KitchenAid Knives Are No Match For Lemon Grass

Max writes in: “While cutting lemon grass – yes, lemon grass, the blade of my knife snapped off in a clean shear from the handle. Keep in mind there is no bone in lemon grass.”

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  1. pegr says:

    Looks like a batch of bad steel. You’d think this would have been caught in testing.

    Submitter wasn’t trying to cut lemon grass from across the room, right?

    • mmmsoap says:

      @pegr:

      Submitter wasn’t trying to cut lemon grass from across the room, right?

      Dammit, is that what I’m doing wrong?

    • RedmondDesomma says:

      @pegr: Must be the same steel my garlic press was made from. It broke from (what else?) a clove of garlic. Luckily I’d only had it a few weeks & getting a refund was really easy.

    • liquidnumb says:

      @pegr: Not that these things should just snap like that, but I would also suggest buying a real knife if you spend any real time in the kitchen. That knife comes in a 14 piece set which costs as much as one decent knife. I would not want to cut lemongrass with that thing.

      • Segador says:

        @liquidnumb: . I find it hilarious that people feel the need to buy a $200 knife for their kitchens. My best friend is an executive chef at a 4-star restaurant, and when people ask him which kind of knife is the best, he tells them “one that cuts food and stays sharp.” He brings his knives to the restaurant in a toolbox and I think his entire set (15 or so knives) cost him maybe $300.

        • MrBlastotron says:

          @Segador: It’s not that you need a $200 dollar knife, but a decent Wusthof knife for instance (retail 30-90USD depending on style and the like) works wonders, stays sharp, and has a lifetime warranty. One that I can think of that people do spend oodles of money on is Japanese sushi knives. You can get those for upwards of 600 or more easily.

  2. Chu-Chu says:

    Does this knife say “Made in China” on it?? Because if it did, that would definately explain a few things…

  3. wee0x1B says:

    A lot of hardened steel knives can snap if you torque them the wrong way. A little sideways force could snap a smaller knife. You’d be prying the tough lemongrass fibers apart lengthwise, after all.

    That said, it’s probably also due to bad (overzealous) heat treating at the factory. Or maybe Max has been using his knife to stir hot coals or something? :-)

    • anonymous001 says:

      @wee0x1B: More so, did he ever have to sharpen it? Over heat treated steel is hard and brittle and hence should be able to hold its edge over a long period of time.

  4. mythago says:

    Wow. I think I’m going to see if Nintendo can get my Farfetch’d an upgrade from Leek Slap. Lemongrass Slap ought to be a one-hit KO!

  5. floraposte says:

    How old was the knife and what was the sharpening routine used?

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @floraposte: Looks fairly new. Even still…when I went to college my parents get me a bunch of old silverware/knives from like the 80’s, all worked fine.

  6. Bakkster_Man says:

    I’d have to ask a mechanical or materials engineer, but to me it looks like the knife was bent and snapped at the handle, due to pulling the handle the wrong way. It does not look like the knife broke from proper usage.

    Now the question is: is this a brand new knife, and did he handle it properly? Alternatively, is this an old knife that he has abused over the years?

    • sir_eccles says:

      @Bakkster_Man: Without further info like age and looking closeup at the fracture surface it’s hard to say what happened. Could have been a fatigue crack, and inclusion in the metal, anything.

      • dangermike says:

        @sir_eccles: Without further info, it’s pretty dang easy to say what happened: Someone tried to chop something with a paring knife. Paring knives are for little cuts, like making decorative pieces out of vegetables. They should ahve been using a chef knife or maybe a sentoku or cleaver, all of which would have thick tangs and long blades and allow for the proper rocking lever action necessary for the task at hand. The short blade on the paring knife doesn’t allow enough leverage for a good clean chop, the knife got stuck, and the user probably tried to use a sawing motion to free the blade. This put a sideward force on the tang, and the thing snapped. I half expect that the knife has been through the dishwasher a few times, too. It’s definitely a case of user error.

    • TVarmy says:

      @Bakkster_Man: It looks pretty new to me. Probably a weaker bit of steel near the handle.

