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Fat Guy

If you must cut yourself, maybe a dull knife is better

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Yesterday I was cutting a cucumber with one of the extremely dull knives in my mother's kitchen. I wasn't being careful or paying much attention at all, and the knife attacked my left index finger. The knife was so dull, however, that it didn't product any injury.

Had that happened with a very sharp knife, I'd have severed a finger.

The conventional wisdom among knife aficionados is that you're better off getting cut by a sharp knife because it "produces a cleaner wound" or whatever. I suppose that may be true in some cases, but overall I think the conventional wisdom is probably nonsense.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The conventional wisdom among knife aficionados is that you're better off getting cut by a sharp knife because it "produces a cleaner wound" or whatever. I suppose that may be true in some cases, but overall I think the conventional wisdom is probably nonsense.

I think the conventional wisdom is that you are less likely to cut yourself with a sharp knife, because a sharp knife is less likely to bounce off the food and attack you.

Good luck getting volunteers for a case-controlled study on sharp vs. dull knife wounds.

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The knife slipping and attacking you is one type of accident, but most cuts I've experienced have other causes. Putting a part of my body in the path of the knife is the number one culprit around here.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I've found that the most dangerous thing is a change in the sharpness of the knife. If I let my knife get really dull before sharpening it, or dull it by doing something like cutting up cardboard, the unexpected feel of an abrupt change in sharpness either way makes it more likely I'll cut myself. Of course, a (newly) razor sharp knife gives a cleaner, deeper, cut.

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I've cut myself most having to use other peoples horrible, blunt and badly shaped/sized knives (Mother - I'm accusing you here!) but the nastiest one, from which I was lucky to keep my finger was with my own brand new razor sharp santoku. Doubly nasty as I was chopping szome quit fiery chilles at the time!


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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I've found that the most dangerous thing is a change in the sharpness of the knife. If I let my knife get really dull before sharpening it, or dull it by doing something like cutting up cardboard, the unexpected feel of an abrupt change in sharpness either way makes it more likely I'll cut myself. Of course, a (newly) razor sharp knife gives a cleaner, deeper, cut.

Many years ago while working in a corporate kitchen, I left my station for a moment. When I came back to my board to resume slicing Flank steak into strips I nearly lopped off a finger. The knife sharpening service had switched out my knife with a freshly sharpened one. :shock:

tracey


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

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I keep my knives sharp enough to shave with. (Hyperbole, yes. But barely.)

Having cut myself with both sharp and dull knives, I can say with certainty that sharp knives don't hurt as much as dull ones. Hell, I've cut myself and not felt it. I only noticed from the bleeding.

Wounds from sharp knives heal quicker and are less likely to get infected.

Naturally, I'm talking minor cuts here. I've never required stitches from a kitchen mishap. Although when I jabbed myself with a dull oyster knife, I probably should have gotten at least a butterfly closure.

The dull oyster knife cut hurt for weeks and went septic. When I cut myself with a gyuto, I wash the cut, slap on a Band-Aid, and I'm good to go.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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With ScoopKW here. I've also cut myself an embarrassing number of times with a variety of knives (the worst was the "cleaver" blade that literally jumped out of its handle) and it's the dull ones that have made the nasty cuts. Sharp knives also encourage safer practice, I think.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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I've cut myself many times on blunt knives, and it hurt a lot :sad: Also drew plenty of blood! When I've cut myself on sharper knives, it definitely hurts less!

Little story about knives and fingers: I have a friend who managed to lop off the tip of her finger with a knife (No word on how sharp it was, but I'm guessing it was sharp enough :wink:). It was reattached and just looks a bit lumpy now, but she basically has no feeling in it. So now she has an excellent party trick where she can hold her finger directly in a candle flame with no pain!


Edited by Jenni (log)

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I got a nasty cut once using someone else's cheap serrated knife because there was nothing else. My biggest problem with knives is wet or slippery hands--I don't wash and dry them enough, and then I cut myself.

