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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thinking. It's a dangerous thing. It left me thinking it might make for an interesting thread to see how different folks test the sharpness of their knives?

What is your standard for sharpness/what do you require from your knives that is your basic edge requirement?

This goes for regular guys who just carry to cut string, open envelopes, to those who skin critters and work in the yard, and to include, ahem, certain edge obsessed, over achievers who make the rest of us look like toddlers. ;)

For me, I usually do the same as a lot of guys seem to. Besides scalping my arm hairs which annoys the wife, I do the paper slicing and when I have it around newsprint as well. I also have some scrap leather around that I test cut, both using a small slicing motion and press cutting, depending on the knife. Before we moved I had a roll of hemp or sisal rope around that I would also use to see how well a knife could cut through it.

Generally if a knife will cut easily through paper, string, ribbon, and do some basic food cutting cleanly I find it suitable for general carry. I like it to be able to handle the leather cutting cleanly, but I also find that some scraps I have from different lots are much tougher than others. So I try to stick to a particular batch or two for comparisons. Unfortunately those scraps are getting used up.

One thing I have found interesting over the years is that I have/had some knives that due to angles, thickness, whatever wouldn't shave the hair off my arm, but would slip right through newsprint and leather pieces like nothing. While the shaving thing is impressive to show off to others, I find that what matters more to me is how the knife cuts the things it is intended to cut. Also, how well does it keep cutting those things over time and normal use.

That's me. What about you guys?
 

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It's gotta shave. My sister in law moved in with us do to medical problems and her response to her first time using my 24 year old Chicago Cutlery chefs knife was, "Wow! I've never used a knife that sharp before. Is that how they're supposed to be?" My response, "At my house it is so please don't leave it laying in the sink". The next thing out of her mouth was "I have a coupke knives that need sharpening....?" I showed her a skinner I made today for a Christmas gift for a trapper friend and she said "Is it sharp? Oh yea it is." I informed her it was fresh off the belt grinder and it hasn't been stoned yet so it will be sharper when I'm done. Most people just don't know the difference having a truly sharp knife can make in there everyday knife usage.
 

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I find that what matters more to me is how the knife cuts the things it is intended to cut. Also, how well does it keep cutting those things over time and normal use.
Absolutely. A bit of a "toothier" edge - while not technically sharper - will cut through fibrous or pulpy things (cardboard, clothing) easier than a thick blade that has a mirror polish like The Tourist loves to show us.

Edge geometry and blade thickness is a thread or three all unto themselves however, so to answer the question...

I use the standard newspaper and arm hair tests, but over the years I can also tell how sharp a knife is just by feeling how "grabby" it is with my fingertips.
 

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Most people just don't know the difference having a truly sharp knife can make in there everyday knife usage.
You're "preaching" to the choir here, brother! Most people have never truly had or owned a really sharp knife, and can be amazed once they are given one to use.

Ask any non-knife person what the sharpest knife they have in their house is, and chances are they will say it is some sort of "generic" steak knife. Then I give them a sharp knife, and it's like they've discovered the wheel, or something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Yeah, I've got that, "I'm afraid to have a really sharp knife around." Sometimes it's the scared thing, other times it's someone trying to cover up and make excuses. Like the security guys I used to work with that used to say "I never score a perfect score on the qualification range 'cause if I'm in a shooting they'll use that against me."

The later I just shake my head a little and don't waste my breath with anymore. The former, the scared of a sharp knife folks. Those I take a little time and try to educate. I tell them that if they can slice through something easily instead of having to shove hard on the knife then there's less chance of slipping and slamming a knife into their hand. I also point out that a clean cut from a sharp knife heals quicker and without the scarring of a jagged cut. Best is don't cut yourself I tell them. That is best done by a knife that cuts easily without a lot of pressure on it. But if you do... Better a clean cut.

I hear you guys. When you hand someone a sharp knife and it just slips right through what they are cutting the reaction is priceless. I usually warn them it's sharp for safety's sake But it's kind of funny after the cut when they get that look and very carefully hand the knife back like it suddenly turned into a rattlesnake in their hand that they don't want to upset.

