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Thread: Knife Review: Utilizer 2.0 - premium folding utility knife

  1. #1

    Kiss Knife Review: Utilizer 2.0 - premium folding utility knife


    I always had serious interest in buying "the best" utility knife (snap-off or trapezoidal blade, retractable or folding make, I didn't mind!), i.e. one single model which was to tick all the right boxes, not only cut all my boxes pun intended. With my snobbish attitude not letting me carry a rebranded tool of a trading company and with Stanley being the #1 traditional name and original maker in the business, back then I believed I had chosen the best product from their catalog; the Stanley Interlock, an ingenious simple model with retractable lockable snap-off blade, did tick two boxes, namely metal construction and zero(!) blade play. In practice, however, the locking mechanism did not prove sufficiently strong for heavy duty tasks, it could not keep the blade from getting stuck in dense sticky material, e.g. silicone joints. And when the snap-off blade (nominal thickness 0.50mm, true thickness 0.49-0.51mm) failed on me repeatedly, breaking off crosswise due to minimal lateral force or torque, I started to realize that my quest wasn't over and that my next utility knife had to have a stronger blade, a trapezoidal blade (nominal thickness 0.60mm, true thickness 0.60-0.62mm). In recent years nicely built folding utility knives (designed and) made in China and meanwhile mass-distributed by Western tool trading companies, have become popular among the crowds, probably because of the very good value, compact size, attractive looks. Or say, unused they looked attractive! After some use, drops, wear'n tear, they start looking cheap and function only as tool anymore. Me, on the other hand, I was willing to spend more than the typical 10, 15, 20 bucks, as long as the product was an EDC-wearable, had superior quality, and I could become a proud owner; the more I spend, the prouder I am of what's in my pants!

    If it were for the tool functionality only, then I would not have looked any further than my bulky Stanley Quickslide Sport gen2, the heavy Milwaukee Fastback 190X (X=gen1/2/3), or the functional Gerber EAB/EAB Lite, which are nicely iterated brandname tools. But they are imho just that. Tools, and with no chance of becoming a substitute for my EDC knife, the Spyderco PM2: the Quickslide being too bulky, the Fastback too heavy, the EAB Lite too ..erh.. "cheap" (said the snob ). In my recent more ambitious search of an all-round satisfying utility knife I eventually came across the Utilizer, a 160-190US$ custom titanium product released to market two years ago by a U.S. machine shop. The small company designs, manufactures, and sells the product direct. Having spent some 150 bucks on my PM2 and really wanting something like the Utilizer to kick the Spydie off its EDC job, I didn't immediately turn my back on this intriguing premium folding utility knife product. Youtube footage was two years old, showcasing the original model which did not have a secure locking mechanism for the blade holder; in the youtube comments the viewers turned their backs after learning about the Spydie-level retail price and that the knife was lacking a lock. I felt put off too, did some further research on Google and social media (Facebook, Instagram, ..) and learned that in summer 2018 the company had worked on the iterated new version which featured at least two notable improvements: the addition of a titanium liner lock and the addition of a blade set screw! When their webshop offered a bunch of display units (exhibition samples) from Blade Show 2018 as so-called "Pre-handled" units at a 15% discount, I didn't think twice and placed the order. The Utilizer 2.0 ticks all the check boxes, in my book. The search is over, the journey is over, which makes it the perfect time to share.

    Shipping / Packaging.

    Not much to say here. International shipping cost was surprisingly low, the bubble-padded gray envelope landed in my country in no time and I received it in record time within a week, probably because we are still far from the super busy postal pre-Christmas season. The USPS shipment number showed some tracking information in the destination country too, interesting.

    The knife came in a simple black cardboard gift box stating the company name/logo and "Made In The USA" ; inside there were two company name/logo stickers, some padding, the knife, and the extra bag of stainless screws which i had added to my order. There was no printed product information, instruction manual, or similar, nor did I expect any such thing. The company is a machine shop, a custom maker, focusing on the product, manufacturing, and quality, not the 'everything else' like commercialization, marketing and whatnot.

    Looks / Design / Artistry.

    I have a hard time forming an opinion about whether a knife looks harmonic'n beautiful, or not. The Utilizer with solid liners looked so-so in my eyes, being a knife with a short blade section versus much longer handles; the metal ratio of what met my eyes seemed skewed, too much titanium, not enough blade (cf. Spyderco PM3).

    The skeletonization however really did it for me, and the overall looks seem to fall into place now, I honestly dig the result ymmv, both in the fully opened and in the closed positions.

    At first I didn't understand why the thumb stud (Thumb-Open) was designed so big, longish, until its triple function became clear to me, acting as a nicely formed comfortable thumb rest during cutting operations…

    …and also as stopper for the blade holder in the fully opened position:

    Let's not forget that the color (and partly the material itself) of the four component groups can be customized. I preferred the all titanium material all titanium color look anyway, imho it is the most classy timeless configuration. When I look into my wardrobe at all the colorful T-shirts which I had ever bought for myself, then I could facepalm me all day long. Fashion and personal tastes change. A titanium knife in natural titanium color? Sounds like a safe, reasonable choice to me, risk-free, no harm done.

