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May 16, 2013 06:50 PM

Do you let other people use your knives?

A lot of chefs are very sensitive about others using their knives.
What say you?

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  1. My short answer is a yes.

    My long answers is: It depends on at least 3 factors. First, what do you mean by use my knives? Using them in my kitchen or lending them to others? I have lent my knives, so it is enirely possible, but I only lend them to people I trust. Second, it depends who is going to use my knives. Someone with good knife skill and knowledge? Definitely. Someone with little knife skill and knowledge? Maybe yes for certain knives, and no for other knives. Third, it depends which knives. I have some knives which I am willing to lend to anyone, and I have a couple of knives which I guard more closely.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      So what do you do to assess knife skills? Give them a test? Give me a break!!
      Sorry, you're not "knife worthy!"

      1. re: monavano

        I can tell immediately that someone is not knife-worthy when he or she picks up a knife. I used to have a sushi bar nearby that I liked. One evening I went in to find a new guy behind the bar who clearly wasn't sure what to do with his knife. It turned out that the owner was selling the place and training this guy on the job to take over. I never went back.

        1. re: GH1618

          Oh, so someone has to handle your knife and then what? you take it out of their hands?

          1. re: monavano

            There's no one else in my kitchen except my wife, and I don't think she even wants to use my chef's knife. If she reached for it, I'd think she was going to kill me.

              1. re: GH1618

                If my wife pulled a knife from the block for the purpose of stabbing me........, she'd in all likliehood choose the wrong one for the job. ;-)

                p.s. No, I don't let other people use my knives.

                1. re: grampart

                  <she'd in all likliehood choose the wrong one for the job. ;-)>

                  That just means you have too many knives.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    <she'd in all likliehood choose the wrong one for the job. ;-)>
                    That just means you have too many knives.

                    Probably true, but I keep telling her to use the Kabar for killin'.

          2. re: monavano

            <So what do you do to assess knife skills? Give them a test? >

            Do you even need to ask this question? Like everyone said, we can assess. If we know that they have good knife skill, then I lend them very good knife. If we know that they have bad knife skill, then I lend them not-so-great knife. If they are stranger, then I assume the worse. What is so difficult?

            I can tell by just talking to people.

              1. re: monavano

                I assume the worse for safety. If I don't know someone, then I assume they don't have the necessary lab training. It is always better to err on the side of safety (both for the knives and the person).

                It is very easy to tell if someone has the skill to handle my knives just by talking. It is easier than when I interview people for hiring -- much easier.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Safety in the kitchen is a good thing. What is "lab training"?

                  1. re: monavano

                    I was using an analogy. I work as a scientist for my occupation. I was using it as an analogy.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Oh, I thought you were a cooking instructor with a lab/class.

        2. They never leave my kitchen, but I do let others use them, if I know that THEY know how to use them.

          I don't let Mom use them, she makes me cringe every time she picks up a knife. The woman has NO knife skills, and tries to cut everything with a paring knife. While holding the food item in her hand. Seriously. Everything.

          13 Replies
          1. re: DuffyH

            <if I know that THEY know how to use them. >


            <I don't let Mom use them>


            <The woman has NO knife skills>


            1. re: DuffyH

              What is it about mothers and paring knives ? She has like 15 of them. I've bought her sharp smallish chefs knives but they disappear or dull to a butter knife. She insists on using a paring knife for every task.

              She is the only one I am wary about using my knives

              1. re: C. Hamster

                My mom does that. She claims it's because of her arthritis, but I can't remember her ever using a chef's knife. She's got a drawer full of these cheap metal handled paring knives that she uses for nearly every job.

                I take good care of my chef's knife, but I have an old Oxo paring knife that I use for small jobs. I bought it at a convenience store when trapped in a hotel room during a snowstorm several years ago. It's fine for the few jobs I use it for, like cutting limes or cherry tomatoes.

                1. re: JonParker

                  Must be a generational thing? I don't recall ever seeing anything even approaching a chef's knife growing up. It was all paring knives and one carving knife. I think the carver was electric.

                  1. re: DuffyH

                    Yes, it coincides with the baby boomer generation reaching adulthood. Sur la Table was founded in 1972. I started buying kitchen stuff there in the mid 1970s, and bought my Russell chef's knife about then (although elsewhere). Things really took off in the go-go 1980s. By then, every department store had a kitchen department with lots of Henckles and W├╝sthoff knives.

                    1. re: GH1618

                      You summed it up nicely with the time line. Many from the pre-baby boom generation only had a paring knife and a slicing knife. Then in the 70's many of them got knife sets free from promotions at supermarkets, banks, Green Stamps etc and if they contained a chefs knife they were seldom used. Cheap steak knives were also usually a promotional giveaway.

                      During that time period, some folks picked up quality pieces from Co's like Chicago Cutlery but the 1980's is when the high quality European knives took off.

                    2. re: DuffyH

                      indeed -- my grandmother used only a paring knife, and taught me to cook using only a paring knife, and I'm just now beginning to think that I might have reached her level.