Shane, I'm generally not a fan of serrated blades. However, back in the Army when we were using a lot of that sisal rope to tie things down and for tent guy lines I ended up adding an small to medium sized early SOG one hand opening lockback with a fully serrated blade to my belt just for stuff like that. It was really nice because it came with a nylon horizontal sheath and was nice an out of the way on my belt until needed.

My D2 Queen folding hunter has a toothiness as well. Though it will shave hair with either blade when you look at the edge magnified it has those little micro serrations that D2 seems to work nicely with.
 

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I never really carried a knife every day until this year. And having a really sturdy and sharp knife with me has come in handy so many times, I will never go without one from here on in.

I usually just test via arm hair or just carefully rubbing my thumb across the edge of the blade...usually you can feel the sharpness of the edge/if there are burrs just by doing that.
 

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Shane, I'm generally not a fan of serrated blades.
Me neither. I haven't found many things that a thin blade with a really sharp edge won't cut as well, or better.


My D2 Queen folding hunter has a toothiness as well. Though it will shave hair with either blade when you look at the edge magnified it has those little micro serrations that D2 seems to work nicely with.
D2 is one of my favorite steels. Not widely used - probably because it can be a biatch to sharpen - but once done, it holds an edge forever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Me neither. I haven't found many things that a thin blade with a really sharp edge won't cut as well, or better.
Yep, which is why I am quite fond of traditional pocket knives and my primary carry is a Case mini-trapper in :eek: Tru-Sharp stainless steel. Hey, that's the steel it came with. Works just fine for what I use it for and tunes up quickly. That thin blade slips through a lot of things easily.


D2 is one of my favorite steels. Not widely used - probably because it can be a biatch to sharpen - but once done, it holds an edge forever.
The Queen BEM folding hunter I used to carry in one of my mag pouches (if I couldn't get it done with 18 rnds in the gun and 17 in a second mag I needed to get whacked) when I was doing security is D2. Biatch is right. I finally just handed it and $5 over to the sharpening guy at a gun show a few years ago. It's still shaving sharp and all I've done is bare leather strop it once.

I gave my saddle pard a Canal Street trapper for Christmas one year that was in D2. CS may have put weak springs in that thing, but they sure knew how to send it out the door with a wicked edge on it. Queen on the other hand was hit and miss when it came to their D2 edge profiles.

Maybe once I get geared up I'll go after sharpening the tougher steels, but I've been a fan of good old 1095 or 440C in a pocket knife. Something I could sharpen with oilstones.

I'm thinking I need to remember to pick up another roll of natural rope soon for test cutting. And keep the small vacuum handy. ;)
 

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As for "polish," it's just one of the attributes that make an edge toothy.

That Schrade I just polished is very toothy. My guess is the *ahem* "Chinese version of 440" has some alloy mix that produces huge carbides. Ken told me that the real claim to fame with his new emulsions is that the formulation he uses also polishes the rough areas the human eye cannot see.

Here's an example, coupled with the 640K grit I've been using, he also makes an emulsion at 1.2 million grit. Ken states that to the casual observer there's no difference in appearance.

I also polish edges from 1000 to 2000 grit, especially dedicated camping knives and Myerchin sailors' knives. But I must admit, a sharp knife is a sharp knife. It's the edge that cleaves.

Yes, I spend a lot of time on the decorative aspect of the bevel. But that process goes to the complete "edge of the edge." In demonstrating that a polished bevel "bites" as well as anything else, I took a section of soft silky yarn (the hardest thing there is to slice--it offers no resistance) and the edge walked through it like it wasn't even there.

If I have to demonstrate the keenness of an edge, I use the newer cash register receipts as offered by Barnes and Noble. If your knife can slice off a narrow section of the receipt so it curlicues like the shavings when you plane a door, then you have achieved your goal.
 

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I prefer to use a cheap decent knife for everyday tasks.When the time comes for self defense I do not have to second guess.
 

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I prefer to use a cheap decent knife for everyday tasks.When the time comes for self defense I do not have to second guess.
I don't second guess, either. If limited to a "contact weapon" I choose a wet brick.

Just keep in mind that most combat knives are designed to make money, not save lives. In fact, what most people define as "fighters" are more akin to Gil Hibben fantasy renditions. I wouldn't use one bone a chicken.

To be fair, I also carry a "cheap knife," a 38 dollar Mantis Tough Tony. It's blade blank is a full 1/4-inch thick, made from CPM-440V, now called S60V.

