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HQ 965801

October 9, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965801 BJB


TARIFF NO.: 8214.90.90

Layne R. Mostad
Captus International, Inc.
112 Eighth Street, W.
Brookings, SD 57006

RE: Reconsideration of NY I83926; Single-edged blade; and Cutlery

Dear Mr. Mostad:

This is in reply to your letter of August 6, 2002, requesting reconsideration of NY I83926 issued to Captus International, Inc. (“Captus”), on July 15, 2002. NY I83926 concerned the classification of certain single-edged stainless steel blades under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). You submitted a sample and pictures of the blade.


In NY I83926 the article was described as, “a stainless steel blade with a single edge,” measuring 0.35 inches by 1.0 inch. This blade will be insert-molded into plastic assemblies for pill splitters. A pill splitter (“pill cutter”) is a small, non-mechanical consumer product used in the home to split medicine pills in half.

In NY I83926 Customs classified this blade in subheading 8214.90.90, HTSUS, as “other articles of cutlery, base metal parts thereof.”


What is the classification under the HTSUS of the single-edged stainless steel blade?


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRIs”). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes (ENs), although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Handtools (including glass cutters) not elsewhere specified or included; blow torches and similar self-contained torches; vises, clamps and the like, other than accessories for and parts of machine tools; anvils; portable forges; hand- or pedal-operated grinding wheels with frameworks; base metal parts thereof:


8205.59.55 Other . . .

Other articles of cutlery (for example, hair clippers, butchers’ or kitchen cleavers, chopping or mincing knives, paper knives); manicure or pedicure sets and instruments (including nail files); base metal parts thereof:

8214.90 Other:

Other (including parts) . . .

In your letter of August 6, 2002, you claim that the subject blade is best described as a “hand tool. . . base metal part thereof[,]” under heading 8205, HTSUS, supra. You claim that the pill cutter may be used in one’s hand and provided pictures of the device in a person’s hand.

Chapter 82, General Explanatory Notes, in pertinent part, provides:

“This Chapter covers certain specific kinds of base metal articles, of the nature of tools, implements, cutlery, tableware, etc., which are excluded from the preceding Chapters of Section XV, and are not machinery or appliances of Section XVI . . ..

This Chapter includes:

Tools which, apart from certain specified exceptions (e.g., blades for machine saws), are used in the hand (headings 82.01 to 82.05). . . . .

(D) Articles of cutlery (whether intended for professional, personal or domestic use), certain mechanical domestic appliances, spoons and forks and similar tableware and kitchen utensils (headings 82.10 to 82.15).

In general, the Chapter covers tools which can be used independently in the hand, whether or not they incorporate simple mechanisms such as gearing, crank-handles, plungers, screw mechanisms or levers. . . . .

Tools, cutlery, etc., do not in general fall in this Chapter unless the blade, working edge, working surface or other working part is of base metal, . . .; provided, however, that this condition is met, they remain in the Chapter even if fitted with non-metallic handles, bodies, etc., of a weight exceeding that of the metallic working part (e.g., a wooden plane with a metal blade). . . . .
Identifiable base metal parts of tools, cutlery, etc. (e.g., saw frames and plane iron) are normally classified in the same heading as the complete articles.”

The subject blade is to be entered alone and later form-molded into the pill cutter. It has a single cutting edge that will be molded into a plastic device used to cut medication in pill, capsule and tablet form, into nearly equal portions. There is no disagreement that the blade is classifiable under Chapter 82, HTSUS.

The essential inquiry is whether this single-edged cutting blade is classifiable as an identifiable base metal part of “cutlery,” or if determined that it is not, whether it is more specifically described as a base metal part of a “hand tool,” under heading 8205, HTSUS, supra, than under any other heading of Chapter 82, HTSUS. See ENs set forth above.