    As you can see, the metal surface is smooth, dense, shiny, reflective, and also has a different titanium color than the CN titanium knife on the left which has a matt, porous finish.

    Size / Dimensions / Weight.

    Most/many folding utility knives come in an all metal construction. But this one comes in titanium (Grade ?), and my unit even in skeletonized titanium.

    The overall size and weight is similar to a Spyderco Delica 4 FRN (71g) or Byrd Meadowlark 2 FRN (67g). My measurements with installed Stanley blade and pocket clip are 75g w/ (wrench+lanyard) and 71g w/o (wrench+lanyard).

    Maybe some other owner can chime in and share the weight of her/his unit, e.g. with flipper construction and solid titanium scales, thanks.

    Ignoring the pocket clip, the handle has a total thickness of 11.5mm, which is similar to the PM2 handle (11.6mm).

    The max width is 33.1mm, the length is 95.0mm in the closed position.

    Pocket clip.

    For tip-up carry, left or right side, the shallow ramping lets the firm flexible clip slide, almost "glide", bump-free over the pocket brim to the deep-carry-like end position where the knife is held nice securely.

    The two smooth metal contacting spots generate little friction, which should translate to less tear on the fabric over time than, for example, a metal<>FRN or a metal<>G10 interface.

    Time will tell how pocket-friendly this cute stylish titanium clip performs in the long run. I dig the size, looks, secure mounting, and functionality of the clip.

    There would have been space on the handle to design it longer but there was obviously no need for it (re functionality, aesthetic proportionalism).

    The backspacer.

    Originally backspacers serve as mechanical support for the handles and as void fillers for a better feeling in the hands. On my customized PM2, the silver-shiny CN titanium(?) backspacer is for decorative purposes only, even though its macro-jimping might help with traction in the hands. On the Utilizer, the titanium backspacer also serves to pocket one end of the included allen key. Together with the included lanyard the allen key is stored neatly and held securely in the space between the scales, what a great idea!

    It took me several minutes of struggling to realize that the allen key cannot be introduced and put into place from the backspacer's side (handle|palm). So with some amusement and relief I eventually discovered that the allen key is to be introduced from the opposite side (handle|fingers).

    The lanyard.

    Once the allen key is put into place, the supplied paracord loop must be threaded through the hole at the corner of the knife/the corner of the wrench. Fitting a loop of ungutted paracord through that otherwise spacious hole makes it a tight, fiddly task, and also time-consuming if you can't help yourself (a pin, a nail, long fingernails, pliers/tweezers). A loop of gutted paracord is too thin to keep the wrench in place, so it has to be ungutted paracord.

    Alternatively, you could sling a loop of (ungutted or gutted) paracord around the steel spacer post at the extreme of the knife handle. That would mean, though, that you'd give up carrying the wrench in the knife, only in favor of carrying a gutted paracord as you custom lanyard! You could ask yourself "the Allen — to carry or not to carry?".

    Well, in a place or situation with no spare blades around, the wrench won't be needed. As long as your own lanyard is made out of ungutted paracord, there is no harm in carrying the Allen, the tool may come in handy at some point. But let's be honest/clear, threading the loop of ungutted paracord through the wrench corner is challenging with bare fingers. On a stressful time-critical job, one could carry the wrench separately, i guess, and not even think about reinstalling it between the pair of scales during the job. The point is, the Utilizer gives you the possibility to also have a wrench on you at all times and not to lose it. How you deal with it in practice, is up to you.

    Blade exchange.

    If the job is hectic and you consume new blades every other minute, then you probably won't install the wrench back in the knife with the ungutted paracord lanyard every time. In such a work situation, you'd keep the wrench separate and handy together with a 10-pack of spare blades, or, you might prefer a different (folding or retractable) utility knife altogether!

    Exchanging the blade takes twice as many seconds than on another *folding* utility knife, sure, but you're getting all the other product advantages in turn.

    Blade fitment.

    I tested six different standard razor blades: Triuso (thickness: 0.60mm), Wisent (0.62mm), Stanley 11-916 (0.61mm), Stanley 11-921 (0.61mm), Bessey (0.60mm), Workpro (0.61mm):

    None of the six products had identical geometric measurements and it seems that razor blade manufacturers set the angles roughly when cutting the trapezoidal shape out of the sheet metal; the geometric tolerances between the six blade products are very notable! And maybe that is why other folding utility knives have a problem with the 'One Size Must Fit All'-situation. The Utilizer blade holder is precision-machined with tight tolerances and whatever loose blade play (depending on the blade product you bought) would be remaining in either the x-, y-, or z-direction, the so-called blade set screw does eliminate it completely:

