Is a sharp knife safer?

A blunt blade can create additional hazards when using a knife, so could a sharp knife actually be the safest option?

We are taught to be careful of sharp knives from a young age, and it makes sense! The whole point of a sharp knife is to cut, whether for hunting, cooking or general day to day tasks. So it makes sense that your near-by fingers are also at risk. Is it possible for a blunt knife to be more dangerous than a sharp one?

To avoid accidents, safe practices when using knives is essential and using safe techniques has to be a priority. However the regular and correct maintenance of your knife can be another important step for preserving your fingers!

A dull blade edge poses safety concerns, ultimately the knife is not performing as it was designed or as the user is expecting. The knife then becomes unpredictable and dangerous, even a blunt knife can cause harm when making contact.

Why is a blunt knife dangerous?

When using a sharp knife the blade should glide through whatever you are cutting. When using safe techniques this process should be efficient, effortless and predictable.

A dull blade can’t “grip” and cut in, this poses the risk of rolling off the edge and into whatever is next to it…. usually your fingers.

A dull blade also makes the user work harder. We always want to make your life easier, but the extra effort poses a number of risks too. We tend to handle and use the knife in ways it was never designed for when making this extra effort.

The following techniques can increase the likelihood of your knife moving and sliding in directions you hadn’t anticipated:

  • Adding some extra downward pressure by leaning on the spine of the knife with your other hand

  • Using the point to stab through the material to “start the cut off”

  • Tearing through with multiple strokes and added force


Maintaining a sharp knife

Maintaining sharp knives is a whole topic in itself, so I promise to delv into this a bit deeper in another “Journal” entry!

Traditionally knives have been sharpened by hand on a stone, which is still common today. This skill takes years of experience to prefect, as maintaining the correct angle degree between the stone and the blade is essential.

There are lots of knife sharpening jigs which are affordable and easy for a beginner to use. These are stocked in most homeware, hunting or outdoor stores and make quick maintenance sharpens a simple and quick process. Personally, I really like the Lansky set as this easily allows you to set the degree easily and work through the grit stones. (https://lansky.com/products/professional-system/)

If you are ever in any doubt and don’t want to risk damaging your knife, take it to a professional. I always recommend checking that they use a wet stone as this avoids heating the steel int he process.

Knife safety is a Number 1 priority

An added step to knife safety is using techniques and handling skills which help you to stay in control of the knife.

Practising these skills and teaching them to the next generation is the best way to limit any knife based accidents.

Respecting the risks which come with using knives is so important. Ensuring the tools you use are fit for purpose and performing as the maker has designed them will give you the confidence to use them efficiently while keeping your fingers intact!