Can you cut wood with a kitchen knife? (But should you?)


Did you ever have no other choice but to cut wood with a kitchen knife? Is it even possible to cut wood with a regular knife? Is it sharp enough to cut through thick and solid wood?

You cannot really cut wood with a kitchen knife. The only thing that you will be doing is to ruin your knife in the process. You may be able to sharpen your knife really well, but even then, you would only be able to cut a thin and small piece of wood.

It’s winter, and you have decided to go on a weekend trip to the mountains. After a long road, you finally arrived, and the first thing you want to do is to warm up the place. You look around and find no wood to start the fire. So, it seems that you need to cut some wood, but realize, you did not bring any tools with you, the only thing you have to cut is the kitchen knife you brought for the weekend to prepare your ingredients with it. So you thought to yourself, why not try with a kitchen knife? Well, you might end up having a real hard time cutting through wood with that. Of course, we are not talking about little twigs and or branches. Luckily for me, I was never in that situation. Thus, I never tried to do it, but to my surprise, I saw a lot of people online that were trying to cut wood with an ordinary kitchen knife. Some of them even have succeeded, but not with the results where they had expected.

Can a knife cut through wood?

It most definitely will not cut through wood, at least not cleanly or easily, it will most likely beaver its way through a small piece, but in the process, you will end up destroying your knife. For (crosscutting) wood, you will need a cutting tooth that removes material as a saw does. But the kitchen knife cannot do that, as it can only slice. You might think, ok, fine! I have a serrated knife, so I will use it since it’s the same principle of a saw anyway. Well, you might get some thin piece of wood done, but that’s about it. You cannot replace a saw with a serrated knife. Even though it looks the same as a saw, and has the same principle behind it. Saw’s are made to cut hard objects like wood or even metal, where serrated blades (even electric) are made to catch and then rip. Also, what a saw does is cutting a kerf wider than the blade itself. Thanks to this, it won’t jam (with some skill that is). The serrated knife, on the other hand, will get stuck because it’s not made to cut heavy and thick wood. Also, just because it has a serrated edge, it does not mean it will not dull. If the piece of wood you are cutting is sturdy and thick, no matter what, it will dull your knife, and you might need to sharpen your serrated knife sooner than you expected.
If you still wish to try to cut something, the maximum you would be able to cut is small wooden dowels to size for a tiered cake, for example. Or little pieces of wood for decorative purposes, so clearly not enough to fire up the place.

Can an electric kitchen knife cut through wood?

Let’s presume you somehow have an electric knife at your disposal. Since some of them can cut through bone, why not try it on wood, you might think? Some electric knives have specialized blades that can cut through bone and harder objects. If we were to presume your electric knife has it, fine, you might be able to cut some wood, but your blades will be so damaged and will not be reusable anymore after this round. An electric knife can cut through things like foam or frozen meat well, but won’t do that too well on wood. It can cut through Styrofoam, but even that would be a sloppy job. But when it comes to wood, it is way too hard.

Can a kitchen knife be sharp enough to cut through wood?

In case you really wish to use your kitchen knife to cut wood (which I highly discourage), there are some things you’d need to do first before starting. Firstly, you’d need to make your knife ready for the job. As mentioned earlier, kitchen knives are not made to cut through wood. However, you can turn the blade into one. The only thing you need to do (sounds easy I know) is to sharpen your knife, in particular, its edges. With the help of a file, this should not be a difficult task. Just make sure you are using a quality file as it’s crucial and starts sharpening correctly. If sharpening is done right, half of your work will already be done.
Once done, we can focus on how to do the cutting part. Since in this example, we are using a different tool to cut wood, we also need to use a different technique. You cannot simply cut a piece of wood the same way as you would cut with a saw. With a knife, we need to use the slanting technique. This technique means holding the wood firmly at a slanted angle. In case you are not able to do this on your own, you can simply ask someone to help you hold it while you do the cutting part. And that’s basically it. You can do also do this another way. Like cutting small bits of wood from the point of the cutting knife and then you snap the wood with your hand. Whichever method you choose (pick one that suits you best) also makes sure to trim the wood with the help of your knife.

Final words.

I personally would not use any kitchen knife to cut wood. I would try to find some other way or something. Using your knife and destroying its edge for cutting wood sounds like you want to ruin your knife on purpose. Putting a knife’s edge back when a little dull is not the same as sharpening it after a wood cutting round, this is especially the case with an expensive knife. However, if you have a cheap knife and you don’t mind it to be used on wood, use the technique I explained and please be cautious as with anything when you use a knife for another purpose that it’s made for, the possibility for your to cut yourself skyrockets.

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