CB21-015 - What is a craft knife and how is it used

What is a craft knife and how is it used?

There are dozens of knives to get your cutting jobs done, however, only one knife is the best. Knives are made differently to do specific jobs. It may be time to try a craft knife if you’ve tried different knives and still haven’t found the right one for you. But, What is a craft knife and how is it used?

A craft knife is a blade with a handle designed for art and craft projects that require intricate details. The knife can be used for stamped or drawn projects that require precise cutting. 

You can also use a craft knife for trimming and other projects. The benefit of using a craft knife is easy precision. It’s easy to use because they’re small and can be used like you are drawing on paper. 

Keep reading to learn more about craft knives and how you can use them today. Let’s find out where to find the craft knife that’s right for you. 

This article may contain affiliate links which pay a commission and support this blog. Thank you for your support!

What is a craft knife?

A craft knife is a sharp thin changeable blade on a handle made for cutting delicate material. The knife is used for accurate arts and craft design cutting. 

To use a craft knife, hold it as if you are drawing, and cut designs out of paper or cardstock. 

Craft knives are easy to use and often come in kits with changeable blades. You won’t find that the inexpensive knives need to be sharpened. It’s more likely you’ll find a handle you love and continue changing the blade to cut the perfect design.  

Art knives and hobby knives are other alternatives to craft knives. The only difference is the shape of the blade. You may find that they have different handles and some are easier for you to hold than others. 

A craft knife is usually made of steel and is strong, but small, making them low cost and affordable for most artists. They are usually meant to be replaced. A good knife will last a long time, especially if you use a cutting mat for your projects. 

What is a craft knife used for?

A craft knife is mostly used for cutting designs into materials on a flat surface. It can also be used for modeling, sharpening art pencils, and pastels. The knife gives you the ability to cut easily into materials like foam and fabrics, as well as traditional paper like cardstock. 

Craft knives allow you to cut material like plastic sheets or cork boards that would be difficult to cut, even with a thin pair of scissors. A craft knife is good for cutting around stamped or drawn images. 

What is the best craft knife?

The best craft knife is one that feels right in your hand with a blade that will last a long time. Kits that have replacements can extend the life of your knife even longer. Different blade options give you a chance to change your blade for different projects. 

Often a good craft knife is adjustable with a safe retractable blade. Always take safety into account when choosing a craft knife, especially in a shared space or with children around. Safety and durability can work together if you choose a retractable knife or a knife with a cap. 

One blade can do it all if you have a kit that comes with thick and thin blades. Here are some of the best craft knives you can buy.

1. Retractable Precision Craft Knife

The Nova Precision Craft Knife is durable and safe. With a retractable blade, you won’t need a safety cap. The thin blade is lightweight, making it easy to handle for beginners or seasoned designers. 

The flat handle is safe to sit on any surface without the worry of it rolling over. Use the knife to cut at a 45 or 60 degree angle with the 3 stop position at 5mm, 8mm, or 23mm thick blade. Enjoy the variety of this blade all in one tool.


  • Retractable blade
  • Cut at a 45 and 60 degree angle
  • Durable with 3 stop position 5mm, 8mm, or 23mm thick blade 


  • Only if you prefer a round design

2. Fiskars Softgrip Detail Knife

The soft grip on this Fiskars Knife is comfortable to use while cutting for a long period of time. The grip handle makes the round pen-shaped knife a little safer, as it won’t easily roll off the table. It includes a safety cap to protect you and the blade, making this one of the safer round options on the list.


  • Blade is easy to replace
  • Safety cap included 
  • Easy to grip


  • Because of the grip the handle may be larger than you’re used to 

2. X-acto #1 Precision Knife

The X-Acto Precision Knife is a popular craft knife. The classic design is easy to use and safe because it comes with a cap. The easy change blade makes this knife long-lasting. 

