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Edge Retention Vs Ease of Sharpening

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Marko Tsourkan

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I decided to post it here, as it is pretty relevant to most folks on the forum, pros and home cooks.

There is an inverse relationship between edge retention (or steel's wear resistance) and ease of sharpening. More wear resistance in a knife is likely to result in a more time on stones and perhaps even in a new set of stones that are more suitable for such a task (Shapton, Sigma, diamond plates, etc).

For pros time is money, so exceptional edge retention might be way to go, but for home cooks, I am not sure, particularly if it comes at a cost and not with an immediate benefit.

Curios what other think about this.

M

PS: Just realized I am over 1000 posts. :)
 

stevenStefano

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If I had a choice I'd go for edge retention every time. I have knives that are seen as easy to sharpen and some that are seen as harder to sharpen. To me it doesn't seem to take much longer for the harder to sharpen knives, maybe half an hour which means little to me. I'd rather spend a little more time on the stones for a knife that holds an edge longer
 

Marko Tsourkan

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So, I probably should ask what is the average edge retention on most knives for home cooks (with stropping, but not touching up on stones or rods)?
A week, two weeks, a month?

M
 

Eamon Burke

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Honestly, even at home, I prefer a steel that is a bastard to sharpen and stays faithful for a long time. For work, I would say a long time is 2 weeks, cheapo knives like Forschners don't make it through 3 days. VG-10 lasts about 5 days, it *might* make it through the week.

I've also sharpened some knives, notably a recent Wusthof, that was a huge pain to sharpen--took forever to work out tiny chips in the edge, which I was doing on a 120grit stone, because they were so small I figured it'd be real quick. It took about 25 minutes to get them out, and I really doubt that it would stay sharp for very long, judging by it's price and construction quality. Not sure why it was such a pain to sharpen, but it got me thinking.
 

Cadillac J

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Maybe I am the odd man out, but I've not had a knife/steel in regular sharpening(not thinning/reprofiling) that I found was significantly harder to sharpen than others. Of course steels like white#2 have a smoother and more refined feel on the stones and are easier to deburr, but some of my best retention knives in AS and semi-stainless tool steels really sharpen as easy as anything else.
 

Eamon Burke

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Maybe I am the odd man out, but I've not had a knife/steel in regular sharpening(not thinning/reprofiling) that I found was significantly harder to sharpen than others. Of course steels like white#2 have a smoother and more refined feel on the stones and are easier to deburr, but some of my best retention knives in AS and semi-stainless tool steels really sharpen as easy as anything else.
Aren't your knives exclusively <13% Chromium? There are a few stainless steels that I've sharpened that make you work MUUUUCH harder to get the same edge out of them, though once it's there, it performs well.
 

Cadillac J

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So, I probably should ask what is the average edge retention on most knives for home cooks (with stropping, but not touching up on stones or rods)?
A week, two weeks, a month?
As a home cook, my edges are immaculate at all times. I have a sick need for that fresh edge, so I strop pretty much after every use and probably put to a high grit stone each month, even though the blade is still cutting really well. I'd imagine my edges could go a few months easily with just stropping...but I'd miss that ultimate feeling.
 

Marko Tsourkan

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Alloys in a steel, manipulation during heat treatment, final hardness of over 60RC combined can result in an edge that is very difficult to sharpen. I am sure it won't feel like it on diamond plates, but on regular aluminum oxide stones, it will require a lot of time and sweating, as I discovered yesterday, to get a knife relatively sharp (nothing like 52100 sharp though!).

Very interesting, keep the discussion going. :)

M
 

Vertigo

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I honestly prefer knives that are a breeze to sharpen, nothing in the world irritates me more than fussy steel and burrs that won't give up. If that means having to sharpen a little more often, I don't mind--at least it's quick and painless to do. I cut a ton of acidic foods at work, something like 6-8 gallons of salsa fresca a day plus heaps of citrus and onions, and it turns my carbon edges to mush in no time at all. Rather deal with that, though, than have to sit there begging and pleading with a chunk of VG-10 that refuses to cooperate.
 

Cadillac J

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Aren't your knives exclusively <13% Chromium? There are a few stainless steels that I've sharpened that make you work MUUUUCH harder to get the same edge out of them, though once it's there, it performs well.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most of the knives we talk about <13% Chromium? I just assumed Marko was referring to characteristics of most of the knives we discuss on a regular basis.