    Using the blade set screw is not as trivial as it seems. Before tightening the screw, one must seat the blade nicely aligned in the blade holder. Then one tightens the screw with minimal torque because, fortunately (and I am still wondering why this is so, press-friction?), it takes very little force to secure the blade. When I tighten that screw I just twist the straight part of the wrench, one doesn't need the extra leverage from using the bent part of the wrench. After the successful securing your chosen blade product exhibits no more loose wobble, play, rattle, wiggle, waggle, shake in the blade holder; and the blade doesn't move, even if you pull at it with force. If you pull at the blade and it moves, then it means that your securing was not successful. Then you need to loosen the screw, do a better job at reseating/realigning the blade in the holder, and try again tightening the screw with little torque. With some practice/experience you'll manage to successfully secure the blade after one or two attempts, not more. Overtightening the screw doesn't help the process but will change the smoothness of the knife opening/closing action for the worse. It is very interesting that something as simple as one little screw can completely fix a blade in the holder, what an effective method! And such a method is also needed for accommodating/compensating thickness differences between blade products, e.g. the 0.02mm difference between Bessey vs. Wisent. At this point I would love to know how well the Gerber EAB Lite secures the different blade products (Bessey, Wisent, Stanley, etc) with its one big screw. In fact, the Gerber is maybe the mass-produced article which shares features of the Utilizer the most.

    The Lock.

    The initial Utilizer product release in 2016 did not come with a locking mechanism other than the detents. Back then that was the main reason why I hesitated picking up a unit. Since Blade Show 2018 the newly released successor, the Utilizer 2.0, comes with a liner lock or maybe better said a lock bar. It consists of a cleverly designed precision-cut titanium part embedded in the handle, thus acting as a liner indeed.

    Unlike other liners it doesn't come with a ball for additional detenting effect. When the lock engages, it does so with a clear audible "clack!" sound.

    As other liner locks it disengages through a press by the right thumb/thumbnail.

    Because of the very construction this liner lock cannot develop travel! Unlike a conventional liner lock where the lock squeezes into zero play (and travels further to the right over time) this lock clacks against a stop, a titanium hook, which prevents further lateral movement of the lock bar. The 2nd knife from the left has reached its EOL: its liner lock gets jammed in the right corner whenever i open the knife, and I'd need a secondary tool (a screwdriver or a key or something) to unjam and disengage the lock, argh!

    One advantage of the Utilizer 2.0 lock bar is maintainability. The manufacturer claims that the lock should not fail, wear out, deteriorate, break under normal use. But if it did, it would be straight-forward and easy for them to replace the part, and they would do so for free (100% lifetime warranty under intended use).

    Detents / Stops.

    For either position —knife fully closed vs. knife fully opened— a small titanium hook acts as fastener on the same steel spacer post.

    The springiness of the hook arm accounts for a very positive clipping and unclipping of the hook; when you try to flip the knife open, you could actually hear an unclipping "pling!" clean sound reverberating from somewhere (either the hook or the post).

    The clipping/unclipping functions as detent to provide clear feedback for the user if the blade holder is fully engaged.

    The detent feels great, strong (for being a detent), but not too strong to compromise the one-handed operation of the knife.

    Blade exposure.

    cutting edge of the 61mm are exposed! And because of the low standoff (on the Thumb-Open version, that is) most of the exposed cutting edge does get used in practice. Once you have experienced working with such a long trapezoidal utility blade, there is no going back. That's also what users like so much about the
    Gerber EAB.

    Spare parts.

    Since the Utilizer 2.0 gets configured by the end consumer as BTO ("Built To Order"), there is no doubt that one could also ask for spare parts as special order. Spectrum Energetics is not only the inventor and designer but also the actual manufacturer (with machine shop, factory) and distributor of the product. All of the shopper's money goes straight to the maker's team, and I am confident that they would attend to everybody's satisfaction. Currently they offer the Utilizer Hardware Set (i.e. screws) and the Utilizer Hex Keys Set as official SKU's. I wouldn't be shy asking them about other parts for which you'd rather keep a spare from the get-go.


    There are no sharp edges apart from the edge pun intended. The metal surface is smooth, and with all the rounded edges feels surprisingly "warm and soft" in the hand. The subjective warmness must be due to the low thermal conductivity of titanium, which the user would profit from in environments working at sub 20°C with bare hands. With the shape of the handle, the limited length of the handle, the ergos are as good as one would imagine; not as perfect as on the PM2 or the Delica 4, both ergo-champs in their class, but nothing I would dare complain about. Maybe best of the ergos is how the thumb rests comfortably in the thumb-rounded wide titanium top, which otherwise serves as thumb-opener. Probably because of the skeletonization of the liners, my unit isn't slippery; finger flesh and palm flesh would seat in the cutouts and provide great grip. And no, this doesn't feel uncomfortable at all imho!


    I chose the Thumb-Open version because I believe that the Flip-Open design could possibly get in the way of my cutting habits or my cutting tasks; the Flip-Open design has naturally a higher standoff because of the (length of the) flipper. While the Flip-Open version can be deployed in a split second like any other flipper knife, my Thumb-Open version can be deployed single-handedly too (by either a righty or lefty) but not through flicking or other automization (cf. Milwaukee Fastback); it must be opened manually (cf. Gerber EAB), which is fine. The opening action is smooth and easy enough, as long as you haven't overtightened the blade set screw, as mentioned earlier. A lefty would close my particular unit with two hands no problem.