This inexpensive craft knife will fit many different blades over time. The lightweight handle is aluminum and fits an 11 fine point blade, so it’s best for maneuvering through intricate designs. 


  • Sharp and durable blade  
  • The handle is easy to maneuver 


  • The sharpness can make changing the blade tricky be careful 

3. Fancii Precision Knife 

The Fancii Precision Knife comes in a set of 16 pieces. In the kit, you will find 3 aluminum knife handles and 13 blades. The variety provides light or medium cuts on everything from wood to cloth. 

Change the blade easily and quickly in either direction for your left or right hand. Find out whether you prefer a round or flat handle by choosing this affordable kit with everything you need to get started. This is the kit you need to last through a variety of projects. 


  • 5-second blade change 
  • Variety of blades and handles get everything done in one kit


  • The case isn’t as durable as the knives

4. Slice Craft Knife Safety Cap 

The grip on this knife is in the right place. Giving the knife pen-like knife precision and a good feel in the hand. This Slice Craft Knife comes with a safety cap making this model safer than previous similar blades. This blade promises to never rust and give you fewer blade changes, which means less chance for injury. Give this knife a chance if you don’t want to change your blades too often. 


  • You can purchase one or a 12 pack on amazon
  • The ceramic blade is longer lasting
  • Precise control


  • While long-lasting, it’s not the sharpest blade for heavy-duty cutting

5. Stanley Hobby Knife

The Stanley Hobby Knife was made to be more than just a craft knife. The easy-to-change blade works with standard hobby blades, so it won’t be hard to find a replacement. Unlike some blades, you can feel safe knowing the blade is secure as it locks into place. The design creates an anti-slip resistance when you are working. Try this blade for all your craft needs, even heavy-duty cuts.


  • Works with easy-to-find standard hobby blades
  • Basic design is anti-slip without cushy grips


  • Round handle may roll off of surfaces.

6. Westcott Pen Style Carbon Titanium Craft Knife

The most pen-like option on the list. If you really love the feel of a pen then you’ll love this knife. The retractable blade even clicks closed like a pen. The handy clip on the side means you can place the knife in a pen holder, pocket, or protector for easy access. Plus the handle keeps the pen from rolling, so you have a round option that is as safe as a flat handle. Just add this tool to your craft belt, click, and you’re ready to make precision cuts. 


  • Anti-roll round handle with pocket clip
  • No slip-grip handle


  • Best for photos, paper, and plastic, may need a different option for metal. 

How is a craft knife used?

A craft knife is used to make precision designs without destroying your material. Cutting a design into paper or cardstock is a common use, but a craft knife can be used for other crafts such as carving into wood. 

Different ways a craft knife is used:

  • Chiseling
  • Tracing 
  • Carving 
  • Scoring 
  • Deburring 
  • Whittling

The sky’s the limit if you find a variety of craft knives with interchangeable blades. 

What can I use instead of a craft knife?

Instead of using a craft knife, try using a hobby knife or art knife. Depending on the job and material, precision cutting scissors make a good craft knife replacement. 

For delicate work without a craft knife, a trimming knife (utility knife) is a common tool easy to find in most craft stores. Each knife is made for doing different art jobs, so the size and sharpness of the blade will differ. 

It’s best to match the type of craft with the knife you need to get the job done. 

Summary: What is a craft knife and how is it used?

A craft knife is a precision tool for cutting intricate designs in cardstock, cloth, and wood. The knives are made of aluminum or carbon steel and can last a while if you change out the blade. In fact, craft knives were made with interchangeable blades, so the best craft knives come in kits. 

Find a kit or a knife that is safe, durable, and feels good in your hand. You’ll have to decide if a flat or round handle is best for you. 

One thing to always remember is to choose a knife with a retractable blade or a cap because safety comes first. If you do your best to stay safe you’ll also protect your knife, giving you the chance to use it for years to come. 

Bring out your knife and get your stencils ready so you can handle all your chiseling and carving needs with the perfect craft knife.