By Andrew Liszewski
Every so often it’s nice to review a gadget that’s devoid of firmware updates, software installs, driver issues, DRM, rechargeable batteries and other headaches that prevent a device from just plain working right out of the box. So when I had the chance to review the Slice line of cutting products, I figured it would be a nice change of pace.
Now you might not think there’s much room for technology or innovation when it comes to hobby knives and vegetable peelers, but you’d be wrong. The Slice line of products actually use a zirconium oxide ceramic blade that’s considered to be the most durable substance on Earth, next to diamonds of course. So besides being considerably harder and sharper than the steel blade on your average knife, there’s a long list of other reasons why you’ll want to upgrade your own collection of cutting, slicing and peeling tools after you read my review.
There are currently six different products in the Slice line featuring the innovative ceramic blades, but I was sent four of them including (from left to right) the Letter Opener, the Safety Cutter, the Precision Cutter and the Y-Peeler.
Now the first thing you’ll notice about the Slice products is that they actually look pretty slick, and that’s because they were created by designer Karim Rashid who has made an appearance on OhGizmo! once or twice before with other collaborations. The entire Slice line has a distinctive green color to it, and everything from the packaging to the product design looks like someone has taken the time to create something consumers will want to proudly display on their kitchen counters or desks, instead of burying them in a drawer.
But besides good looks, the Slice products also have the aforementioned zirconium oxide ceramic blades going for them. Not only are they stronger than steel blades, but they’re considerably sharper as well, and will remain sharp even after many years of use according to the Slice website. The blades also won’t rust, stain or brown food, and are lightweight and easy to clean. And most importantly, they work brilliantly!
Slice Safety Cutter
Of all the Slice products I was sent the Safety Cutter is the least exciting, at least visually, but it has easily become the tool I reach for most often. It’s designed to be used as a hobby knife, for cutting coupons, crafts or whatever, but the design makes it a lot safer to use than your traditional razor blade or hobby knife.
You see the ceramic blade on the Safety Cutter is incredibly small, so small in fact that you’ll wonder if it wasn’t a manufacturing defect when you take it out of the packaging. (I’ve circled it in red in case you weren’t sure if that little white nub was the blade or not.) But it works as advertised, and cuts through anything as long as it’s not too thick. I use it most for opening those annoying plastic blister packs, and not only does it slice through the material like a hot knife through butter, but if you slip there’s little chance that the miniscule blade will cut your hands or fingers. (Trust me, I’ve tried.) There’s a reason it’s called the ‘Safety’ Cutter.
I also like that the safety cutter features an embedded magnet allowing you to stick it to the fridge or to a filing cabinet. Like I said before, who would want to bury these in a drawer?
Slice Letter Opener
I’ll be honest here, I don’t get a lot of letter mail these days, so I don’t have much need for a letter opener. But needless to say the Slice Letter Opener works as well as they say it does on the few pieces of junk mail I managed to scrounge up.
The blade on the Letter Opener is a bit easier to spot than the one on the safety cutter, but if I had one suggestion to improve any of the Slice products it would be here, with the addition of a simple arrow showing which way the letter was supposed to be inserted into the groove. (Though you’ll figure it out through trial and error.) And like the Safety Cutter, the Letter Opener also features an embedded magnet allowing you to easily stick it somewhere so it’s always easily accessible.
When it comes to design, the Y-Peeler is probably the most eye-catching product in the Slice line, at least the products I had the chance to try out. It has a large tapered handle and the green color goes well with the large, white ceramic blade and matching white accents.
The Y-Peeler works exactly like the standard vegetable peeler that’s probably cluttering up one of your kitchen drawers right now, but the ceramic blade won’t brown fruit, leave a nasty metallic after-taste or get stained. And if you forget to wash it right away after use, there’s no risk that it will rust either.
And this is probably one of the Slice products that benefits most from the extremely sharp ceramic blade. I tried it out on a kiwi, one of mother nature’s furrier fruits, and it worked great, easily taking off a thin layer of skin without the fruit getting mushed as a result of requiring too much pressure. And I imagine it will work just as well, if not better, on firmer foods like apples, carrots, cucumbers or potatoes.
I’ll also point out that the base of the Y-Peeler is weighted allowing it to easily stand on your kitchen counter and double as a piece of art when not in use.
Slice Precision Cutter
But if I had to pick the star of the show when it came to the Slice line, it would probably be the Precision Cutter. It’s designed as a direct competitor to hobby knives from companies like X-ACTO, and I think they have a worthy contender on their hands. Like the other Slice products its design is definitely unique, but the tapered body is actually quite comfortable to use and it also features a “soft-touch grip” texture so it doesn’t slip out of your hand.
The Precision Cutter is also the only product in the Slice line that comes with a protective cap. But I’m pretty sure it’s there to protect the user from accidental injuries with the exposed blade, than protecting the ceramic blade itself from getting dull.
You’ll also notice that the blade on the Precision Cutter is rather small, compared to the blades on other hobby knives. But let me assure you this doesn’t hinder the cutter’s ability to… well… cut. It works amazingly well on most materials, from paper to card stock, and the fact that the blade isn’t replaceable is actually a plus in my opinion. There’s a good chance you’ll be replacing the Precision Cutter itself before you’ll need a new blade, and thankfully even that’s not an issue since it’s relatively cheap to do so.
Now I will admit that the short blade can be a problem for certain materials, like say thick cardboard or foam core, so I think there’s still a place for hobby knives with longer blades. Hopefully Slice will address this small shortcoming with future products. But don’t let that stop you from picking one up. The Precision Cutter definitely lives up to its name and really shines when it comes to intricate detail work where control, and a sharp blade, are vital.
Like I said at the start of the review, it’s nice to use a product that just works like it’s supposed to right out of the box. And that’s definitely the case with the Slice line of products. The ceramic blades might come across as nothing more than a marketing gimmick, but there’s a reason that ceramics are used in high-performance brake pads and other high-end applications. The bottom line is that the Slice products look great, work even better, and are reasonably priced.
+ Extremely reasonably priced. (See below)
+ Great design.
+ Ceramic blades are superior to metal blades in many ways.
– Slice Letter Opener could benefit from a directional arrow.
– Slice Precision Cutter blades are not replaceable, though you’ll probably be replacing the knife itself before the blades get dull.
If you have any questions about the Slice line of tools you’d like answered, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to respond to them as best I can.