Is it safe to cut winter squash with a mini hacksaw?

No matter how sharp my knife, I could never get the job done without a lot of effort. This year, I purchased a mini hacksaw from Home Depot and it’s been working great. (Most of what I eat at the moment are medium-sized squash, so a mini size works well.) However, I’m unsure if the blade is safe to use on food. Specifically, the hacksaw packaging informed that the blades are coated in some type of oil. I wash the blade with soap and dry right away; so far I don’t see any rust. Also, I’m always afraid some small piece of the blade might break off and end up in my food. Any thoughts?

It should be perfectly safe. Don’t worry about metal breaking off, and you could always wipe the blade with a thin layer of mineral oil if you’re worried about rust. Clever idea—squash can be really tough skinned.

You’re right - a small piece of metal might break off and end up in the food. Or it may not. And it may not do you any harm. Or it may. Such are the hazards of being the tool using mammal.

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Sounds safe to me. Just keep everything clean, and the blade dry after washing. Wouldn’t hurt to apply some oil to the blade.

Safer than lopping off a toe when you swing an axe…

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I am unqualified to comment as to the chainsaw, but in case you haven’t used the knife technique I stumbled upon through experience and frustration, let me nutshell it here:
With the squash on its side, and using a sturdy chef’s knife, stab into the “equator” as deeply as possible. Holding the knife firmly in one hand, rotate the squash away from you and press the knife down, advancing the cut in small increments. Once the cut is a couple of inches long, you’ll need to pull the knife partially out and reinsert it again from the vertical, and continue turning the squash.

Before I came up with this method, I used a cleaver which I hammered into the squash with a wooden meat pounder.

Pretty much what I actually do - big “chef’s knife” & wooden rolling pin. It works fine

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That’s what I do and then can stand the ends upright and cut down vertically. ETA: if it’s a butternut squash, that is.

I am able to cut butternut and kabocha without any special method. Acorn’s the one that challenged me to come up with a different approach. I’ve never butchered Hubbards or other really big squash.

greygarious, this method is to cut it in half for, say, roasting, right?

Roast, bake, steam, or break down into smaller pieces. Halving it can be the first - or only - step.

There are two kinds of blades out there –

There’s carbon steel (which is probably what yours is) – it’s carbon tool steel, just like a kitchen knife. There’s nothing inherently toxic about the metal itself, and there is really no logical way that a reasonable human being is going to break a tooth off . It’s designed to cut steel and wood – a squash is light duty.

Your blade might also be a bi=metal blade – a thin strip of cobalt steel electron-beam welded to the edge of a high speed steel strip. This gives you incredibly hard and tough teeth on a flexible backer. This one is even tougher, and will last even longer than the carbon steel one.

I would take the paint off – the folks who make hacksaw blades don’t even think about that paint being food-safe. (obviously wash the blade well…) That will take the oil off, too – so you’ll have to oil the blade, especially if the blade is carbon steel.

But there’s nothing from a metal or technology aspect that should give you any pause at all about using it to break down a rock-hard squash. The same blades (without paint) are used for butchering and occasional in human surgeries.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’ve sold the damned blades for most of my life, and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to use one for squash – but it’s an awesome idea, and a really good idea! It will give you a fairly clean cut with not much chance of injury or damage if it slips – you might want to pull the blade out and rinse or wipe it once in a while, only because pulp and fibers will fill the space between the teeth, making it harder for them to cut.

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greygarious, I use the mini hacksaw to peel, too. For a lot of my uses, I prefer to peel first, then cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and cut into small pieces. The mini hacksaw is easy for me to control. If the squash is a bit larger medium, it can still get quite annoying, then I cut it in half, heightwise, to make it manageable to peel.

I’ll post more details of my adventures later today. It actually started from a question I posted on CH a while back asking how to minimize crumb fireworks when slicing crusty bread. Thanks everyone for your replies.

I won’t worry about small piece of blade… However, I agree with you that you need to clean the blade with some detergent or alcohol/ethanol/…etc. Most of these tools have machine oil coated, and not good for consumption.

Most dish detergents are more than adequate to remove any grease or oil on a hacksaw blade. They advertise 'advanced grease cutting action" & machine oil is really not all that different from bacon grease etc. In fact, lard is one of the best lubricants for metal cutting operations.

it’s all fat – that’s about where it ends.

The oils on a hacksaw blade are not only NOT food oils, but have other additive to make them cling to the metal surfaces, corrosion inhibitors, and bactericides to inhibit rancidity of the oil.

Not recommended for human consumption.

And lard was left behind several decades ago by engineered machining oils – I used to sell those, too, and no thanks – I’m not going to put them in my mouth.

This gives me a idea . Instead of using my chefs knife . I am going to use my battery powered Milwaukee hacksaw . I think that would work perfect for those tough squashes .

That is my experience as well. I don’t claim all machine oils act the same. However, the ones I have worked with can be very difficult to wash/remove.

emglow101, we got something off Craigslist called a sawzall. (We are remodeling so we needed it anyway.) That is way too powerful, especially for me, and hard to use with any finesse. A lesser electric/battery saw would be ideal, IMO. For me, the extra weight, medium frequency of use, storage, and safety are other reasons I haven’t explored that tangent further. Safety is the big one: When everyone’s kids are over, I’m afraid someone might bump into me or I’ll leave out somewhere by accident. My kitchen isn’t spacious.

Bmore , I think I was being a little facetious . I know all about saws being a general contractor . After thinking about it . It would be to hard to clean and as you said , children . Not such a good idea .

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold