Building A Better Knife Test

Vivi

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(Please, no drama here. I want this to be a constructive thread.)

I enjoy doing knife testing, to personally learn about my knives. I like to provide others with something of value that they can learn a thing or two from.

Keeping in mind time constraints, a very limited budget and other conditions that limit what can be done, what would you like to see in a knife test from an average user like myself?

By tests I mean more controlled observation of a knife to supplement the opinions I gather from daily use for a review.

What types of tests interest you the most?

Cutting wood for long periods of time to check ergonomics?

Cutting specified lengths of cardboard using a 1 inch portion of the blade and measuring sharpness to gauge edge retention?

Strength / toughness testing?

Submerging the knife in various liquids over specified periods of time to check corrosion resistance?


Are there any particular aspects of a knife you care to see tested over others?

Was there ever a moment where a specific knife test or review affected how you viewed the knife, or knives in general?
 
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Watch where you point this thread bro; I think its gonna be loaded. :D

For me, edge rentention and various non-crazy cutting tests. How well it cuts, and how the knife handles is important to me.

Strength....not so much. I want to know if the lock is strong, and how tight the fit is, but brutal toughness doesn't interest me one bit. I can break anything, and not to sound like a sound bite but torture tests mean nothing unless you have a large amount of samples subjected to the exact same tests/forces.

Rust resistance: Not for me. I think that has to be the most overblown "feature" of any tool whether gun or knife or whatever. I take care of my tools so it doesn't concern me. And if I happen to be in some situation where I can't take care of the tool and it rusts.....big deal.....I probably have better things to worry about.

Finally, and I know this is out there, but the real world uses including carrying the knife. Batoning through a brick means nothing to me, but do some real camping chores means more.

Thats usually when I figure out whether or not I like the handle. :)
 

Vivi

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Finally, and I know this is out there, but the real world uses including carrying the knife.

I started posting pictures of knives clipped to my pocket in my reviews because I hadn't seen others do this on a regular basis. Something else I did today was cut apart an old pair of jeans so I can clip a knife to the pocket and take a photo of how it looks from the inside, to give people an idea of how wide the knife is in a pants pocket.

As far as lock strength goes, is there anything outside of regular use / stabbing various objects / some spine taps that you think would work well for testing purposes?
 

db

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Use the knife for a task. Report your views on how the knife behaved for that task. Don’t try and pretend your test is scientific proof of how that knife will behave for all knives of that kind at that task. Don’t give your results more importance or use as proof over someone else’s results. Good idea on showing how a knife carries in a pocket. I personally value carry comfort as much as cutting performance for an edc.
 

kurodrago

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(Please, no drama here. I want this to be a constructive thread.)

I enjoy doing knife testing, to personally learn about my knives. I like to provide others with something of value that they can learn a thing or two from.

Keeping in mind time constraints, a very limited budget and other conditions that limit what can be done, what would you like to see in a knife test from an average user like myself?

By tests I mean more controlled observation of a knife to supplement the opinions I gather from daily use for a review.

What types of tests interest you the most?

Cutting wood for long periods of time to check ergonomics?

Cutting specified lengths of cardboard using a 1 inch portion of the blade and measuring sharpness to gauge edge retention?

Strength / toughness testing?

Submerging the knife in various liquids over specified periods of time to check corrosion resistance?


Are there any particular aspects of a knife you care to see tested over others?

Was there ever a moment where a specific knife test or review affected how you viewed the knife, or knives in general?

With offense and without bullshit man with respect!
The point is ,your horse arrive second!:barf:
 

kurodrago

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I have no idea what you mean by your post.

Noss is not the only one who had the idea about knife tests....but this man is the first to have the balls to do. If you are rich, you can always send a couple of millions for Building A Better Knife Test....or just do it by yourself of course! vivi "short cut" your talking about lots of money for scientific test.?:cool: I don't know what you wrote seems craapp to me!
 

Vivi

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Noss is not the only one who had the idea about knife tests....but this man is the first to have the balls to do. If you are rich, you can always send a couple of millions for Building A Better Knife Test....or just do it by yourself of course! vivi "short cut" your talking about lots of money for scientific test.?:cool: I don't know what you wrote seems craapp to me!

