8 Practical Utility Knife Hacks

Updated: Oct. 10, 2023

Every household should have a utility knife at the ready for opening boxes, cutting vinyl tiles and scoring drywall. But did you know that this humble tool could do the following? Prepare to be amazed!

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HH coffee mug sharpening scissors

Ceramic Mug Sharpening Stone

Did you know that you can use the bottom unglazed part of a ceramic mug to sharpen your box cutter blades? Yep, it’s true! When you need to quickly sharpen a blade, just flip over your old coffee mug and use it as an emergency sharpening stone. Be sure to hold the blade at a 45-degree angle and work slowly. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’ll come in handy in a pinch.

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HH- dull utility knife hack

How to Know if the Blade is Sharp

This trick was sent to us by reader Mike Maguire. To help you remember whether or not you have used both sides of each utility knife blade, mark a dot on the end you’re using with a permanent marker. Then when the blade is dull and you go to flip it, you’ll know that if the other side has a dot, too, you’ve used it up and it’s time for a new blade.

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How to Dispose of Blades Safely

Create a safer utility knife blade disposal solution and recycle an empty plastic drink bottle at the same time with this simple handy hint from reader Derrick Martineau. Just cut a blade-size slit in the side of the bottle; then slide used blades through the slit to keep them contained. You can keep the bottle in your shop until it’s full of old blades; then toss it in the trash.

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Trim Veneer With A Utility Knife

Super-Simple Veneer Trimmer

Rather than buy a special veneer trimmer, which isn’t really necessary, you can use your box cutter. Here’s how: Lay the veneer face down on a flat work surface. Use a sharp utility knife to slice the veneer to size—that’s it! Be sure that your knife is sharp or it will be very difficult to make a clean, straight cut.

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HH hook blade staple remover

Hook Blade for Removing Staples

Reader Neil Long found another use for his utility knife with a hook blade—it’s perfect for removing staples! “I found that the ease and speed of removing staples using the hook blade out weighs a slower method of prying them out with a screw driver or pliers,” Neil says. It works for removing various sizes of staples from various materials. The thin, flexible blade easily slides under the stuck staple, and a quick jerk will lift it right out.

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Family Handyman

Add a Key Ring for Convenience

If your box cutter features a hole in the end, add a key ring. Then you can hang it on your workshop pegboard, so it’s easy to find when you need it.

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handy hint rag cutter

Quick Rag Cutter

Like many resourceful DIYers, reader Isaac Richardson cuts up old t-shirts and towels to use as rags in his shop. To speed up the process of creating shop rags, he clamps a sharp utility knife in a bench vise to start cuts before tearing the material into smaller pieces. If you’re careful, you can make the entire cut with the knife, Isaac says.

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spice container to dispose of used blades

Upcycled Blade Disposal Container

You shouldn’t just toss your used utility knife blades into the trash when they’re dull, as they could cut open your garbage bag and cause a mess when you take out the trash. Instead, upcycle an empty spice container like the one shown to contain your used blades. When the container is full, secure the lid and toss the whole works into the trash.