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Old January 9, 2008, 12:53 PM   #1
The Tourist
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What tests would you like to see?

During a debate about a week ago, we discussed the construction of knives, both serrated and plain edge.

I believe there is no practical use for serrations.

To demonstrate that, I called my supplier and secured a white steel, chisel grind Japanese deba kitchen knife, and a V-grind stainless laminate gyuto (chefs' knife) for testing.

Using waterstones in a modern rendition of 13th century practices, I'm going to polish the edges. I have chosen knives of that alloy and edge profile to show possible designs throughout history.

I intend to use parts of the Edge Pro system, freehand stones, pastes (chromium oxide in paste and liquid), polishing papers, and leather.

All of these items can be purchased by TFL members quite easily. No ringers.

Once the edges have been sharpened, they will be set up for display at my sharpening area for view by local members.

Any member can cut whatever they wish with the edges, and bring a serrated knife with them for any comparison. I'll even sharpen the serrated knife to level the playing field.

What do you guys want to see?
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Old January 9, 2008, 05:48 PM   #2
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Cutting plastic tubing or rubber hose is the only good use I have found for serrated blades, they work very good for that purpose.
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Old January 9, 2008, 06:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
What do you guys want to see?
Freshly baked bread (or a close equivalent) sliced w/o serrations that doesn't deform it...
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Old January 9, 2008, 06:22 PM   #4
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Cutting plastic tubing or rubber hose is the only good use I have found for serrated blades, they work very good for that purpose.
+1
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Old January 10, 2008, 01:37 AM   #5
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Alright all you Madison area blade junkies. I finished sharpening the knife. Chisel grind. White steel. An edge any 500 year old samurai would be proud to call his own. Come one, come all.



BTW, attention all of you Dane County muggers who like to prey on old graybeard bikers. I had a bit of time tonight to "polish" a nasty little surprise for all of you who tell "knife to a gunfight" jokes. If you ever see me holding this, run...

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Old January 10, 2008, 12:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuttle8
Freshly baked bread
This would be a very hard task--under normal circumstances.

The knife shown here is a traditional Japanese grind. And while the spine of the knife is very thick (twice, almost three times the thickness of most kitchen knives) the edge is a chisel design on one side, and a hollow grind on the obverse side.

The problem with warm bread is simply a dull knife. It won't cut, you press harder, and wind up squashing the loaf.

With this knife, you don't press at all. The weight of the blade makes a fine, perfect cut, cleaving straight to the cutting board.

And this is the purpose of the project. We have dull knives in this country. It seems we'll put $50K into a four-wheel drive ego truck that never leaves the pavement, but we won't spend more than five bucks on pocket knife or learn to sharpen.

As for plastic ties, I doubt I would feel the blade bite.

However, the deal holds. I want local TFL guys to cut things, and report back here so they don't think I'm kidding.

(And remember, a white steel Japanese knife is 500 year old technology. No super steels, no computer CAD design. No serrations.)
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Old January 10, 2008, 09:41 PM   #7
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This would be a very hard task--under normal circumstances.
I know. I don't expect for you to have Julia Child with her oven at your booth(), BUT very soft fresh bread is difficult to perform a clean, even cut without mashing up the bread.

Quality knives with sharp serrations are better suited for this rather than a plain edge. My humble opinion of course. That's my challenge to you. Plain edges may do OK, but serrated blades seem to provide a better cut with less effort.

Besides, you appear to know a lot more about knives than I do and you made me think...that's the best example I can come up with to stump you.
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Old January 10, 2008, 10:16 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tuttle8
that's the best example I can come up with to stump you.
That's the point of the test. It is my position in the debate that properly cared for implements do not need excuses.

For example, one of the elders in my church is an over-the-road truck driver. He asked my recommendation for a knife. He's a traditionalist.

I got him a Buck 110 Ionfusion knife. The blade is plain edged, but has a coat of titanium (it looks like gold) and the Rc rating is about 80. Most knives are Rc 57 to 59.

One night while he was eating, a guy parking his car pulled the right side bumper off of his truck. He phoned his supervisor and was told not to move the truck until he had full use of headlights and turn signals.

Using the Buck 110, he cut the damaged portion of the bumper off of the truck. He fabricated brackets for the lights and delivered his load.

The damage to the knife was a slight ding, which I fixed within five minutes. There was no cosmetic damage to the knife. None.

