There seems to be an agreement that sharp knives are much safer than dull ones when you are cutting vegetables, meat, anything you cut with a chefs knife when you cook and prepare food. The reason for it seems to be that you have to use less force and its less chance for its to slip when you cut stuff.

Are sharper knives safer, when considering for example that cutting yourself with a sharp are potentially much more serious than with a dull knife?

Here is a range of websites putting forth the claim:

All sites just put forth the claim, but no research is stated, just their opinions on why the claim is true. So that makes me suspicious, where did the claim originate, and is there done any sound research on this?

  • 1
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scalpel "A scalpel is a small and extremely sharp bladed instrument used for surgery". They don't have to be as sharp as they are. They are made super sharp to keep a clean, tidy, easy to repair cut.
    – Tim
    Nov 2 '14 at 21:33
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    Its a pretty known claim from chefs also stated in the fusion article that sharp knives are safer than dull. For the points you had, i've updated my text.
    – bogen
    Nov 2 '14 at 23:38
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    The usual explanation advanced--and one that I live by--is the the action of the blade is both easier and more predictable when it is sufficiently sharp. Mind you, handing a very sharp knife to a cook used to a dull one has it's own risks. Nov 3 '14 at 2:14
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    Wondered this as well. In my experience the number of injuries definitely goes up as the sharpness of the knife goes up. ie, tiny nicks are common with a very sharp knife, while a dull one does not commonly cause any type of injury.
    – Jonathon
    Nov 4 '14 at 4:13
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    The idea is that a less-sharp knife requires you to apply more or uneven pressure, forcing it, which increases the chance that it will jerk or get out of control (i.e. cut something you didn't want cut, like your hand). Whereas a very sharp, well-maintained knife can cut through the intended material with a smooth, even motion that is easier to control. I don't have a citation but you experience it first-hand in a good cooking knife skills class with well-maintained blades. Nov 7 '14 at 4:57

I found this article from Liberty Mutual regarding a study one of their researches did on this subject entitled "Is a Sharper Knife a Safer Knife? Liberty Mutual Researchers Investigate"

The study findings, published in Applied Ergonomics (Vol. 24, pp 375-382), indicated that blade sharpness did indeed have a significant impact on grip and cutting forces... In fact, the researchers found that cutting time, grip force, and cutting moments with a sharp knife were 20 to 30 percent lower than with a dull knife.

These findings strongly suggest suggest two important conclusions: 1) A sharp knife is indeed a safer knife, because it reduces the forces that potentially contribute to repetitive strain injuries; and 2) sharper blades improve efficiency by reducing cutting time...

The original journal article can be found here.

  • 3
    Interesting that the quote addresses a side-risk, not the direct risk of self-cutting.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 13 '14 at 5:16
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    Neither of those two cited conclusions from Applied Ergonomics address accidental self-inflicted injuries.
    – agc
    Jun 22 '17 at 15:38
  • RSI isn't what people are usually concerned about when talking about knife safety
    – endolith
    Mar 14 '18 at 0:03

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