Form or Function?

Which would you choose for EDC?

  • Boring Workhorse

    Votes: 47 68.1%
  • Good Enough Showpiece

    Votes: 22 31.9%

  • Total voters
Nov 1, 2017
Say you had to choose between two knives to carry as a general EDC knife. Not for work, not hard use, but not formal dress or minimalist carry either. They are similar price and the same brand, so you could expect the same quality and fit-and-finish.

One is a perfectly adequate design, no real flaws in any way, but nothing fancy either. It might be a little plain-Jane or even ugly to your taste, but it's outstanding feature would be what is considered the "top-of-the-line" blade steel. It might be boring and generic, but it'll outperform anything.

The other has a perfectly adequate steel. Still high-end, but maybe not "premium". But it's outstanding quality would be that it has a design that just speaks to you. It's still perfectly functional and not a mere novelty, but it's fun to use, and you like the looks of it.

Which would you choose?
The boring workhorse?
Or the good enough showpiece?
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Tempt not the Blade
Platinum Member
Apr 11, 2016
Given the criteria, for my needs, I would go with the one I liked the looks of better. Don't really need a "workhorse", so form trumps function most of the time for me.


Gold Member
Jan 4, 2006
If I know I'm going to do some prolonged cutting like breaking down a lot of cardboard, I'll reach for one of my Spydercos. But being honest I have way more knives than I need, which is probably true for the vast majority of people with more than 1 quality EDC piece. The overwhelming majority of people around the world don't need an EDC knife to get through the day. Any quality knife I choose to carry on a given day will be more than enough for my actual cutting needs. There for sure are people who either live lifestyles or have jobs that require frequent (and sometimes hard use) cutting, and their choices will probably be more focused on the pragmatic. I live in the city, I don't need to pull out a knife several times a day, and I don't have one of those jobs. I appreciate the science and engineering behind things like metallurgy innovation and knife design. I like having a fidget object when I'm internetting or watching a show. I like having variety - simply because I can.

I don't doubt that there are some members here who literally don't care at all about aesthetics or who only think in terms of pragmatics, but I think that number is much lower than member posts will have you believe. There's this idea floating around that it's a sign of virtue to only be concerned with such things. I find that to be yet another personal preference.

Hickory n steel

Gold Member
Feb 11, 2016
I want a knife I find visually appealing, but it's gotta be the classic elegance in simplicity kind of thing.
I guess it depends on what you consider a boring workhorse, but that's what I chose.
I care how my knives look, but don't want a knife designed around looks if that makes sense.

It really is about elegance in simplicity for me, and traditionals get it right. A lot of them are basic workhorse type knives / patterns but often incorporate subtle embellishments that add a touch of class without making the knife busy looking or too flashy..


Gold Member
Feb 7, 2014
I'm curious about your phrase "fun to use"...
Are you suggesting that the more aesthetically pleasing knife is more enjoyable to use; but not due to the other knife being less comfortable in hand? Or are you referring to the practice of fidget flipping (or flicking)?

Regardless, I would choose form - because if it doesn't appeal to me visually, I'm not buying it; and, if I don't like the way it feels in hand, I'm not carrying/keeping it.
Nov 7, 2005
hmm, plain jane versus show piece, huh?
as in being seen with a socially acceptable companion
versus a social escort?
bling is for the highly impressionable
and keep in mind that fashion changes every season.
a subtle taste is ultra appropriate and may actually save one
from possible embarrassment or regret.
the first thing to consider is that any knife carried,
must above all, be a function tool; as your life may depend on it.
would you trust your instincts or allow vanity to dictate your choices?
Nov 13, 2013
I enjoy my sebenza and my PM2... and I have a SAK rambler on my keychain.

I voted boring workhorse :):):)


Gold Member
Jan 4, 2016
odd that the vote to this point is the workhorse over the showpiece but the comments above are in the other direction.

I voted work horse. This has been on my mind a bit lately. In particular as I browse the custom pieces offered by individual sellers (not actually speaking of the maker's exchange area, but specifically by individuals). Some of the show piece knives there just blow my mind when I see the price. In a number of instances my first actual thought is "Gas Station Knife", and they are going for 6, 7 or 8 bills or even more!

I realize that's the extreme progression of the OP's thought above, but some knives are all form and given the safe queen condition of all of them, they are apparently zero function. I just can't get my head around it.


Gold Member
Oct 13, 2018
For me I’m going boring workhorse. And being since I edc to work everyday left handed CRKs I think that fits that choice. But just for me I don’t really like flashy or over the top knives, so CRKs appeal to me. They’re simple workhorses that are easy to maintain and just work perfect for me in my line of work. I know you said not for work but honesty if I’m not at work I may need a knife twice a week so In that case I’ll pick what looks better to me. I like what hhmoore hhmoore said. Most of the time we will buy bc there’s a visual appeal. I’m not gonna keep it tho if it’s not good in hand. There are Crk models that don’t agree with my hand so I don’t own them. I reckon I got lucky in that the boring workhorses I use are visually appealing to me. The micarta inlay 21 do not appeal to me like the Inkosi inlay in looks but I still use them for better grip than plain handle. Plus the inlays feel better in a bare hand during the cold winters here


Gold Member
Sep 3, 2008
I'll go boring work horse. I'm generally a function over form kind of guy.

I don't need fancy cnc maching, carbon fiber, Ti hardware, 3 different blade grinds, fancy logos, etching, inlays, etc on a knife.

Give me ...
1. *Good* steel : 1095, D2, VG10, S30/35, 154 are just fine with me.
2. G10, micarta, or FRN/plastic. I have no problems with the Rat 1 and Delica handles
3. Spear point, wharncliffe, sheepsfoot blade shape. Nothing too fancy or crazy.

and I'm content.
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Gold Member
Sep 17, 2016
Boring workhorse just so I can accomplish chores cleanly and quickly, not worry about cleaning it after each slice or worry about losing it (almost all of my workhorses have a lower price point criteria to fit that role for me)


Why so serious?
Dec 25, 2012
For random use daily carry? Give me something interesting that I want to carry, like this Seraphim knives Korsar:


Or this funky Olamic Gambit:


But if I'm going to be cutting for hours I'll take the ugly-but-effective tool built for the job, like my homemade prison shank Cold Steel Tuff Lite whittlers:


Though in reality this poll is IMO a bit of a silly false choice--there are plenty of beautiful workhorse knives, the two things are not mutually exclusive. Both of the knives above, even the funky oddball that is the Gambit, are reliable cutting tools that won't let you down.

I guarantee you that this pretty knife with an integral handle made from a single piece of titanium and absolutely zero discernible blade play is sturdier than any Emerson or tanky ZT knife I own, and I have some of the old-school "proudly overbuilt in the US" models:

Jul 3, 2019
Depends on what you use it for. You don't need M4 to cut cardboard. Nobody "needs" top of the line blade steel unless you're cutting really tough materials every day or you depend on it for life-and-death situations. But for some people, bragging rights are just as important as function.
Nov 13, 2012
Good-enough show piece.
After a while I realize I don't sharpen knives very often, be it AUS-8 or M390, so I look at the design and features more than materials. I still am reluctant on the plastic handles though.
I don't own many knives I consider boring. I don't need knives for hard use, so I have moved toward thinner blades, narrower handles, and slicy edges. Workhorse can have all of these things, but so can sturdy, well built show pieces.
Oct 28, 2005
Show piece. Perception is reality.

evilgreg's whittlers are a classic solution for cutting things, as are razor blades.