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You all have my sympathy; yowza.

Here's a question: I do sharpen my blades, but am hesitant to push my knife skills at home for fear of serious injury. How do I become faster without bleeding into the onions? Any advice is welcome.

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Yep for me cold hands and switching knives (from blunt to sharp) increase the likelihood of a cut, as a blunt knife affects cutting technique and its generally the sharp one that gets you. However I took 2 finger tips (just the very ends) spectacularly on a meat slicer once. I wont do that again. Concentrate!!!!!

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Dull knives cause more mistakes and very sharp knives are less forgiving of mistakes. I'd still rather use a very sharp knife for cooking.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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So now she has an excellent party trick where she can hold her finger directly in a candle flame with no pain!

Tell your friend to quit doing that.

She is still damaging her body and causing burn trauma, even if she can't feel it.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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There are many cut-resistant gloves you can buy. They are made with special materials.

They are not very expensive.

dcarch

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I'm on about the second week of a wound, that cut into the side of my finger and into the nail of my finger tip ( like a bad hang nail ). It doesn't hurt but I have to keep it covered and pruning it back at night. I feel like a gardener in the dead of winter.


Its good to have Morels

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Michel Bras has a limited edition of knives sold through Williams-Sonoma. They are supposedly very, very sharp. One of the specialists selling the knives in the Chicago store tells the story (allegorical or not) that a customer was handling one, passed it back without caution to an employee and the employee suffered a severe cut. Immediately the employee went to see a physician and the wound was stitched and dressed. Soon after, the doctor came to the store and bought a set...as the story was related, the doctor said the knife cut as well or better than a scalpel and the employee wound was easily repaired because of the sharpness.


Edited by JBailey (log)

"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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I dunno. With a sharp knife (with the caveat that you're used to it) you're going to use less pressure. You'll be letting the knife do more of the work. I actually think that fact alone (ok, maybe that's not a fact - discuss) would tend to lead to less serious injuries with a sharp knife.

I'll put it this way. Given the choice of a sharp knife or a dull one, I'll reach for the sharp one every time.

Cheers,

Geoff

Ps CaliP, you back in Cali?Exeter's having a very good year for snow, I hear.

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I dunno about you guys, but I get more wounds from my cheese graters than any knife I own.

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I dunno about you guys, but I get more wounds from my cheese graters than any knife I own.

Eek, yes. I have a dreadful microplane grater which produces big shreds. It manages to combine the propensity of a blunt knife to slip with the propensity of a sharp knife to cut. It is an effective shredder of skin and flesh. It leaves a deep, uneven and shaggy wound. It is a hateful pig of a device, and I have given up on it entirely. (Not a fault with the microplane, by the way -- just the inherent danger of the tool.)

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Dull knives cause more mistakes and very sharp knives are less forgiving of mistakes. I'd still rather use a very sharp knife for cooking.

That's been my experience as well. I've had some nasty cuts from dull box cutter blades slipping, and I change them pretty regularly now. Same thing with my kitchen knives, they are regularly sharpened these days. Whenever I've gotten a little slice it has healed quickly and easily. Thankfully I haven't had anything more than minor mistakes, though.

My box grater must be pretty dull by now, but I don't know if that's a blessing or a curse. I just caught my knuckle the other day when grating some beets, and you couldn't tell where I stopped and the beets started. When all was said and done it was not as bad as it initially looked, maybe the dullness saved me this time.


aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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I dunno about you guys, but I get more wounds from my cheese graters than any knife I own.

Eek, yes. I have a dreadful microplane grater which produces big shreds. It manages to combine the propensity of a blunt knife to slip with the propensity of a sharp knife to cut. It is an effective shredder of skin and flesh. It leaves a deep, uneven and shaggy wound. It is a hateful pig of a device, and I have given up on it entirely. (Not a fault with the microplane, by the way -- just the inherent danger of the tool.)

There are sliding guards that can be used on most microplanes: see here! of the wider type. There are also kevlar/cut-resistant gloves.

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