Inexpensive doesn't have to mean "cheap." It's like this coffee mug given to me by an Old Templar. He stated, "When it comes to superior cappuccino, you have chosen wisely..."
 

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I usually only have two tests. The first my Dad showed me when I was a kid. Lay the edge on your thumbnail at an angle. If it digs in, it's pretty sharp, if it slides, not so much. After that, I'll cut a piece of paper. If the edge is good, it will slice evenly and smoothly for the length of the blade. If the edge is not as good, the cut won't be smooth, and will tend to hang up in problem areas of the blade.
As far as use, when I cut meat for a living, the sharper, the better, for a knife that was used for slicing. Think boneless top sirloin or rib eye. A knife for boning was a different story. You could actually get it too sharp, and the edge would want to cut into the bones, rather than slide past them, which wasn't ideal.
L.
 

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i don't second guess, either. If limited to a "contact weapon" i choose a wet brick.

Just keep in mind that most combat knives are designed to make money, not save lives. In fact, what most people define as "fighters" are more akin to gil hibben fantasy renditions. I wouldn't use one bone a chicken.

To be fair, i also carry a "cheap knife," a 38 dollar mantis tough tony. It's blade blank is a full 1/4-inch thick, made from cpm-440v, now called s60v.

Inexpensive doesn't have to mean "cheap." it's like this coffee mug given to me by an old templar. He stated, "when it comes to superior cappuccino, you have chosen wisely..."
ok
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
As for "polish," it's just one of the attributes that make an edge toothy.

That Schrade I just polished is very toothy. My guess is the *ahem* "Chinese version of 440" has some alloy mix that produces huge carbides. Ken told me that the real claim to fame with his new emulsions is that the formulation he uses also polishes the rough areas the human eye cannot see.

Here's an example, coupled with the 640K grit I've been using, he also makes an emulsion at 1.2 million grit. Ken states that to the casual observer there's no difference in appearance.
Good point. The kind of polish work you do, while very high on the aesthetics, is first and foremost for a purpose and that is pure cutting. Pretty don't work if it don't work. It's the difference between a craftsman and a, wait for it... "poser."

1.2 million? Yikes! That's getting into particle physics isn't it?

I do have a "life depends on it knife." It's a $40 Ka-Bar TDI that now resides in a drawer. I kept it nice and sharp and carried it like it was intended, under my mag pouch on my left side when I worked security. The same mag pouch that held one magazine and the Queen D2 folding hunter.

I used the slightly more expensive Queen for regular cutting. I never cut anything with the TDI except to test the edge. As it was intended, the TDI was there solely to be used for a weapon retention or last ditch event. I had full confidence that if called on it would perform just fine. I used the Queen a fair bit. Especially at lunch time. Never used the TDI and I find that's a good thing.

I like the fingernail idea, but then I'd probably really piss off the wife. Patches of shaved hair on the arms AND marks on my fingernails. LOL.

So what are the most difficult things to cut cleanly and easily? Silken yarn has been offered. We know that newsprint will show a flat spot or a burr real quick. I know I should have kept those phone book that were delivered a few months ago. Natural fiber rope can be a bit challenging to a knife. Which brings up another question.

L.E. made an interesting point on the boning knife. Too sharp and it gets in the way of boning. Yet, it has to be sharp enough to cut the connective material and the meat around the bones. A good example of one size does not fit all.

Dagnabbit, Tourist. See what ya done. Ya got us wondering and looking more into edges, the methods, the philosophies, and even the east/west comparison of the above. Conan's Riddle of Steel was much, much simpler. ;)
 

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Dagnabbit, Tourist. See what ya done. Ya got us wondering and looking more into edges, the methods, the philosophies, and even the east/west comparison of the above. Conan's Riddle of Steel was much, much simpler.
LOL. But don't you think we'll become a better forum?

One of the reasons I joined the forum was over the recommendation that that there was "good, useable information" on handguns. Since the Wisconsin CCW provision is so new, I do not have extensive experience with reliable, concealable 1911 style pistols. (The three I owned were for a job in the mid 1980s.)

I did not know there was a blade section here, but it figures. If a man is going to be searching for an ever expanding knowledge on defensive firearms (and he should be, frankly) then it stands to reason he'll want the same level of understanding with his edged tools.