I'll say this again. If you pick the correct tool, and take care of it, you don't need tricks and fads.
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Old January 14, 2008, 06:45 PM   #9
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i would like to someone use a strider BN against anything they want to I use mine for everything and the only thing that happend is that the stripes on the blade fade after you go through several seasons of rapids.
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Old January 14, 2008, 08:08 PM   #10
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I ask in earnest...

You have a knife, plain edged, that won't cost an arm and a leg that will slice fresh bread without mucking it up?

If so, you have my attention...
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Old January 14, 2008, 09:03 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Tuttle8
I ask in earnest...

You have a knife, plain edged, that won't cost an arm and a leg that will slice fresh bread without mucking it up?

If so, you have my attention...
Yes, it is a Japanese laminate white steel knife called a "deba." It is incredibly thick on the spine. The edge facing the camera is chisel grind, but the obverse side is hollow ground.

I polished the edges (front and back have different polishing disciplines) to a mirror finish. It cuts simply by resting the blade weight on the object to be cut. You do not have to press.

It will definitely cut fresh bread. Because it is in actuality a 7-inch samurai sword, in the hands of a MA expert, it will also take your hand off your wrist.

White steel is very reasonable in price. As a distributor, I paid about fifty bucks for the knife. To a client, the knife would cost 75 dollars, as delivered.

I would get 15 per inch to polish the knife, or about 105 dollars. In its condition, the end user's cost would then be 180 dollars.

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Old January 14, 2008, 09:13 PM   #12
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How 'bout multiple layers of cardboard or paper? I know it'll cut 'em, but the question is, how many times before the knife becomes too dull to do so?

(And why in the heck is cardboard / paper so hard on an edge anyhow? )
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Old January 14, 2008, 09:35 PM   #13
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How about picking up a couple of daily use type pocket knives from Walmart or the local gun shop and add them to the mix.

For stuff to cut, (other than bread ) try picking up some of the different geo textile materials used in road and pipe construction, heavy plastic and rubber, plastic banding material, various light and heavy foam and plastic wraps, etc. Then soak anything porous in a slurry to paste of mixed mud, sand and fine stone. Fabric packed in dried mud and dirt is also something to try.
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Old January 14, 2008, 11:31 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Charlie
How 'bout multiple layers of cardboard or paper
Quote:
Originally Posted by AK103K
a slurry to paste of mixed mud
From past experience, Japanese laminates cut this stuff easily. You have to remember that these knives usually belong to my working chefs. They bang these knives along bones, onto stainless steel kitchen counters, they clatter them bulk into cleansing sinks and even pry with them. They are still cutting for several weeks before I return to re-sharpen them.

What I really wanted was for area TFL members to come and make the cuts themselves. You know, a local forum member comes up to my sharpening stand and says, "Hey, Chico, I want to cut this garden hose with that fancy-schmancy Japanese knife..."

I have a great deal of respect for laminate steels. They are folded or clad with pounded layers that have a superior Rockwell hardness and very keen edges. Due to their very fine grain metal, they can take a sharper edge produced by finer grit stones than we Americans are used to. I can buff out the edges with paper, paste and glass so that no burr is discernable on their perfect edges.

Due you remember the old story about Saladin meeting English Crusaders? One soldier took a broadsword and smashed a log in two. Saladin replied, "The knight has simply shown me the strength of his arm."

He then tossed a silk scarf into the air and sliced it as it floated to earth.

I can show you pictures of anything being cut. But I'd prefer a TFL member cut something without the use of serrations and report back. But I will cut wet, muddy cardboard if you'd like.

After all, I do that daily when my snowy UPS boxes arrive...
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Old January 16, 2008, 01:33 AM   #15
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I have an update here on my test knife.

I was at my sharpening stand today when a sous-chef for The New Orleans Take Out restaurants here in Madison came looking at knives. I showed him the mule.

Because their restaurants do not use laminates, he was quite taken with the edge and the balance of the knife. And he seemed like an honest and sincere individual.

I gave him the knife to use for a few days, and told him to put the mule through its paces in that working environment. I told him about our debate here, and I wanted input on how this style of knife could out-perform real world duties without serrations.

He was told not to worry about scratching the knife or dulling the edge. My advice to him was "Just use it, don't worry about it."

As you might guess, this mule is going to get the pounding of its life. It will be used for everything, and by everyone in that kitchen.

Imagine the abuse that edge is going to take while it is hammered down into a chopping block thousands of times making cole slaw or dicing vegetables. It will then have to make precise cuts on very expensive meat as the chef tries to provide the maximum amount of servings per delivery.

