A roof is an integral part of any edifice. Just as other parts of the edifice, the roof too needs proper care and maintenance to prevent quick wear and tear due to direct exposure to unkind weather conditions.
A roofing knife is a basic tool seen usually in the roofer’s toolbox. It is a type of utility knife used for cutting shingles, trimming roof material, and handling other things in the roofing task requiring a cut. This knife is quite versatile, as you can rely on it while executing other construction work or other applications wherein a normal utility knife would be useful.
A roofing knife is not a standard kitchen knife, as it is likely to have holsters. A specialized utility knife for a roofer usually comes with a knob using which you can open the tool, which eradicates the need for a screwdriver for opening or closing the knife.
Its blade holds firmly with a magnet and is typically bent or hooked for cutting not only shingles but also felt quite easily. Several roofers use these roofing hook blades. In this post, let’s learn more about this knife and explore its top 5 models.
2021’s 5 Best Roofing Knives
AJC Hatchet 057-MCGA Guardian Angle Knife
This is the best roofing knife for those who are looking for all three blades in one namely, hook, bowtie, and standard utility. Yes, it comes complete with all of them to make cutting shingles a breeze using different cutting strengths. It can cut even the hardest shingle laminate or metal with ease due to the big hook blade.
Designed specifically for cutting shingles, the AJC Guardian Angle knife features an ergonomically superior design to ensure boosted leverage and decreased fatigue. With knuckle protection, the fully retractable tool delivers a quality grip while keeping exhaustion at bay. With increased leverage, you enjoy full control while cutting such that there is no material breakage or slippage.
The design also features a wing nut for adjusting the blade quickly. You can hold the blade at any exposure. There are also standard screws for replacing the blade. You can use almost any blade with a hole in its center. The handle is spacious enough to accommodate your hand comfortably without compromising the grip.
- Three different blades included
- A bit bulky
IVY Classic 11163 Roofing Knife
This is a typical roofing knife that is specifically made for cutting shingles and roofing materials. At first glance, you can make out that it is made using metal. Yes, it is constructed using a heavy-duty metal, which is then given a rust-resistant coating.
The knife features a retractable bowtie blade for roofers, which is made using high-carbon steel. The blade is retractable and adjusts to the right position as well as cutting depth. The tool swivels to change the blade once you remove the wing nut.
- Solid build and feel
- Super affordable
- Hardly any
Stanley Consumer Tools 10-789 6-7/8″ Twin Blade Knife
Consider this famous Stanley knife if you need a roofing knife with a blade storage facility and dual-blade mechanism. This retractable Stanley knife is helpful for tasks related to drywall, insulation, construction, and roofing.
The dual blades simultaneously at work make this tool an awesome knife to keep in your toolbelt. The knife comes with both hook and straight blades together. You can use any standard utility blade with this knife.
The retractable blades are made up of steel, while the knife body is made using iron. You can easily switch between the blades while at work. It is also easy to change the blades. The handle is capable of accommodating up to nine blades for quick and easy blade change.
A distinct interlock mechanism ensures that only a single blade is extended at a time. There is no need for you to carry multiple blades separately, which maintains the weight of your toolbelt.
- Super light
- Twin-blade usage
- Blade storage in the handle
- A bit wider knife than usual
Primegrip Knuckle Saver Roofing Knife – 36-292
This is a retractable knife to consider if you wish to protect your knuckles. As the name indicates, this Primegrip roofing knife is specifically designed to maintain clear as well as safe knuckles at the time of cutting roofing shingles. The credit for this protection goes to the extra-long handle that does not allow the knuckles to graze against the shingles.
Another commendable feature is its bulging grip design due to which the knife does not slip from your hand. The angled or curved grip of the handle facilitates you to cut easily around the tight corners and caps.
The knife is constructed using die-cast aluminum alloy so that it can last long. It features a zinc-reinforced edge that lasts long and a low-profile round screw for opening swiftly. The fluorescent green color makes this knife highly visible if used amidst insufficient light.
You get three hook blades with this knife. A clip holder prevents them from banging inside. For easy carry without hands, a wide lanyard hole also exists.
- No slipping
- Angled grip
- Extra hook blades included
- Hands-free carry
- A bit pricey
HYDE 20550 Flooring and Roofing Knife
This is a versatile cutting tool useful for professional jobs related to drywalls, ceilings, carpets and floor coverings, and roofing. It features a 2.5-inch long heavy-duty blade made using high-carbon steel of cutlery grade that contains chromium and vanadium and is hardened and honed. This means that the blade lasts well and is resistant to corrosion, provided you maintain it well.
The blade features a hollow grind that gives a very sharp edge and reduces binding but demands stropping for maintenance. It comes with a 5° offset angle to ensure optimal leverage while cutting.
The handle is ergonomic to ensure good grip as well as robust cutting performance. Its textured surface keeps sliding at bay, especially when working on an inclined surface.
The black handle features a finger guard to ensure optimal leverage and safety. The no-roll shape of the handle is conducive to roofing works.
- Sharp edge and tip
- Non-slippery handle
- Lasting edge
- Short for some
Why Do You Need a Roofing Knife?
Believe it or not; a safety hazard can easily lurk if a roofer is using roofing tools not specifically designed for that roofing task. Thus, one of the essential ways to decrease the probability of an injury is to use the tools made only for that specific task. It also boosts the roofer’s efficiency.
Consider this scenario: For installing 3-tab shingles, it is essential to cut them into sections for getting ridge and hip shingles. Regardless of the shingle in use, it is also important to cut a roof underlayment.
For these requirements, a standard utility knife is an okay option. However, as a specialized utility knife, a roofing knife tends to fulfill these requirements more easily as well as comfortably. This is because it has a roofing blade with a dedicated hook close to its edge’s tip that enables controlling the cut while dealing with thicker materials such as shingles. A hook blade is better than a straight one, as it does not damage the surface of the material being cut.
A hooked or an angled roofing knife is the only tool that helps in reaching the spots where a straight-handled blade cannot reach. Further, its design is such that it is easier on the hands while using it for a long period.
Shrewd and professional roofers prefer a roofing knife that is versatile as well as ensures precision. The advanced models are usually retractable and work beyond cutting shingles. You can open and close it using one hand, which ensures safety when in an off-balance position.
A few models come with a replaceable blade and its release button so that you can easily replace its dull blade. This means that you need not change the entire knife but only the blade.
Types of Roofing Knife Blades
Roofing knives are classified into three categories as per their blades. While installing composition shingles, one of the following roofing blades is used:
- Bowtie blade for handling cold shingles and thicker shingles with granules on both sides
- Hook blade for handling warm shingles
- Utility blade for handling (cutting) roofing felts also known as tar papers; not for cutting shingles
In short, for handling shingles, a hook or bowtie blade is fine. However, for cutting felts, a utility blade is required. Both bowtie and hook blades tend to feature a square hole. In the case of thin roofing felt, a utility blade is likely to be an apt tool.
However, in the case of thick roofing felt perhaps coated with sand, this blade fails quickly, breaks easily, and becomes dirty instantly. This is where a more specialized blade, the hook blade is used. As the name indicates, this blade has a hook, which is the sharp part of the blade and ensures more precise cutting. Nevertheless, some knack is required to use such a blade.
Salient Features of Roofing Knives
Retractable/Folding or Fixed
A roofing knife can either have a fixed or retractable/folding blade. While a retracting one is for DIY home users, a fixed one is for professional roofers as the blade is fully exposed. A fixed-blade roofing knife, as the name indicates, has a blade in a fixed place to ensure more strength as well as durability than a folding blade.
You can easily access the firm blade with a single hand and expect more precise cuts. Fixed-blade models are costlier than the folding-blade ones but are made to last.
On the other hand, a folding blade is not made for constant use and is susceptible to snapping and bending. It fully resides in the handle for safe storage when not in use. Pulling the blade out and pushing it in can make you feel tedious, especially while making many movements while performing the task.
For many users, there is a difference between a folding and a retractable roofing knife. A folder is considered safer and more portable than a retractable knife. It is also smaller, has handy belt hooks, and is easier to store.
Considering how the blade resides in the handle, the probability of a folder accidentally deploying while in your pocket is quite less.
