My money is on the knives. I actually did this test on Saturday afternoon, to welcome the return of college football. I know that there are almost as many issues facing the NCAA as there are facing the real world, but for 12 hours or so every Saturday in the Fall I can suspend my disbelief and pretend that all is right with the world.
Typically I prep wings with my Wusthoff kitchen shears. Over the years I have found that these are one of the most efficient tools extant to process animals. Saturday however, I figured I would be better served by rounding up a mess of knives and attacking the wings in the interest of science. Or lunch.
In this application the thinness of the blade seems to be the most important factor. The CRKT Hootenany combined a thin, extremely sharp blade and enough heft to aid in the cut. The blade’s belly adds a level of mechanical advantage to the cut as well.
This belly is lacking in the Woody’s Custom Fish and Fowl, but the sharp, thin, and pointed blade naturally found its way in between the joints.
The Opinel #8 does not have either the belly or extremely pointed tip, but is so thin and sharp it was among my favorite knives to test.
The second tier consists of the Gerber Strong Arm, Caleb White Penance, Cold Steel Canadian Belt Knife, and MD Caldwell. The Gerber’s heft allowed a bit more press-cutting, even shearing epipheses (bone caps) from the ends of the bone if the cut wan’t perfectly lined up between the segments. The MD Caldwell performed similarly, having a greater weight than many of the knives.
The leaf-point of the Caleb White was easy to insert in the joints, and as I have mentioned in the past the wonderful ergonomics make any slicing task a pleasure. Its thicker profile bumps it down into the second tier, but the knife is more than up to the task.
The Canadian Belt Knife by Cold Steel did a perfectly functional job. The belly and grind make it a good choice for this application. That said, I have never used a knife that I find so completely unremarkable. It just feels dead in the hand. I have no other words to describe it.
The knives in the 3rd tier are fairly predictable. The Gerber Propel and Milwaukee Fastback are tanto blades, about as far from a kitchen or game knife as there is, That being said, the partial serrations on both were a greater impediment to a clean cut than the blade shape. This was especially pronounced in the Fastback because the blade is smaller and the non-serrated portion of the blade is so short.
The CRKT Minimalist is an interesting case. The results further cement my impression that it is one of the best back-up blades for almost any situation. It is never the perfect tool for the job, but the little blade can even process a pineapple if necessary. Given the choice, I would chose the Propel over the Minimalist simply for weight and size.
I enjoyed this test. It was fun to see how the variety of blade shapes and styles performed in a meat processing task. I think that the wings were a good test material since it is easy to see how the test can be easily scaled up for larger game,
What knife would you chose for the task?
The wings were delicious.