EN 82.05 provides that “[t]his heading covers all hand tools not included In other headings of this Chapter or elsewhere in the nomenclature ... together with certain other tools or appliances specifically mentioned in the title.” [Emphasis in original.] EN 82.05 further provides that the “other hand tools” group includes “’steels’ and other knife sharpeners of metal; pastry cutters and jaggers; graters for cheese, etc.; ... cheese slicers, vegetable slicers . . ..” Thus, certain household tools, some with cutting blades, are included in heading 8205, HTSUS, as hand tools.

In Hollywood Accessories v. United States, 60 Cust. Ct. 360, C.D. 3391, 282 F. Supp. 499 (1968), hand tools were defined as having a blade or working edge of base metal, and operated by the unaided hand. The court also relied on lexicographical sources to explain that a tool is an instrument used or worked by hand, or an implement or object used in performing an operation, or carrying on work of any kind, or an instrument by which something is effected or accomplished. Id.

A “tool” is also defined as: “a handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task[,]” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10 Ed., 1998, p. 286); and as “an implement, especially one held in the hand, as a hammer, saw, file, etc., for performing or facilitating mechanical operations . . . A tool is a contrivance held and worked by the hand, for assisting work (Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary, 1984, p. 1217).

The blade is form-molded into the plastic housing/cover and connected to a flat-bottomed base, so that the device may be placed securely on a flat surface, the cutting blade lined up on the pill’s mid-point, and the medication safely and precisely cut in two. Thus, the pill cutter is not necessarily held in the hand to operate it. In addition, EN 82.05 specifically lists certain blades classifiable under that heading but does not specifically describe a single-edged cutting blade or a pill cutter.

Heading 8214, HTSUS, covers “[o]ther articles of cutlery[,]” however, the term “cutlery” is not defined in the heading or the ENs. A tariff term that is not defined in the HTSUS or ENs is construed in accordance with its common or commercial meaning. Nippon Kogaku (USA) Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources. C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 69 CCPA 128, 673 F.2d 1268 (1982).

In this case, a typical definition of the term “cutlery” is: “edged or cutting tools; specif: implements for cutting and eating food.” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Ed., 1998, p. 286). The subject article is the cutting blade for a pill cutter, and thus performs a function similar to a food cutting implement.

Further, EN 82.14 provides that,

“This heading includes:

Paper knives, letter openers, erasing knives, pencil sharpeners (including pocket type) and blades therefor, but not pencil sharpening machines of heading 84.72.

Manicure or pedicure sets and instruments, including nail files (folding or not) . . .. . . . .

Butchers’ or kitchen choppers, cleavers, and mincing knives. These articles do not have the normal shape of a knife, and may be designed for use with one or both hands.” [Emphasis in the original.]

Further, EN 82.14 describes a number of articles that are not traditionally considered “cutlery,” including, pencil sharpeners, nail files, nail clippers, and kitchen choppers. The EN also describes numerous articles that use blades and cut in a fashion similar to how the subject blade is used. This blade is used precisely to cut or chop a pill into two segments, and its cutting motion (when molded into the pill cutter), is much like the chopping blow of a cleaver that is meant to sever the piece it is cutting by one, or a few, sharp and powerful movements.

After considering the possible tariff classifications for this single-edged cutting blade, and pill cutter, and the documentation you provided, it is our determination that heading 8214, HTSUS, more accurately describes the subject blade as a cutlery blade than does heading 8205 as a hand tool blade.

Accordingly, by application of GRI 1, we find that these single-edged blades are described in subheading 8214.90.90, HTSUS, as: “[o]ther articles of cutlery (for example, hair clippers, butchers’ or kitchen cleavers, chopping or mincing knives, paper knives); manicure or pedicure sets and instruments (including nail files); base metal parts thereof: Other: Other (including parts)[.]”


In accordance with the above discussion, at GRI 1, the subject single-edged cutting blade is classifiable in subheading 8214.90.90, HTSUS, as: “[o]ther articles of cutlery (for example, hair clippers, butchers’ or kitchen cleavers, chopping or mincing knives, paper knives); manicure or pedicure sets and instruments (including nail files); base metal parts thereof: Other: Other (including parts)[.]”


NY I83926, dated July 15, 2002, is affirmed.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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