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What's more important? Take an edge or hold an edge?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Hal, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. comis

    comis Gold Member Gold Member

    May 17, 2013
    If "take an edge" means a relative decent steel with good heat treat/geometry(like the 420HC by Buck), but not pot metal or steel without (proper) heat treat, then I too probably would prefer take an edge. I don't cut abrasive material all the time, and I really do enjoy the fast and easy maintenance.
    Lesknife likes this.
  2. colubrid

    colubrid Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 26, 2005
    Can anyone name some models that are easy to sharpen... that have steels that are soft and take an edge?

  3. miso2

    miso2 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 19, 2014
    Sort of both?
    I can easily touch up my 1095 GEC and S90V Manly on the go with a fine diamond stone (I use DMT EEF).
    For EDC, I much prefer high wear-resistant steels, though.
  4. Pomsbz


    Jul 31, 2015
    lonestar1979, Smaug, BJE and 2 others like this.
  5. spoonrobot


    May 1, 2004
    Take an edge

    There are more things out there that will completely destroy any steel's edge. Being able to cut through a bunch of sand and dirt impregnated carpet, destroying the edge but being able to be back up and running in 1 minute > being able to cut 800 yards of cardboard and still shave. I've found that a lot of the high wear steels are only really high wear in lab conditions or cutting ideal material. Real world with lots of junk around and they don't perform much better. Often the ratio of cutting to sharpening will be very high. Few cuts for lots of sharpening time.
    afishhunter likes this.
  6. Lesknife

    Lesknife Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Mar 31, 2018
    You are correct in being able to destroy an edge. I’ve seen some people that can destroy an anvil with a rubber mallet too. It depends on a number of things but first is how the knife is being used or abused. Then sharpening ease depends on skill level and type of media. Then using a suitable knife for the task or maybe a different type of tool besides a knife would be better. There are lots of variables in how well any steel will hold an edge but if you are experiencing poor performance from the super steels then something is off somewhere. I have used s30v, S35vn and 20cv in very harsh conditions cutting tough materials and they out perform the lesser steels by far and they don’t take long to get them back to razor sharp using diamond stones.
    ktataragasi likes this.
  7. spoonrobot


    May 1, 2004
    The issue is that "super steels" will almost universally react the same basic way as AUS8/440c/BDN1 when they hit embedded silica particles, a tiny granite peddle, or a hidden steel wire - physical damage to the edge that has to be removed. Even with the best diamond stones fixing a dulled and damaged edge is always going to take longer than a lower wear steel. Logically if S35vn on a diamond is fast, 440c must be lightning. Burr removal is much easier for sure.

    Much of the current stainless super steel mythos is based around cutting civilized materials in a clean, dry environment. How many Amazon packages a 20cv blade can open without dulling isn't really relevant for my uses. Being able to carry one cutting tool that can be used for everything from clean cardboard to salt & sand crusted rope cut on top of an aluminum block, to trimming wood with cement flashing - is more important. I cut my teeth on S30V a decade and half ago and have since spent a lot of time with S90V, S110V, K390 and ZDP189 and for all the lab testing done have not found them to be appreciably better in the field.

    This is not a judgement, merely an explanation of preference. When I have the ability I'll carry a hatchet, replaceable blade utility knife, hard wire cutters, and a folding saw - in addition to my folding knife. But most often it's just the folder, usually something mid-range like CPM154, VG10, or H1. It's what works for my uses, right now.
  8. DangerZone98


    Dec 7, 2019
    I find that the more time and dollars you spend on this hobby, the less gaga you get over the new exotic supersteels. They’re great to own, definitely, but for most EDC uses a simple carbon or stainless steel will get the job done.

    The graph below illustrates this phenomenon more accurately. I call it the DangerZone98 effect.

  9. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Don't me wrong, I like all the variety available and they all have their place and applications. It's a great time to be into knives. :)
    Lesknife and DangerZone98 like this.
  10. Dallas T

    Dallas T Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2013
    I still thoroughly enjoy vg10, 154cm, hell my work partner carries an old S&W swat knife that has 440c and I sharpen it probably once a yr and it gets quite sharp very easy
    Planterz likes this.
  11. Planterz

    Planterz Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    I like a good middle ground. VG-10 is one of my all-time favorites. It's not the best at edge holding, but it's far from the worst. More importantly, I can sharpen it without difficulty and for some reason I've always been able to get it sharper and keep it sharper better than pretty much any other steel I've used. It's probably a combination of the properties of the steel itself, my skill/technique, and the ceramic sticks I tend to use. 154CM/ATS-34 I'm OK with too. I'm liking the CPM154 I've been using lately (Kershaw Leek, Jim Dunlap custom). I'm a relative newcomer to M390/CTS-204P (haven't used 20CV yet), but I'm having good results with it. I think it just might end up being a favorite of mine (which I'm sure is no surprise to anybody).

