Factory Knife Edge Sharpness?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Cabochris, May 29, 2020.

  1. Cabochris


    May 29, 2020
    First Knife Post ever. I'm no knife expert but am learning and own several. I lean more towards utility and demand a sharp blade. I know different steel types and heat treating change things and why certain blades seem to respond better with different sharpeners/methods. The more I research the less I seem to know and have many questions.
    Of which I'll only ask a few here.

    Recently I purchased 2 cheap Chinese made knives, Elk Ridge brand. $8 each and 2 of the same. Why? Because I liked the blade shape for hunting and figured I could practice sharpening on cheap knives without fear of ruination. I think these are supposed to be 440C. Amazingly they arrived rather sharp and shockingly discovered just a few strokes through a cross steel type pocket sharpener put a razor edge on them! Seriously and they are sharper than a new S30V Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner! So I feathered with one of them quite a bit and besides doing well at that the blade still melts paper!

    On the other hand I just received a new $130 Spyderco Aqua Salt H1 plain edge. I love everything about this knife except... it tore through paper out of the box and feathered worse than the cheap Chinese knives! I tried but couldn't put a decent edge on it. Neither could my buddy who can sharpen knives! I called Spyderco and they seemed elusive. I had to practically pry out of them the edge angle. As though some great secret the best answer I got was 20-40 degrees... Really!? They offered to sharpen it for $7 and I said no thanks, I have to be able to sharpen it myself. So I tried again and got it a bit better, but it's still toothy on paper, only so so feathering, but does well on cardboard. (I have several sharpening systems) Still the cheap Chinese knives are sharper in every way! So why would any manufacturer send out an expensive knife with a questionable edge? Some knives like my Steel Will Argonaut 800 AUS 8 arrived razor sharp! The same with an Alaskan D2 Bush Camp. Same with most Buck knives these days. But not with some more expensive knives. Is this normal? Knives with questionable factory edges or wrong profiles? Why? Why do so many buyers change the factory profiles of their blades? One would think manufactures who do it right from the start, would clean house in sales. Besides they're the experts, right? I'm thinking about an ESSE 4 and 5, but put the brakes on purchasing after so many say the factory edge profile is wrong and they performance prove it in videos! So why would ESSE produce edges that need work? Shouldn't they know better? Why produce great knives with second rate edges?

    I have several Moras and with simple Stropping they are dang sharp! Yet I just received a new Bushcraft Survival stainless today to throw in my truck and are you kidding me... it tears paper so bad! Obviously I can fix that, but again why do they send out such sloppy factory edges? As an example I've been avoiding trying the belt WorkSharp on my Aqua Salt, but will tonight as a last resort. If this fails I may never buy that brand again- period! Factories that send out sloppy blade edges, well, it's perhaps at their sales loss. I'm really starting to wonder if full custom knives are the way to go? Because if the factory edge is sloppy, what else is too???
  2. Stelth


    Jul 15, 2007
    It's weird but some of the sharpest knives I've ever bought were inexpensive. I have a Gerber US1 that came scary sharp. The most expensive knife I ever bought was pathetically dull. The thing I noticed on both is the grind. The Gerber had a very wide gradual grind where the expensive knife had an abrupt steep one.
  3. Kmikaz3

    Kmikaz3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 28, 2019
    Im kinda perplexed that your spyderco salt was not as sharp as you would expect. All my spydercos are currently scary sharp and doesn’t required me to touch up.

    One thing, you could try, is to get yourself, a spyderco sharpmaker optional but highly recommended with Ultra fine rods. With that, it can gets any edges to a razor sharp one.

    Alternatively, save some money and get a pm2 as they are all extremely sharp.
  4. Kiteman72

    Kiteman72 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 22, 2015
    I have dozens of Spydercos and if any of them have arrived without being able to easily shave arm hair and slice paper I must not be remembering correctly.

    I have no experience with the H1 steel however and it has a reputation (in PE) for somewhat poor edge holding.

    I suppose every once in a while a dull Spyderco gets out of the factory, but I haven't gotten one yet.
  5. jpm2


    Nov 19, 2014
    I've never met a factory edge I couldn't improve, ever.... and hate it you can't get your blades sharp. Keep practicing and the premium steels will pay off.
    I don't recommend any powered sharpening for the best edges.

    Edit: Also, if you have a pull through sharpener, throw it in the trash.
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  6. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    This is just not entirely accurate.

    All knives, from any maker can stand at least a touch up from the factory.

    The Sharp Maker with Ultra Fine rods will only hone already sharp edges and only at specific angles.

    The PM2 is not magic. It is as subject to a potentially bad grind getting out as anything else.

    I love Spyderco and my experience is they deliver a consistently good edge but the worst factory grind I've ever gotten was from them as well. Things happen.

    @Cabochris there is a good chance that those Elk Ridge knives aren't actually 440C. At that price point they may well be something on the order of 5CrXX. This is very common for Chinese offerings. That steel will take a quick edge but lose it just as fast.

    Also, if you're dragging your knives through a pull-through type sharpener, you can't expect much. Those things are terrible on edges.