Giving a razor sharp white steel knife to a kitchen is like loaning a Corvette to a high school drivers ed class.

I'll keep you guys updated as the carnage continues.
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Old January 16, 2008, 02:30 AM   #16
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shocked!

Alrighty I’m not one to usually interject my own opinions but I need some clarity here. Ok I’m a Chef and im failing to see what is trying to be proven here. Japanese kitchen knives were made for 2 primary things veggies and fish. These knives are not superior to western chef’s knives in any way besides being usually more aesthetically pleasing and to have a bit more mysticism behind them. The japanese sword and all of its renditions was made for the purpose of cleaving heavy bone and tissue. The forging practice of japanese smiths was developed due to the extremely poor quality of iron in Japan. Traditional japanese tamishigane steel had to be laminated so that carbon could be distributed evenly in the iron ore. today laminated steel is not needed due to the fact that all modern production steel is monochromium. Laminations are simply asthetic and let me add very very beautiful but in no way functional as is the forging process that they are made. The reason for the japanese forging process was to produce a blade that could be around 26 to 28 inches long and when struck against flesh and bone, or Tatami mats it could cleave as well as bend without snapping in two. for this reason alone the amazing metalugical process of producing blades was born and perfected. Im not trying to rain on anyones parade im just trying to clarify some things. On top of this if a kitchen worker is using their knife to pry anything or "banging" them around then they have no reason to be holding said knife! I knife just like a gun is a tool and should always be respected. Lastly all knives are serated. It is the micoscopic teeth on every edge that allows you to cut. I am sorry for being so defensive but this is my profession and to me i compare this to someone taking a nighthawk custom and using it as a hammer! Different knives have different purposes and they should be respected. now then as far as science goes it would stand to reason that you would take the exact same two knives one with a plain edge variation and the other with serrations and compare them in exactly the same ways.

Sorry guys I just got off work and im about to start doing a little polishing of my own.

Cheers
Austin
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Old January 16, 2008, 02:56 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Austin Cowart
Ok I’m a Chef and im failing to see what is trying to be proven here. Japanese kitchen knives were made for 2 primary things veggies and fish.
Perhaps one week ago we had a debate on serrated knives vs. plain edges. I took the "plain edge" side of the debate.

Many said that they liked serrated knives because "they cut longer when abused." I disagreed, saying that if a knife was well made and cared for, it could cut anything. After all, what did people do before serrated knives were invented or popular?

I also proffered that Japanese knives had a history going back at least as far as the 13th century, and the folded and hammered metal used/invented could dish out any abuse named, and still cut better than a serrated knife.

(I have always been baffled on why a hunter will pay +1,000 dollars for a rifle, 600 to 800 dollars for a scope, and then ask where the cheap 5 dollar knifes are displayed.)

So, I decided to put my money where my mouth was. I bought a Japanese white steel knife, no different from any other folded knife going back several centuries. I invited local TFL members to bring me some ideas for tests, and they could cut anything they liked with my knife--and then report in to the forum.

It is my belief that they will say have to admit that old technology, when properly cared for, is better than poor maintenance and serrations.

That's my agenda, pure and simple. About this time of year most Buck 110's are discounted to between 19 and 25 dollars. Everyone can afford to have a well made, plain edged knife that will give them years of use and abuse. I sharpen them every day. Lots of them are decades old.

There will never be a serrated knife that will out cut a plain edged blade that I have serviced. None. Never. Nil. Nada. You're fooling yourself if you believe in serrations.
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Old January 16, 2008, 04:53 AM   #18
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ah

