Not Too Bright or Keen on Mirror Edges?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by rje58, Jan 26, 2021.

  1. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    Unless someone like me polished it.:thumbsup:
  2. longbow


    Jan 9, 1999
    I like a nice toothy edge on all my knives. I found that a polished will tend to slide firstly across the media I am trying to cut and then maybe start to bite unless of course its' arm hair. I want an edge that will bite right off the bat. I find a toothy edge for me does that. Now I am not saying a coarse edge but on my bigger bladed knives they work fine but mostly just a nice toothy edge no matter what the steel. I usually get the edge of the knife sharp to where I can feel it with my thumb pad. Then I have this old coarse Lansky diamond hone that fell out of the carrier long ago and just tilt the edge up a bit higher and hit it either side once or twice and it gives me that oh satisfying very slight toothy edge that seems to last a good long time and stands up to a good amount of cutting. stay safe
  3. MarkN86


    Sep 3, 2012
    Yes. My brother had a mirror polished edge on a knife. I could saw at my finger with it and not cut myself, and it would tear paper and cardboard instead of cut. Turns out the apex was not so great, but the edge bevel was fantastic.

    When you do it right a mirror polished apex is really great on straight razors, some kitchen knives, and for certain uses where you need the extremely keen edge. It's really impressive, it looks nice and if you enjoy sharpening it can be a fun thing to achieve. For a lot of general use a fine but slightly toothy edge will indeed cut better and it certainly takes less time and effort to achieve. Often times the sharpest edges don't last more than a cut or two anyways before falling back to a good working sharpness.

    It's been discussed that a high polished edge is significantly more durable than a toothy one, theoretically that should be true, but the more I learn I wonder if it's safe to make an absolute statement about it. There are more variables to test than just edge finish. Steel composition and heat treatment will affect whether a steel holds a polished or rough edge better, but results can be skewed by variables like technique and the material being cut. A lot of variables could be eliminated with something like CATRA testing. I would love to see a specific test on how different steels respond to different finishes, I'll have to look through Larrin's articles and see if he has anything.

    I don't even own a stone higher than 1200 grit at the moment, I might invest in a finer grit stone sometime but for the time being I don't feel like I'm missing out on much.
    Pomsbz likes this.
  4. DocJD


    Jan 29, 2016
    On a used knife I'm looking to buy , I'd take a polished mirror edge as a good sign , generally , all else being equal .

    But , I personally don't do any of that kind of thing anymore .

    I found that I more enjoyed using (and even hard using) with minimal maintenance , than the endless OCD perfectionism of my initial collecting / "investing" hobby .

    Mostly just keep a working edge with frequent touch-up / honing , freehand with a oval diamond stick .

    Fast , easy and good enough ! :cool:
  5. chalby


    Nov 8, 2020
    I don't understand how a shiny edge would be harder to sharpen. Maybe you need to start with something coarser.

    Even if you are having to reprofile the edge, the level of polish is irrelevent
  6. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    maybe that's true if using diamond or cbd etc?...

    but my experience has been night and day... carbon steel is just super crisp, and no mushiness when sharpening...
    with stainless, with lots of chrome, you can tell the mushiness is much higher
    with a highly polished edge, it seems to be even more so (which is my guess as to why it's reportedly harder to sharpen)

    the worst form of mushiness is of course the dreaded wire edge, which seems to happen mostly with high chrome steels

    I don't own enough mirror polished bevels to know if a wire edge is more likely, has anyone noticed that to be the case?

    (I fully understand I could be conflating chrome content and a mirror edge, so I'm curious about everyone's observations?)
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2021
  7. chalby


    Nov 8, 2020
    Some steels are harder to deal with the burr compared to others, but I don't think there is any relation to how much chromium is in the alloy. A mirror finish also has nothing to do with chromium; try polishing any carbon steel with little or no chromium and you will get just as shiny results(it will also have better corrosion resistance in this state).

    I'm wondering if the OP is actually asking whether anyone has noticed a trend of people who sell knives that also go to the extent of putting a mirror finish on the bevel are somewhat ruining the edge in the process and making it harder to sharpen? I'm not sure.
  8. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    In actual use, I've never had a situation where a mirror edge was required, or would have been an "advantage".
    I've never bothered with them, to be honest.

