Long Term Field Sharpenability vs Edge Holding

Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
451
While I understand the argument, I can't say that I agree for my uses. I prefer a steel that can be sharpened and taken into the field and keep an edge for a long, hard day of use if not a weekend of camping/hunting. I find all of the tiny, convenient to pack/carry sharpening tools to be a compromise and a pain to use. I have less time to spend in the woods than I do at home. So, I prefer to sharpen at home, enter the field prepared, and not have to bother with keeping an edge while I can be soaking in the goodness of the great outdoors. That doesn't mean your wrong and I'm right, or vise a versa; it's just a different approach.
 
Joined
Nov 17, 2007
Messages
4,438
I learned to freehand sharpen when I was very young. So I'm of a bent toward field sharpenability.
However I make great use of the newer sharpening hardware. Such as the Eze-Lap DC4 etc.
I much prefer plain old 1095 steel, or other carbon steels over all of the super steels out there. I like M4, it takes an excellent edge. And 80crv2 has become a real favorite.
i carry a strop and touch up regularly in use. So I rarely need to do any heavy sharpening.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2015
Messages
2,435
There are some things I agree with, and some I don't.

Vanadium carbides are harder than the abrasive found in most stones, so I can see where you'd want to avoid steels like that with improvised sharpening methods.

If I want a blade that's quick to touch up, the main thing I look for is a thin edge. Like, 0.007" thick or less- I have some down to 0.004". You can completely recut the entire edge bevel with a couple swipes, pretty much regardless of how hard the steel is.

If you need a stouter edge for rough work, that may get nicks & damage, then I would opt for a simple low carbide steel at relatively high hardness. The carbides formed by many of the high grade stainless steels are what really make 'em take a while to grind down; not necessarily the Rockwell hardness. I don't have a direct comparison at hand, but I'd be inclined to think L6 at 60 Rc would still be quicker to sharpen than 440C at 56. And since L6 is much tougher, the edge doesn't have to be as thick for the same durability, and is less likely to take serious damage in the first place.

The biggest problem I have with softer steels, especially the common cheap stainless steels, is their strong tendency to form a nasty floppy burr that's hard to remove. Sure, it may be easier to grind them down on a coarse stone, but then I spend twice as long dealing with the burr. Whereas a harder steel forms a crisp edge easier.

I've used found river rocks for sharpening in the past, and it's a handy thing to know. But I decided it would be good to keep a ready made sharpener in my gear, so I bought one of those cheap diamond plates mounted on a plastic base. I used a heat gun to unglue it from the base, and now I have a stone that weighs like half an ounce, is so thin and flat it takes up no room, and is big enough to do real work on. Some quick googling shows you can buy the plates by themselves now:
s-l1600.jpg

Can anyone give me a clue as to which google search will bring these up?
 
Joined
May 15, 2008
Messages
512
After years of using stuff like A2 and Infini, I find I get more enjoyment out of simple stuff, 1070 (Tram) 1075 (Condor) and .1095 (Esee or Mora). I use simple devices to maintain the edge and I don't find a few minutes bringing it back to be a detriment to my time outdoors. Just my own personal.02
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2001
Messages
741
It all depends on the situation in which a knife will be used IMO. When used outdoors, up in the mountains, I prefer simple steels. I like something I can sharpen on a smooth rock, if necessary. In an outdoor survival course I took that was taught be a retired USAF survival instructor, -it was pointed out that life & death situations usually come up unexpectedly. Yes, maybe you only anticipated going on a day hike. And just maybe something happens that forces you out there much longer than you expected.
I want to reduce the number of items where I’m screwed if they are lost. Item 1 is a knife. Losing a knife when in an outdoors survival situation is very bad. Depending on the circumstances, you may very well be screwed. Needing to sharpen a high tech steel knife and losing your diamond sharpener means now you may have also lost the ability to use your knife.
You may reply - ‘ I just won’t lose those items.’ Well, in survival situations “sh*t happens”. You may be tired, hungry, cold, disoriented, panicked, etc. You may fall, need to cross a river, etc, etc. Any number of circumstances may unfold where you can lose gear. I find many of the new super steels to be amazing, but when it comes to outdoors knives I prefer simple & easy to sharpen. If anything, throwing a spare Mora in your pack is cheap insurance.
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Messages
42
When I started "collecting" knives I was much impressed by high end super steels and most new knives I was buying were in M390, s90v etc.

