Olfa 5003 Ratchet-Lock Heavy-Duty Utility Knife Review

Every maker needs a reliable utility blade, and my favorite, my Old Faithful, is the Olfa 5003 ratchet-lock heavy-duty utility knife. It’s the most versatile option in a standard class of tool that includes these cheapo box cutters and these more industrial utility knives. Its biggest upside is the shaped metal blade holder at the tip, which keeps the blade from wobbling back and forth. When the ratchet mechanism is clamped in place, there is no play in the blade whatsoever.

This Olfa knife takes standard box cutter blades, which you can snap off to refresh when the tip gets dull. To safely dispose of used blades, wrap them up in masking tape first, so they’re no longer sharp.

I love this knife. I’ve owned it for 17 years! I acquired it freshman year of art school as part of my standard-issue tools pack. I quickly learned it’s indispensable value for almost every project. Need to cut some paper? How about score some foamcore board? Scrape some plaster? Sharpen a drawing tool? The bright yellow Olfa knife was there for me. Sure, it also sliced a fair percentage of my classmate’s fingers (often incurred on late night work sessions), but that didn’t happen to me (yet, or with this knife, anyway).

Just because you might find this knife in the craft department doesn’t mean it can’t hold up on some heavier duty jobs like drywall and electrical. This knife’s versatility is one of its best assets.

Since college, I’ve used this knife to take apart tons of gadgets and build dozens and dozens of projects. It might be a little scuffed and a little dirty, but when it gets a fresh blade it works just like new, even after a decade and a half of consistent use. I admire any company that makes long-lasting tools—it’s a business model on the decline, giving way to disposable culture. I do try to say thanks by purchasing genuine Olfa brand blades, and speaking highly of their tools whenever I get the chance.

The other thing I like about this knife is the sound it makes. I know that’s silly, but to me, I used this knife so much while learning and making new things that the ratchet sound reminds me of getting things started and getting things done.

Projects where you can see me use this knife:


Olfa 5003 Ratchet-Lock Heavy-Duty Utility Knife
ABS plastic, steel, brass
Made in Japan


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