    It is very easy to just exchange the hardware set, i.e. the nine hex screws. I got the original black hardware set and also bought the stainless hardware set for giggles; the hardware on my PM2 is all stainless or stainless-looking titanium. However, once the nine screws were all out, I was not able to take the knife apart with my piano hands. Hmm. There are three steel spacer posts and they look like press-fitted bolts. It means that with the right tools it is, of course, possible to disassemble the knife fully in a nondestructive manner. I just couldn't do it, and I also didn't try hard enough. For which good reason would I want to apply violent force to disassemble a perfectly working knife? Chances are that I will never need to disassemble this knife. But probably, for some big jazzy youtube reviewers, that would still be the Ugly, not the Bad. Even though it is possible to disassemble it fully in a nondestructive manner. Oh well.

    Fit and finish.

    Apart from the three cutouts of my skeletonized liners one cannot perceive any machining marks on the parts. Everything is so smooth and rounded, probably due to the tumble finishing process the company uses. Fit is perfect too. The blade holder has no side to side play (which can be adjusted, as with the PM2, through the pivot screw). The blade has no side<>side play, no back<>forth play, nor practically any other kind of play (up<>down, o. a.). That's due to the construction, the tight tolerances, and the blade set screw (new since 2.0). If I had to detect anything, then i'd say that the blade holder has minimal "down play"; but that's not looseness (no loose play!) because the titanium hook/spring stretches the blade holder open, in the up position. In the end really nothing, neither the blade nor the blade holder wiggles, waggles, wobbles, shakes, rattles; nothing is loose! Upon inquiry the company explained to me that they designed a tiny "purposeful gap" between the lock bar and blade holder when the latter is in the fully open position. Quote begin- "This is an intentional feature for multiple reasons. It increases the longevity of the knife by reducing wear on the lock bar, it makes the knife easier to use by avoiding jamming/sticking, allows the knife to be lighter and handle higher loads (basically allows for higher elastic deformation under load without putting extra stress or friction into the lock system), and also it allows for a slightly easier blade change. So a more precisely fit lock bar would actually decrease the performance and robustness of the knife" -quote end. Basically they are saying that the knife/longevity/operation benefits more from the way they designed it than if they had zero'ed the gap. Let's recall that a traditional liner lock travels until it gets stuck/squeezed/jammed, which is exactly what causes the zero'ing of any gap between the contacting metal spots. The locking mechanism of the Utilizer 2.0 differs from that design principle, as explained earlier. Both liner locks design principles have their own pro's and con's and I am perfectly fine with the design decision made by them. Most importantly, nothing is loose, and the knife does have a strong working liner lock (which the original Utilizer did not have)!

    Cutting performance.

    Since the condition/sharpness of the razor blade determines how much force is required to slice through paper/cardboard/etc, the force will be the same among other utility knives using the identical razor blade. What does enhance the cutting performance/experience is the longer exposed cutting edge, as you could imagine or know from using the Gerber EAB. The Utilizer does all the cutting tasks of any box cutter and heavy-duty carpet cutter, and then some. And with the absence of any kind of play it is very satisfying and efficient to either do some gross cutting jobs or execute very fine cutting tasks. So far I have not had a chance to test the knife as heavy-duty performer in a fast construction work setting, where one would prefer to toss around a Milwaukee Fastback 1903 anyway, but we should hear about applications under tough RL working conditions eventually, from me or other owners.


    Maybe subjectivity does not belong into a review but Nick Shabazz, whose video reviews I personally find very helpful, includes it all the time. I never tested and didn't even consider buying the Gerber EAB or EAB Lite. Various aspects about it had put me off and kept me longing. If it were for the cutting tasks only, something even cheaper than the Gerber would have been sufficient. But what all my hobbies are about, in the end, is tbh not the mere utility or mastery of a product/topic/skill/etc but the feeling of joy (not necessarily pride). Can we ever understand why/how carrying a piece of jewelry can make my lady neighbor feel so joyful all the time? Same here. A unique titanium work of art made in the USA vs a 20$ aluminum gadget made in China. Both cut my amazon cardboard package equally well, same same, no grand difference. However, carrying the former fills me with true joy, while carrying the other would not. And I am not even a collector or collectionist; they would perfectly understand what I mean though. What's worse, I could hardly afford the asking price (of any US made knife, actually); I pulled the trigger nonetheless knowing that 'my utility dream knife would come true' and my endless search would finally come to an end. And it really has. Maybe that's another point why I am so elated.

    Potential safety concerns.

    I am guessing that the solid titanium version could(?) be slippery in oily hands because of the missing cutouts; let's hear from other Utilizer users. Also, a kid sticking one two slim long fingers through the two three holes of the skeletonized handle could accidentally get cut, for example when closing the knife. Clearly, i must close the knife with some caution, when doing it one-handedly.