Alrighty then. Ill agree that I prefer a plain edge to modern serrations. I do believe that as there many many different types of knife blades there are just as many edges. It’s all about what works for you and what you are using it for. There is a reason the human body and every carnivore has serrated teeth. It’s for tearing and ripping at the same time we have flat teeth as well for gentle crushing in the back of our mouths thus serving another purpose. The same is for blades. We have saw blades for ripping and tearing and we have plain edge scrapples for delicate and precise cutting. I’m not arguing this point that debate is over. I do not appreciate though you referring to the professional cheffing community though in a manner that leads other readers to believe that we act like cave men beating our tools against things and misusing them in ways that they were not meant to be used especially 200 plus dollar ones. You are simply asking TFL formites most with no knowledge of the proper use of kitchen knives to come in and abuse a very nice and very expensive one. I applaud you allowing that sous chef to use her for a few days but if he is a real sous chef he would know how to respect the knife and at least do a bit of maintenance oh her every night just as I do mine. I don’t know if I would trust the knife around the number of line cooks though that think it just looks cool and would look even better in their home kitchen. Now why not hybrid polish a nice tanto or wakizashi made by hanwei or kris cutlery and keep a few tatami mats rolled and soaking and allow formites to try their hands at a little tamishigiri. That would be a great demonstration oh how a Japanese blade it suppose to function. This has the potential of really breaking out into another huge debate and I do not want to start and unpleasant topics. I would love to discuss this more I honestly would because it is something that is very near and dear to my heart and I would love to refer everyone that is interested in the pursuit of knowledge about blades over to www.swordforum.com some of the best blade smiths in the united states are members there and all myths about all types of blades are constantly dispelled. Also if anyone wants to watch torture tests of blades pick up a copy of cold steels More Proof and Sword Proof they are great if you can stand watching a big guy in short shorts cutting things.

Cheers
Austin
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Old January 16, 2008, 05:14 AM   #19
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oh an

Quote:
So, I decided to put my money where my mouth was. I bought a Japanese white steel knife, no different from any other folded knife going back several centuries. I invited local TFL members to bring me some ideas for tests, and they could cut anything they liked with my knife--and then report in to the forum.
I will contest that the knife is different from a blade made even 200 years ago. Tamishigane steel it the prize of japanese blade smiths and is the only thing that real japanese blades were made from. All modern made japanese Tamishigane stays in Japan. It is not exported at all. There is only one man in America that makes tamishigane and that is Master Blade Smith Micheal Bell in Orgeon. the forging process is the same but no the knives themselves are not. If they were that blade would cost around and easy Grand.
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Old January 16, 2008, 05:24 AM   #20
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one last thing before bed

I jumped into some of my japanese reference books just so i dont put my foot in my mouth and found that infact that forging technique and steel development for japanese blades was perfected in 900 A.D. by the smith Yasutsuna in region of Hoki in the Honshu provence. 4:30 in the morning what a great way to spend he time i should be sleeping!

Cheers
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Old January 16, 2008, 11:44 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Austin Cowart
what a great way to spend he time i should be sleeping!
Welcome to my world. I'm often up that late working.

Your point has some merit. Obviously, not every Japanese cutler spends 14 hours per day hammering steel over a charcoal fire. But many do, and more companies than you would guess. Google "The Japan Wood Worker" and peruse their kitchen knife section.

But back to the debate. I find that some knife users relate an odd circular logic. It goes something like this: "It's no point buying good knives, because my job/hunting is abusive. The blades on these knives go dull faster than a good knife, so it does no good to sharpen them (or I do not know how to sharpen.) Since I need to cut material, I use serrated blades. They work when abused. Why abuse a good, well cared for knife, so I buy a cheap knife..."

I still hold to my argument. Below is a 12 dollar knife featured in The Japan Wood Worker Catalog. Primarily, it is to be used in a woodworking shop, sometimes used to score a line. Trust me, it can take all of the abuse you can throw at it.

For this debate, I sharpened it to a mirror finish, obviously, no serrations. I shall include this knife for inspection at my stand.

As you know, later today I will meet with the sous-chef that borrowed my white steel knife. Remember, it costs around 50 bucks--nothing special--many of you buy Benchmades for several times that amount. My gues is that the sous-chef will relate that this knife "cut everything in the place--their sharpest knife ever." All you need is to use a tool properly.

Here's the 12 dollar knife:

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Old January 16, 2008, 06:57 PM   #22
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I work and have worked in many kitchens.
What I've found I like most in a knife is one that's easy to sharpen and keep an edge on.
The ubiquitous stainless "sanitary" no name knives that most kitchens have are fine for one or two days depending on who's using them. Once they're dull it takes a heck of a long time to get an edge back on them.
Back when we used plain carbon steel blades such as Dexters, a knife would last about the same amount of time but it could be resharpened fairly quickly.

And yes the amount of use and abuse a knife gets in busy kitchen is nasty from punching holes in tin cans to trimming the lower limb off the restaurant Christmas trees. Even without that just chopping a few cases of lettuce on a plastic cutting board is more use than most people put on a knife in a month.
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Old January 16, 2008, 08:11 PM   #23
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Quote:
It goes something like this: "It's no point buying good knives, because my job/hunting is abusive. The blades on these knives go dull faster than a good knife, so it does no good to sharpen them (or I do not know how to sharpen.) Since I need to cut material, I use serrated blades. They work when abused. Why abuse a good, well cared for knife, so I buy a cheap knife..."
Abuse is abuse, and I readily admit, I abuse my work knives, I dont have a choice, I need something that will cut anything I need cut, and its not going to be pretty while its going on. If you want to send me a $100 Spyderco, or $400 Microtec to use for work, I'll be happy to send you my address.