      This kind of thing rarely happens, though. Now I’m worried CutCo will start showing these pics to people they’re trying to swindle :(

    • teh says:

      @sir_eccles: It also looks like part of the knife is a little thin to handle the stresses one would expect at that point.

    • HarcourtArmstrong says:

      @Bakkster_Man: Was the original poster cutting or chopping? Chopping could lead to fatigue. As sir_eccles said, a closeup of the fracture will tell us.

    • Coles_Law says:

      @Bakkster_Man: It’s just semantics, I know, but this isn’t technically a shear crack. Shear cracks tend to run 45 degrees to the plane of loading. It looks like one of three things:

      1) The blade was made too thin/narrow where it met the handle.

      2) The blade was bent in transit or in the home, forming a “crease” at the handle.

      3) The user was cutting with a twisting motion, creating the situation described in 2).

      • CRNewsom says:

        @Coles_Law: Shear fracture planes will run at an angle, but not necessarily at 45 degrees from the normal plane under a combined loading condition. However, since we do not know the loading or the geometry (especially of the blade) we will need to see very clear pictures of the fracture surface, and perhaps a nice view under a stereoscope.

        /However, it looks to be like a brittle normal stress failure from bending (the wrong direction). It occurred at the point of maximum stress concentration where the blade widens to form the handle.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      @Bakkster_Man: So fragile kitchen utensils is the new normal, right? I have some cheap knives, and while they can’t hold an edge like a better quality knife can, I have never had one snap in two on me, no matter what I was trying to cut.

  7. MyPetFly says:

    The OP is lucky. I usually have to pay extra to have the bones removed from my lemon grass.

  8. nicemarmot617 says:

    Shit!! I just bought a KitchenAid fridge!

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @nicemarmot617: This definitely isn’t enough to make me think that KitchenAid is a lousy brand. Sure, they might not be perfect, but they’re better than average (Maytag, Whirlpool, Frigidaire, Kenmore, Amana, etc…). I have had several years of flawless functionality out of my KithcenAid stand mixer.

    • perruptor says:

      @nicemarmot617: I definitely wouldn’t put any lemon grass in that new fridge, if I were you.

    • sebadoh128 says:

      @nicemarmot617:

      Well, as long as you aren’t going to use your fridge to cut lemon grass, you should be okay.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      @nicemarmot617: You ought to be OK. The sad thing is that many manufacturers of quality large appliances also lend their name to some pretty shoddy small appliances, utensils, and whatnot. This “Kitchenaid” knife is but one of them. I bet if you looked hard enough, you’d find that same knife being sold under a few different brand names, all coming from the same Chinese factory. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see one labeled Henkel or some other “top drawer” brand.

      It seems that nowadays, everything smaller than a dishwasher has been commoditized, that is, made so cheap one could buy it by the pound. If toasters, for example, were built and priced the way they were in the 1960s, a cheap one would cost a hundred bucks. It would also last twenty or thirty years.

  9. catnapped says:

    Pretty obvious it wasn’t a Ginsu!

  10. ekthesy says:

    I use a serrated blade for lemongrass, plus you have to strip some of the tough outer bark off the stalks anyway so when you put it in your soup you’re not spitting out inedible pieces of lemongrass that never get cooked.

    Also KitchenAid makes great kitchen appliances but terrible knives.

  11. dripdrop says:

    At least KitchenAid has great mixers. I got one for Christmas and use it all the time.

    • Mike_Hawk says:

      @dripdrop: my wife and I generally only buy Kitchen aid when it comes to counter top appliances. I have an old mixer that we gave my grandmother 24 years ago (when I was a wee lad) and it still works like it is new.

      We have a set of kitchen aid knives (that we have had for 3 years now) and have never been disappointed. To be fair, knives are not their major product and they don’t compare to some of the high end knives out there, but for the price they again, were a great purchase.

      Defects happen I guess, I would contact customer care and see what they say.

  12. Thaddeus says:

    Kitchen Aid Customer Care: (800) 541-6390 (8-8 est)

    From: [www.kitchenaid.com]

    If the knife was under 1 year old, you can get a new one free of charge. If not, I suggest playing on their hatred of lemon grass.

    • Youthier says:

      @Thaddeus: They replaced my toaster within two days so I would definitely suggest the OP give it a shot.

