Fairly often, I need to open a sealed box, but I don't have a sharp knife handy.

The box is typically sealed with packing tape or fiber tape.

My solution is typically to grab my keys and use a key as crude knife. But keys are not very sharp, so they don't work too well.

They do sell small knives that can attach to your key chain, but I really don't want the bulk of that, nor do I want to have to remember to remove it every time I fly on a commercial airplane.

What is a good life hack to open a sealed box when you don't have a sharp knife handy?

  • Using keys, Make holes at small distance on the line of your desired cutting path. And then use keys again as a knife to cut the tape
    – GC 13
    Sep 25, 2016 at 7:42
  • My keys always work great. Is it possible that you're just doing it wrong? Otherwise, literally anything skinny and harder than a piece of tape will work... Sep 26, 2016 at 13:18

4 Answers 4


Push in on the point where the side of the box meets the top. This should create a gap between the tape and the box large enough for you to stick your finger in. Then you can grab the tape and peel it off. This won't work as well if the contents inside the box are stiff or if there is tape across the whole edge, but the idea is the same.

Apply force in the direction and location of the beautiful arrows. where to push


Commercially, there are "safety knives" with the only cutting edge on the inside of a hook; they're made specifically for opening boxes in warehouses and retail stores, but that's not much of a life hack...

For non-fiber tape, I've used ball point pens. Poke a hole, and the tape will tear easily outward from that break. I've seen people use a fingernail for this, but mine are almost always too short to punch through the tape.

For fiber tape, the only real alternatives are scissors, or the metal tab on a plastic keyring bottle opener. You'll probably find you have to break or cut off the "hook" part (that sits on top of a crown cap when opening a bottle) to expose the metal tab for this use, but even after that modification you shouldn't have problems with such a device at an airport terminal.

  • I've used my keys before for non-fibre tape
    – Xylius
    Sep 25, 2016 at 4:55

How often do you fly? My dad gave me a knife like this https://m.alibaba.com/product/60518691750/High-Quality-Pocket-Folding-Knives-for.html

I hate big knives. This is the same size as my key. I work in a warehouse and open boxes everyday.

I only fly once every month or so. Convenience outweighs the inconvenience for me. Sometimes I stab the tape with a ballpoint pen. But that is only when I'm angry. Lol


I carry a similar one to the one in the link, I get them at harbor Freight tools in my area, every 6 months or so they offer them on an ad for 50 cents. HF are national to the US, but not everywhere so you can buy them on-line. They are dirt cheap and not very good quality, but good enough for opening boxes.

Folding key knife


Every once in a while the TSA will see and confiscate it though, so when I buy them, I buy a bunch of them.

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