We already posted a video preview of Dewalt’s folding retractable utility knife, but figured now’s a good time for a hands-on review.
Features, Functions, and Feel
What separates this knife from the rest of the pack is its retractable blade and folding geometry. There are retractable knives, and folding knives, but this seems to be the first that combines both features.
The blade can be locked in 4 cutting depth positions, and there’s a very positive *click* when the blade snaps into place. The liner lock is strong, offering sufficient rigidity when the knife is open, while still being easily disengaged. With the blade retracted and knife folded open, a small notch can be used to cut through small wires or cord. Tool-free blade change is quick and easy, and up to 3 spare blades can be stored in the knife’s handle beneath a rubberized door.
Overall, the knife has a great feeling to it. Subtle grooves and features first appeared to be decorative until my fingers came across them. The grip is comfortable, and the ergonomic accents (for lack of a better description) made it easier and more comfortable to open, close, and use the knife.
- tool-free blade-change
- room for 3 spare blades
- extremely comfortable to hold and use
- deployment is slower than with a retractable or folding knife
- one-handed opening is slightly awkward
Dewalt’s new retractable folding knife is very robust and comfortable to use. I like it, a LOT. The knife offers the best of two worlds – a retractable adjustable-length blade and a folding handle. I can find no fault in the knife’s construction. But, inherent to the knife’s design and to keep things compact and tidy, you cannot close the knife with the blade still extended.
Buy Now via Amazon (~$10)
Here’s our brief video overview in case you hadn’t seen it yet:
One of the best folding knives I have ever owned, and I have owned many. It is much more comfortable than it looks. A very solid feeling knife and I look forward to see how it holds up over time.
I bought this knife earlier this week. I like it a lot. It is a bit bulkier than a Stanley utility knife that I had bought earlier this year, and slightly more difficult to open. However, this is now my go-to utility knife.
One gripe I have about it is that it’s hinging action is tight and that slows down opening the knife for use. I can one hand it, but it’s easier right now to use both hands. Hopefully it will loosen up slightly after more use. I oiled it lightly, but that hasn’t seemed to help.
The only other gripe I have about the knife is that the black blade storage cover is plastic. I wish that Dewalt would have opted to make that piece out of aluminum or some other lightweight metal for added durability. I have worries about that piece not holding up and breaking somehow.
The knife does have a lifetime warranty, not exactly too sure about the details of it. But, I would rather something hold up than to have to utilize the warranty process.
Regardless, the Stanley knife I bought earlier in the year, and my go-to Lenox retractable are going to be seeing a lot more of the inside of my toolbox.
It really is a nice knife – the more I use it, the more I like it. It’s not yet my favorite, but it’s in the top 3.
I’m not worried about the plastic blade storage cover – it feels pretty durable to me, unless I forcibly bend the hinge back the wrong way when opening it.
I gave up trying to open it one-handed, it’s just quicker to use two hand. If I need one-handed deployment, I leave it in my pocket unfolded but blade fully retracted. It collects a bit of lint, but does the job.
My blade storage cover has a bit of wiggle however, and I just wish they would have beefed it up. What also bugs me is the release on the inside. It is about as stout as plastic could be, but the release may fatigue over time.
I may be seen as an*l, but I always try to improve upon things.
If it ever does fail, Dewalt will probably replace the entire thing. According to those that I spoke to, they LOVE having broken tools returned to them to learn from.
On another note, these are available online at Home Depot, with quite a few in stock at my local store. I headed over there and there were no Dewalt hand tools to be found. For those of you buying these in store, where are the displays being set up?
That is good to hear about the return policy!
In my local Home Depot store, the Dewalt hand tools were located on an isle end-cap, near the contractor/help desk. They weren’t anywhere near the rest of the Dewalt tools.
Good to know. Thanks Stuart for the inside information.
My local Home Depot has a new Dewalt hand tools display.
Just yesterday I bought a Dewalt 15 oz. mig welded framing hammer.
I test swung it in comparison to the old faithful 28 oz. Estwings in stock.
At first I had worries about the head being so light that it would have a tendency to bounce off the heads of nails on a light/ short swing (being as it’s so lightweight) and not have the same driving force. But after putting it to use today, that was really a non-issue.
I haven’t used any of the “top of the line” titanium hammers to compare it to, but to me the Dewalt is sweet beyond words.
It was twice the price of the comparable Estwing, but I have no buyers remorse.
These finally appeared at my local HD, and I picked one up. I have the two “new” Milwaukee utility knives, and my old favorite, the Stanley Quickslide, but I really like this one so far.
What’s unusual are the tolerances in the folding mechanism and the blade locking mechanism. They’re tighter than any of the others – particularly impressive is the total lack of lateral movement in the pivot, when compared to the Milwaukee. The DeWalt variation on a liner lock is well done; far better than Milwaukee’s button-lock copy.
HD also had DeWalt snap-off blade knives. I picked up the middle one, which takes 18mm blades. All-metal handle, heavy, and nicely executed.
I did not see the snap-off blade version at Home Depot yet, but I have one on the test-bench, and it is quite nice. Replacement blades are readily available, and the knife’s all-metal construction is very welcome. I swore off snap-blade knives years ago, but this has a good chance at changing my mind.
I understand that the blade must be retracted before it can be closed. If so, that’s not a good design IMO.
If the blade didn’t need to be retracted to close the knife, there’d be no reason to have a retractable blade at all. The dual-close enables one of the biggest, most comfortable utility knives to also be one of the smallest, most easily pocketable knives.
As with anything else, there is usually a trade off. Whenever you find something good, you’ll typically give up something good to acquire it. When you think about it, the primary appeal of this tool is it’s compact and pocketable nature. If the tool could be folded with the blade extended, it would add unnecessary folded length to compensate for the added blade length. While the additional inch or so may seem insignificant, it can make a big difference in your pocket for general carrying.
It also provides other carrying options. You may have an occasion for example, to carry it like a “standard” utility knife in a pouch with other tools. In that case, you’d want to retract the blade while still leaving the tool unfolded.
In either case, the minor inconvenience of retracting the blade is overshadowed by it’s compactness and versatility in my opinion. I think it’s a great design, and frankly appreciate the extra step for the added benefits.
Thank you for the video. I just bought the DeWalt folding utility knife and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to install a blade into the retractable slot. Most blades have to come apart to instal the blade, but this was very easy, just push button and slide in. Thanks!
You CAN’T cut wire “With the blade retracted AND the knife folded…” The knife must be opened.
You are absolutely right, thanks for the correction!
Not a fan. I like the original Sheffield knife much better. The dewalt lock mech is flimsy and there too much plastic on it. Its bulky and slow to get into action and fold back up. The Sheffield blows it away. I just ordered two gerbers to see how they compare to the Sheffield. I modified my Sheffield removing the belt clip the knurled thumb flip (which is useless) and grooved out the blade overload so it sit in flush on to am ground off the annoying little tab that it has. All in under 5 minutes and now the perfect knife.
Dang spell check! I meant grooved out the top of the blade holder so the final blade locking tab sits in flush on the top edge. This actually helps the little dimple line up better too. If you own a Sheffield you’ll know what I mean. Ground the little side tab off that same retainer bar. With the mods its totally gone in your front pocket. Smooth as silk and won’t dig out your leg. Anyone wants a picture message me. This knife is tougher and more comfortable than the dewalt hands down.