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

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

  1. tinfoil hat timmy

    tinfoil hat timmy Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 21, 2014
    Take for sure.

    Doesnt matter how long the knife will hold the dull that I put on it.
  2. DocJD


    Jan 29, 2016
    :) With diamonds , sharpening is not a great problem .

    And how hard is it to touch-up / hone a slightly dulled edge ? :confused: It's the work of seconds .

    A broken , bent , or baldly chipped blade is not so easy to correct . :(

    So toughness is paramount , IMO . :cool::thumbsup::thumbsup:
    000Robert and Smiling like this.
  3. Smaug

    Smaug Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    There's this myth that some steels won't take an edge, or that it's hard to put an edge on them.

    In reality, it's a question of whether you have the right equipment to put an edge on a super-hard steel. A few examples, from my own arsenal:

    • Maxamet, ~70Rc on a Spyderco Native. Came with a nice narrow factory grind, something a bit less than 30°. It was ground perfectly even, medium coarseness. I skipped the coarse diamond rods on the Sharpmaker and just put a 40° micro bevel on it with the medium and fine rods. Compared to anything else I'd sharpened before that, it felt like it was just gliding along the ceramic stones. I had to check that the rods weren't loaded up with steel from sharpening previous knives. The stones are probably not much harder than the steel! Nevertheless, it didn't take long, maybe 15 minutes. It was razor sharp and smooth on that micro bevel. I brought it to work and left it in my drawer as the box-breaking-down knife. It probably did 50+ boxes and is still very sharp. It is just. awesome. I'll probably not need to sharpen it again. If I chip the edge, it's going to have to stay as a serration and its paper-cutting days will be over. ;-)
    • 20CV, ~61 Rc on a Benchmade Griptilian 550-1. Came with an even 30° edge, but quite coarse. For this one, I started with the 30° angle on the back bevel and with the coarse diamond rods on the Sharpmaker to take some of the "teeth" off the factory edge. Then, I switched to the 40° angle and continued with the coarse diamond stones to rough out the micro bevel. Switched to medium, then fine. It took about a half hour. The resulting edge feels a bit sharper than the Maxamet blade did when fresh off the Sharpmaker. I expect this edge to last pretty much all year. If I need to re-sharpen it again, it will be a 5 minute job: 10 strokes on each side with the medium rods, then 10 on each side with the fine rods. (now that I tuned up the average Benchmade factory edge)
    • 55 Rc (?) on a Swiss army knife. If I whittle on a stick with a SAK blade for a half hour, I can barely consider it to be a working edge any more. However, it takes longer to set up the Sharpmaker than it does to bring it back to razor sharp. These knives are made for making a light slice here and there. Do much heavy cutting, and it's a constant disappointment. On the other hand, the edge never chips. And again, VERY quick to bring back.
    • 58 Rc (?) on a Buck with 420HC. This seems to dull as fast as the SAK steel; doesn't feel harder to me, and doesn't sharpen as easily either. One whittling session and it's done. 5 minutes on a Sharpmaker to bring it back.
    The moral of the story is that if you have a super-hard super steel, but it has a good grind, and you're using ceramic or diamond to sharpen it, it's not bad at all. The super steels tend to have good factory grinds, as they're not found on cheap knives.

    Cost and chipping/toughness are the only real concerns with the super steels.
    Smiling and Ben Dover like this.
  4. Smaug

    Smaug Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    One other point of reference: There IS a limit to how hard it can be and still satisfy people.

    Most people are not satisfied with ceramic in the long run. (Rc 75) But most who own a Maxamet knife are happy with it. (Rc 70)
    Ben Dover likes this.
  5. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    Glad you had good results with your Buck.

    IME, I would put Gerber well above K-Bar or Buck. Although I do not care for any of these.
  6. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Well, I asked twice for you to share your experience sharpening so-called super steels and you didn't acknowledge me either time. That's unfortunate as if you do actually have the experience to make the claim, "Sick of all these so called supersteels that take more effort than they are worth," then it can be very helpful and educational to others to share that experience.
    ShannonSteelLabs and craytab like this.
  7. Hal


    Feb 26, 1999
    IMHO & the way I read that, it's sort of contradictory.
    If it only takes seconds to restore an edge, isn't that saying "takes and edge" is the better of the two?
  8. ShannonSteelLabs

    ShannonSteelLabs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 9, 2015
    I prefer hold an edge.
    I don't have any problems sharpening, but I can always learn to be even better.
    Practical sharpening metallic bonded diamond plates really kick ass.

    I LOVE CPM 10V. Toughnes if D2 but like 8 times the edge holding.
    Rex 45 is also very nice.
    Haven't used maxamet, but I have a small Rex 121 blade (69HRC).