    For those "modern" steels that perform better with a ... coarser ... finish, say, 400 or 600 grit than with a x,000 grit, isn't a mirror edge a detriment?
  9. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    Or maybe the steel is really hard and he needs to use diamond stones. The steel in my Buck 301 is so hard that my oilstones won't even scratch it. I had to break out my DMT to sharpen it up.
  10. chalby


    Nov 8, 2020
    I would say it depends on the steel and the task. Some steels perform better with a toothier finish, some with a more polished edge. I generally prefer somewhere in between.

    I would think from the point of view of the OP, that the difference in steel would have been a more obvious thing to compare rather than the level of polish, but I'm only guessing.
  11. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Is that a standard Buck 301 with three blades, or a 2018 BF Buck 301 with 2 blades and Elk covers?
    Reason for asking: The standard 301 has 420HC blades. The 2018 Blade Forums knife has CPM154.

    I have no difficulty with Arkansas stones to sharpen my 420HC Buck knives, but the ones with D2, CPM154 and S30V? Not so much. Like you say, they barely scratch them.
  12. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    It's a 301-X-made in 1990 Stockman.
  13. Shorttime


    Oct 16, 2011
    I'm a stubborn so-and-so who refuses to get any kind of sharpening system, but who is also terrible at free-hand sharpening. Mirror edges are not a deal-maker, or a deal-breaker, for me. Sooner or later, it's going to get a couple passes on a Medium Arkansas, or a Smith's red diamond, or the bottom of a coffee cup. So as long as the edge at least tries to shave hair, I'm happy with it.

    Steel choice doesn't influence my buying decisions, although maybe it should. Most of what I carry is "stainless steel", or claims to be something premium. There's no easy way for me to tell because it was made in a country that doesn't participate in the AISI standard.

    It also has to do with the stuff I cut: my knives get fed a plant- and plastic-based diet, and the edge goes away pretty quickly. Which reminds me, I need to touch up my Alox...
    afishhunter likes this.
  14. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    Not me. I love my Wicked Edge 130, and will die owning it. I can reprofile perfect apexes and sharpen perfect edges to just about any angle I want to no matter what the steel is.
    Glenn Goodlett likes this.
  15. Shorttime


    Oct 16, 2011
    Oh, I have nothing against sharpening systems (in case there was some doubt about that), I just feel like hand sharpening is a skill I want to practice, like being able to drive a manual transmission, or doing basic math in my head. Not that I'm all that much better at either one of those, but I can at least blame sloppy shift gates and numb pedals for some of it.
    000Robert likes this.
  16. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    That's cool. I sharpen some by hand that won't clamp into my WE130 for some reason. I've sharpened by hand for most of my life. Were my dad still alive, he would give me hell for buying my WE130 every time I talked to him. LOL!
    Pomsbz and Shorttime like this.
  17. DMG

    DMG Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 30, 2005
    I bet a lot of those knives were sent out for a mirror edge by owners that aren’t good sharpeners then they get old when they are dull and the owner sees something else that catches their eye.
    Shorttime likes this.
  18. rje58

    rje58 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 21, 2013
    I understand that the "same steel" can respond differently because of heat treat and other variables, but I am quite aware of the differences in different steels being easier or harder to sharpen. As many knives as I have owned, most run the gamut from AUS8 to S35VN, M390 and Elmax. I don't have any S110V or 'super steels' - in part because I'm not sure that I'm equipped to sharpen them and don't want to purchase additional sharpening gear.
  19. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    You should be able to find a DMT for not too much money I would think. It shouldn't set you back to far. Personally, I love diamond stones.
  20. Dr Heelhook

    Dr Heelhook

    Jul 24, 2007
    The main reason you want to polish an edge IMO is for wood working.

    When you cut the wood, you want to have a polished edge bevel that leaves a polished surface in the wood. You also want to make sure there's no burr on the edge that will rub off on the wood and that burr is removed by stropping/polishing. If a person isn't able to get a properly sharp edge after stropping/polishing, they're probably not sharpening it properly. You have to know the exact angle. I prefer to use a Tormek rather than a Sharpmaker, because you can set the exact angle on the jig. A Tormek T8 is about 6 or 7 times the price of a Sharpmaker obviously, but it's worth it IMO, especially if you plan on sharpening other edged tools as well and not only knives.

    It depends on what you're gonna use the knife for though.

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