Edge Matters (How sharp?)

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  • I seem to rarely need to sharpen a knife these days, i have a decent quantity of users and lots inbetween, typically with RWL34 blades and a quick strop sometimes after use, is normally enough to sharpen for me. I generally prefer to have my knives say medium sharp, they will slice paper without problem, but will not be shaving sharp. Having a broad taste in knives from Bowies, to survival knives to slipjoints, i handle a lot of different styles and its much easier to switch off for a second and cut yourself.

    Examples, i bought my first custom dagger a few years ago, a Neels Roos one and i managed to slice my thumb open running it along the spine :S (yes i know there isnt one) when distracted on the telephone. My first custom slipjoint opened my hand to the bone when struggling to open it.

    My first attempt at stripping down maintaining and realigning a linerlock, left an L shaped scar on my finger.

    Yes you get the picture im a clumsy sod at times so i shouldnt have sharp things.

    Recently ive taken to removing my knives from their sheaths and lightly oiling them, then wrapping them seperately in dust cloths with their sheaths for storage. The tips of fighters have now drawn blood, if they've been poking through the cloths and i havent noticed. I could go on, but will stop at this as i dont want to prove myself to be full retard.

    Years ago, i used to regularly hear about Longstrider putting a razor edge + on knives. I would whince at that a little. Now i get that you need that sort of edge for competition cutting and say wood cutting / whittling. I rarely do either, my knives are mainly for hunting and fondling and you dont need a razor edge for either, in my opinion.

    Am i a special needs knife nut, that prefers a 'medium' sharp edge, rather than every knife being 'dangerously' razor sharp..... at least for me I suppose

    Do your knives need to be able to whittle hair or, is 'medium' sharp good for you. How does your edge matter?


  • As @bonzodog says, Longstrider reground & reprofiled a custom of mine......Jesus ! :dead: Incredible mirror edge & absolutely flawlessup close. :thumbup: Do you need a knife that sharp for practical usage / EDC mixed use ? I don't personally need anything more than shaving arm hair with a slice rather than a push ! I do like a good strop now & again... ;)

    I've always kept fixed blade knives out of their leather sheaths. I'm not so fussy about kydex unless it's a high carbon steel but that's more about corrosion & sweating than edge retention ?
    In recent times, I've only had one EDC knife exhibit surface corrosion. Proximity to salt sea air is a game changer. I'm still using Marine TUF cloth on the non users including the swords...all good 10 years on.

  • Had to take a few heads and feet off at the weekend. The Reds have been rutting. The stags are filthy, and there's nothing quite like dirt in the hair of a deer to take the edge off of a knife. Unless it's a toothy edge.....

    So it's all about how it's going to be used for me.

    Owning a gun or knife and not using it, is akin to not sleeping with your girlfriend to keep her neat and tidy for the next bloke.

  • Had to take a few heads and feet off at the weekend. The Reds have been rutting. The stags are filthy, and there's nothing quite like dirt in the hair of a deer to take the edge off of a knife. Unless it's a toothy edge.....

    So it's all about how it's going to be used for me.

    I second Mehmet up here, it depends on what the knife is being used for.

    Two friends and I had 23 fallow does between us at the weekend, pictures in the Thread That Dare Not Speak It's Name in the game preparation section, and with that sort of numbers you just can't stop to sharpen all amidst blood, guts, grime and gathering darkness.

    I bought a couple of superlative stalking knives form Guy Stainthorp, one in S90V and the other in ZDP.

    I have yet to have a big weekend carrying the S90V but the ZDP 90 has gralloched and cut the head and feet of maybe 18 deer.

    When i first got it the edge angle was a bit too acute for rough work around bone but at around 20 degrees per side has lasted much, much more at what I would term an acceptable level of sharpness than any steel i have used before.

    To give you some idea I think the low carbide razor stainless steels typified by the stainless Mora needs a touch up after a deer or two. medium carbide steels like CPM154, VG 10, 440C, etc can manage two or three, and the high carbide steels like ZDP will go on and on as long as you don't microchip the edge out on bone.

    The disadvantage of the latter steel is that when it is blunt you cant just swipe it over the steel back at the larder, in fact the next person who suggests stropping a ZDP blade back to sharpness in the field will be hit over the head with a dead fish first dipped in glue and then broken glass.

    Am looking forward to testing the S90V.

  • My dear Lord ive never needed to use a knife on such an industrial scale. I always went on the sharper it is, the quicker it gets blunt. So if its sharp enough it tends to stay that way. Razor blade sharpness, darkness and slippery blood, tend to also make accidents.

    Horses for courses though.

