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How do you test your knives?

Jan 17, 2001
Your buying a new knife. Your at the shop and you know which type you want,(you've read all there is to read about the type and what you want it for,you may know someone with the same type.) You buy the one which feels the best in your hand and you head home...Now how do YOU test your new knife so you know it wont fail at what you bought it for.
I cut various types of nylon webbing,wood and cardboard, do some chopping on the kindiling pile in the yard, then I wait for steak day at the house and try deep and shallow cuts on the meat as well as point penetration. Then I see what it takes to get it sharp again using what I'd have out in the field.(This is for my field knives) What do you do to see if yours does what it's supposed to?
Since most of my knives are folders, I dispense with chopping and cutting multiple materials, instead testing almost purely for sharpness.

I hone the edges of my folder blades to 30 degrees, and finish them with a slight convex edge by 2-stage stropping with leather hones at 600-grit and final polish with 10000-grit chromium oxide.

For testing, I usually slowly slice newspaper print, listening and feeling for any imperfections or dull areas on the edge. Newsprint is an excellent medium, since the fiber content gives good audible and tactile feedback of any edge problems, and it will simply tear when any edge defects are encountered.

The sharpest edge in my possession is a Cold Steel Carbon V SRK, finished as above, which is what I'd use for chopping, etc.
I take my new knives and pound them into a rock for use as a peton. If it breaks, I know it's not a good knife. Luckily I use only STRIDER knives so I haven't had one break yet. Truck hoods and doors work as a good test also. The preferred method to test its edge performance is on a human, but unless you hate your neighbor that much, try it on some game.


1. Make sure the knife has a 20deg angle on both sides. Use a 1200 grit ceramic to get it there, remove wire edge.

2. Cut up a cardboard box or two at work.

3. Get a 79 strand copper speaker cable and cut that, good test for toughness, with little chance of chipping blade.

4. Wittle wood and thunk it into a tree and test tip, gently!

5. Slice paper up!

6. Pull a thread tight and see how much pressure is needed to cut it.

7. See how, 'grabby' the steel is with my thumb.

And some other stuff as well!


"To strive to seek to find and not to yield"
Ranger motto

A few useful details on UK laws and some nice reviews!
I don't really test any of my knives. I use them. I use them like they were designed to be used. If I keep using them they pass the test. Pretty simple process.

Mr.Joshua,I've thought of a way to speed up your testing method, go to a bar parking lot in a seedy part of town and start your Srtider WB through the car door and roof thing. The next part of your testing method should start soon thereafter. Of which I'm sure the WB will pass with flying colors. About the rock part,you might have to make the trip to Joshua Tree and do some climbing during the day,and the rest of your test that night.
Try a search of this forum using the name
and then the name
These are the (IMHO) unofficial Bladeforums Deans of Testing