                      I was well into my late 20s before I ever cooked with a chef's knife. It's now my go-to, but I can still cook with only a paring knife and a carving knife if need be.

                      1. re: DuffyH

                        I grew up with paring knives, a bread knife, one very sharp butcher knife and a very sharp cleaver.
                        All the 'chopping' was done with a paring knife, held in one hand and the object held in the other. It was all done with pristine exactness and excellent timing. I never knew what a potato peeler was until someone gave me one for a gift.
                        It wasn't until I was a young adult, purchasing everything I could get my hands on, from Sur la Table in the was like a new era...Shirley taught me everything I now know about knife techniques and care.
                        Of course I let people I know use my knives...they're sharp but I'm assuming they're responsible adults.

                      2. re: JonParker

                        Ironically it's me with the arthritis using the 8 inch chefs knife and her with no arthritis using paring knives.

                        I once had the choice of carving a turkey with her one larger knife with the edge of a butter knife or a sort-of sharp paring knife... I chose the latter and it was like a Top Chef challenge.

                        She gives me cheap paring knives as gifts!!!

                    3. re: DuffyH

                      Again, how do you "know"? How does one figure this out? Do people with lesser knife skills have some sort of mark that I can see so I know?

                      1. re: monavano

                        As a group, we rotate who's house the get together is at and everybody brings something which usually needs a little finishing.This often leads to using the host's knives, the condition of which is a pretty good indication of their knife skills.

                        While not cheap, all of my knives can easily be replaced and I have an Edge Pro to clean them up. My major concern is handing a friend who is NOT used to razor sharp knives a tool that with one slip will take a finger tip off.

                        My sister in law has dull knives, including old dull serrated steak knives. She gave herself a nice cut cleaning one of my sharp straight edge steak knives. I would hate to think how bad it would have been if it were one of my chefs knives.

                      2. re: DuffyH

                        That was my mom. On all counts. I don't think she EVER sharpened a knife. A decent home cook, but very, shall we say, "rustic." If I said anything, she thought I was being snobby.

                      3. Generally, I let guests use my knives, though I'm more touchy about my main chefs knife since it's extremely thin and not stainless.

                        Also of note, my MIL has wrecked my paring knife a few times (also carbon) using it to... i have no idea... open boxes or dig holes or cut rocks or something. So I try to leave my cheaper forschner paring knife out more prominently when she's around.

                        And several people have cut themselves using my knives. Usually while cleaning em or bumping into them after putting em down. A lot of people just aren't used to handling knives that are actually sharp.

                        ETA: handing a guest who offers to help and doesn't know what they're getting into my large CCK Chinese cleaver... hilarious.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          <And several people have cut themselves using my knives. Usually while cleaning em or bumping into them after putting em down. A lot of people just aren't used to handling knives that are actually sharp.>

                          I don't cut myself anymore, but when I got my first sharp knives (the Tojiro DP and CCK), I would occasionally nick myself. Like you said, I didn't cut myself while I was using them. I cut myself when I wasn't using them -- like cleaning or bumping into them while they were resting on the cutting board.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            <I don't cut myself anymore, but when I got my first sharp knives... I would occasionally nick myself. >

                            Same here. It's weird, since now I'm pretty cavalier about touching the edges on my knives and it doesn't feel (to me) as though I'm being especially cautious around them. Probably just cause I've spent so much time sharpening and testing edges. You sort of stop noticing all the little habits that keep you from getting cut, while guests often seem very cautious around sharp knives while they're using em and then still manage to get cut as soon as the prep is done.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              I don't cut myself very often any more, but hooboy, when I do, it's a doozie.

                              I do forewarn folks who use my knives that I keep them murderously sharp, and there are some who will simply decide not to touch them.

                              My other grandmother (not the one who taught me to cook) had an entire drawer full of "knives" that weren't sharp enough to cut melted butter. I cut myself regularly at her house trying to hack something into usable pieces. She was afraid of *my* knives, too.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                One of the most important hard learned lessons with sharp knives is not carelessly tossing them on the counter. Bumping into the business end can be a major problem, especially with the back of the hand where veins are bulging just under a thin layer of skin. If a knife is put down on a counter & the edge and tip are not pointed away I will say something to a guest. If they keep it up I will hand then a dull clunker.

                                1. re: Tom34

                                  I don't know why, but for some reasons, I always place my knives on the cutting board with the edge away from me.

                                  In other words

                                  Not this:


                                  But this:


                                  Maybe I cut myself before, or maybe I am always scared. Not sure.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    That's just good practice, not a matter of being "scared," I think.

                        2. Unless a visiting chef or my twin, no.

                          Now my cheap Chicago cutlery, sure. My Globals given to me by my SO, no. Just my twin. My traveling roll of Wusthof knives, chefs or my twin. No exceptions.

                          1. I have to share with my wife, it's horrifying. She has no idea how to treat a good knife. My son doesn't share well at all, I hate to use his knives and his wife won't use them, she'd rather cut with a butter knife than use one of his. Knives seem to be very polarizing.