    • same size and weight (skeletonized model, that is) as Delica 4
    • insane 54mm exposed cutting edge!
    • blade: fully secured, no play/no moving whatsoever!
    • blade holder: no lateral play (and no loose vertical play)
    • premium feel, pride and joy of possession & carry are beyond price!
    • indestructible, timeless titanium, great build quality and fit'n finish
    • 100% lifetime warranty under intended use
    • liner lock, doesn't travel, great detents
    • few parts, open construction, no full disassembly needed for maintenance
    • smooth one-handed operation
    • good ergos


    • price
    • difficult to fully disassemble without special tools
    • exchanging and securing blade is imho fun, easy, fast enough, but installing the lanyard through the wrench in the back of the knife is challenging


    In no time the Utilizer 2.0 has become my #1 EDC knife and, for sure, my only work knife: I have retired all my other work knives (3 different Stanley utility knives, 2 different Ganzo Firebird knives), as soon as I realized the full potential of the product. And whenever I don't carry a knife, I would still always have a retractable utility blade on me, on my keychain. A folding utility blade can be more than being just a tool, and I have successfully substituted the Utilizer for my nice folders which were as pleasing to carry. Maybe EDC'ing a utility blade/utility knife with joy and pride will become a cool more accepted thing in future. Then Spectrum Energetics was certainly the first to set the premium bar. I am actually thinking of grabbing another unit when the holiday season (Black Friday, Christmas, ..) comes around. One never knows how long a (small/big/any) company manages to stay in business, so it's better safe than sorry to have a spare just in case.

    Note that KnifeKrazy did a video on the old version two years ago:

    Also check out the Instagram page to see how other buyers customized the knife
    Last edited by kreisl; 11-08-2018 at 10:06 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Knife Review: Utilizer 2.0 - premium folding utility knife

    Awesome review!
    Thanks for sharing
    I’ve had my eyes on this one too.
    Guess I’d rather the blade securing mechanism be quicker and not requiring tools.
    But I do agree.. very nice practical knife

  3. #3

    Default Re: Knife Review: Utilizer 2.0 - premium folding utility knife

    Quote Originally Posted by Foot Hill View Post
    Thanks for sharing
    Welcome! It's my first attempt of reviewing a knife, thanks!

    Today i installed a trapezoidal blank in the Utilizer and tried to set a bevel with my Spyderco 204M and then sharpen the edge with 204F and 204UF, all freehand. Also stropped the fresh edge with my leather strop. The resulting edge looks clean and sharp (no visible burr, no reflective apex) but the cutting performance of the DIY razor blade is . I can resharpen common pocket knives and kitchen knives with my 204-freehanding technique really well but freehand sharpening a razor blade (out of fun) seems a different challenge. Ever since i got the Utilizer, i do it regularly and acquired interesting experience. I'll post more about this sub topic in future, stay tuned.

    Quote Originally Posted by kreisl View Post
    Using the blade set screw is not as trivial as it seems.
    Today i am suggesting an absolutely harmless mod for those who might have lost their original blade set screw and didn't order the spare hardware set for $5.99 (lol so affordable!!).

    There are 2 alternatives to using the blade set screw for eliminating remaining blade play in the blade holder (the blade holder allows for blades with a thickness of up to 0.72mm max, a standard blade has an average thickness of 0.61mm, so there is typically 0.11mm play which then the blade set screw completely eliminates, as long as the user has some practice/experience with the three screws; it's an easy-peasy procedure but it has to be mentioned that it is not as trivial as it sounds):

    • ALT 1. No blade set screw but using a 0.1mm DIY cutout as spacer.

    I checked my stationery/household. Any sheet of paper, plastic, film, foil, sticker, tape, punched pocket, etc had a thickness between 0.10-0.15mm. The SE sticker, for example, has a thickness of 0.12mm, perfect! With a scalpel one can cut out a spacer. It was fun so i made several ones, one with branding lol:

    How to apply: You place the DIY spacer first in the blade holder, then stack the blade, then rotate-close the titanium clamp, and finally tighten the two thumb stud screws for a snug press friction fit. Since all blade play is eliminated already, the blade set screw is not needed.

    • ALT 2. No blade set screw but using dried glue as 0.1mm spacer.

    I think i enjoy this alternative even more. Knowing the properties of my el cheapo clear liquid paper glue, i spread 3-4 drops in the blade holder with a Q-tip and after half a minute the uneven film of glue was air-dried, not sticky anymore. In its dried state my glue does not get rock solid/hard but keeps some plasticity, has some give, like "dried non-sticky *oo":

    How to apply: You stack the blade on the non-sticky DIY film, then rotate-close the titanium clamp, and finally tighten the two thumb stud screws for a snug press friction fit. Since all blade play is eliminated already, the blade set screw is not needed. Sounds familiar, same same.

    Using spacers is what owners of the Utilizer 1.0 did; in fact the Utilizer 1.0 retail package came with a thin metal spacer. The point was to let the user install blades of any thickness: 0.6mm (standard, called "heavy duty"), 0.7mm, 0.8mm, 0.9mm ("Stanley extra heavy duty"), and whatnot. In contrast, the Utilizer 2.0 lets the user install blades up to 0.7mm thickness only. In turn, it got rid of (the need of) the spacer, because potential blade play in the blade holder is eliminated by the blade set screw.