If this section becomes the "gold standard" for info, that's up to the moderators and the owner of forum. But we've discussed a lot here, and if we've done nothing else we have a little band of the gun guys digging through their closets for knives they have, sharpening hunting knives and kitchen utensils, and looking into newer innovations in cutlery.

In other words, the same way they approach their pistols is now a segue to knives. Not bad for the five or six of us that post here regularly.

Oh, here's an idea we could test--"toothy or polished." Lots of times I get too identical demos. I could polish one to 2000 grit, the other to 640,000 and cut the average stuff people use in a given day. That being food, loose laundry threads, the daily snail mail, and perhaps meat or game, head-to-head.
 

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I use the typical shave and paper techniques but finding a blade that will stay sharp in certain conditions is always a challenge. For example, skinning a wild hog. That can dull a good knife rather quickly. I never buy stainless knives anymore for that very reason. All the hand forged knives I've tried have held up nicely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
LOL. But don't you think we'll become a better forum?

One of the reasons I joined the forum was over the recommendation that that there was "good, useable information" on handguns. Since the Wisconsin CCW provision is so new, I do not have extensive experience with reliable, concealable 1911 style pistols. (The three I owned were for a job in the mid 1980s.)

I did not know there was a blade section here, but it figures. If a man is going to be searching for an ever expanding knowledge on defensive firearms (and he should be, frankly) then it stands to reason he'll want the same level of understanding with his edged tools.

If this section becomes the "gold standard" for info, that's up to the moderators and the owner of forum. But we've discussed a lot here, and if we've done nothing else we have a little band of the gun guys digging through their closets for knives they have, sharpening hunting knives and kitchen utensils, and looking into newer innovations in cutlery.

In other words, the same way they approach their pistols is now a segue to knives. Not bad for the five or six of us that post here regularly.

Oh, here's an idea we could test--"toothy or polished." Lots of times I get too identical demos. I could polish one to 2000 grit, the other to 640,000 and cut the average stuff people use in a given day. That being food, loose laundry threads, the daily snail mail, and perhaps meat or game, head-to-head.
Yep, I can't see it as being anything, but a good thing. Given a choice between a good knife and a gun in a genywine out in the bush survival situation, most guys with any sense are going to say, "Knife first." Heck, even the military pilot survival vest puts an emphasis on a good knife in the kit. It just happens to a knife that I've always found a pain to sharpen.

I often get wrapped up in the mental game of matching gun to knife and knife to gun. "What knife would really go well with this gun?" Not as easy as you'd think because there are so many good ones to pair any given gun with. Then you get into, what, why, where, how long, etc..

Just like folks on here have different reasons and requirements for a firearm, so it goes with edged goodies. Just like with the guns we get hot on the trail of the ultimate we sometimes start to overlook the everyday user.

I've stayed out of the blade section for most of the time I've been a member here. For one thing I figured most of the posts would be about the latest tattycool killer elite blades of doom. That and when in blade mode I spent that time over on the blade forum. Then in a weak moment I wondered in just when things got interesting. Blades, bikes, food. I'm there.

A side by side comparison of two different edge treatments/methods on two otherwise identical knives and subsequent test cutting in a variety of materials and situations would be quite educational and helpful. Plus entertaining.
 

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I checked inventory, and right now the only two identical knives I have are Generation II Myerchin combo (1/2 plain, 1/2 serrated) series 300 knives. I was hoping to find two in plain only.

I do have one a white bone handle and another with a titanium frame, no grip panels on that model. I'm sure the blades are the same alloy, but it might be better if everything was identical to quell the flamers.
 

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I usually have my knife sharp enough to shave the hair off my arm. A buddy of mine uses a couple sharpening wheels on a bench grinder, and he handles all of my sharpening needs. He also hooked my wife up with some decent kitchen cutlery.

It really does make a world of difference.
 

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L.E. beat me to it. The thumbnail test is excellant. A sharp knife will readily bite into the nail at even a shallow angle. Try it with a razor blade to see how your knife should be. Additionally, it's easy to test at various places along the cutting edge, to check your work.

No, your nails won't get jacked up by this, the cuts are nearly invisible. But who gives a crap anyhow? The Real Wives of Orange County?
 
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