While I do usually have a couple "cheap" knives on me at work, I also have a higher end knife along too. Its basically there for a specific use and doesnt get used in day to day chores. Its always razor sharp and ready to go if needed.

Many, or actually most knives tend to often be job specific tools. A fancy $200 cooking knife isnt going to do well in my daily envioronment any more than my $25 Boker is going to prepare your meal.

I also think you need to look at some of this in terms of time and worth. I can spend time putting or touching up a nice edge on a work knife, or I can use a disposable blade razor knife (those new "serrated" blades are the scheiße too I might add ) for things that rob your edge quickly and be pretty much instantly "resharpened" with a flip of a lever. For me, I'd be sharpening my knives every other day or so, instead of once a week, or every other week. My free time these days to do so is limited, and while I do like doing it, I dont like it that much. Its a $6 knife too, so when it gets dropped into 2' of soupy mud, like mine did today, its not such a terrible thing, other than loosing something I needed "right now". My $125 Spyderco would have been a little bit harder to swallow.

Quote:
Even without that just chopping a few cases of lettuce on a plastic cutting board is more use than most people put on a knife in a month.
This brings up a good point too. Most of the knives I see posted in pics across the various boards, usually look "pristine" or close to it, and usually show little wear or use. Use to some, seems to be very different to others.
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Old January 16, 2008, 11:11 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AK103K
Abuse is abuse, and I readily admit, I abuse my work knives
Then I am missing something. A dull plain edge is a dull serrated edge--it's on the same knife. What I think people are missing is that their arm strength is actually doing the cutting. If you are aware that the knife is dull, then sharpen it, pay me to sharpen it or replace it.

You wouldn't show up to the job site with open-toe shoes, dull drill bits, and power equipment with frayed cords. And yet people show up for work (which might entail a life trapped in a seatbelt) with an edge that won't split a bagel.

Quote:
I also think you need to look at some of this in terms of time and worth.
I spent five, but not more then ten, minutes putting a mirror finish on that 12 dollar knife. And I would have been better served at work than with a dull serrated knife.

You guys are missing the point. A dull serrated knife is junk, and you're fooling yourself. The only thing I can figure is that Spyderco did a great advertising job into convincing folks that serrations always cut.

Again, a dull Spyderco still set you back 30 to 60 bucks. My knife which will provide superior work cost 12 dollars. My white steel knife, which will do anything you can name, cost 50 bucks (more with sweat equity).

I will admit, perhaps people have to suffer in real life before the idea really sinks in. I put mirror finishes on common deer knives. Most clients remark that the knife "looks pretty" when they come to reclaim it.

However, after the deer is down and they've spent time kneeling in frigid ice and snow scant minutes before dark, a truly sharp knife makes sense. Buck 110's, 102's, and 105's (the most common and widely used deer knives) don't have serrations.

However, in the end I'm baffled on why you guys want to defend junk.
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Old January 17, 2008, 06:00 AM   #25
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However, in the end I'm baffled on why you guys want to defend junk.
Because I dont want to, nor can I afford to, waste quality.

I think your misunderstanding some things too. I dont (usually, again, the time thing) go to work with a dull knife, its the work that dulls it, and that can often be in just one day. Its those serrations that allow me to get through stuff that has robbed my knife of its edge. If you cut 18' sheets of geo textile all day, I dont care what kind of knife you have, it will take its edge.

If I worked in a kitchen, or some other less harsh line of work I'd have a much different knife than I use at work right now.(unless of course, my employer wants to supply me with anything I want) It makes no sense to me to destroy or lose a "good" knife.

I also have knives that dont have serrated blades. My hunting knives dont, nor do my old "combative" type knives. Then again, those knives are used for a specific purpose, and dont come out of their sheathes for common chores. Their edges are always razor sharp when needed.

The whole point here is, knives are usually job specific tools. Some of those jobs require a serrated edge. If you dont like a serrated edge, and are comfortable using something else, hey, knock yourself out. For me, when needed, they have their uses and I'm glad its there.
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