I don't know what you mean by shortcut, or how what I wrote could qualify as good or bad, seeing as it wasn't a test or review.

Either way, what are your suggestions for the tests themselves?
 

kurodrago

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Either way, what are your suggestions for the tests themselves?

The test are just fine; Like all things in life WILL EVOLVE. Boys let's try to enjoy what we have today because tomorrow maybe will not be there no more!?
 
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Tip strength and utlity.

I use the tips of my knives as a pocket scraper, chisel, gouge and awl. I know this is not politically correct just practical.
 
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Vivi, personally, check out MSGT Kim Breed's column in BLADE. Or for that matter pretty much any knife review in Tactical Knives.
I think knife testing is going to boom here pretty quickly as people try to hang a lot more meaning on Noss's "work".
I don't think you're going to be able to set any kind of gold standard. My opinion? Do it for yourself and don't expect a lot of support at first.
 
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Vivi;
First of all.
Thanks for having enough interest in peoples opinions to ask the questions you did. To me , that shows some respect for what other folks look at as useful information.

As for the testing. I like to see how knives will do at whatever the intended purpose of the knife is.
If it's a knife that will primarily be used for woodsy stuff , then test it for that. For example I have no need to find out if a scandi bladed bushcraft type knife will survive being shoved through a car door , but would be very interested in how it works at bushcraft chores.
If it's intended purpose is as a piece of "survival" gear , then test it for the kinds of things that you think you would need it to do in that situation.

I personally don't find it very useful to watch knives being destroyed ,but I also understand that some folks DO gain some understanding of the knifes abilities by doing those tests.

Anyway...good luck with your testing & I'll be watching for your reviews.
Cliff
 
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Good ideas mentioned so far.
One thing i might add with each test you should take lots of pics of the knives from multiple angles.
Also with a reference item in each pic (ruler etc) so one can get a sense of scale.
Maybe even pics with the knife side by side etc with a few chosen common/familiar models, i.e folders shown next to a 91mm SAK or Buck 110, or a fixed blade shown next to a USMC Ka-bar, Buck 119 etc.
This helps one get a sense of size and the ergonomics of a knife.
And it helps us knife enthusiasts get an idea of whether the knife will suit us ergonomically.
Remember a lot of us buy knives via catalogs and the internet with no opportunity to "paw" the knife before purchasing.
I have a few knives in my collection that are well made but are not so great ergonomically speaking.
Good pics will help people make more informed decisions.

There is another thing which may seem a little strange/loony but which would be useful.
Remember those x-ray pics of the Moras?
Having x-ray images of knives with hidden tangs is a good idea.
Yeah i know you can't get x-ray machines at wallmart (lol) but maybe somebody here is an x-ray technologist who has free unsupervised access to machinery.
Remember that sometimes even very expensive knives have questionable tangs , see the threads on the cold Steel Natchez Bowie.

Personally i appreciate Noss and his tests but i also think theres room for testing using different methodologies/approaches.
More testing by multiple people using differing methods will add to our knowledge base.
 
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Use the knife for a task. Report your views on how the knife behaved for that task. Don’t try and pretend your test is scientific proof of how that knife will behave for all knives of that kind at that task. Don’t give your results more importance or use as proof over someone else’s results. Good idea on showing how a knife carries in a pocket. I personally value carry comfort as much as cutting performance for an edc.

What's the point of testing, i.e., trying to learn about knives, if you can't extrapolate trends to similar knives of the type? So basically you'd like to see caveats added, that this particular thin knife sliced better than this other thick knife, but we have no idea whether thin knives will generally cut better. This machete worked for clearing brush better than a tactical folder, but this isn't scientific, so the next guy may find a folder works better than the machete. :confused: Is it even OK to compare two knives? Or would you just prefer separate "tests" where you'd have no idea whether that latest uber blade really outperformed the $5 Pakistani special?
 

db

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What's the point of testing, i.e., trying to learn about knives, if you can't extrapolate trends to similar knives of the type? So basically you'd like to see caveats added, that this particular thin knife sliced better than this other thick knife, but we have no idea whether thin knives will generally cut better. This machete worked for clearing brush better than a tactical folder, but this isn't scientific, so the next guy may find a folder works better than the machete. :confused: Is it even OK to compare two knives? Or would you just prefer separate "tests" where you'd have no idea whether that latest uber blade really outperformed the $5 Pakistani special?