    In this post I made the point that owners of the Utilizer 2.0 could still make use of a (DIY) spacer and then get rid of the blade set screw in turn. Lol.
    Last edited by kreisl; 01-06-2019 at 11:18 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Knife Review: Utilizer 2.0 - premium folding utility knife

    Is the blank of quality steel?
    What purpose is the blank used for?
    If for demo purposes maybe it’s low quality steel?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Knife Review: Utilizer 2.0 - premium folding utility knife

    I like ALT 2 so much that i've been experimenting with various glues and drying techniques to get a perfectly looking result. In this post i'd like to share and document my trials chronologically, pardon the redundancy ahead.

    Trial 1 (success!).

    While my very first made diy spacer from ALT 2 (see previous post) was totally functional, i felt like redoing it to make it look nicer, more consistent. I carefully used a razor blade to remove the dried glue layer in one piece, so we're back to square one:

    How much liquid glue is needed? That depends on how much your product contracts volumetrically during the drying process. My transparent glue dries fast and shrinks a lot, so I put quite a bit on the blade holder, maybe a bit too much hehe :

    Well, that was a bit too much lol! So i restarted from scratch and reapplied a thinner liquid glue layer. It was a challenge to apply an even layer across the entire holder, especially nearing the edge. In fact i didn't realize until later that there was not enough glue around the tip (look at the right, can you see?):

    While the glue was drying (within hours), i noticed bubbles forming in the substance. Hmm okay wth never mind i guess. As you can tell, the glue had shrunk considerably in the meantime and it didn't feel liquid/wet any longer. At this point the glue had a physical consistency similar to an old chewing gum from your mouth :

    A blade would not fit right away. But after pressing the blade into the compressible substance with my fingers, it was possible to rotate-close the blade holder clamp and tighten the two screws down. For a while excess dried glue would get squeezed out by pressure equalization:

    After a day or so I opened the clamp and was pleasantly surprised that the bubbles were gone (squeezed out?). I cut off the excess glue, which still had the consistency of gummy bears, and the result looked very pleasing:

    Trial 2 (fail!).

    Tbh the Trial 1 result looked really pleasing! The surface of the spacer was so even/flat that it reflected light, wow:

    But for the sake of this post I wanted to test another liquid glue product. So i had to scratch off the spacer layer again, argh!

    This time i also applied some oil on the titanium so that the dried glue would come off more easily in one piece. More importantly, i came up with the idea to stick a paper strip (or tape or similar) on the titanium edge ("setting up the molds"). Everything went fine as planned until i decided to test a drop of water on the dried white glue. Who could have imagined that water solves/liquefies this hardened glue? What a fail:

    Trial 3 (success!).

    Again back to square one, no problem:

    Filling the "mold" with the same liquid glue from Trial 1 in a controlled and even fashion didn't take much practice:

    Instead of oiling the paper strip lol, it is best to use a non-sticky "mold" from the get-go, like the yellow stuff known from stickers (or double-sided tape). The glue has dried and we are left with a bunch of embedded bubbles again, as expected:

    The dried glue wouldn't stick to the yellow stuff, and one can carefully remove the "mold" without tearing the dried glue:

    Pressing a blade in the dried glue and leaving both (i.e. blade+substance) compressed in the blade holder should squeeze out excess substance. We want that, it's a good sign, it means that we started with a sufficient amount of liquid transparent glue:

    ( side note: the Stanley 11-700 requires a 10s mod by a Spyderco 204M before it can fit in the Utilizer 2.0 blade holder. )

    After a day or so i opened the clamp and was disappointed to see so many tiny bubbles in the spacer:

    But first i had to cut off the excess substance:

    The right side looked improved, consistent, even, with no bubbles. Just the left side looked non-smooth, maybe because of the countless mini bubbles. kreisler not impressed:

    Luckily, after another day or so with the blade installed in this modded blade holder, the tiny bubbles started to vanish...:

    ...until they were gone! Yes, this is definitely improved over all previous diy spacers made out of dried glue (you can hardly make it out in the photo, except for the new bubble at the tip!):

    So what's the thickness of the "tailor-made" spacer? Well, it is clearly something:

    Last but not least. This tailor-made spacer is not only so effective because the excess substance gets pressed into all cavities (which would be responsible for the potential of blade play/rattle) but also because the dried glue surface is still "sticky" to a relevant degree in that it increases the friction factor between the two compressing surfaces (blade vs. dried glue) many times over. The latter is true only, however, if both surfaces are dry, i.e. not wet, not oily, not dirty. Well, it is a truism that surfaces glide better on each other in the presence of a lubricant. Here, we want the opposite, namely maximum friction. So when you use ALT 2 (or ALT 1 for that matter), it is the blade compression which eliminates all blade wiggle/waggle/wobble/rattle/play/shake (and all potential for it) and dry clean surfaces tremendously help its effectiveness, i.e. creating maximum friction (or adhesion) between blade and "substrate".
    Last edited by kreisl; 01-06-2019 at 01:52 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Knife Review: Utilizer 2.0 - premium folding utility knife

