I love reading professionals giving tips for everyday living. This interview with a butcher is fascinating. He gives five tips (in detail) that I’ll summarise here on how not to cut yourself.
- Keep the knife in your hand
“You should hold your knife like the butt of a pistol, fingers wrapped tightly around the grip “like someone was trying to take it away from you.” Some people hold a boning knife like a conductor’s baton during a particularly slow part of Pachelbel’s Canon. This is wrong. You will either drop your knife through your fingers, causing you to cut your knife hand with your knife, or, more likely, lose track of it in your brain’s motor control center and cut the hand holding the meat.”
- Don’t cut towards yourself
Putting all your strength into a brazen “take it to the board” type of cut is a sure way to bury a knife in your chest, belly, femoral artery or … genitals. We’re not talking stitches here, we’re talking surgery at best and coffin at worst.
- Keep everything clean.
We take care to avoid fat buildup on our knife handles to prevent what I like to call “the knife handshake,” which consists of having your lubricated fist slip over the grip and onto the length of the blade. Wash your hands. Wash your knives. Thoroughly. Often.
- Do not leave knives on the table, ever.
This applies mainly in a butcher shop. The reason we wear somewhat garish knife scabbards on our hips is to avoid ever setting a knife on the table. Why? Our pieces of meat are large and heavy, and knives can be well hidden. Add force and weight, and you can imagine what might happen to your hand or forearm. Gross.
- Bones can be really sharp.
Bones, particularly the chine and feather bones along the spinal column, become extremely sharp and dangerous when cut by a carcass splitter.
Speaking of knives – I’ve been looking for an opportunity to plug a bunch of knives I bought online recently that have turned out to be incredibly awesome and very sharp. They’re also cheap. They are Thai restaurant style chef’s knives and cleavers and they’re the sharpest knives I’ve ever played with (not that playing with knives is a good idea).