Jul 24, 2015

ManMade Essential Toolbox: Must-Have Knives, Shears, and Cutting Blades for the Workshop

Each week in 2015, ManMade is sharing our picks for the essential tools we think every creative guy and DIYer needs. We've selected useful, long-lasting tools to help you accomplish a variety of projects, solve problems, and live a hands-on lifestyle that allows you to interact with and make the things you use every day. 

created at: 07/24/2015

When we think about tools that cut things in the workshop, we tend to focus on the big stuff: table saws, metal cut-off tools, or even a chainsaw. Or perhaps we think of tools designed for dedicated tasks: an angle grinder, or a jig saw. But, know what the two items I most regularly pull down off my pegboard, even more than a hammer? Whose little silhouettes remain most routinely bare and hooks unfilled?   My pair of shop shears and a utility knife.  Cause sometimes, maybe even most of the time, you gotta cut stuff besides wood and metal. 

So, here's our pick for the essential knives, shears, scissors, and such you should keep around to help with any DIY tasks. 


created at: 07/24/2015

1. A dedicated pair of shop shears. Yeah, these are scissors, but better. Shop shears feature heavy-duty blades that are more precisely ground, which lends to durability for everyday use and longevity over the tool's life. They often feature longer blades than normal office scissors, and have offset handles for better leverage for cutting tasks. They can cut through rubber, heavy duty fabric, leather, rope thick plastic, and the like. Oh, and my personal favorite part: they usually have oversized handles with larger finger holes, so you can use as much of your hand strength as possible to cut through thicker materials. The titanium coated steel allows for multiple resharpenings. Take them in when you get your kitchen knives done. 

ManMade Recommended: 


created at: 07/24/2015

2. A heavy-duty utility knife: I prefer the replaceable (or sharpenable) slide-out style  utility knives over the snap-off box cutter type. The sturdier handle allows you to apply more pressure for cutting through thicker materials, and the thicker blade is better when meeting resistance when opening boxes and packages; you don't have to worry about it slipping when pushing hard (away from you, of course). 

If you need a finer or more precise cut, go for the craft knife below. 

My very favorite to use is the Milwaukee Slide Open, except is has one crucial flaw: no hole to attach a lanyard or hang on a pegboard. Time to bust out the drill bits!

ManMade Recommended: 


created at: 07/24/2015

3. A craft knife: A partner for the utility knife when you need to make fine or intricate cuts. Use it for paper patterns, tape, removing glue or other imperfections. I also regularly use one as a marking knife for laying out joints or cut lines on a piece of wood (having a impressed start line for a hand saw or chisel is great). 

Go for the classic #1 Xacto knife with the standard no. 11 blades. Use a piece of rubber tubing or other thick material to cover the blade when not in use, so you can toss it in a toolbox, belt, or apron. 

ManMade Recommended: 


created at: 07/24/2015

4. Aviation Snips or Tin Snips: We've covered these in depth already, but whenever your shop shears just don't cut it (ha!), reach for your snips.  They work great for metal and other thick material, but they also get my vote for the single best way to open heavy-duty plastic clamshell packaging. 

ManMade Recommended: 


Anything we missed? What other essential knives, shears, and cutting tools do you use regularly in the shop? Post 'em in the comments below. 


Here are those links again, for ease: 

1. Shop Shears: 

2. Utility Knife: 

3. Craft Knife 

4. Aviation Snips: 



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