Olfa Silver (SVR-1 & SVR-2)

Wed 2011.12.21
by brian hefele

Olfa SVR-1 and SVR-2

I have a lot of use for craft sized knives. Aside from my cut paper artwork, I tend to have a lot of day-to-day cutting tasks, and I’m more comfortable with knives than with scissors. I gave up on X-acto blades long ago, and have relied on a #11 scalpel blade in a #3 holder for quite some time now. Recently, I decided to give the world of snap blades a try, and have been pretty impressed so far.

Snap blades are long blades designed to cleanly break in several places. In the case of these 9mm craft blades, each blade breaks into 13 pieces. When your tip gets dull, you break it off, advance the blade a notch further, and carry on cutting. Olfa, whose blades have always impressed me, makes three sizes of snap blades — 9mm craft, 18mm heavy duty, and 25mm extra heavy duty. I recently picked up the SVR-1
9mm blade holder locally, and was so impressed by it that I promptly ordered a package of upgrade (carbon steel) blades
and a model SVR-2

The SVR-1 and SVR-2 are pretty similar. Both have nearly identical stainless steel frames, which are incredibly sturdy and have a nice feel in the hand. Both have a clip that snaps in the back, and is removed to change the blade and also serves a second purpose as a blade snapper. Both have plastic blade holding mechanisms that are simple and don’t really take away from my confidence in the knife. The difference between the two is that the SVR-1 does not lock, while the SVR-2 does. The SVR-1 has what Olfa describes as a ‘slide lock,’ but the bottom line is that a moderate amount of pressure will send the blade back into the body. The SVR-2 has an actual lock, and unlike many knives, the lock is transparent to the user. Sliding the blade in the normal way deactivates the lock, so the blade is secure unless the user is specifically adjusting it. This does make the mechanism a little more complex — while I can’t imagine the SVR-1 ever failing, the SVR-2 has more potential for failure.

Both knives come with a single (13-piece) stainless steel blade. I always think stainless is an odd and, frankly, terrible choice for blade steel. And indeed, the pack-in blades were soft and not particularly sharp. For day-to-day tasks, I suppose they would suffice, but the cost of good blades is fairly low, so I picked up a 50-pack of Olfa’s highest quality 9mm blades. Stainless blades are coded AB-xS while standard carbon steel blades are AB-xB, and the premium quality carbon steel blades are ABB-xB. I have not tried the standard AB carbon steel blades, but the ABB blades are really, really good. I’ve been using them to cut film, open packages (during holiday season — plenty of testing to do), and cut paper. While I have not yet done precision cut paper artwork with them, I do think I will be able to use them for the larger tasks at least. The finest of tasks may still need a scalpel, only time will tell.

I always had an assumption that snap blade knives were a bit of a gimmick, but I’ve been pretty well convinced otherwise. In fact, I’m ready to ditch my standard utility knife (a folding Klein model that I truly loathe for its blade release placement), and replace it with an 18mm Olfa snapper. I would even consider one of the 25mm units, but Olfa only makes them in bulky handles that appear more like traditional hobby knives. Maybe I’ll try one some day, but for now I’m looking into the 18mm. Anyway, bottom line — great, sturdy handles with so-so pack-in blades, and excellent blades available. Very pleasant surprise.