    The other day i got my order of Utilizer accessories. I enjoy having and playing with such things. The sales page lists two hardware sets, one for the original Utilizer (which is surprisingly still in production!) and one for the Utilizer 2.0, but their posted product photos look identical, which i find confusing. Now I got both hardware sets in stainless steel, can you tell the difference? Click on any pic to see the full-size image:

    Maybe arranging them in order helps you spot the difference. I could say it out loud but the difference between the two bags of stainless steel hardware sets looks obvious, try again:

    To say it out loud, the 1.0 hardware set consists of eight screws whereas the 2.0 hardware set of nine screws, the difference being the blade set screw newly introduced in 2.0. The above pic is funny/misleading in that the 1.0 set shows the correct number of screws but with one of them being the wrong screw. Maybe i should have quizzed "Can you see where the error is in the photo"? Never mind, lol.

    The question was: Would i need to order the hex keys (Allen wrench) too, or could i use the hex keys which i already had: the hex keys from my PROXXON wrench box, or the hex keys from my IFIXIT driver box?

    Of course, i had tested/tried the PROXXON and IFIXIT hex keys on the original black screws. But somehow the fitment wasn't right, i could tell! I had my doubts: do Allen wrenches in an imperial system (USA) really differ from Allen wrenches in a metric system (gemani)? I had to find out. That's why i also ordered the 'Spectrum Energetics'-hex key set and compared the meausurements with a digital caliper. As we can see, the answer is yes, imperial Allen wrench sizes do differ from metric Allen wrench sizes:

    Clearly, one could use the ifixit-1.3mm but should not use the proxxon-1.25mm as replacement for the se-0.050'' hex key which measures exact 1.27±0.00mm. Needless to say, the 'Spectrum Energetics'-hex keys provide perfect fitment for the Utilizer hardware and are the preferred keys, highly recommended to owners of metric tool sets. Once installed with some Nano-Oil™ (how do you like my premium precision oiler made out of machined aluminum? hehe), the knife looks pretty much same-same. Has a bit more bling now:

    Three things you can see in the following pic. 1) Stainless steel hardware on the Utilizer makes no big difference to the overall looks of this tumble stone-wash finished titanium knife, imho. 2) I continue to not make use of the so-called blade set screw because i prefer the harmless DIY dried glue spacer mod instead (see previous post). 3) I ground a sharpening choil in the razor blade, so that resharpening on a portable whetstone becomes even easier:

    Six of the eight razor blades have been manually resharpened by me, can you tell? So far I've been using a narrow stone (either 204-freehanding or ruixin-freehanding) and experienced that a straight razor blade would eventually develop a recurve on either end of the blade, resulting in one concave blade similar to the Stanley #5192 (exaggerated comparison):

    The solution to this problem is simple: using a wider stone lol! And also grinding a sharpening choil (which btw can be done with a Spyderco 204M no problem). So I've ordered the Spyderco 302UF, and I am going to update this thread again with a report if the wider stone (302UF > 204UF) really does the trick. Stay tuned!
    Last edited by kreisl; 02-14-2019 at 12:08 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Knife Review: Utilizer 2.0 - premium folding utility knife

    Quote Originally Posted by kreisl View Post
    I've ordered the Spyderco 302UF, and I am going to update this thread again with a report if the wider stone (302UF > 204UF) really does the trick. Stay tuned!
    Yes it does, i totally love my particular unit of the 302UF, and in fact, resharpening the Utilizer's utility blade has become my goto method of keeping a sharp edge on the Utilizer as EDC knife. I'll chat more about that topic in a future post np. The other day i got myself another very portable folding utility knife with one-handed opening, but with "Quick Change" of the blade: the well-known Milwaukee Compact Fastback (manufacturer's no. 1906). You can find enough insightful buyer's comments on amazon, home depot, and toolguyd. It's a 8.95US$ everyone-has-it commodity, so i am not silly enough to write up a full blown review of the product sorry. In this post i will answer though detail questions which i couldn't find answered in those buyer's comments.

    Weight, dimensions, size. With blade and pocket clip the knife weighs 106g, same as the Paramilitary2 standard issue. Not a thin knife, the min handle thickness is 14.12mm (at the pocket clip the max handle thickness is 20.85mm), making it 2.5mm thicker to handle than the PM2. Closed length width 102.90mm 33.5mm, opened 161mm 32.5mm, respectively (in comparison Delica4: 108.34mm 37.00mm, 182mm 38mm), making it shorter and narrower than the Delica 4 but thicker.

    "Compact" is the perfect word to distill the carry impression of this Milwaukee knife, also hinting at the higher density feeling compared with the two Spyderco bestsellers. Ymmv this knife should imho weigh less fwiw but no complaints here. Once out of the pocket in your right hand it feels 'right-weight'.

    Materials, build quality, disassembly. Only the red parts are made out of plastic. All(!) other parts are made out of metal, in particular the entire blade holder with its black blade release button B1. B1 is the critical part of the product, it is subject to wear and tear every time a new blade is inserted because that's when you don't press B1.