How you get those ideas from my post is beyond me. Your welcome to believe that a backyard test is science or proof positive that a racoon runs faster than a 4 inch blade. makes no difference to me.
 
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Then let's hear some more ideas about how you think the tests should be carried out, *and* what can be learned from them. So far all I'm getting from your post is pessimism.
 

nozh2002

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First it should be some reliable, precise and easy to perform way to measure sharpness. Something like hair whittling but for less sharpness conditions. Thread test is just too time consuming for most. May be there are some other fiber then hair to whittle which require less sharpness?

With clear and simple criteria to measure sharpness everybody can do one or other testing on different media, etc.

Thanks, Vassili.
 

knarfeng

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Vivi, I have a thing for edge retention testing of different steel alloys.

I like 3/8" manila rope as the material to be cut. It's fairly reproducible. It's cheap. You don't have to make too many cuts before stuff starts happening. The results don't vary with blade profile, only with steel and edge angle. So the blade shape is no longer a variable. I mark off 2" on each blade and cut through the rope with that 2" section of blade. I make 20 such cuts with blades made from steel on the order of AUS8.

I made a stand that supports for the rope, but has a space for the blade to pass, so I can cut through the rope without hitting the support underneath. The stand was cheap to make. A couple of boards held by C-clamps.

I use a Sharpmaker to control the edge angle, setting the angle to a 30° inclusive straight bevel. This way I know that I have a uniform angle on each blade, so that only the steel composition and hardness is varying. I sharpen using the Spyderco coarse rods. When I can see no edge under a 3x lens, I switch to the fine rods and give each side 5 strokes.

I use a 3x lens and examine the blades after cutting. Then I rank the blades as to which shows the most damage. I look for light reflected off the edge, showing where the edge is deformed. So there is no numeric data, only relative performance. The type of damage to the edge that I see is about what I see after spending a day in the yard cutting odds and ends as I work on projects.

I have access to a hardness tester. Each blade is tested for hardness, so I know what I am working with. If the blades are within a point or so of each other, or if I know from the steel manufacturer's data sheets that the blade I am using is at the max recommended hardness for that alloy, I go with what I see. If those conditions are not met, I make a mental note of it and usually will not include the results from that blade in my ranking. So, I will not test underhardened blades.

The ranking that I generate is similar to what I see through daily use. I don't get any brilliant breakthrough revelations, but I do manage to confirm what my gut is telling me about the performance of the various steels in everday use. It is not exhaustive scientific testing, but it is as uniform as I can make it.

Works for me.
 

db

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What's the point of testing, i.e., trying to learn about knives, if you can't extrapolate trends to similar knives of the type? So basically you'd like to see caveats added, that this particular thin knife sliced better than this other thick knife, but we have no idea whether thin knives will generally cut better. This machete worked for clearing brush better than a tactical folder, but this isn't scientific, so the next guy may find a folder works better than the machete. :confused: Is it even OK to compare two knives? Or would you just prefer separate "tests" where you'd have no idea whether that latest uber blade really outperformed the $5 Pakistani special?


Then let's hear some more ideas about how you think the tests should be carried out, *and* what can be learned from them. So far all I'm getting from your post is pessimism.

Unlike your posts? I already gave him my idea on testing in my first post you quoted, how about you do the same.
 

me2

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For repeatability, I think the section in Wayne Goddards first book had some good ideas. The "Chop-o-matic" and "Knife Breaker" were consistent ways to test edge profile cutting ability and flexibility/bentability. The Chop-o-matic could be used to test edge durability as well, by increasing the hardness of the target. There were reports somewhere that certain profiles and steel combos started coming apart when subjected to things like plastic or micarta, but did very well on wood. No surprise, just confirmation that thinner edges cut better, until they break. For edge retention, I've used cardboard and aluminum cans. Both have given consistent (and surprising) results, and I've never been able to get repeatable results from rope cutting, except the 1" hanging test, which isnt for edge holding anyway.
 
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