X-Acto Knives vs. Other Knives – A Safety Comparison Guide

X-acto knives are common tools amongst hobbyists and craftsmen.

What are the similarities and differences between X-acto knives and other knives? Find out below.

X-acto Knife vs Box Cutter

Similarities Between Box Cutters and X-acto Knives

Both box cutters and X-acto knives use replaceable blades that are fairly easy to switch out. All knives and blades eventually become dull with use, or even break under pressure. Both box cutters and Exacto knives can be used for carving or cutting small amounts of materials such as wood or plastic. Both are also useful for cutting different types of tape.

Differences Between a Box Cutter and an X-acto Knife?

Box cutters are retractable and use a much thicker blade with a less-pointed tip than an x-acto knife. These are designed for cutting thicker materials, such as heavy cardboard, foam, or plastic.

Box cutters are usually used in industrial or shipping facilities and are made to be rugged and convenient.

Box cutters are often kept alongside other shop tools, such as hammers, drills, and screwdrivers. Overall box-cutters are made for much heavier duty cutting than X-acto knives.

X-acto knives are often found on hobbyists workbenches and are made for fine cutting of thinner materials. The blade is smaller and thinner and has a very sharp tip. X-acto knife blades are also usually sharper than box cutter blades so they can make nice clean cuts on materials wear details really matter.

Recommended X-acto Knives

X-Acto No 1 Precision Knife, Z-Series, Craft Knife, with Safety Cap, #11 Fine Point Blade, Easy-Change Blade System

X-ACTO #2 Knife With Safety Cap

ELMERS Xacto Black Gripster Knife with Safety Cap

X-acto Knife vs Scalpel

Surgery Scalpel

Is an Exacto Knife a Scalpel?

No, an X-acto knife is not a scalpel. However, its original purpose was to be used as a scalpel for surgery, and doctors liked it because of how easy it was to replace the blade.

For more information see our post History of the X-acto Knife.

Similarities Between Exacto Knives and Scalpels

Both scalpels and X-acto knives can be used for hobby-type work at home. They both have extremely sharp metal blades that are good for detailed cutting. You can even purchase scalpels with changeable surgical-grade blades online to be used at home for projects. Both are also fairly inexpensive depending on the type of scalpel you are looking for.

Differences Between Exacto Knives and Scalpels

A scalpel is FDA-approved for use in surgery. A scalpel is also a fixed blade instrument with a very sharp edge that may or may not be changeable. Scalpels are also required extensive sterilization after each use, wheras exacto knives used for arts and crafts do not. Both scalpel blades and Exacto knife blades are very difficult to sharpen and when dull need to be replaced.

X-acto knife blades are made of carbon steel and the handle is made of aluminum. Scalpels are made entirely of stainless steel if they are fixed blades, and possibly aluminum for the handle if the blade is changeable.

X-acto Blade vs Surgical Blade

Surgical blades and Exacto blades are both extremely sharp. Both Exacto blades and surgical blades are made of carbon steel. Surgical blades and Exacto blades are not meant to be resharpened and need to be replaced when they become dull. Both types of blades are stored in Sharps containers when they are discarded.

X-acto Knife vs Cooking Knife

X-acto knives and cooking knives are both used for making food dishes. X-acto knives are only used by chefs to make artistic touches on food.

Cooking knives are larger and come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Cooking knives are also made for chopping over and over again.

Cooking knife blades are meant to be sharpened using a knife sharpener you can keep in a kitchen drawer. X-acto blades are meant to be used until dull or dirty, and then replaced.

X-acto knives and blades are also less expensive than cooking knives.

Cooking knives may have metal or wood handles, whereas X-acto knives have aluminum handles.

Both x-acto knives and cooking knives use carbon steel blades.

X-acto Knife vs Scissors

X-acto knives are very different from scissors because they only have one cutting edge and are made for very fine detailed cuts. Some small crafts scissors can take the place of Exacto knives on some materials and when cutting on the edges. X-acto knives, however, can cut starting in the middle of the material and cutting outwards. Both X-acto knives and scissors have their place alongside each other in the toolkits of designers and hobbyists.

X-acto Knife vs Vegetable Knife

Vegetable knives and X-acto knives are made to be very sharp. However, vegetable knives are designed for use on farms, gardens, or food processing facilities to cut the stalks of small vegetables. Vegetable knives also have a mild serrated edge on the blade and is hooked in shape. Vegetable knives are also much larger than X-acto knives and are not made for arts and crafts.

X-acto knives should not be used in place of a vegetable knife because they are too small for use in the garden and will become covered in grime, dust, and plant fluids very quickly. However, X-acto knives can be used for making artistic touches on food dishes that include vegetables in restaurants or food competitions.

X-acto knives and other types of knives are very useful depending on the task they are intended for. However, it is always important to use them with safety in mind.

Is An X-Acto Knife A Utility Knife?

An X-acto knife and utility knife are not the same things.

However, an x-acto knife can be used as a utility knife for thinner and more easily cut materials, such as tape and thin fabrics. However, a utility knife is much more rugged and has a thicker blade. An exacto knife may not be able to handle the same tasks as an ordinary utility knife.

What Can I Use Instead Of An Exacto Knife?

Many of the knives discussed above can be used in place of an exacto knife. However, they may not quite match its abilities. For instance, a box cutter can cut similar materials, even in a precise way. But, this may not provide a hobbyist with the level of control and precision they need.

An ordinary kitchen knife or small pair of scissors can suffice, but again, they may not match the ability of an exacto knife for certain tasks.

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Nick Klamecki, Author
About Nick Klamecki, Author

Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use. Learn more about Nick here or connect with him on LinkedIn | Medium