Detailed review: Opinel's safety-oriented kitchen knife "Le Petit Chef"
This is a small chef's knife designed with safety in mind. I love the unique style, safety-oriented design and compactness of this knife. I plan to have kids someday so it will be good for them too.
Here it is on Amazon. At £27 it's very well priced considering it's a brand-name knife made in France. Opinel is a reputable knife manufacturer that has been around since 1890.
[Disclaimer: Obviously, supervise your kids and teach them to use a knife safely. No knife is perfectly safe, even a spoon is not safe if used idiotically.]
The ring on the knife is exactly 18mm inside, fine for kids and women, and large enough for some men, but men with big fingers will have to hold it in a different way, with the index finger over the top part of the knife, which is actually perfectly comfortable.
For adults this ring is not necessary and just makes the knife slightly less comfortable to hold, but I guess for kids I can see this feature being somewhat useful. A good alternative would have been a half-ring, or a removable ring. There's a chance I'll cut half the ring off, because for my uses it doesn't add any safety.
It definitely feels safer to use the knife together with this, even for someone experienced. It took me about a minute to get used to the finger guard. In my opinion if held correctly there's almost no chance of accidentally cutting yourself without actually trying to. If not held correctly, for example only clipping the guard over one finger, then some of your fingers are able to accidentally go under the guard if you don't pay attention.
This doesn't hold onto my fingers very well because the clip can only go over the tips of my fingers (index and middle fingers), so I have to also use my thumb to hold it sometimes, which actually works fine.
The tip at the top of the blade is not pointy, as you can see in the photos, but you can still slice downwards with the tip, perfect mix of safety and usability.
The handle has some small imperfections. You can tell it's mass produced and not the work of an expert knife maker, but it's fine. As you can see in the product photos there are some gaps between the different materials, which over time will collect dirt. Personally I will be filling the gaps with moldable plastic called Plastimorph/Multimorph, which is affordable and very easy to use, you just warm it in hot water and then mold it with your hands as needed, as soon as it's cool it's a solid durable plastic. You can get a big pack on Amazon for £8. If you do this then you can't soak the knife in hot water when washing, as it will soften up the Multimorph again, but quick washes in hot water should be fine.
The blade is beautiful and shiny. It's sharp, but not as sharp as is possible. It's a flat grind (tapering all the way from the top to the bottom) but does have an almost invisible secondary edge, which is good, otherwise it would be too sharp and very prone to damage. It's 1.7mm at the top of the blade and 0.3mm right before the secondary grind.
Under a 40x microscope there are visible grinding scratches on the blade's cutting edge, which is better for slicing both hard and soft foods than a perfectly smooth cutting edge. This is also easy to replicate with cheap home sharpeners when you need to sharpen the blade.
The blade has a Japanese "santoku" shape, which means the cutting edge is curved only a tiny bit, and the top of the blade has a big curve downwards. I really like it, and I read that this shape is popular with professional chefs.
The area of the blade closest to the handle does not quite touch down to the chopping board surface due to the slightly raised bolster (the blunt thick metal area right between the blade and handle), which might just be a manufacturing mistake with my unit.
For me it's not a problem as I can easily file the bolster down a tiny bit, although if you do that you must clamp the knife down in a safe way so you don't cut yourself, and in a way where there's no chance of accidentally running the file over the blade itself, which would ruin your knife.
It's a good size for kids, but perfectly fine for an adult too. I actually prefer this size over a big kitchen knife. Approx 4" blade and 8" total. Due to the thin blade and plastic/wood handle the weight is only about 70g, which is very lightweight.
It would be nice if this came with something to clip over the blade for when it's not in use. I may end up making one out of the Multimorph stuff I mentioned above. To be fair, I've never seen a kitchen knife that does come with one, normally they are just made for outdoors knives.
I'm very happy with this for the price, even though I have to do a few fixes to bring it up to my standards (filling the gaps in the handle and filing down the bolster).
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Depending on the person using it, something that might be even safer is a slightly serrated blunt-ish knife. In my experience there is an amount of sharpness on a slightly serrated blade that will cut vegetables nicely but won't accidentally cut into a finger. I'm not only talking about "sawing" through the food, at the correct sharpness they will press-cut most vegetables just fine, and will go through tougher foods easily using a slight slicing/sawing motion. I will have to demonstrate this in a video at some point.
Here is a photo of two lightweight knives which I've had for years, both of which do this perfectly, one with very large serrations, one with very small ones. I can press them hard into my hand and they won't cut me. As far as I know you can't buy knives like this, you have to buy a sharp knife and dull it down, and of course either buy one with a rounded tip or cut/file the tip off.
In my opinion if done right these are much more "idiot-proof" than the Opinel with its fancy finger guards, but as you can see they aren't very pretty, and they won't chop small stuff like parsley, although they will slice through it just fine with a slicing motion.