    • Mike_Hawk says:

      @Thaddeus: @Thaddeus: @ludwigk: “Either for boning/prepping a small piece of meat, or for peeling/pairing in your hands”

      I like to use them in my off-hand for an extra 1d4 damage. Very nice combo with my butcher knife +2. Very nice vs level 6 chicken breasts

  13. albo says:

    Perhaps he shouldn’t be using such a small knife. Get a 10′ chef’s knife.

  14. Jakuub says:

    I’m no expert, but isn’t that knife a bit on the small side for cutting up a batch of… anything? I wouldn’t expect it to snap like that, but I still wouldn’t use a paring knife, or anything smaller than a real chef’s knife for that work, personally, just ’cause it’d be a pain in the ass.

    • ludwigk says:

      @Jakuub: The size doesn’t really matter, that just indicates *how* you should be using the knife. It should be sufficiently sharp and strong to handle cutting lemon grass, but you wouldn’t use it like this.

      This is a pairing knife, so it’s meant to be used off the board. Either for boning/prepping a small piece of meat, or for peeling/pairing in your hands. The blade obviously provides no clearance for the handle, which is why its not for board work. It’s yet another one of my pet peeves: People don’t know how to use knives, but they use them every day.

      • XTC46 says:

        @ludwigk: “size doesn’t really matter”

        thats not what she said :(

        I agree, wrong tool for the job. I <3 my santoku for general use.

      • dangermike says:

        @ludwigk: I agree so much. Seeing people on TV using steak knives and paring knives for chopping stuff always annoys me. They’re inevitably sawing with them, and the tip is usually 2-3 inches off the board. I find it really unsettling.

  15. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    yes, lemon grass

    So how hard/soft is lemon grass for those of us who’ve never seen it before?

    • floraposte says:

      @Rectilinear Propagation: It’s pretty inedibly tough in the outer layers when raw. It’s kind of like cutting through a less-brittle cinnamon stick with a soft center. Think trimming a slender tree branch rather than cutting a vegetable.

    • ccbweb says:

      @Rectilinear Propagation: It’s sort of like those plastic-y bands that are sometimes wrapped around a shipping box. Very fibrous, very tough and pretty hard to cut through.

    • ludwigk says:

      @Rectilinear Propagation: I would describe it like cutting through a bundle of corn husks, or a handful of straw. It’s a bit like cutting through cardboard, in that it can give you a hard time if your knife isn’t up to it. It is grass afterall, which has tremendous strength-weight ratio.

    • UnicornMaster says:

      @Rectilinear Propagation: Think sugarcane or bamboo. You’re actually supposed to grate it or put it through a food processor. A knife ain’t gonna cut it.

      • dangermike says:

        @DeanOfAllTrades: Th right choice of knife would help considerably, though. A properly sharpened 8-10 inch chef knife with the tip firmly planted on the cutting board handled with the appropriate motion (a lever with a sliding fulcrum) will make pretty short work of it.

  16. bohemian says:

    I have a Kitchen-aid knife about the same size but it has the bigger Japanese style blade. It has a hair line crack in the blade. I blamed it on other people in the house who insist on using it to cut blocks of cheese. The knife was probably not meant for that kind of use and torque.

    I bought it because it was cheap and because other people in my house do stupid things with knives like trying to cut blocks of cheese with them. I don’t want to spend a huge amount of money just to have it ruined.

    • valarmorghulis says:

      @bohemian: I’ve actually broken a couple of knives cutting through cheese. it takes a lot of downward pressure, and most people don’t put pressure on both sides (or use a knife too small to do so).

      Also it could have been over-hardened during manufacturing resulting in weakness in the blade (but boy would it hold an edge forever).

    • blockbustarhymes says:

      @bohemian: i hope you have learned your lesson about having nice things in a shared household. if there is a way for someone to ruin something, it’s almost certain that they will.

      cheapo knives and pans! you don’t get as mad at housemates…trust me

  17. Anonymous says:

    Too small of a knife for lemongrass, and I would wager that you inadvertently torqued the blade while it was sunken it at the hilt. Usually, your should remove the tough outer husks, split the lemongrass lengthwise, and then use a large chef’s knife or cleaver to chop them into the desired lengths.