    B1 is made out of cheap non-machined metal and the two inner 'ramping' nipples will eventually wear out such that the blade holder cannot hold the blade anymore when the blade is under high tensile load: the blade would get pulled out during your heavy-duty cutting action! In order to prevent premature wear, the user could press B1 while inserting a fresh blade. The blade holder has ootb some play (side to side, up and down) but i stopped trying to disassemble the knife; the screws are cheap and seem to be loctited. From what i can see, the holder runs on stainless washers (not bearings) and the simple locking mechanism is pretty ingenious, i like it. Tightening the pivot torx would eliminate the side to side play of the holder but then there is still the play of the blade in the holder! The blade play is nothing to be concerned about, if you are familiar with other off the shelf utility knives; i've seen worse blade play (e.g. in the Quickslide Sport by Stanley). Unlike a back lock the flip locking mechanism isn't super secure; the knife would fail the spine whack test. The pocket clip is cheap stuff if not flimsy; fortunately its screw is threaded into the steel liner. I took the pocket clip off and i can assure that there are no plastic threads for the pocket clip screw.

    Ergonomics. The knife allows for three gripping positions: 0 finger on the blade holder, 2 fingers (index+thumb) on the holder, or 3 fingers (index+middle+thumb) on it. Choking up on the blade in such a way gives the user much power and comfortable control over the cutting action, even more so than the Utilizer which allows for one gripping position only, namely 0 finger on the blade holder (except for the thumb maybe). The Milwaukee gives you some flexibility and options of how to hold the knife, depending on how much power and control versus how much knuckle clearance you need for the cutting task at hand.

    Blade fitment. The printed manual states "Quick Change - Uses standard size utility blade". The included free blade 2961 is unlabeled/unbranded and i measured 0.62mm thickness, 60.84mm length1, 32.00mm length2, which is a hair shorter than my Stanley 11-921, and either blade fits generously. From my other measurements i'd even bet that the Stanley Extra Heavy Duty would fit. Logically, because of the ramping design of the B1 nipples, my favorite blade the STANLEY® No.5192™ does not fit, and there is no way around it. But indeed, any standard size utility blade will fit. If your blade does not fit, then it's not standard size. That simple. The Milwaukee Co. sells Milwaukee-branded utility blades; i can't speak for their actual exact measurements and to what extent they have the same dimensions as Stanley blades. Maybe i'll create a table which lists my various utility blades and their compatibility in my utility knives? Would be a boring exercise lol.

    Price. US shoppers are lucky, they can get it for free in Milwaukee holiday sets, bundled with the 1901 or the 1903. Normal street price is around 9 bucks or 12€ which is still a great value imho:

    Why did i buy, Why am i posting about it here? Tbh i was bored and had an expiring 10OFF10 amazon coupon to burn. I spent daysmaking up my mind between a 15€ Proxxon mini vise and this unneeded 12€ "plastic knife". Eventually i decided for the Milwaukee product and never looked back! Maybe it is not as heavy-duty but it is for sure a 3x more likable product than my Stanley Quickslide Sport or my new Stanley Titan Retractable, both of which i retired in favor of the Milwaukee. Funny thing is i don't need or use utility blades/knives all that often. Most of the time i need my EDC knife for food preparation and not for work, and i wouldn't be cutting my food stuffz with a utility knife. But "nice portable folding utility knives" are still nice and fun to play with (and fun to resharpen), and they do become really useful when/if there is full day of harmful work load ahead. The Milwaukee is a bit bigger and heavier than the titanium Utilizer but for its value and qualities still merits a place next to it to be considered as the utility knife of choice (choice of work, choice of EDC). It's great for me to have this alternative, often a fun 50-50 toss. As an extreme example, if i had to exchange blades often and fast, go thru like 50 blades per day, i'd leave the Utilizer at home and take the Milwaukee with me (and possibly toss the 50 used blades by the end of the day and not even consider gathering them for a future resharpening session). So i am posting here because, in a way, my other notable/new folding utility knives take also part in the bigger picture of the Utilizer story. This thread shall be all about great quality noteworthy folding utility knives and related subtopics (like blade compatibility and resharpening), not only about the Utilizer itself. It just happens that, so far, it's the best and most developed, to my knowledge. Other 'premium utility knives' i am aware of are of the non-folding type.

    Ah Blade Show's coming up. Afaik the Utilizer maker will be in the booth with the folks of Koch Tools at location 2412. He is coming with a big box of titanium Utilizers and they'll be up for grabs during the show (and after the show discounted on the website as so-called "Prehandled units" if there are leftovers from the show sale; not sure which is cheaper ). Btw the first retailers who adopted the #TheUtilizer were/are Heinnie Haynes and Urban EDC Supply.
    Last edited by kreisl; 07-04-2019 at 12:04 PM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Knife Review: Utilizer 2.0 - premium folding utility knife

    Quote Originally Posted by kreisl View Post
    not sure which is cheaper ). Btw the first retailers who adopted the #TheUtilizer were/are Heinnie Haynes and Urban EDC Supply.
    by now i ordered 5623 surus from either popular retailer. today i came across a relevant video:

    irwin stanley dewalt lennoxgold are the best to have. great video!

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