How To Cut A Straight Line With A Utility Knife (7 Tips!)

How To Cut A Straight Line With A Utility Knife (7 Tips!)

The ability to cut straight lines with a utility knife can come in handy when it comes to your DIY and home improvement projects.

Whether you are installing vinyl plank floors, replacing drywall, or working on a complex design.

Imagine the terrible appearance a new floor would have if the installer hadn't taken the extra time and care to use his utility knife to make the cleanest, straightest cut possible. 

Nobody wants a floor with rough edges and material cuts that simply don't fit the room. Cutting straight lines early on will help you avoid a disaster later.

If you want to cut a perfectly straight line with a utility knife rather than another cutting tool (like a circular saw), you've come to the right place.

In this article, we will give you 7 tips you can follow to help you cut in a straight line using your utility knife. 

Tip 1: Use A Metal Straight Edge

When using a utility knife to make the ideal cut, the typical plastic or wooden ruler or yardstick will give you trouble.

This is because utility knives have a razor-sharp edge. Unavoidably, the knife will pierce, puncture, and stab softer materials like wood or plastic. 

When you use an imperfect edge from your plastic or wood ruler. This can cause the material you are cutting into to also have the same faults.

Therefore, your knife is significantly less likely to cut through the edges of a strong, metal ruler. Which will also be completely straight and without faults. 

Another potential issue is the possible sharpness of a wooden or plastic ruler's edges.

When cutting, you don't want your knife to suddenly veer off course because it ran into a nick in the ruler. That can result in a painful wound.

With a steel or other hard metal impermeable straight edge, you have a much better chance of getting a straight, safe and clean cut.

Tip 2: Use The Correct Size Straight Edge

You do not require a 24-inch metal ruler for a material that is less than six inches wide if you're cutting a floor plank crosswise.

A speed square or similar little object will provide you more control while cutting.

However, a longer straight edge will be more useful if you're cutting the same floor plank lengthwise.

To avoid being forced to move the straight edge in the middle of a cut, you want your straight edge to stretch the entire cut.

If not done with extreme care, adjusting your straight edge in the middle of your cut can result in your line becoming crooked.

To be set for any cut, it's a smart idea to have multiple straight edge tools and rulers that all have different lengths.

How To Cut A Straight Line With A Utility Knife (7 Tips!)

Tip 3: Cut On A Mat And Grid

There are several benefits to keeping a cutting mat close by. Firstly, you will want to avoid damaging any surfaces underneath the material you are cutting on.

This is because utility knives are sharp, they may pierce or otherwise damage surfaces such as a workbench, floor or table, that wasn’t supposed to be harmed.

Cutting mats aren't essentially impermeable.  However, using a utility knife on a surface that has already been damaged can make your cut less precise.

A cutting mat's flat surface can help you cut your material in a nice, straight line.

Cutting on a rough or damaged surface could result in injury, just like when using a faulty straight edge. Trying your best  to produce a clean cut is crucial.

Finally, a grid display can be seen on many cutting mats. To prevent diagonal cuts, you can use this grid as a reference.

Tip 4: Keep Your Straight Line In Place With Adhesives

Your guide, which should be some form of straight edge from a rule or speed square, can be kept in place while you cut. This can be down by attaching tape to your straight edge.

It could be difficult to hold your straight edge in place as you gently cut your product along the ruler's edge. This will depend on the type of material you are cutting.

Applying pressure is necessary to prevent your straight edge from moving while you cut, but occasionally that pressure itself can create a small shift in your ruler.

A slip like this puts your safety at risk because your hand can end up in the route of the knife. Then it might also make your cut less precise.

To prevent harming your material you are cutting, use a tape that is simple to remove, like painter's tape.

Painter's tape, for example, can be used to remove the surface of your product without damaging it or leaving behind any residue.

Tip 5: Don’t Cut All Through The Material At Once

If you're working with a thicker material, such as flooring, carpet, or cardboard. It is important to remember that when you are using a utility knife, you want to use lighter strokes.

Alongside that, you want to avoid using too much pressure in order to get a smooth, straight cut.

The best method for using a utility knife is by lightly dragging the knife across the material's surface. This way you will make a trail that it can then follow.

After that, gradually penetrate the surface and make numerous deeper cuts in the same spot.

Rigid edges can result from applying too much force to completely cut through a thick piece of material in one attempt.

Tip 6: Use A Quality Utility Knife

You want to ensure that you are using the best quality utility knives for your project. This will then enable you to make the most precise, perfect cuts.

When choosing the ideal utility knife, there are four factors to take into account: affordability, retractable vs. folding, simplicity of blade swapping, and functionality.

The knife that is most suitable for you will depend on the type of work you are doing. 

Tip 7: Always Have Extra Blades Ready

Using a knife with a dull blade makes it difficult to make a straight cut, and these blades weren't made to endure forever. After multiple uses, they need to be replaced.

If your utility knife doesn't include any spare blades, it's wise to buy some spare blades when you purchase your knife.

How you change the blade can differ depending on the type of knife you have got and the blade. 

Finally, you need to make sure that you dispose of the dull blades properly. You may have seen plastic bottles full of dull blades.

This ensures that the blades won't pierce the garbage bag or be left out for anyone to injure themselves on the blades. 


We have just given you the 7 most important tips to help you to cut in a straight line using a utility blade.

We hope this article has been helpful.  By using these tips, now you will be able to cut like a pro and achieve a straight line every time with your utility knife. 


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