    I’m sorry to see that you broke a knife, but this happenstance is hardly a consumer issue.

  18. ludwigk says:

    Wow, Kitchen Aid’s full-tang, triple rivet construction is no match for the Lemon Grass! Probably some freaky metal-stress related to the carbon steel being too brittle.

    I’m just glad it didn’t fly off at some odd angle and end up embedded in the OP’s neck. Although, that might have made an even better photo.

  19. joe.glass says:

    For one thing it looks like it wasn’t being held correctly for chopping/slicing. You need to have your thumb and forefinger gripping the blade near the hilt. Don’t just palm the whole handle. Too much pressure applied at the wrong point. (Not that the blade SHOULD snap, just saying the right grip helps.)

  20. MakGeek says:

    i just got that same knife for xmas free with a purchase of a meat slicer. Now i know why it was free.

  21. Palak Desai says:

    I also own some kitchen aid knives…they start to trust in left in the sink overnight and get dull very easily

  22. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    I just want to take a second and point out that YOU PEOPLE KNOW WAY TOO MUCH ABOUT KNIVES!!!

    Just kind of scary, that’s all. And here I was hoping that maybe the blade would break, thus ending the impending knife attack, I’m sure to suffer.

  23. perruptor says:

    I am periodically surprised by the things that snap: alternator shafts that turn freely after being reinstalled with new bearings, only to snap like a piece of celery hours later; camshafts in thoroughly broken-in engines; fanjet turbine shafts after swallowing a goose – OK, that one’s not so surprising. Anyway, a cheap knife is not going to be X-rayed looking for metallurgical flaws before it’s packaged up.

  24. Ingram81 says:

    Who wants to be somewhere it says “Made in China” ?

  25. datruesurfer says:

    n wrd: FL!

  26. octopede says:

    You’re lucky you didn’t hurt yourself. I was chopping parsley with a big kitchen knife and the blade popped off and embedded itself in the wall behind me, some 6 feet away. In some alternate universe, I died then, several inches of cheap steel sticking out of my eye socket.

  27. louiedog says:

    I’m not sure why this is on the consumerist. I just don’t get it. Was he using it correctly and this happened during the first use? Did kitchenaid refuse his service request? I don’t see what this has to do with the theme of the website. Should I send in a picture of my worn out sneakers?

  28. Anonymous says:

    freeze the lemongrass then grate on a microplane, it will turn into a fine powder. saves your knives and your fingers.

  29. DogToy says:

    Oh Snap!

  30. James Roche says:

    I’ve had similar Kitchenaid knives, and there’s nothing wrong with their design, assuming they haven’t changed in the 5 years I’ve had mine. In fact, my wife and I have since acquired two other brands of knives (moved in together, got wedding presents) and I refuse to use the other knives.

    In general, I’ve always been really happy with Kitchenaid products. If this is an even possible scenario (breaking a knife cross-plane on lemongrass), I’d be surprised if it was anything beyond an extreeemely isolated incident.

  31. Anonymous says:

    i had the same thing happen a few days ago with my chicago cutlery knife, only i was cutting cheddar freaking cheese!

  32. rpm773 says:

    How is anyone still using knives. Slap Chop?

  33. rushevents says:

    Should’ve sold those CutCo knives for vector marketing. I would’ve been rich AND had a great set of knives.

    D’oh!

  34. Anonymous says:

    Hey guys, I’m amazed to see my article up on Consumerist! To help out the discussion here:

    This ancient knife is approximately 30 days old – billed at Target in a 3-knife set as a “3.5” all purpose/paring knife”

    And no, ladies and gents, I wasn’t throwing the knife from across the room to cut the lemongrass :3

  35. Chris Pencis says:

    I’ve had a well worn high quality 6″ chef’s knife snap in half like this after dropping it on a tile floor – something about the vibrations set up in it. I brought it to a local high service kitchen store and they replaced it on sight, no questions asked. I would expect that that same behavior could be expected with the Kitchen Aid brand…

  36. Betsy Burtner says:

    I’m glad I saw this story- I just found lemongrass in the market today and will be cooking with it soon.