  • Good post Amir, and that is the one drawback with the supersteels, you are pissing into the wind trying to get them sharp in the field without the use of stones or other paraphanalia, never shot more than 6 beasts on a trip, so 20 + to gralloch is no mean feat :thumbup:

    "This is my rifle.There are many like it, but this one is mine"


    Sharpen it like you love it, use it like you hate it.

  • amen to that ;) , one would be nice at the mo :D ,as the other harder users have said though, it depends on the use at the time ,sharp enough for a gralloch or two does me "just a rough old stalker here though with no refinement :thumbsup:;) "

    Join the club Glyn.
    My hopeless addiction to exotic steel and actual finesse with the knife in use, do not always tally :D

    "This is my rifle.There are many like it, but this one is mine"


    Sharpen it like you love it, use it like you hate it.

  • - just love it when an edge is so flippin' cringingly sharp........it's like it takes on a magical quality and capability

    That's because the knife is (almost) man's oldest tool, and it brings out the "Man bring meat" characteristics that is firmly stamped in our DNA ;)

    "This is my rifle.There are many like it, but this one is mine"


    Sharpen it like you love it, use it like you hate it.

  • @Karlo, what an excellent thread.

    I appreciate a perfect mirror hair whittling edge as much as the next knife enthusiast, but do I need this? No is the true answer. Each of us will use a knife sightly differently with a different mix of cutting tasks, and the edge that suits this may be slightly different.

    I definitely do find some edges too sharp for my purposes. There is an optimum sharpness where it cuts well, but does need a light pressure which I can control properly, instead of running away with the cut. Inevitably, we will bump into the edge at some point (we are human and prone to accidents) so it helps if that edge doesn't instantly inflict lightsabre like injury.

    Recently I've been offering a sharpening service (local to me only) with all the money going to charity. Since doing this I've had most of my 'customers' cut themselves. I make a point of demonstrating the new edge falling through paper and now supply a few plasters with each sharpened knife to make the point further, but is still happens.

    At home I've taken the point of most of our kitchen knives as when chopping/slicing it is easy to catch the point on a finger.

    With regard to my sharpening technique and tools, I've tried just about everything, but for most of my utilitarian sharpening (for the working tools), I now use an 800W belt sander with 120 grit belt (using the unsupported part of the belt between roller and flat plate), a light touch and a Longstrider strop to remove the wire edge and finish things off.

    This clearly produces a slightly toothy edge, but once stropped this cuts fiercely, with control, and seems to last well

    I've gone scary sharp, then backed off again to something that works better for me.

  • Subwoofer, Joe public dont realise how sharp you can get their knives. As we all are endoskeleton in make up, scary sharp is a bit much, methinks. Ive just picked up a double bladed slipjoint. Its sharp enough and gorgeous to look at, if it was scary sharp, I would have had trips for stitching by now. I know it, as it opens easy enough but shuts as quick as a mouse trap. Im opening both blades together, just because i can, but feel like Grenville in open all hours, with the self shutting till. If i was sadistic i'd put a scary edge on it and watch people, remove their own fingers by mistake ;(

    I dont want scary sharp for deer or, game. But for filleting fish, scary sharp works. Strange i suppose.

    I still prefer medium sharp. Which gives me an idea.... i know there is a Rockwell hardness test, it seems around 60 is a good number.

    Why not have a sharpness number.

    1. Scary sharp, like a new razor
    4. Karlo's Cut. Medium Sharp
    10. Just made and not yet sharpened.

    Maybe a bit of fun, maybe there's something init. Whats your thoughts?

  • I prefer a no.1 scary sharp or no.2 for carving and food prep. The edge doesn't have to be mirrored but can end up that way with much stropping. For EDC anythingfrom no.4 to no.1 . The sharpest knifes I have at the moment are an Eaglet made by @HillBill ,It is in RWL 34 and scandi ground and a santoku from Eden ( knives and tools own brand) this is in Aogami blue no2. I am with the " a sharp knife cuts safer " school of thought especially hard wood or tough veg. Edge geometry needs to be suited to the steel and the job of course for a lasting edge in practise.

  • Great way to try and minimise the subjectiveness inherent in talking about something like sharpening.

    I would say that I like to start my knives ( ideally, if I have time, can be arsed, further practical considerations whereof, etc.) at somewhere around 1-2 and by the time they get to 6-7 I would say that they are too blunt for my purposes unless there is no other choice.

    The way I gralloch a deer means that I am not usually poking around in the chest cavity with both hands and so I can say that i have never cut myself in the circumstances you describe above.

    On the other hand the ability to lightly slash at skin, cutting it but not into the muscles below makes doing the gralloch very fast, particularly when dealing with the tricky bit around the bum.... :D

    using things like Moras and even 440C/154 customs I usually carry multiple knives when culling and there is always a spare mora in the bottom of the back pack anyway.