Pointless knives


This week I would like to just shortly explain some design choices behind my kitchen knives that do not entirely reflect traditional European views on how a knife should look. Specifically, I am talking about kitchen knives with rounded tips.

These three knives are of the same design, the main difference being the point geometry. On the left is a pointy knife, on the right one with a rounded tip, and in the middle something in between. In the past I encountered a view that I had made knives with rounded tips by mistake or for a lack of skill, which is not true, it is a deliberate design choice.

For medium-sized and larger knives it is functionally irrelevant – how often do you really need a sharp tip on a large knife? Japanese Santoku is more or less a universal kitchen knife and it has a rounded tip, Chinese Cai Dao is essentially square, and still, it is used in a fashion similar to a chef's knife. In times when barely anyone needs to gut or butcher animals at home any more sharp points are rarely needed. And to pierce an avocado or to cut eyes out of a potato, where a sharp point is needed, a short blade is better. Simply a large knife without a point is mostly just as good as a pointy one. I have been using such knives for years now and I have no complaints.

Thus reasons for introducing rounded tips into my knife repertoire are two. The first one is that I simply like the looks. The second one is safety.

I was not able to find the exact statistics but all over the world people drop things unintentionally, including kitchen knives. Therefore sometimes it happens that said knife drops onto a foot, point first. It did not happen to me personally, but I had a few near misses. And it is possible to find online stories about people who were not that lucky. When I was a little boy, my mother dropped several knives too. And although she did not pierce her foot either, the other thing happened that can happen in these cases – the knife tip broke off. That did not stop her from using these knives in subsequent years and one of them indeed still serves to cut bread.

Another risk of pointy knives is more severe and it too is connected with childhood memory. I do not remember the exact age I was but my head was poking just above the kitchen counter. One day, when my mother was cooking, and I was getting in the way, she turned away from the counter with a knife in hand and the point bumped into my neck. I remained unscathed for two reasons. Firstly, she knew about me and she was trying to be careful, so she stopped and the knife did not hit me with much force. The second reason was that she was holding one of those knives, on which she had previously broken off the tip. I do remember reading a similar news story with a tragic end too. And that inspired me to make knives with rounded tips.

Thus, in my opinion, in households with small children and kitchens with hard floors, it is better to have knives with rounded tips. But I am aware I am going against the cultural expectations a bit, so pointy knives prevail in my repertoire.