    I have those knives and I’ve never had a problem cutting anything with the large chef’s knife. The knife in the pic looks more like the paring knife.

  37. c_c says:

    Lemongrass is actually fairly tough, he probably twisted the knife some when it was lodged in the stalk, which exploited the cheaply made-in-China impurities of the steel…. there’s a reason those knives are so cheap.

  38. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    best fake caption: “John Wayne Bobbit’s penis cuts knife in half, irony colaspes into itself like a black hole.”

  39. davidc says:

    I guess I am pretty clueless about lemongrass, but all the comments about torque and a larger knife and using knifes to cut cheese and all that stuff has be baffled.

    Steel vs Vegetable … I would assume in ALL CASES that steel would win out. One should not need a degree in rocket science to cut vegetables with a sharp pointy object.

  40. HaxRomana says:

    This happened to me once, but with butter.

    Of course, it was sort of a Mickey-Mouse knife (cheaply made and actually featuring a picture of Mickey Mouse on the side.) I feel it is important to point out at this juncture that the knife was not mine.

  41. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    The best solution, if you can afford it:

  42. Anonymous says:

    This could also be due to the fact that the blade wasnt forged but stamped out and the welded to the bolster. It looks to me like a faulty weld that snapped due to any number of factors that have already been listed.

  43. Ereshkigal234 says:

    only thing i see as a problem with those knives, as a friend bought them with the idea “expensive means it’s good” is that if you look at them, the damascus does not go all the way through the metal as if it is printed on. Thus paying for a damascus type blade which supposedly makes it that much better seems stupid.

    • floraposte says:

      @Ereshkigal234: Cook’s Illustrated, which gets a lot of interesting “expensive isn’t better” results (especially when they test blind), still gives the $25 Victorinox its top recommendation over knives close to $200. (I also tend not to like non-contoured handles, but that could just be personal preference.) Interestingly, they do talk about some blades having a problem with bowing under pressure, which obviously knocks them out of the recommendation stakes.

  44. Skankingmike says:

    Get a Shun

    :P

  45. mythago says:

    @AlteredBeast: It’s SUPER EFFECTIVE!

  46. radiochief says:

    How was the knife washed?

    It could have been repeatedly washed in a dishwasher and weakened by it.

    I use stainless steel chisels at my work– we sharpen them and use them to crack bone open. We wash them and then sterilize them in an autoclave.

    We have some chisels made by the same company we buy from that are 5 years old- they may not be as as sharp but they have not failed. Like this knife did. But we also have brand new chisels from the same company that several have failed from only several cycles of use…

    A few years back I bought a Chef Mate set of knives from Target. They look very similar to these Kitchen Aid knives. Most of the smaller knife and steak knives snapped just like this.

  47. Sian says:

    This is a knife that’s sold as part of a set of 11 for $69.99. assuming bigger knives in the set cost a little more we’re looking at about $10. From the price and the look they’re probably stamped and welded. Based on the break, This knife suffered from metal fatigue. It may not have been properly heat-treated after primary manufacture.

    You don’t have to have an expensive kitchen knife, but you should probably pay more than $10 for quality and safety.

  48. Anonymous says:

    I had this happen with a knife that looked just like yours but was branded Calphalon. You may be able to send it back to Kitchen Aid for a replacement. I would check their website and e-mail someone in customer service. Glad you didn’t get hurt– I was so stunned to suddenly find the handle in my hand– sans blade!

  49. ALex Davis says:

    @mythago: I guess Orihime will have to do the Lemongrass Spin?

  50. RouL HutchinsoN says:

    that’s a bad Oman

  51. MooseOfReason says:

    The guy probably didn’t use the knife correctly.

    As in, tried to use it like a butcher’s knife and tried to chop it.

  52. nacoran says:

    I once bought a brand new can opener. It broke on the first can I tried to open. Of course, I did buy it at the dollar store.

  53. satoru says:

    To me there are two faults. It definitely appears that the knife itself may have been badly manufactured and the steel not hardened sufficiently.

    But I also put some blame on the OP in that if you’re torquing the knife so much that it breaks like that:

    1) You’re not using proper form on the knife
    2) The knife is so dull you have to use force to cut

    The sharper the knife, the safer it is. Most knife accidents (not intentional stabbings :P) are because people are using too much force while cutting because their knives are so dull. Keep your knives sharp and you’ll be a better and safer cook.