I remember hearing horror stories about sharpening Globals, but didn't think they were an issue. They don't have a great feel while grinding on the stones, but I wouldn't consider them difficult to get a really sharp edge on.

My point was that I, for a home cook, don't purchase a knife because of ease of sharpening nor for edge retention...just the combination of profile, geometry, edge taking, steel, etc.
 

Eamon Burke

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most of the knives we talk about <13% Chromium? I just assumed Marko was referring to characteristics of most of the knives we discuss on a regular basis.

I remember hearing horror stories about sharpening Globals, but didn't think they were an issue. They don't have a great feel while grinding on the stones, but I wouldn't consider them difficult to get a really sharp edge on.

My point was that I, for a home cook, don't purchase a knife because of ease of sharpening nor for edge retention...just the combination of profile, geometry, edge taking, steel, etc.
VG10, CPM154, Damasteel, the "Molybdenum Vanadium" so many are made from, are all >13% Chromium and therefore actually stainless. In a pro setting, stainless can be a huge thing, there are even ignorant health inspectors that don't allow carbon steels. I just did some in CPM154 what suuuuuuuuuucked to sharpen.
 

JMJones

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I much prefer ease of sharpening for my kitchen knives. I truly dislike stainless steels for this reason. With strop and a fine ceramic rod, I rarely need to go to the stones to resharpen. I find that it is just way easier maintaining an edge with a little care than to let the knife get truly dull before resharpening. Also as long as we are talking non stainless steel, I dont think a few points harder will be that big of a deal on the stones as long as the edge is somewhat maintained during use.
 

UglyJoe

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As a home cook I actually prefer a knife that gets dumb-sharp but doesn't hold an edge that well... it gives me an excuse to actually get to the stones more often, which I enjoy. If I were a pro I think I'd want things just about the opposite of how I like my home knives.
 

euphorbioid

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As a home cook I actually prefer a knife that gets dumb-sharp but doesn't hold an edge that well... it gives me an excuse to actually get to the stones more often, which I enjoy. If I were a pro I think I'd want things just about the opposite of how I like my home knives.
I agree wholeheartedly.
 

Vertigo

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I just did some in CPM154 what suuuuuuuuuucked to sharpen.
My Rodrigue is CPM-154, and it's the most enjoyable stainless I've sharpened. Takes no time or effort to get a burr going, and it falls away with little effort. A completely different world from something like VG-10 in a Shun. Might be a heat treat thing, but I just assumed because it was a powdered steel, it was a little more accommodating.
 

Cipcich

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I'm not sure that edge retention and ease of sharpening are always at odds, not am I sure that hardness necessarily makes a knife harder to sharpen.
One example I would cite is a Carter Funayuki of pretty hard White #1, which is easy to sharpen, and maintains its edge very well; certainly far better than most While #2 knives out there. Another would be Sadayusa knives, even harder, which are easy to sharpen to a very fine edge, and which never seem to get dull (they do get some microchips . .).
On the other hand, with the exception of a DT-ITK in AEB-L, stainless knives in my experience are not only no fun to sharpen, but get smooth real quick.
 

NO ChoP!

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Again, I think its different steels, different knives for different tasks; at least thats the excuse I use to obtain more and more knives! I have a virgin carbon Masamoto that takes the sharpest of edges, but seems to dull rather quickly; but, I can bring it right back within a couple of minutes on a mid grit stone, strop it a couple of times, and back in business. This is the knife I grab when I want something super sharp for a quick task.

On the other spectrum for me, is my Kono HD. It gets pretty sharp, and I can use it for days doing heavy prep, and it will retain its edge. But when it dulls, I need to put it through a progression of at least ten or fifteen minutes.

