olfa utility knife .....never use an xact-o blade again
The first year of architecture school is a joy! Yes, for those of us who enjoy tirelessly designing through a series of art & crafts style iterations. Often all through the night!
My first year I used a traditional x-acto blade knife. The pen style blade has an elegant design that looks beautiful to architects... however, the crude tool is painful to use when cutting through a mound of chip board at 1 am.
Far superior is the Olfa L1 & Olfa L2 utility knives. These blades are so comfortable to use and durable enough use on job sites.
In studio it's a common site to see students hunched over their work. Tirelessly cutting out a series of forms from a heavy paper stock. The blade of choice for a half century fails yet a traditional box cutter is a bit too crude (though still better than an x-acto) to do the job.
I first spotted the Olfa products at my mother's crafting + sewing desk in our basement. The rolling tools were always her more high quality. When I picked up the box cutter during a Thanksgiving visit home I knew I had to try the tool in studio. Game changer.
On a first project building a site plan using chip board I probably saved 2 hours. Not to mention the tendons in my right pointer and middle finger from a few weeks of pain.
Best Blades... hands down
The top four features of this knife: ---note that any single one makes it better than an x-acto blade
Highest Quality Blades
First - Grip. As mentioned, the grip alone saves time and hand pain. After using the Olfa blade I could never understand the pen grip. The pressure of cutting is spread throughout the hand rather than a point load on the joints of the fingers. It's like lifting with your legs vs your lower back.
Second - Blades. The Japanese steel is of the highest quality. I still have a few of the original blades I started using over a decade ago in architecture school. I had a pack of low cost blades which I would burn through if the edge was likely to damage. The Olfa carbon steel blades just don't wear out. I would use them to carve foam, cut + shape modeling wood, and use them on drywall. These blades are as tough as you can find and when they do wear out simply snap one and move on to the next.
Third - Extension. You can see that I have two olfa knives. I found this especially useful to keep one with a nearly new long blade. It allowed me to use the 3 inch extended blade to carve foam models. There are also plenty of times when you want to reach deep into a model to make a cut.
Site Planning - Durability. As you can see in the photos the finish shows some wear. What you are seeing is the product of using two part epoxy to make models over 10 years ago. The glue picks up dirt and bonds it to the handle. All the working mechanisms and the solid finish of the casing are in perfect condition. Using it on a jobsite isn't a problem either... while some knives fully enclose their housing that only means that drywall dust has no way out once it enters the blade (which it always does). With the Olfa tool it simply gets brushed away.
Over 10 Years Later
My Olfa knife is still one of my favorite tools. Arguably the one I use most often on projects around the house.
Architects require precision and there is no better tool.
The cost is about the same as the x-acto knife - depending where you shop. I've linked to amazon and have seen some great offers. I expect the knife to be around $10.
Hope you find the Olfa Utility Knife as useful as I do! ---any feedback on your experience is certainly welcome. Links are provided to the L1 & L2 models.