a fresh cutting edge is usually quick snap away, I don’t struggle as much with dull blades that should have already been swapped out.
With a standard utility knife blade, I rarely use in-handle blade storage (which isn’t even available on my most-used utility knives), which means that I have at most one backup cutting edge, and that’s it. Even then, I can’t glance over to check the condition of that second blade.
I use the 18mm size most of all, and the 9mm when I need a smaller blade. There’s also a heavier duty 25mm knife.