After being closed, a folder is usually two to four inches shorter than a retractable one due to which it is a better option for a pocket on pants. It is also less susceptible to get stuck.
A retractable knife either has a manual or automatic retraction. A manual retractable knife has a blade that pulls back into its handle. The blade has fixed positions for locking at the time of cutting.
Once the position is set, there is no need to use any mechanism to keep the cutting area exposed. This removes the risk of hand strain, which is ideal for repeated cuttings. On the flip side, the risk looms if the blade is not fully retracted after use.
On the other hand, an automatic retraction involves the typical spring-loaded mechanism demanding from you to use a trigger such as a slider or a button to open the blade. It is safer than manual retraction as there is no chance of leaving the blade accidentally exposed.
Choosing fixed or folder/retractable is a matter of your preference and how you wish to do your task. A folder is fine only for occasional use. It is smaller and more portable than a fixed-blade knife.
Regardless of what you are doing, the best roofing knife will ensure a good grip. This applies to both simple and complex tasks, ranging right from opening a box to cutting an asphalt shingle.
To fulfill this purpose, the most reliable models will have a finger groove that acts as a hurdle to slippage. It has nothing to do with hand strength.
This does not mean that a light grip is fine but your hands are less likely to slip when the fingers are even hooked a bit into the tool. Some roofing knives do not use a groove but rather ensure grip with a curved handle, textured handle, or finger ridge area.
However, the finger groove seems to be the most effective option for grip. A finger-friendly handle features a profound groove or notch to keep the risk of slipping toward the blade at bay while cutting shingles or felts. It also has a comfortable grip to prevent your hand from sliding while hauling tough materials.
A folding roofing knife usually allows you to open or close its blade using just one hand. This is an important feature, especially if you will be using the tool all day long. You then no longer need to open and close the blade repeatedly, which would otherwise become tiresome.
Moreover, with one of the hands, you are already holding the shingle or felt to cut. Thus, using the other hand for opening or closing the blade is convenient. These roofing knives usually have a blade lock that opens or closes the blade by pushing a button. Just ensure that the locking mechanism is strong for safely covering the blade when not in use.
Plastic or Metal Construction
Roofing knives are made using either plastic or metal. However, a plastic knife will be unable to endure the constant use. Thus, it will not last long. This is why a roofing knife with a metal body is preferable.
Most roofing knives will come with a replaceable blade. For replacing the blade, it is essential to ensure that the knife has a simple design and keeps your hands far from the edge.
In short, it is better to choose a model having fewer moving parts. Most modern utility knives allow changing their blades via a finger release or thumbscrew. This means that there is no need for a screwdriver once the blade becomes dull.
This is not an essential feature but a convenient one for DIY users. It is wise to have a roofing knife with blade storage utility for storing additional blades and using one of them instantly for quick changes. For a pro, this is a crucial feature.
This is because, for them, it is common to use three or four blades while on the site. Having some spare ones on hand saves both energy and time in looking for them. Even for the home users, having an extra blade helps for some tasks that may come up, such as scraping a small paint splotch. Roofing knives with the storage facility demand a few dollars more but it is okay to have it as long as it does not give you a bulky feel.
Some roofing knives may also come with a wire stripper, strong cutter, gut hook for making instant cuts without opening the blade, belt or pocket clip for quick access from toolbelt, lanyard hole for hanging the knife from the belt, and specialty blades for handling different shingle materials. You may not find all of them in one knife. So, choose the knife that has one or more of these features, provided they are useful to you.
Can I sharpen a roofing knife?
Yes, you can. However, you will have to go through the manufacturer’s manual to know how to do so. Depending on the blade, the sharpening technique or tool is likely to change. For example, a hook blade needs water, ceramic, or diamond abrasive.
How to use a hook knife to cut the extreme edge of the roof in a straight line?
Place the hook knife’s side against the gutter edge beneath the shingle such that the blade is upward. By applying upward pressure, move the knife towards you. Now, bow the shingle from atop and break it off. Perform this procedure after setting every row of shingles.
What care should I take while cutting shingles so that my roofing knife blade does not become dull?
If you cut shingles from their granulated side, the blade of your roofing knife will dull swiftly. Consider cutting shingles from their rear side to retain the edge for a long time.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.