Over the time I was spending more time in the nature: hiking, camping, cycling, and knives were becoming more intesively used tool.
After harder use I had to spend 30min-1 hr on resharpening one of my supersteel knives, and eventualy came to conclusion it's not worth the hassle.
Now I mostly carry high quality 12c27 knives which I can easy touch up with a DC4 stone, in-field if needed, and to be honest, when properly sharp I just can not see any disadvantages compared to supersteel knives. These mid-range steel can take some abuse if needed, and needs practicaly no care apart from maintaining the edge which takes 1 or two minutes.

I have to mention that I always carry portable folding saw, and a small axe or a matchete when I plan to chop or cut the wood. Right tool for the task is what I beleive into.

I still am kind of a steel snob and own few nice supersteel knives, but use them only for EDC which means they almost never get used apart from testing the sharpness on a piece of paper:D

PS, my oldest hobby is salt water fishing and I prefer 12c27 thin blades for most of the time, and VG10 (Fallkniven F2) for harder use (dealing with bigger fish, bones, etc).

PS2: Sorry for my English:D
 
Joined
Jan 4, 2017
Messages
150
Most of my knife use is around the yard (cutting bale twine, cutting grass with a scythe, pruning trees, delimbing, making prop-up sticks for the veggy garden, repairing stuff, debarking, making firewood and kindling, clearing out brush and so on), with some day hikes where I need to clear spaces to sit down on a break, cut sausage and so on. Nothing spectacular. Sometimes I need to clear the way along a neclected path or trail to the landing site of a hot-air balloon, so the retrieve vehicle can reach it without too much damage to the bodywork - there a machete comes in.
I found that cheap hardfoam nail files and nail pads work quite well for quick sharpening in the field. A strip of 100/180 grit keeps a scythe or hook knife sharp enough, a finer pad will polish a roughly sharpened edge fairly quick. They weigh next to nothing and are dirt cheap, so you can stuff one in a pocket of every jacket you may wear. Amongst the stones, I like my Gransfors Bruks two-sided puck the best, as it is still easy to carry and gets a good result.
I think that fast and effective sharpening in the field is more important than the ultimate in edge retention. 12C27 (Mora, Opinel), basic carbon steels (Mora HD, Tramontina) do well, and I like my blades made from 80CrV2 (puukkos, Skrama), as they are easy to sharpen but also hold a good working edge (not a shaving edge) pretty long.
 

fielder

Basic Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2011
Messages
754
More and more I'm preferring the more forgiving, easy to sharpen, and still tough steels like Sandvik 12c27.
 

22-rimfire

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2005
Messages
19,385
Long term journey.... I would probably carry a stainless steel that was relatively easy to sharpen and a diamond plate.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2003
Messages
682
Long term journey.... I would probably carry a stainless steel that was relatively easy to sharpen and a diamond plate.

This is why I carry a Fallkniven F1 in CoS - super sharp, super edge retention, easy to sharpen and otherwise pretty much maintenance free....
 

CVamberbonehead

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2017
Messages
887
I like a compromise, convex A2 tool steel. Specifically bark river/Blackjack knives. The edges hold up well and if I need to resharpen I just strop them. I hate the supersteels because I sharpen by hand and mostly they are too hard (brittle) for me. I like plain carbon steel too but I just like the A2 better.
 
Joined
Dec 6, 2010
Messages
433
I think some people were missing the point of the thread. I was originally talking about a trip that lasted long enough that your knives would certainly dull. Not a day. Not a week. I would say, at minimum, a month. A month of living on the land. That knife helping you with cooking, repairing, fishing, hygiene, etc. It will fill. It will get dropped on a gravel river bank. It will encounter bones when dressing out game.

Thank you for the replies however. Since I posted this thread a couple years ago, I bought a Bark River Mountain Man in 3V. It does seem to sharpen quite easily while miles ahead of my Old Hickory I originally mentioned. I would have to do a little more experimenting in sharpening it but it is a good candidate. My old hickory's edge lasted through skinning and dressing a couple pigs. Good enough for me.
 
Joined
Feb 3, 2006
Messages
8,250
Since this thread is still going I’ll throw in my two cents.

Who here carries one knife into the woods? Anyone?:D I’ve gone back to simple steels in my fixed blades like 1095/12c27 but my edc’s are generally something like m4. Why not have the best of both worlds?
 
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