OT: what's this do? carving fork doodad
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  1. #1
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    I have a nice 1930's vintage carving set (food type, not wood carving: knife, fork and steel) whose fork has a folding clip on the back, hinged about where the handle meets the ferrule, that opens to about 45 degrees and reaches just beyond where the tines join. Does anyone know its function, and how to use it? For more than two decades I have been asking people and received conjectures, guesses, and the like, but so far nothing that makes sense or works (eg "it's a stand to keep the fork off the tablecloth"...but the fork can't be made to stand on it in any way...etc.)

    I've queried cutlery merchants and posted this on two cooking forums, but I bet I find out here first.

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    It is to keep the carving knife from slipping up the fork and doing damage to your person.

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    I'll second that motion. [img]smile.gif[/img]

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    Sort of like a sword hilt, eh? I've had that suggestion, and for all I know it's right, I don't have a better idea, but it doesn't feel persuasive. The part of the knife facing my fork hand is the dull back, and I'm pushing down, not up. Also the clip has a short inward hook at the end, obviously an intentional design element, but seems superfluous to that function.

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    I've seen forks like that, and wondered myself, but I always figured it was to be used as an aid to serving the slice just carved to someone. Seems like the clip might help hold the slice from slipping better than just the knife and fork. When you got it to the plate, you could open the clip and slide the slice off with the knife. Didn't look well suited to the task, but that's all I could figure out.

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    I don't know if this is what you are describing, but I have seen a spring loaded fork tine on some carving forks.

    It is used to hold a thin slice of meat for serving.

    You can open and close the tine with your thumb on the back side of the fork.

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    I have one of these also, I have always understood that it is to keep the fork off of the table cloth. Mine works very well.

    That would be my guess

    Dave J

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    DaveJ, can you explain how you make it do that?

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    An old set of ours has a lever like that. When flipped outwards it has a pair of feet that fold out also. They are on the opposite end of the lever.

    I forget if they are on the inside or outside of the fork, but the two feet hold it up, so it lays on them and the handle. Keeps the fork off the tablecloth.

  10. #10
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    J Tiers beat me to the reply, BUT I have photos !



    This was an easy one, although I haven't used the fork in quite a while, and had to search for it.

    Dave J

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    Aha...mine doesn't have the two little feet on the front (and never did), only the longer leg with the hooked end on the back. Hard to imagine the manufacturers would omit the key feature...

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    here's my fork


    I think the ears on the other version are actually to allow thumb operation, not the main purpose of the clip.

    Trivia tidbit (I knew this had something to do with machining): under the clip is inscribed P.F. Mosley, Sheffield. This firm, now defunct, was the first ever to make stainless steel, in 1912. The outside of the clip says "RUSNORSTAIN" which I guess was their tradename for stainless.

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    Long ago, when I was taught to carve the "Sunday Roast", I learmed with a beast similar to that pictured,(retangular imitation ivory handle)same flip up guard. A roast is flat down on the platter, maybe 2"-3" thick, and one carves the slices by carving across the roast, hence the need for the flip up guard. When carving a bird, one can carve downwards and the guard is not required.
    Les H.

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    Wow, that's the best I've ever heard, I believe it until something better comes along. Thanks! Europeans use forks with the points down, and when slicing off the top of something, the fork is horizontal to allow an entire slice, you have to slice towards the fork or the meat comes off it, and this protects your hand. If I ever see one with a copper inlay (I'm now thinking about how to attach a strip of hdpe or some such thing) along the inside to protect the knife from a nick, the case will be airtight.

    PS: my prediction that I'd find out here first is fulfilled: over on the knife and cooking forums ignorance and guesswork still prevail Machinists rule!

  15. #15
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    My understanding is that it is a stop to prevent the fork from pushing in too far when exerting a lot of force on the fork.

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    So how does it protect your hand when the knife is on the other side of the fork when carving?
    One uses the fork with tines pointing toward the meat not away. And, usually once the knife is well into the roast, the knife is "under" the fork while the fork holds the slice from moving.

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    You guys are making me hungry!

  18. #18
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    Possibly to act as a stop when itching things in the drawers that are not to itched with a fork? Jerald Ware

  19. #19
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    Watch this space Tuesday for live action photos of this fork in action with a Valentine's Day roast beef! They will certify Lesawharris' expertise forever (also precision tools' and Drycreek's general right idea). You will see actual downward slicing with the guard closed, and, for the first time ever on the WWW, horizontal slicing with the guard in use featuring No Incidental Carving of the Genial Host. Owing to family taste for rare roast, these pictures may not be suitable for the squeamish, may offend vegetarians, may make others Really Sorry they aren't around to have a slice.

  20. #20
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    OK, here's my last word on the fork gadget. Slicing downward, guard closed


    and here's the guard keeping the knife from my hand slicing crossways.



    The Fannie Farmer cookbook has a picture recommending slicing a rib roast on its side from the start, though the fork in the picture lacks the guard.

    Thanks everybody for helping with what cannot be the most important thing on anyone's mind .


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