Controversial Ice Cutting

So apparently, cutting ice with a big knife is controversial. I’ve gotten more comments about that video than pretty much any other post I’ve done.

Anyway, here are some video demos of the techniques. Camper English took them while Andrew Bohrer was visiting San Francisco.

Hand cutting big ice cubes with a Knife:

Making Shaved Ice with a Knife:

Sculpting an Ice Ball with a Knife:

And, oh yeah, some old guy cutting up a big ice block with a chainsaw:

For more information, and further videos, check Camper’s post on Alcademics:

Ice Meets Chainsaw

9 thoughts on “Controversial Ice Cutting

  1. This guy has talent.

    Not to be a hater, but his knife looks to be fairly thick (not too sharp) and serrated. If he hit his hand with it, I don’t think it would pierce his skin. That’s a far cry from taking a chef’s knife and slapping something in your hand without protection. I could be wrong about his knife, though.

    Honestly, Erik, you could probably use the dull side of the knife and accomplish what you were trying to do in that video a few days ago. We all care about you! How are we supposed to read your blog if you’re dead?

    • Andrew used two knives, both Japanese. Yes, they are heavier than my 6 Inch Chicago Cutlery chef knife. Neither were serrated. (Serrated knives are the work of the devil and far more dangerous than straight edge knives.) Both of Andrew’s knives were very, very sharp.

  2. I just read the comments from the Flip video and people wanted a towel or glove? Probably recommended if you have no experience and/or have been drinking, but the bartenders who work block ice at Drink do not use any protection when they use cleavers, picks, or the like during any stage of their work. Most of the cuts come by way of broken glassware or cutting citrus, and not from ice handling.

    I did speak with a custom knife maker at our town’s open studios. He is the one that works with Drink to make them the right tools. The problem with most knives is the danger that the blade (or part thereof) will break off and fly and hit a customer (worse than hitting the bartender). He worked on thickness, angle, and getting the proper steel (wide variety there) for the job. Otherwise, Drink uses Japanese cleavers and they blow through them with some regularity.

    While I have faith in your ability to handle a knife, it might be wrong to have it on an instructional video (although yours was more demonstrational) since mixing booze and unskilled people and sharp objects will statistically result in bloodshed. I wasn’t freaked out here since the average person doesn’t use larger format ice, but I did react when Dietsch showed the making of a citrus twist using a sharp knife (I think) cutting towards himself. I am sure he can do it well, but I would advise the average person to just use a Y-peeler.

    • Funny because my towel/glove comment about cutting ice was specifically from watching bar staff at Drink in Boston. Granted I’ve only been there twice, but that was the first place I saw it being done.

      I would actually make a different critique. The ice used in the videos above and at places like Drink is a lot larger, colder and harder than the ice Erik uses in the previous video. Softer ice breaks in less predictable ways in my experience. So there’s that.

      • Matt, my ice is likely as cold as any bar, coming fresh out of a freezer set at -5 F. The ice in the videos above was actually quite warm and in danger of disappearing quite quickly into the gutter. Actually, too cold is just as bad as too warm, resulting in ice that is more likely to shatter, than break cleanly.

        However you are correct as regards imperfections in my home frozen ice cubes resulting in less predictable cracking than the sculpture grade clear ice we were cutting in the videos.

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