As an untalented chef, I find accurately chopping vegetables to be a difficult and irritating task. But I have it easy in that I have two hands. For folks who only have the use of one hand, the task moves from irritating to impossible.
Design ought be able to help. One good idea for chopping lighter stuff like herbs is a mezzaluna:
If the base is heavy enough it won’t move, enabling the user to mince one-handed.
When it comes to cutting, slicing or peeling heavier stuff—say, apples, zucchinis or potatoes—a more involved solution is required. One example is the Etac Deluxe One-Handed Food Prep and Cutting Board:
Here we see two solutions. One is the T-track and the clamping plate, which obviously locks down with a cam clamp at the end of the lever. That’s fine if you’re slicing something large in half, but not so good for cutting repetitive narrow slices. The sharp vertical pins are meant to solve that, as the end user can impale a potato or the like in place, then repetitively chop down the length of it. The problem with the pins is that you may accidentally strike them with your knife, and the pins themselves provide a hazard when you’re handling the board (see video at the bottom of this entry).
Coroflotter and RISD grad Sichen Sun is working on her own design for a one-handed cutting board. During her research, she came across a one-handed woman’s DIY solution to the problem, that apparently uses rubber bands or some kind of long twist-ties:
Inspired, Sun first experimented with an alternate clamping method, first tackling the problem of how to hold irregularly-shaped items. Her initial mock-up solved this with a clamp that can be flipped around to present either a flat or concave surface to the work:
However, as with the other designs above, there was no provision for advancing the work after each cut. While the end user could put the knife down, undo the clamp, manually advance the ingredients and then re-clamp, Sun sought a more elegant solution. She then struck upon the idea of a rack-and-pinion arrangement:
The idea here is that the gear furthest from the user slides along a track and can be pulled towards the nearer gear, closing the gap until the material is clamped. The end user can then use their body to press against the butt end of the rack after each cut, which turns the gear and advances the ingredient being cut.
Sun’s concept is mechanically sound, but now requires the finessing that will make it practical; while I like that she started by considering how the end user could smoothly operate this design, the next step might be to figure out a way to replace the gears, or at least the exposed portion of them, so that they do not trap food and will not be tricky to clean.
Does anyone have any ideas? Before sounding off you may want to watch JustAddGinger’s video below, where the hostess offers cooking tips and tools as part of her “One Handed Ways” series: