The Canary box openers and cardboard cutters are a great alternative to utility knives and traditional box cutters for opening up boxes and packages.
How many cardboard boxes do you open every week? How many do you break down? Chances are that it’s a lot. You might want to add a Canary to your tool kit.
Canary cutters are available in different styles and sizes.
To start off, there are two blade styles and two lengths.
Shown here, this Canary tool has a non-serrated short blade and blue handle. Canary describes tools that have non-serrated blades like this as package openers.
Most Canary tools have serrated blades and tend to be described as carboard cutters.
They also have long-blade serrated carboard box cutters as shown here with a green handle.
Canary tools don’t usually come with sheaths or caps. I found this orange-handled version that does come with a hard plastic cover.
They also have coated tools, with non-stick surfaces that clean up more easily when cutting through gummy packaging tape.
I have a couple of different Canary tools. In this photo, I have a pink-handled coated short-blade Canary tool.
This is a good size and the one I prefer best. I didn’t opt for the coated blade, that’s just what was available for the lowest price with shipping at the time of purchase.
See Also: Exotic Tools and Brands – Show and Tell Part 1
I have in the past ordered my Canary tools from Amazon Japan, where color and style selection can affect shipping rates, presumably based on availability. But, they’re also now available in the USA via Amazon.com.
The way they work? If you have ever used a key to open a box – it’s like that. The serrations slice through the tape, but without being razor-sharp. That’s why Canary calls these “safety” box openers and cardboard cutters.
Canary openers and cutters are made in Japan. They’re inexpensive and are currently available at $7-9 each, depending on size and style.
I would only suggest considering Amazon Japan as a source for anyone placing a larger order, such as for the new Nepros ratchet.
You convinced me, I’m going to try the nonstick bladed version.
I’m tired of having to clean the tape gunk off my Benchmade Osbourne when I use it to open boxes.
These are great; I have found that you can optimize how much force you’re applying vs. how rapidly you move the serrated tool in/out.
If you get it right (different types of cardboard require different parameters, so I find it takes me a cut or two with a new box) these things can go through cardboard faster than a utility blade at zero risk to anyone.
I use mine mainly for breaking down cardboard into sheets that fit my laser, and these give me nice tidy accurate cuts with good edges.
IMO the green Slice cutter is the ideal cardboard box opener. It has an auto-retractable, rounded ceramic blade and a highly ergonomic handle. There is a wide, flat section where the blade retracts that allows a nice surface to glide along the surface of the box. We have one in the kitchen drawer that is used exclusively to cut open Amazon boxes. My girls call it the Maui Hook (from Moana)
I don’t remember seeing that Slice cutter before. It looks like their products review well.
In videos the ceramic blades don’t draw blood when drawn across fingers but cuts cardboard and plastic clamshells cleanly. I’ll have to check them out.
I bought 2 DC-190F (long yellow handle black coated blade ones) five years ago (perhaps when you first posted about them). I thought that I would like them and use them a lot – but find that they now reside in kitchen drawers at my alternative residences. The sawing action certainly makes them safer than a knife-edge – but I find them slower too for breaking down cartons. Another advantage might be that they are unlikely to cut into the contents being shipped in the carton. We probably all have encountered things like cereal boxes with slits in their sides at the grocery store. These are undoubtedly courtesy of the use of box cutters to open cartons.
What I use mostly is a self-retracting Tajima utility knife that hangs in the garage:
BTW – in looking at my favorite clamshell package opener (Allex – SH-1 17211) i came across these scissors said to be specific for cardboard cutting:
Thanks for the link Fred. Those scissors look interesting. It is frustrating when some people review it and say the handles are uncomfortable and others say they are comfortable. I have normal sized hands, and yet I hate it when my thumb gets trapped in scissors.
It looks like that company also has a cardboard knife which looks much more aggressive than the canary. It looks more like a drywall plunge knife.
I’ve had good luck with the two long bladed canary knives so far so for me, so I’ll keep using those. But I will book mark the others in case I want to try something different down the road.
All they do for me is cut the tape. Cutting the cardboard ends up being a sawing chore. Box cutting blades in a utility knife are perfect, however, for both the tape and the cardboard. Apparently, your mileage varies.
I carry a pocket knife so it’s not an option for me, but maybe my wife would like it.
I’ve seen these recommended elsewhere in the context of carving up large boxes for kid’s forts/whatever-fantasy-du-jour. Efficient cutters of cardboard & safe, non-cutters of kids.
I love these. The retractable one is great in a pocket. I keep a fixed blade by my mail station for box breakdowns and a retractable one to put in my pocket if needed.
Just watch out you don’t get the spring loaded one as it’s a pain to hold open with your thumb and makes any kind of stabbing motion harder
Having used these for several years, it is a no-brainer to get the non-stick variant. They have the same sharpness and functionality, but the stainless gets gummy quickly.
