Do you use your fork as a knife?

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C’mon…admit it, you do it too. At the end of a long day, you grab a quick bite to eat and just take a fork with you to the table (or perhaps you’re standing up at the counter). Partway through the meal you need to cut something and, instead of getting up to get a knife, you use the edge of the fork to make the cut.

use your knife as fork

Spot the difference?

I know I do it on occasion when I don’t have a knife.  I’ve seen other diners use their fork to make the cut even if there is a knife handy.  I wonder if that’s got something to do with the zig-zag style of eating (discussed in this post on Cutlery Conventions). While Miss Manners wouldn’t approve at a dinner party, I think in the privacy of your own home you can be excused.

Guilty Conscience

I was working on some forks the other day and examining the wear patterns on the tines got me thinking about this subject.  It’s very easy to tell when someone uses their fork to cut with.

As an aside, Mr. Magpies asked me what I was writing about and when I told him, and then showed him the two forks from the photo below, a slightly apprehensive expression crossed his face. “Am I going to be mentioned in this post?”, he asked. 🙂  At least I didn’t throw him under the bus…mea culpa too!

The Tines Reveal All

use fork as knife

Can you see what I see?

In this photo you are looking at the two forks, face down on the table, in a head-to-head position.  You can see that the middle two tines still match up quite well.  The fork on the left has not been used as a knife very often and so it’s tines as still quite square.  However, the fork on the right has often been used to cut.

The two outer tines are pushed in towards the middle quite a lot.  That’s what happens when you press down on them to cut!

Now What

In my opinion, nothing.  This is the whole crux of the matter about your silverware.  When you use it, it ends up showing signs of use.

I can see you rolling your eyes at my stating the obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people get upset by that thought.  For them, it is wrong for your silver to look anything less than cosmetically mint.  Signs of use are undesirable, rather than charming reminders that these pieces have been used and enjoyed on many occasions.


Is anyone else going to admit they cut with their fork too?  How do you feel about the cosmetically mint issue?


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8 thoughts on “Do you use your fork as a knife?

  1. BevNo Gravatar

    I,too, have cut with a fork— until now!
    Tines with tiny tilts don’t bother me. However, forks that have 3 normal tines and 1 tine that is shorter seem to me to be have a more serious cosmetic flaw that might impact value even if functionality is not impaired. Is this the case?

    1. Silver MagpiesNo Gravatar

      Hello Bev

      There are two explanations to the shorter tines. 1) the tines are no longer parallel, creating a perception of different length – this is very common 2) actual wear to the silver – much less common.

      As to your question regarding value…I think many other factors would come into play as well. If you have 12 slightly worn forks of a very rare pattern, scarcity would keep the value high. 12 worn forks of a common pattern is a different situation. Even then, the wear would need to be quite serious to have a big effect.

      – Nan

  2. JennieNo Gravatar

    As usual, Nan, you have “cut” to the heart of the silver users’ dilemma. Clearly you have shown us that Miss Manners was right about using our knives. 🙂

    1. Silver MagpiesNo Gravatar

      Jennie –

      I’m always glad to be useful! It is a bit of a dilemma, but not enough of one to make one put away the silverware to save for the elusive “best” I hope.

      – Nan

  3. Celindy KellumNo Gravatar

    Just read your collumn in the latest SILVER MAGAZINE!!! Absolutely LOVE your idea of storing spices in the vanity jars!!!
    It also gives me great ideas for gifts for my friends who love to cook (or who just like to make their kitchens look nice!!!)

    Do you have other pics elsewhere? I know that you said this was your best picture. I would just love to see how it all looked! Thanks for a wonderful idea!

    1. Silver MagpiesNo Gravatar

      Hi Celindy

      Thanks so much. I’m thrilled you enjoyed my column. I’ll dig through and see if I can find a few other photos. I’ll try to post them in a couple of weeks. I’ll let you know.

      – Nan

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