    There is a lot that goes into judging a sharp edge to include geometry, proper sharpening, etc.
    bigsurbob and Kmikaz3 like this.
  7. Kmikaz3

    Kmikaz3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 28, 2019
    I may perhaps be off the mark but with that setup, he can actually get what he wanted by honing the factory edge without ruining his knife. My experience so far with spyderco was stellar nonetheless. Yes, i know pm2 is magic but mine were always almost consistent apart of the inconsistence uneven angle but very sharp... more consistent than benchmade at least with there questionable factory edge. You’re right, it really depends on who ground the edge and quality control.
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  8. vjb.knife

    vjb.knife Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 2, 2002
    I have found over the years that very few factory knives are extremely sharp and less have a very fine finish to the edge. One exception to that are Rockstead knives. But, they are definitely not typical factory knives. A few Microtechs have been pretty sharp and also the Shun kitchen cutlery I have is very sharp.
  9. Smiling


    Nov 21, 2019
    My Warcraft Tanto has sharpest factory edge I got, and dullest and worst factory edge I had was Boker GoBag.

    That being said, I have diamond sharpener I used on D2 and now it's here for CPM-3V.

    And plain carbon steel like SK-5 is best sharpened on a stone.

    All pull through sharpeners are junk, I dislike sharpening systems too despite the fact I know they're good. I just prefer regular stone or surface with diamonds. I don't want to be dependant on sharpening systems.
    GIRLYmann likes this.
  10. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    Most production knife factory edges can be improved on. But I have to say of the big players Spyderco has seemed to be one of the most consistant out of the box edges IMHO.

    Every brand will have an outlier now and then. Just take a bit of time sit down and put the edge you want on it and make it your own. The H1 isn't known for it's edge holding ability more for it's stainless properties ... but it should get sharp and if for some reason there is an actual problem with that blade I have faith Spyderco will fix you up.
    DangerZone98 and Smiling like this.
  11. 000Robert

    000Robert Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    The biggest problem that I have seen with Chinese blades is the heat-treatment, or lack thereof. Rarely have I seen one with a decent heat-treat. My Gerber Gator 650 came razor sharp. It even made my dad whistle when he was checking it out. Not many knives would make him whistle... It's been my EDC for 14 years and still has the factory edge on it.
  12. DangerZone98


    Dec 7, 2019
    I agree with JJ. Their prices are steep, but Spyderco knives deliver with quality, definitely. In terms of factory edge, lockup, fit and finish, I’m very happy with my Spydies. If the factory edge isn’t quite hair-shaving, a Sharpmaker should fix your problems.

    Cold Steel also has excellent factory edges. I own five of their folders and all came paper slicing sharp.
    Smiling likes this.
  13. whp


    Apr 26, 2009
    Agree. Spyderco knives are getting more expensive for the same level of quality. Their knives usually are sharp oob. Equally sharp are the Cold Steel knives.
    DangerZone98 likes this.
  14. DangerZone98


    Dec 7, 2019
    Cold Steels are crazy tough. A forum member here has been batoning with the American Lawman with no issue lol.
    Smiling likes this.
  15. Smiling


    Nov 21, 2019
    If only Cold Steel switched to Kydex or some other polymer without glass, I'd hands down said that they're absolute best value for the money. Excellent quality no nonsense knives and they also come razor sharp out of the box.
    DangerZone98 likes this.
  16. Ajack60

    Ajack60 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 21, 2013
    I thought I read where the H1 plain edge doesn’t hold an edge as well as the serrated edge and that it takes several times of sharpening before it will hold a decent edge. H1 is more known for its corrosion resistance than it’s edge holding ability.
    I’m in the same boat as others in that Spyderco is more consistent in having scary sharp edges out of the box than any other brand I’ve bought. The last three I’ve bought have been stupid sharp. Now, ZT on the other hand is a different story. I’ll use a knife until it needs to be sharpened. I usually stick with the factory angle and seldom alter the edge angle unless it’s thick behind the edge. I don’t care for a high shoulder on a knife. At that point, it’s time to thin the blade if the blade has to be reprofiled more than a few degrees.
  17. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    I can't recall buying any new knife in the last 10 years that didn't come with a very sharp factory edge: Manly, CRK, Buck, CS, Spyderco, even Emerson (OK, not hair-splitting). All benefited from a slight touch-up but they would all shave hair.


    Apr 15, 2015
    I have always had good luck with Spyderco. Kershaw is hit or miss. Worst sharpening if you could call it that was my Swamp Rat Rodent Solution from Busse. It wouldn’t cut butter the way I received it I should have returned it
  19. DangerZone98


    Dec 7, 2019
    I agree. Mr. Thompson needs to hear our pleas.
    Smiling likes this.
  20. gazz98

    gazz98 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    I've had hit and misses with blade sharpness right out of the box on most brands. I don't get worked up about it. I learned to sharpen with stones 20+ years ago. I'm no expert and I don't go for a mirror polish edge but I can make a blade sharp. When you consider I rarely go over $100 on a knife, I don't expect miracles. More passes on a machine, sharpening stone, or freehand sharpening in the factory just adds steps and costs that I prefer to avoid.

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