    I just reset the angle on my 20/14 micron stone. And actually got it scary sharp. Shaves with no effort. But its definitely way different than any other steel I've sharpened. Edge feels different too. But it should be good for another 2 years of cutting
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2020
    Eli Chaps likes this.
  9. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    Don't bother. Some people just like to talk a good game but when it comes down to it, their actions don't follow through with their words. Same guy bitching about super steel cost and difficulty in sharpening said super steels is after an expensive otf in elmax and looking to preorder the new hotness protech Malibu in 20cv that never even makes it to the shelves because it sells out so quickly. Hypocrites make actual discourse difficult...
  10. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Agreed. I have since seen he is also chasing an OTF in S35VN. That screams naturally aspirated '67 Camaro to me. :rolleyes: I'll be done with that inquiry now.
    craytab likes this.
  11. Sirgilbert357


    Oct 1, 2020
    I'd much rather a knife hold an edge. A knife is meant to cut. I want it to do that a long time between sharpenings. It may only take 5 mins to bring a 154 cm from dull to razor sharp, but it will be dull again in a month. An M390 will take 15 mins to sharpen, but it will be sharp for 9 months. How is that not a better use of my time and effort? To each their own though.

    Having said that, I recently found an old Buck 118 that was my dad's and decided to sharpen it on my new Spyderco Sharpmaker. I had no idea what I was doing and didn't realize at first that I would be resetting the bevel on that knife. I used the 40 degree side and it took 2 hours to get that thing from dull to where it would push cut paper. I wish I was kidding. I couldn't believe it. I didn't clean my Spyderco's rods much during that time, which might be part of the problem. I just rinsed them off with water and wiped dry with a paper towel here and there. But my rods are visibly changed from the sharpening. The edges of them feel much rougher and you can tell material has been removed from the rod (these are the medium grit ones). I should have used a diamond rod, I guess, but I didn't have them and still don't.

    I have to say I respect Buck's knives a little more now...at least the ones made in the late 70's. Not sure how a modern 118 would compare, as I don't have one.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2020
  12. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    Never answered my inquiry of if that $385 GT 040 would be worth the cost if the steel was 440a. It's not about the steel, right? Oh well. Some people just like to say things.
    Eli Chaps likes this.
  13. MarkN86


    Sep 3, 2012
    Not to be that guy, but a Buck from 1990 is supposed to have 425M, and that steel isn't as high in wear resistance as some of the more modern steels. Sounds like the stones may be loaded up or something. Do they sharpen other knives well?
  14. DocT


    Mar 25, 2012
    That old 425M was well known for being more difficult to sharpen while not holding an edge any better than the current 420HC. It is probably the carbide size, as a guess. It can be chippy and that is what makes me think that. Still, it is not too difficult to sharpen. Buck used to put an odd convex edge on their knives. It would get thin and then thicken out behind the edge. This made the knives a bit more durable in use. However, when people tried to sharpen them, they would inevitably hit the blade stock where it thickens out and not the edge. Then they would think it was hard to sharpen.
    MarkN86 likes this.
  15. E.D.C.

    E.D.C. Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 7, 2016

    LOL thanks for the laugh.
  16. colubrid

    colubrid Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 26, 2005

    My answer was already in the post if you read it. Want me to repost it?
  17. Mitchell Knives

    Mitchell Knives Knifemaker Moderator

    May 21, 2000
    If I HAD to choose one or the other, I would prefer a knife that held an edge longer.

    You really don't have to choose; many steels are easy to sharpen and hold an edge.

    I can sharpen any steel with my grinder and various stones.

    Diamond stones will sharpen any steel and are reasonably priced.
    000Robert, Ben Dover and 91bravo like this.
  18. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    Did you answer this:
    If so, yes please repost as I can't seem to find it.

    While were at it, and since my question is rhetorical (and I know the counter argument) how much less do you think gt would sell the 040 or ProTech the 20cv Malibu if they used 440a rather than super steels? Do you think they would sell more or less of them?
  19. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    Yes, they do. I couldn't believe it either.
    MarkN86 likes this.
  20. _mike_


    Nov 18, 2004
    A little bit of both, but I'm not all that picky actually. I'm not cutting through car hoods, air plane fuselages, or prying open tank hatches. Basic stuff .... string, rope, cardboard, wood, fruit, etc. So my demands are not all that great.

    So, for me .... I like a well done 1095, 420HC (Buck), 440c, Victorinox knives, Mora stainless or carbon steel and older, U.S made slipjoints in either carbon or stainless. They all seem to sharpen up well and hold their edges just fine for the work I ask of them. When they get a little dull, I touch them up and go back to doing whatever it was I was doing.
    afishhunter likes this.

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