Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation introduced a Fastback new folding utility knife as part of its new line of hand tool products. At first we thought “nifty, but a knew razor knife is hardly newsworthy.” That all changed when we headed up to Milwaukee’s 2010 tools event to preview some of their new products. As part of that event, the company showed off their new line of hand tools and accessories – which we also got a chance to touch and feel. The Milwaukee Fastback Folding Utility Knife was one of our favorites.
Editor’s Note: Check out our review of the Milwaukee Fastback II folding utility knife.
Milwaukee Fastback Folding Utility Knife Build Quality
One of the primary issues with using a folding utility knife is getting it opened and closed. To-date, this has been a two-handed operation with most tools. Milwaukee designed their folding knife to activate the blade up to 3X faster than a traditional 2-handed opening. You literally press the side-mounted button and flick the knife to send the blade swinging open. Forget about easy – this makes it very cool to use. At the 2010 new tool event in Milwaukee, we asked if they were thinking of coming out with a butterfly version next… In keeping with this ease-of-use, Milwaukee added a tool-free blade change which allows you to press the black button near the blade to quickly, and easily, swap it out for a new cutting edge. This beats the lever mechanisms on most Gerber, Bessey, and Irwin Quick-Change knives.
The Milwaukee Fastback Folding Utility Knife is around 7/8″ thin, including the removable/replaceable belt clip. The main body is just 5/8″ in thickness. The dimensions makes it very easy to store the knife in your pocket or slip it into a tool pouch. As for features, an integrated gut hook is perfect for cutting twine and string, while the exposed cutting edge just below the blade (when open) serves as a makeshift wire stripper. Milwaukee is really doing a great job at combining multiple tools into one and struggling through the challenges of making tools more ergonomic and flexible.
We’d love an option to flip the belt clip around and allow the tool to be in the ready position when you pull it out of your pocket. Currently, it’s more or less upside down. Judging by the way the product manager scribbled down notes and took photos of the reversed clip, we think that might stand a chance of being a surprise option in the final shipping model. (Editor’s Note: This did indeed happen, and the new Milwaukee Fastback II Folding Utility Knife and 2015 Milwaukee Hand tools showed the company is still innovating the Fastback line).
Milwaukee Fastback Folding Utility Knife Testing and Use
We tested out the Milwaukee Fastback Folding Utility Knife on a variety of jobs, including cutting out drywall for an electrical switch box and, of course, sharpening our carpenter’s pencils when measuring for an interior remodel job. The knife is simply handy to have around and we liked the way it easily fit into our tools pouch, as well as the way it slipped into our pocket, with the included belt clip keeping it handy and within reach. We typically carry a miniature Gerber Superknife, but the convenience of this full-sized knife made us want to replace our standard fare with this full-sized option.
The Milwaukee Fastback Folding Utility Knife is very solidly built and flipping it open and closed was a process we quickly acclimated ourselves to. The side-mounted button is easy to access, and once we got used to the initial inertia of the blade, we found that a quick flick of the wrist opened and closed it every time. The blade remained very stable in the knife and we never encountered any wobble or unsteadiness when using it. The locking mechanism was also quite secure, so we feel that it’s a good replacement for any standard utility knife, provided you only want to use standard blades. For carpet layers and others who want to integrate specialty blades into their knives, you’ll want to keep a standard utility knife handy.
The Milwaukee Fastback Folding Utility Knife comes with 5 blades (one is pre-loaded into the knife). About the only thing we missed on the new Fastback folding knife was an integrated blade storage area. This is a tough thing to add, given the thin profile of the knife, but it would be great to figure out a way to incorporate at least one or two replacement blades. The new utility knife was launched in April and is part of a new roll-out of hand tools and accessories that are proving to be more than just business as usual. The new tool is backed by Milwaukee’s limited lifetime warranty and are built to have best-in-class durability.
At just $8.99 from many retailers, this is not only a cool knife, but it’s also an incredible value.