Knife Skills would like to share some knife advice with you!

Knife Safety 

The safe use of knives is imperative for obvious reasons. There are only a few rules to remember, but they are crucial.

A Sharp Knife Is A Safe Knife

Using a dull knife is an invitation to disaster. If you try to force a dull knife through the surface of a food product, it’s more likely to slip and cause an injury. Also, if you do happen to cut yourself, a sharp knife will result in an easier wound to attend to.

A Falling Knife Has No Handle!

The best way to avoid having to think about this rule is to make sure your knife is always completely on your work surface, without the handle sticking out into traffic areas.  When you do drop a knife, though, resist the urge to reach for it.  Instead, pull your hands and feet away.

Use The Right Knife For The Right Job

Many knife injuries occur when the wrong knife is used.  Attempting to core a tomato with a 10-inch chef’s knife, for example, will almost certainly result in injury.  Likewise, you’ll never make it through that tenderloin with a paring knife, so don’t even try.  You don’t need to have every knife in your kitchen, but you shouldn’t try to get by with just one, either!  Find a good balance of knives that works well with your diet.

Always Cut Away From Yourself!

Sometimes this is a hard rule to follow, but it is so important that you do.  If you can’t quite get the right angle to cut, turn the food around or turn your cutting board around.  Don’t turn your knife around!

When You Have A Knife In Your Hand, Keep Your Eye On The Blade

The same way the key to safe driving is to keep your eyes on the road, keeping your eyes on the blade of your knife is the key to using knives safely.  This rule applies whether you are cutting something or simply carrying a knife.  Watch the tip of your knife and keep the tip of your finger!

Carry Your Knife Properly

The proper way to walk with a knife in hand is to carry it pointed straight down with the blade flat against your thigh, blade pointing back. Keep your arm rigid.  Be aware of others around you and warn them that you have a knife in hand.

Never Drop Your Knife Into A Sink Full Of Water

In addition to soaking probably being bad for your knife handle, putting a knife in a sink full of (likely soapy) water is just asking for trouble. Wash your sharp knives by hand (not in a dishwasher!) and put them away immediately.

Always Cut On A Cutting Board

Don’t cut on metal, glass or marble. These surfaces will damage a knife’s edge.

Knife Storage

The goal is to always handle your knives carefully to prevent chipping, nicking, bending, or dulling of the edge, and this includes how you store your knives. We suggest storing your knives in one of the following ways:

Magnetic Knife Racks
These will securely hold your knives within easy reach without taking up valuable counter space.

Wooden Knife Blocks
Each knife fits securely in its own slot. The block shields the blades and adds the warmth of wood to your kitchen decor.

Under Cabinet and In Drawer
These blocks offer the same protection as the counter models in counter space saving designs.

Knife Cases or Knife Rolls
Preferred by professional chefs for secure, portable storage.

Using the Dishwasher
Although most knives are perfectly dishwasher safe, high-quality knife makers recommend cleaning your knives by hand using a mild detergent, a gentle rinsing in warm water and drying with a soft cloth.

Knife Honing

Regular maintenance of your knives will ensure they last a lifetime, but more importantly, it will ensure your safety when you work with them.  With regular use every knife’s edge will lose its “bite” and become dull.  Dull knives require you to use more force to make the cut, and the harder you have to work, the less control over your knife you have.  This is a very dangerous situation.

If you were to put your knife under a microscope, you would see that the cutting edge actually consists of rows of tiny “teeth” that must be periodically realigned for optimum cutting performance.  The best way to do this is to use a honing steel.

A honing steel is used for re-truing or re-aligning the knife’s edge. It should be used after each cutting task, several strokes on both sides of the blade holding the knife at a 20° angle.  Honing steels are 10 to 14 inches long and are common in knife block sets.

The key to using the honing steel is to hold the blade at a consistent 20° angle as you simulate the motion of the blade “shaving” off the surface of the honing steel itself. The Tip Down method shown below works best because it lets you always see the contact point of the knife and the steel.

Honing Tips

  • Make light, even strokes at the constant 20° angle on the steel.
  • Alternate with both sides of the knife and steel, and use the same number of strokes on each side of the blade.
  • Hone in one direction only.
  • Use the whole blade of the knife from heel to tip.
  • Do not over-hone your knife.
  • Test your knife on a piece of paper; it should easily cut ribbons.


Research courtesy of Escoffier School of Culinary Arts




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