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Edge Retention

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Aerosmith101, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. Aerosmith101


    Oct 28, 2018
    Just out of curiosity what steel has the best edge Retention?
  2. NapalmCheese


    Aug 24, 2006
    None of them have 'the best' edge retention. They all excel at holding an edge meant for certain types of jobs (cutting hard stuff, cutting soft stuff, whatever).

    From my experience nothing holds a fine edge really well, but stuff that's easy to strop or steel back to a good fine edge seems to let me do more work more quickly than stuff that takes specialized equipment to sharpen.
  3. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    W. Anderson and Insipid Moniker like this.
  4. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Triple B Handmade Knives, Big Brown Bear Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 22, 2014
    Kinda depends on what you consider edge retention, cutting longer or staying sharp longer are different.

    Cutting longer relys on carbides, there volume and hardness.

    Staying sharp longer relys more on the hardness of the overall steel matrix and having very fine structures both grain and carbide. This usually means reduced carbide volume AND reduced cutting endurance, so it's a inverse relationship.

    Staying sharp longer also relys on how sharp it was before use, so it's inseparable from the users ability to sharpen it. A better Sharpeners knife will stay sharper longer because it started sharper.

    All the steels from s110v to 440c can be sharpened to a higher Sharpness then any of us can hope to achieve, so it's not just the steel, it's our ability to excute sound practices that makes the difference, what we see in practice is some steels simply get sharper faster with less hassle.

    Again, what steel has the best edge retension?
    In reality, it really depends on how the knife edge is going dull.
    Blunting from cutting?
    Rolling from impact?
    Chipping from abuse?

    Different steel compositions can be used negate some of these issues but at a cost to others so technically the best edge retension for me is not the same for you depending on preference and use. Again, trade offs.

    In testing, it's the hardest steel with the most alloy that wins, but in real world use there are other factors. People aren't cutting like robots in repeatable cuts endlessly. If the main reason the edge is dulling is chipping from excess scraping, chiseling, and torquing the edge in materials or making contact with hard materials or impact energy then technically another type of steel may have more retention for that user. However, in a controlled environment, high hardness and high alloy wins if you have the tools and ability to sharpen it and the experience to use it properly.

    Also it's keep in mind when buying or looking at a knife it's the geometry that cuts not the steel. Just because it's super duper steel doesn't mean it will have the best edge retention by itself without the blade geometry to express it and a user that can handle that geometry.

    Also a reality check, you want better retention? Be a better Sharpener.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
    bluntcut, unklfranco, Sergeua and 8 others like this.
  5. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    Rex121 and maxamet. They Excell at edge retention but have many cons. Ie sharpening takes forever not very corrosion resistant, possibly chippy. Not hard use. Rare and expensive. Spyderco and Creely blades are two offering them. Iirc @DeadboxHero had some maxamet recently.

    You may be better off with 20cv, 204p or m390 as with a good heat treatment they are the most balanced super steel. Or heck vanax super clean if you want a custom.
    Dangerously likes this.
  6. John_0917

    John_0917 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 15, 2014
    I’ll give a simple answer since these questions always seem to get the run around “edge retention heat treat blah blah”...

    For straight slicing (with no impacts or lateral forces), it’s very hard to beat ZDP189, Maxamet and S110V.

    I will note that all these steels definitely do give up ground in some of their other traits.
    Dangerously and Alberta Ed like this.
  7. Sal Glesser

    Sal Glesser Moderator Moderator

    Dec 27, 1998
    In my opinion, Jim (Ankerson) and Shawn (Deadboxhero) are bright, passionate edge junky's and I for one appreciate their involvement and truth seeking. (Like most Edge Junky's, they're nuts :p).

    FYI, I agree that geometry is far more critical than often thought. When we first began making knives in the early 80's, the best steels available at the time were in the 1.0% (+ or -) carbon content range. We also learned that we could double edge retention of most steel by using carefully shaped serrations (another geometry). Now with the addition of powdered steels and nitrogen steels, we can add far more carbon and vanadium and many of these (powdered steels) that also respond well to teeth. We also learned that steels like H-1, for some reason, respond exceptionally well to the serrated "geometry".

    The serrated "geometry" has more linear inches of cutting edge, has single point contact penetration, and the teeth protect the inner cutting surface.

    Blues, tyyreaun, buckfynn and 8 others like this.
  8. shunsui

    shunsui Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 12, 2008
    Oddly enough the knife community, for some reason, never takes the hint. :D
  9. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    For my small super thin kitchen knife for fruit, veg and package opening my Japanese High Carbon White Paper Steel knife has gone a full one and one half years and it is still shave sharp; was hair whittling for an entire year.
    for my work knife for cutting dusty and somewhat abrasive materials I find FOR ME M4 to be superior to even S110V (I have several work knives in S110V). I have three knives in M4 (Spyderco) and they are perfection : hold a shave sharp or near shave sharp edge for weeks of daily use and sharpen / touch up like steel from heaven (deburs super easy and gets hair whittling with very little work).
    I just have no desire to look at any other steel now . M4 is " It ".
  10. Lee48


    Apr 29, 2005
    Once you learn how to sharpen your knives, edge retention is not an issue.
    Tommy-Chi likes this.
  11. PC87


    Dec 27, 2011
  12. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    . . . still though . . . I wouldn't complain too much if M4 keeps appearing in Spyderco knives.
    :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
    DeadboxHero likes this.
  13. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    I would go further.
    I would say, and this is a quote from the old Japanese Shokunin who say : A master is he (she) who has the sharpest tools and sharpens the least.
    Be aware of what and how you cut.

    Shokunin : highly skilled crafts person who is committed to doing the best work possible with the most speed possible . . . they have a strong sense of commitment to the community as well.
    DeadboxHero likes this.
  14. Sergeua


    May 1, 2016
    Cut this cardboard up today with 8Cr14MoV steel and it's still shaving. I'm impressed because it's super easy for me to sharpen this knife. Another 1/3 rd more of the pictured after and still grabs hairs.
    A bit of spydercos brown doublestuff and just a tad of strop and back to loco.
    *No microbevels and careful burr inspection.
    Check this Russian tester out. He goes the distance https://kiyasov.com/youtube/results/
    *its more one knife vs the other rather than steel but steel helps
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018 at 10:33 PM

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