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

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

  1. blanex1


    Feb 11, 2015
  2. Tx308

    Tx308 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 30, 2014
    Edge holding is a great thing but until someone comes up with a steel that keeps an eternal edge then it all comes down to sharpening.

    I have found what I like to use and what I can sharpen as it seems that the OP has.
    Some days that means 154CM/CPM154, some days 20CV or M390, but almost always one of the previous is paired with a 1095 traditional.
  3. craytab


    Jan 26, 2012
    So if that GT 040 was made with 440a, you'd pay the same price? It isn't about the steel that drives the price of that knife, right?
  4. Smiling


    Nov 21, 2019
    I prefer to have them in balance.

    Steel that doesn't take too much effort to take an edge, but also won't lose that edge easily. About middle way would be ideal.

    What's the use of the edge retention of your knife if you can't put the edge on it?
    And what's the use of knife that takes an edge easily if you have to carry sharpening stone with you all the time?
    afishhunter and Pomsbz like this.
  5. JokersFaceLifter


    Jan 6, 2016
    i want both, i have no shame ill buy a 300 dollar knife and use it all up, because otherwise its just a very expensive mantle nicknack --- so i want it to take an edge and hold it reasonably well, I'm fine with a crudely sharp toothy workable edge with the occasional rod touch up, it usually keeps dullness at bay but eventually it'll need some stone love

    correct me if im wrong but i believe AEB-L does both reasonably well, its my new favorite steel
    Bigfattyt likes this.
  6. Hawk45

    Hawk45 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 28, 2005
    I touch up regularly, so I don't need something that holds and edge forever. Most of mine don't see any heavy duty use as I have an office job. But if I were in the field and used mine as a tool daily, I'd probably prefer longer edge holding.. and by that I mean a working edge, not hair popping. I also prefer something that takes an edge fairly easily on a SharpMaker and/or strop. No big sharpening kits here.
    Dcdavis likes this.
  7. Dcdavis

    Dcdavis Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 13, 2018
    I like a happy median. I personally don’t make time to sharpen as often as I should. A good s35vn is good for me. Easy to sharpen and holds an edge long enough. I have a job where my knives see a ton of use. A working edge is fine by me and I don’t keep them razor sharp at all times.

    Honestly at times I wonder what people do with their knives to think they don’t hold an edge long enough. But like I said before I don’t keep mine razor sharp. I also rotate several knives so it’s really hard to keep track of edge retention.

    I’ve had little experience with any other steels other than s35vn, s30v, 154cm or 420hc. The few 20cv blades and one s110v didn’t really make me want any more. I don’t think the 20cv had a good heat treat tho. Chipped terribly everywhere
    Lee D and craytab like this.
  8. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    I have numerous factors that I take into consideration in choosing a knife.

    Holding an edge is the single most important of these fators to me. If it won't hold an edge well, nothing else matters. For that reason, I tend to choose steels like Maxamet, S90V, S110V, CPM M-4, K390, Rex 121 etc.

    Ease, or difficulty in sharpening is not a consideration for me. Diamonds are a knife sharpener's best friend!:):thumbsup::)
  9. Smiling


    Nov 21, 2019
    I agree about diamonds being the best and well said :D

    Everyone is different tho, to me - toughness is the most important factor. 3V and plain carbon steels are my way to go.

    Then, someone else might have corrosion resistance as most important factor, we are all different, but lucky for us, there's steel for each of those things put as priority :)
    scdub, Ben Dover and 000Robert like this.
  10. Hale Storm

    Hale Storm Kydex Whisperer Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Sep 18, 2013
    HOLD an edge. I don't care if it takes a minute or two to get that edge on there. Sharpening, while only enjoyable under the right circumstances, is part of owning and using knives. It's a necessary evil.
    I prefer M390/20CV/204P or S90V and S110V for most of my outdoor uses that, once sharpened properly, will hold that edge for a long, long time. Conversely, I've never encountered a steel that wouldn't TAKE an edge. Some certainly more difficult than others as has been mentioned, but never one that couldn't be done.
    Diamond rods on a Spyderco Sharpmaker are an amateurs best friend.
    Smaug, Ben Dover and MarkN86 like this.
  11. MarkN86


    Sep 3, 2012
    I'd say balance is key, but I lean toward edge holding. You can chase the highest end steel you want, but eventually ALL steels will need sharpened.

    It's a myth that a high wear resistance steel is impossible to sharpen on a regular stone, I sharpened M390 on Aluminum Oxide stones. It takes a while, but it worked just fine and held an edge well. It was a lot faster and got quite a bit sharper when I used a diamond plate, though.
    willc likes this.
  12. Bigfattyt


    Jun 23, 2007
    I own enough simple carbon steels and easy to sharpen stainless like 420hc, snd AEBL, that I must love ease of sharpening more than retention.

    I have an old Buck in 425 M. I'll be darned if I can get that steel as sharp as I like. It has defied me. Ceramic, diamond, I've tried different approaches.

    I can get it sharp enough to cleanly push cut paper, and shave with a little pressure. But I can't get that sucker to bite, or Whittle hairs like I can with every other steel I have. Carbon steel like 1055, 1065, 1095, 1084, Xc90, 15n20, L6, basic stainless like 420hc, 12c27, 440c, CPM154, Ats 34, Aebl, Krupp 4114, VG10, VG1, aus8a, 8Cr13MoV, INFI, many tool steels like A2, D2, 52100, 5160, 6150, HF50, W1 and other spring steels, CPM3v, and many many more.

    425M just won't take the kind of edge that any other steel I've tried.

    Feels closest to the 8Cr13MoV, but even that i can get sharp.
  13. Smaug

    Smaug Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    I just had a revelation today. This question is kind of like: "Would you rather have a reliable car that's hard to work on or an unreliable car that is easy to work on?"
    Ben Dover likes this.
  14. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    Myth? I have some oil stones that won't even scratch my 1990 Buck 301 blades. I have to use diamond stones to sharpen them.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
  15. colubrid

    colubrid Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 26, 2005
    You can't drive older cars as many miles without working on them. New cars you can drive them but when there is a problem your stuck

    I would rather buy a restored 1969 Camaro and work on adjusting the carb when you drive up the mountains to adjust to altitude than having a new model car that basically runs good but costs a bunch to fix when it does break.

    The '67-69 Camaro I can work on and I can also sell it and get my money back or make a profit. :)
    jfk1110 likes this.
  16. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    I would rather put a TBI kit on it.
  17. E.D.C.

    E.D.C. Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 7, 2016
    I'd have to say taking an edge is more important.

    I always think back to various indigenous peoples doing incredible things in the jungle with hunks of 1095 and 5160 hammered out of scrap.

    To them, edge taking is paramount. A lack of sophisticated sharpening tools and constant use demands it.
  18. colubrid

    colubrid Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 26, 2005

    Good point!
  19. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    When I was very young, I would buy truck stop knives like Case, Gerber, Buck etc.
    But after having to stop and sharpen them half way through dressing an elk, I finally gave in and bought a quality knife. Today, the very few Case, K-BAR, Gerber, Buck etc knives that I own are strictly kept as "loaners."
    000Robert likes this.
  20. E.D.C.

    E.D.C. Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 7, 2016

    Putting Ka-Bar and Buck on the same "truck stop" scale as Gerber and the like is laughable.

    I've never had an issue getting through an entire moose with Ka-Bar's 1095 CroVan or Buck's 420HC.

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