Knife Safety

Poor knife-wielding techniques in the kitchen can often result in more than just annoying bandages and anti-bacterial ointments. Deep cuts and chopped finger tips can lead to untimely emergency room visits way more frequently than one would think, especially during the Holidays when the entire family may be present to witness such misfortune. Luckily, there are some simple tips to remember for future knife use to avoid an inconvenient nick, scratch, or even loss of a beloved number.

Begin by ensuring that your knife is appropriately sharp to do the job. Knife sharpeners can be bought cheaply at many supermarkets and it’s recommended that you invest in one sooner rather than later. Although slightly more expensive than other commercial knife sharpeners, knife stones are recommended, even for beginner knife sharpeners. Properly sharpened knives are absolutely crucial, since dull knives require a significant amount of force to execute a proper cut. This can result in an accidental slip in an unexpected direction. In a worst-case scenario, this unexpected direction may lead into your opposite hand or fingers. Sharpen the knife or knives you plan to use ahead of time to maximize your finesse and mobility while achieving the perfect cut. Let the knife do all of the work!

Once your knife is properly sharpened, begin by slicing away from the body. It’s one thing to slice a finger or hand, but a worse enough slip resulting in a bloodied abdomen is potentially a medical emergency requiring immediate attention. Slicing in the opposite direction of your torso is the safest and most important knife-wielding precaution. The initial inclination may be to pull the knife toward your body, but it’s adamant to resist this predisposition and practice safe habits from the start. Another beginner’s mistake is exercising an inappropriately firm grip on what is being cut. Maintain a firm enough grip so that the entity being cut is stabilized, but leave enough leeway for a nimble and mobile cut.

In addition to these tips, remember that slicing, dicing, and carving are techniques that must be perfected over many years of trial and error. It’s natural to aspire to emulate professional chefs or butchers, who are able to dice onions in a matter of seconds or effortlessly cut away excess fat from filet mignons. It’s imperative, however, to begin with the basics and avoid becoming too ambitious early on in your knife wielding endeavors. Start slowly with an appropriately sharpened knife, cutting away from the body and hands with maximum care. Knife wielding is an art that must be crafted over time after a dedicated amount of practice and professional supervision.