    I don't have much experience with ultra-hard highly wear resistant steels. Gonna get a K390 Delica soon though. My Superblue Calypso Jr seems to me like it's a middle ground between edge holding and edge taking, perhaps leaning towards edge holding.

    The thing is, I don't really need an ultra-high wear resistant knife. As long as it gets me through a day or 3 without needing constant touch-ups, I'm fine. Which I suppose is why I need to be able to sharpen my knives with relative ease. I don't want to have to break out the Edgepro or coarse diamonds simply to sharpen it after a day or 3's use. We'll see how it goes with the K390 Delica when I get it. It's gonna be cutting a lot of cardboard.
    Rupestris likes this.
  12. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    I love VG10. :thumbsup:
    jfk1110 and Rupestris like this.
  13. Rupestris

    Rupestris Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 1, 2006
    Same. :thumbsup:
  14. The_Knife_Man


    May 30, 2014
    I like hold an edge better. Sometimes that 1st sharpening is a beast, but everytime after that is pretty easy. Plus rotating a handful of knives really space out the need of sharpening.
  15. GIRLYmann


    Nov 7, 2005
    whoever said that
    "a knife is only as good as its edge",
    was spot on.
    edge holding above all
    when it boils down to usefulness
    gets my vote.
    frankly, i doubt if anyone gets excited
    and look forward to edge maintenance
    once it begins to feel more than necessary.
  16. scdub

    scdub Basic Member Basic Member

    May 29, 2004
    Take an edge.

    I enjoy sharpening with natural stones that I find/flatten, and like to sharpen frequently to keep a shaving edge on the large majority of my knives. This only takes seconds with a nice high-carbon blade - even at high hardnesses.

    These are my kitchen knife stones (currently):


    I mostly save my diamond plates for keeping my stones flat.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2020
    fuzzylogic, willc, jfk1110 and 4 others like this.
  17. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    And what exactly do you consider a supersteel?
    Certainly not that Guardian Tactical Recon 040 in Elmax you are looking for...


    Awesome knife BTW.

    I don't mind frequent touch ups. I also don't let knives get too dull. I do like a knife to stay sharp enough to keep an edge through my average day of tasks though. I'm fine with medium edge holding in that regard I guess. If something needs more touch ups, I'll work around it to a certain point. If something requires a more prolonged sharpening because I've dulled a "super" steel, I guess it is earned and I am more than capable of handling the task...
  18. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    I would vote take an edge.

    I can always repair an edge. But, you can’t do that on a knife which will not take an edge.

    willc and scdub like this.
  19. colubrid

    colubrid Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 26, 2005
    You asked for my opinion.. But don't get offended at my answer because this is MY opinion. Not telling anyone they have to agree with me.

    What do I consider a supersteel? Well basically I am a super simple person and am stngy with my time on earth. And I discovered I don't want to spend 30 minutes sharpening a knife that I just used to cut some chicken on a plate.

    Basically I don't care for any of the new variants like S30V etc on a WORKING KNIFE. Basically the price means you are paying for the steel and I can do without the price . I wish that manufacturers would make many of the same knives they do.. But with cheaper steel. Maybe the knife world will wake up to these hard to sharpen steel and go for a steel that take a few licks some cermic V-sticks to be shaving sharp.

    As far as the Guardian Tactical. I don't like supersteel much at all. But the OTF automatics are different That is not what I would use for daily use except for opening envelopes. It is more a toy and fidget knife. I don't even consider that knife to be a good self defense knife. I like Emersons for lurking in dangerous favelas.:)
    jfk1110 and colin.p like this.
  20. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Have personally sharpened the steels you say you dislike? It's completely fine to dislike them, I'm just trying to understand your firsthand experience sharpening and using them vs. potentially going by what others say.
    Smaug likes this.

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