You are right, it's a trade off, no one being better than the other, just depends on the need.
 

jmforge

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I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that L6 is known for it's toughness, not its abrasion resistance or ability to take a "laser" edge for that matter. AEB-L by all accounts has very fine grain and can take a super keen edge, but doesn't have enough carbon to form any carbides worth mentioning.
Edge Retention :)
L6 anyone?
 

geezr

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As a home cook I actually prefer a knife that gets dumb-sharp but doesn't hold an edge that well... it gives me an excuse to actually get to the stones more often, which I enjoy. If I were a pro I think I'd want things just about the opposite of how I like my home knives.
nother - :plus1:
 

Larrin

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I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that L6 is known for it's toughness, not its abrasion resistance or ability to take a "laser" edge for that matter. AEB-L by all accounts has very fine grain and can take a super keen edge, but doesn't have enough carbon to form any carbides worth mentioning.
But to be fair neither do any of the commonly used carbon steels outside of Blue Super. Carbide volume is where we get to the real discussion of edge retention vs ease of sharpening. However, if it's true that most users around here are push cutting, extra carbide volume may not contribute to edge retention. Then there's a separate question of carbide hardness, i.e. there have been complaints of difficulty of sharpening of S30V, which has similar carbide volume to CPM-154 but is more difficult to sharpen because of the vanadium carbide.
 

Keith Neal

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As a home cook I actually prefer a knife that gets dumb-sharp but doesn't hold an edge that well... it gives me an excuse to actually get to the stones more often, which I enjoy. If I were a pro I think I'd want things just about the opposite of how I like my home knives.
Agree.
 

Eamon Burke

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there have been complaints of difficulty of sharpening of S30V, which has similar carbide volume to CPM-154 but is more difficult to sharpen because of the vanadium carbide.
That is for real. I tried to shine one up with wet/dry sandpaper, and the 220 grit, one pass, didn't even scratch it. What's that about?
 

tk59

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I like edge retention a lot. I can sharpen when I feel like it as opposed to trying to decide when I'm pissed off enough for the edge to "need" it. I don't like crazy burrs/wire edges but I haven't really had to do anything special to get rid of them, in general. (A-type, certain VG10, and a couple others take a little more work but not terrible...) There may be a point where more edge retention really isn't worth it. Many of the knives I like most, have very good edge retention but not crazy. The best thing about owning a high end knife is the first couple of hours of cutting straight off the stones. If I can get a few more hours off of a sharpening, that would be great. So far, it doesn't really seem to matter. I sharpen, I get an awesome couple of hours (depending on what I'm cutting) and then cutting is merely very nice, not awesome. I really just want the awesome. Basically, give me more edge retention but I don't want to sacrifice on sharpness (no huge carbides and no crazy burrs). Under a microscope, it is clear that ripping off crazy burrs leaves an ugly scar on your edge. (Yes, that one is for you, Salty.)
 

jaybett

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I don't know if home cooks, will ever be good judges of edge retention. I've got more knives, then I need. I rotate through a series of knives, so none of them really need to sharpened on a regular basis.

Jay
 

JohnnyChance

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I prefer edge retention. I love my Zwilling Kramer except for the fact that it does not have good edge retention. Especially in 52100 I would prefer something harder, even if that sacrifices ease-of-sharpening. The ZK appears to be sub 60 HRC, maybe as low as 57-58, and from other 52100 knives I have used in the 61-62 HRC range, I much prefer the harder 52100. They don't quite feel the same while sharpening, less responsive, but get just as sharp when you get the hang of it and the difference in edge retention is pretty significant.
 

so_sleepy

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I prefer edge retention. I love my Zwilling Kramer except for the fact that it does not have good edge retention. Especially in 52100 I would prefer something harder, even if that sacrifices ease-of-sharpening. The ZK appears to be sub 60 HRC, maybe as low as 57-58, and from other 52100 knives I have used in the 61-62 HRC range, I much prefer the harder 52100. They don't quite feel the same while sharpening, less responsive, but get just as sharp when you get the hang of it and the difference in edge retention is pretty significant.
The specs say the Z-Kramer is hardened to 61 HRC
 

JohnnyChance

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The specs say the Z-Kramer is hardened to 61 HRC
You are correct, that is the advertised HRC. I looked for it before and didn't see it. Feels way different than other 61 HRC 52100 I have used. Maybe the difference is in the heat treat procedure and not the final rockwell rating.
 

Larrin

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That is for real. I tried to shine one up with wet/dry sandpaper, and the 220 grit, one pass, didn't even scratch it. What's that about?
Vanadium carbide is harder than the abrasive.
 

Lefty

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For me, I'll take stupid sharpness, as long as it has good retention. I'm a home user, so I don't have to worry about getting through service, and I can always switch knives as I please.
Another thing is, sharpening is as much a part of the hobby as researching, tweaking, developing my technique, etc. If i have an excuse to sharpen, I'm a happy camper, as long as it isn't the same knife over and over again.
 
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