I have the serrated long blade cutter with the non-stick coating. It’s great. Not as quick as a fresh utility knife blade but safer.
The Canari cutter is great for precisely cutting and scoring cardboard.
With all the boxes we get from Amazon and Chewy, we have plenty of raw material. I make custom trays, organizers, and boxes from the cardboard. The cardboard is “free” and it’s great for quick projects and prototyping. Laminating a couple layers of cardboard can make a relatively stiff and strong structure.
I love it… this gives me validation, that I am not the only one who does this sort of thing! =)
These seem like a weirdly specific solution. Why add yet another specialized product when any blade you already have (these look like butterknives with an overmold) seems like it works just as well?
I think tools like this make sense if you have to open a *lot* of boxes, or if you need something extra-safe for children, people with diminished grip strength, etc. But I’d wonder what’s wrong with a pocketknife, scissors, or utility knife for most people? Does the average person really open enough boxes these days to warrant a unitasker?
I worked at Ace hardware as my first job as a teenager and put in plenty of time stocking shelves. At the time I used a basic utility knife with a manually retractable blade, nothing special. I asked myself if this tool were available to me back then would I have switched? I don’t think so. The safety does sound great, but when I think back I never cut myself, or any merchandise either. Come to think of it, the whole time I worked there none of the employees cut themselves. I don’t want to knock the Canary tool without using one first, but even if I loved it I’d still have to carry around a sharp blade for fiber strapping tape, stretch wrap, and plastic banding (straps), so why not just do everything with the utility knife?
Having worked in the A&P as a teenager (back in the day when a family shopping order was $20 to $30) they handed out razor-blade cutters like this one:
Training consisted of the admonition: “don’t cut yourself or forget to retract the blade when you put it in your pocket”
That style of box cutter brings back memories of working retail, as they were the only box opener I ever saw used when I worked for a national chain 20 years ago. So cheap and ubiquitous.
In hindsight I’m surprised that there were so few injuries from those, but apparently there weren’t enough workers’ comp claims to justify the far costlier “safer” alternatives.
Those things were always getting misplaced, but the store’s supply of them was seemingly unlimited. The manager of my store once found several dozen of those box cutters buried in her purse when she cleaned it out.
We had those back at my Ace job too, there were tons of them crammed in the back corners of all the various junk drawers in the store. Thankfully we also had a random hodgepodge of full-sized utility knives and there were enough of those to go around so I don’t think I ever saw anyone ever using those “jiffy cutters”.
I have little kids and have been opening and breaking down diaper boxes for the better part of 5 years straight. We order a ton of stuff constantly from Amazon and Target, and this kind of thing is really good. Don’t believe me? What would you do when an almost two-year comes charging at you with a razor box cutter shouting “I help! I help!”?
I think one thing people might be missing is how easy it is to cut curves in cardboard with the serrated ones. There’s no comparison between a utility knife and one of these. It is very easy to cut smooth clean curves – in one pass – with the Canary tool.
I just used one last night to cut out 3 to 4″ diameter wheels for a train (2D) I was making with my kid. Not only was it easy to cut the curves, but I could do it around the kid and the cat who seemed to want to eat everything we were working with (I’ll admit the cuts would have been better if I hadn’t had so much help from the cat).
If I need to break down boxes to put them in recycling, I usually grab a 25mm Olfa. But for cutting cardboard for projects or other things, I usually reach for the Canary.
What is the Vessel thing in the last photo? I can’t seem to find it online. Thanks.
Impact PH #2 bit set – https://www.amazon.com/VESSEL-Impact-Torsion-PH2X30-Charge/dp/B07QFSR5SC/?tag=toolguyd-20
I have one. They make very clean cuts easily. They can also cut tight radius circles.
These are great, I bought one on your recommendation and I ended up buying another type and the scissors you recommended in that post. A great find Stuart!
When I was doing merchandising I found the retracting box opening knife from Milwaukee with carton cutting blades to be great. Now that I have kids these do look appealing.
I love using the pick on the back of my Olfa – https://olfa.com/collections/professional/products/18mm-l-5-fiberglass-utility-knife
I occasionally need to wipe off tape gunk, but these go through boxes pretty easily and the extra effort over a box cutter is definitely worth the lack of risk.
What is the part number on that little Tone breaker bar?
It’s the Tone NS2S. I ordered it from Amazon Japan, which only has a listing for the NS2 at the moment.
You might also try MiSumi. For our fabrication business they were often a source for products from Japan. I believe that well now sell retail. A quick check indicates that it might be out of stock:
The breaker bar that I have in that size is a Williams:
It looks like something my grandma would use to make quilts…..My testosterone dropped from just looking at the picture.
Don’t judge a tool by its color.