  54. betatron says:

    Next up: my rubber scraper melted to my gas grill when i tried to turn my steaks!!

    YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! this is the wrong knife for the job, period. Blame the operator, not the tool. You cannot possibly make that cut with that knife without twisting the blade handle in the wrong direction. GET A CHEF’S KNIFE AND APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR INTEMPERATE COMPLAINING. Also, learn how to cook, which includes learning what kitchen tools are suited to which jobs. (go isotopes!)

  55. clickable says:

    This is why you want a knife with a tang the part of the knife that extends into the blade) that extends the full length.

    Usually, when a knife is made this way, you can actually see this when you look along the top of the knife and see that the blade extends continually past the cutting part and into the handle.

    Of course, the KitchenAid knife may have had that and broken anyway, in which case have no idea why wheatgrass proved to be such a formidable adversary, but a tang that extends the entire length of the knife is one sign of quality in a knife.

    • MikeHerbst says:

      @clickable:
      I can’t tell if this is a really deft troll or not. Just in case it isn’t:

      1) From the picture, the blade in question is obviously a full-tang blade, just as you describe. Besides, full-tang or stick-tang wouldn’t have mattered in this case because the blade snapped forward of the bolster. Now, given that I know the cost of a knife like this, I’m willing to bet that this knife had a welded bolster and not a forged bolster, and that COULD introduce a stressor that could cause this failure if the weld was dirty. But as I said nothing in the tang or scales (the wood “grips”) failed, so this isn’t a “tang” issue.

      2) Wheatgrass shouldn’t ever be much of an adversary, but LEMONgrass is a completely different animal. Think (slightly) edible bamboo, and you’ll have a better idea of the consistency.

      Count me among the “Wrong tool for the job” crowd. A paring knife is not meant to be used on the board, and it certainly isn’t meant to be “leaned into”. Cheap steel, poor heat-treating, whatever, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if any “correctly” made paring knife wouldn’t fail under the same circumstances.

      Anyone who is confused about this stuff, please take 10 minutes to watch Alton Brown’s take on the subject:

  56. zolielo says:

    Maybe time to step up to a ka-bar.

  57. MagicOfLight says:

    It seems to me that knives should be properly hardened and not break. I know metalurgy is complex and the knife manufacture has to be harden the steal enough, but not too much or it won’t keep an edge. But it’s their job, especially a company like Kitchen Aid that developed a brand name based on quality.

    I think the comments about improper knife technique are way off base. I use the hell out of my chefs knife every day, I don’t know how much it costs and I still expect it won’t break while I’m cutting vegetables. And I torque the heck out of the blade every time I smash garlic, which is pretty often.

    The only proper knife technique I’ve every heard of is to make sure the food get cuts up and not the cook; make sure the food is held down firmly on the cutting board(so it won’t roll) and cut away from you. If you or your family are hungry it helps to cut more quickly. A sharp knife is safer and faster to work with.

    Other then that I don’t know what everyone’s comments about inproper knife technique or using the wrong knife has to do with some poor schmuck breaking a piece of steal on a vegetable (OK it was a hard vegetable).

  58. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @HaxRomana: But…Mickey Mouse is for kids…and a knife is not for kids…what kind of product IS that?

  59. DevoAlmighty says:

    That’s what you get for eating lemongrass, hippies!

  60. akronharry says:

    I have had my Ginsu knives for 15 years and they still cut open tin cans!!!!

  61. SlyBevel says:

    Once, the serrated blade on my Leatherman Wave did this very thing.

    I was really bearing down on it at the time (don’t remember what I was cutting, it was years ago), and the blade snapped right off and went flying across the room. It didn’t stick into anything or hurt anything, but it sure could have.

    There was no lateral pressure in the case of my Leatherman, there was jut straight-down pressure, but a lot of it, and that was enough for the hard, tempered steel of that particular blade.

    Leatherman cheerfully replaced it, and I haven’t had one of their blades snap since.

  62. Tom_Servo says:

    That’s why I always buy Chicago Cutlery. Yup.