Box-cutter knife/Talk

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In retrospect, this entry (or at least the phrasing) will seem a bit topical, I think. --Pinkunicorn

Yes, I think you're right. I created this because someone wikied the word on the main terrorist attack page, and I thought that might mean that some people might not know what a box cutter knife is. I used to work in a grocery store, so I knew. I suppose that we could remove the topical comment. -- Jimbo Wales

In fact, I didn't know. I changed it to be explicitly topicalm, which seemed more honest to me - this entry would never have existed without the attacks. --Fuzzrock

(Also, these remarks should be removed when someone decides what to do. :-))

I had no idea how this type of knife was created, so it was a useful entry, it was the bit about "carry-on luggage" that felt a bit too specialized. --Pinkunicorn

I clicked this because I did not know what a 'Box-cutter'-knife is; usefull entry

Sounds like what we in Australia would call a 'Stanley Knife', although I suspect 'Stanley' is probably a tradename. --Peter Jones

I believe Stanley Tools is based in New Britain, Connecticut, so in the U.S. we also often call such knives Stanley knives. Tho' my parents lived in Australia in the early 60's and may have brought that name with them --Belltower
Peter is right, this is what Australians call a "stanley knife". This is a case where a trade name has become a generic phrase, like the verb "hoovering the carpet". Does this generification process have a name? I guess this subject belongs under one of the language pages, but I have no idea where. Manning
The process is called trademark dillution. Some products (Kleenex, Xerox copiers, Weed Eaters) have entered into common parlance, sometimes to the chagrin of the companies that own the marks. -- ansible
The actual Stanley Knives are of a slightly different design than the plastic-handled knives we are discussing, I think. An actual stanley knife (or faithful copy) has a different retraction mechanism, and rather than the multi-segment blades designed to be broken off and discarded segment by segment as they fail, stanley knife blades do not have multiple segments, but are simply reversible when one end of the blade gets blunt). --Robert Merkel

There are so many types of box cutter knifes in the market. According to the news, the hijacker use one with plastic handle, and the razor blade probably were put on after they have boarded.

The hijackers were said to have concealed such knives somehow, perhaps in carry-on luggage, made invisible by lying them flat next to some common metal object, such as a can of hair spray.

This is more hassle than needed at the time, non-serrated knives up to four inches long were allowed. I used to personally carry a Gerber multi-tool with a three-inch blade on flights. One time while in a rush I forgot to empty my pockets into my carry-on and triggered the metal detector. After I emptied my pockets into the dish, a security person picked up the tool and opened the blade halfway to check it. She then closed it, handed it to me and waved me on. ---Jagged

I heard on a talk show on KGO radio yesterday. The host said he has a friend who is a knife collector often carry knifes in hand carried bags. He only needs to show them to the security and they passed thru.

I moved the Attack-relevant discussion to September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack/Airport security, though I think some of it needs to go in September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack/Hijackers. --The Cunctator

IMHO *very* good article on this by Michael Moore at

Does anybody think it would be appropriate to link to this on the page Box-cutter knife? Comments appreciated.

He only touches on the knife issue for about two paragraphs and the much of the rest of the article does not provide Neutral point of view. In my opinion the article is not appropriate for this entry. --- Jagged

Is a box cutter the same thing as a utility knife? Does anybody have a link to an actual photo of a box cutter? I'm still trying to be sure I know what a box cutter really is. chouwalker

There's an image of one here. --KQ

Box cutter = Stanley knife = utility knife = Exacto knife. Any other names people use? --STG

Actually, X-Acto is a registered trademark of the Hunt Corporation and, while the trademark actually covers a range of products, usually refers to a small knife about the size of a pen, with a short (approximately 1"), pointed blade used for arts and crafts work. It is a samller device than a box cutter knife, designed for lighter-weight and higher-precision work. See this page for more on X-Acto brand products.

No doubt, but in Fredericton, New Brunswick many people use the term "exacto knife" to refer to utility knives. I don't know how common it is anywhere else; I had never heard it before I moved here. --STG

People use it in North Florida. --KQ

Another company that makes them is Olfa (Japanese company, I think). They are available at most hardware and department stores in Canada. They have two common sizes: a thin one, black enamel metal handle, about the size of a flat pen. I used to use them in the newspaper business for cutting up copy for pasting onto big proof sheets. Handy, since they were relatively safe to use and the blade can be retracted quickly. The other model is larger, often in a yellow plastic handle and fills a closed fist. These are commonly used as box cutters and for cutting carpet, tiles and other materials. Both knives have replaceable blades that snap off. The larger one, with about 1.5 in. of blade exposed would be an intimidating weapon. People inherently fear razor sharp knives like these. Amazing what the New York terrorist attackers did with about $50 in knives. One thing it did, though, is diminish George Bush's interest in the new flavor of Star Wars anti-missile program. Who gives a damn about the North Koreans now? Looks like George Bush needs an anti-box cutter program instead :-) --Coasting

External link to Olfa's site:

Their heavy duty cutters are here:

Not that it matters, but on the West Coast (of the US) I grew up using X-Acto knives for arts and crafts -- little and held like a pen, blade screws in, and utility knives or box cutters for breaking down boxes. I only started calling the things Stanley knives after my Brit husband refused to refer to them as anything else! JHK