OLFA Knives

Written by on November 22, 2019 in Product Reviews with 0 Comments

I wrote about OLFA knives in my “From the Field” column about “Tools Under $20” in American Painting Contractor magazine (2019).

I am fascinated by the concept of tools we can’t live without, that don’t break the bank. By “can’t live without”, I mean tools that are likely to find their way into my work pants pockets (and therefore my hands) everyday.

Recap of my APC OLFA Review:

(shared with the publisher’s permission)

I’d bet that all of our toolboxes are loaded with disposable sundries and essential hand tools. The sundries include everything from sanding sponges to rags, tapes and caulk tubes. And the tools themselves are the first and most common daily essentials that we reach for in preparation for working our artistry.

Often it is the bigger ticket power tools for painting that hold our attention as we ponder purchases, but the smaller hand tools are important to focus on as well. We all know those little everyday tools that we can’t live without. If one comes up missing and you have to go a day without it, you feel as if you are missing a finger. I thought it would be fun to share a few of my “desert island” tool necessities that fit the under $20 range. Here are a few of the small tools that I rely on daily.

OLFA not only makes the cut in the under $20 category but actually defines it for blades. Whether you are cutting cardboard boxes to recycle, cleaning blue tape residue or final trimming a grass cloth wallpaper installation, this is the blade to be running with. Not to mention the insane razor edge for scoring all that we need to score from day-to-day.

The tool itself and the quality of the blades are above and beyond anything else I have carried over the years. In fact, the OLFA LAX has helped me appreciate the luxury of a seriously good and sharp knife, supplemented by a pocket clip beater with an intentionally “dull-ish” blade. The OLFA even has a paint can opener on the non-business end of it. So if I don’t have my elusive 5-in-1 on me, I can still open a paint can without digging a coin out of my pocket.

The 18mm LA-X was my “gateway” OLFA – the first one I grabbed and used. Then, I got deeper in with the slightly beefier 25mm XH-AL.

OLFA LA X

Top Options for Painters

I must openly disclose that the $11 LA-X and the $19 XH-AL were provided to me for use by the manufacturer, prior to writing about them in the APC print publication. It only makes sense to use a tool before writing about it, and there is not enough income in professional writing to personally purchase everything we write about.

That said, the smaller LA-X is now my convenience box cutter, and it still holds the backup paint can opener position. It is a nice little knife, but I have come to prefer the grip feel and blade size of its larger counterpart.

Here are typical uses where the OLFA XH-AL excels for me:

  • opens most any type of packaging that requires cutting
  • winner on recycling day when mass cardboard is to be reduced
  • makes sharp fresh caulked corners
  • devours any old caulk that needs removal
  • trims anything from wood to many common roofing materials
  • easily cuts drywall for patches

While it is an easy under $20 price point to absorb, there are probably still painters who use a good old fashioned utility knife. Those old rigs with low quality two sided blades and (maybe?) a spare somewhere inside that often requires another tool to access. And you hope it all reassembles and works.

What is cool about OLFA tools is that they are loaded with a sleeve of robust snap off blades. There is very little pause in getting to your next fresh cutting edge, once you wear one out.

The blades are higher quality than you may have seen before in traditional utility knives. They don’t break under hard usage, and the tool is designed to remain rust free because the snap off blade strip lives in a stainless steel channel. No more rusty knives and blades.

There are seven snap off blades per strip, and you can purchase spares in 5 packs for a total of 35 cutting edges, which would last a long time in most conditions. Conveniently, the spare blades come housed in a plastic case to protect both you and them.

The fiberglass reinforced housing makes the OLFA lightweight in your pocket, and the grip is rubberized. The tool is yellow, so it is easy to locate when you need it.

To learn more about OLFA knives, visit https://olfa.com/professional/

If you are an OLFA user, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine (www.paintmag.com) since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!

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