Polished vs coarse edge - Kimber Forum


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Old 07-23-2019, 08:21 AM   #1
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Polished vs coarse edge

I see a lot of interest in highly polished edges.

Putting aside the enjoyment of hobby polishing and aesthetics, what everyday uses do you find a polished edge serves better than a more coarse edge?

As a primer, this is an excerpt from a rather lengthy article on knife sharpening at World Knives. It's curious that this is the only section in the article highlighted "Important Tip"

************* IMPORTANT TIP ****************

Many treatises on sharpening tend to focus on getting a polished, razor-like edge. This is partially the fault of the tests we use to see how good our sharpening skills are. Shaving hair off your arm, or cutting a thin slice out of a hanging piece of newpaper, both favor a razor polished edge. An edge ground with a coarser grit won't feel as sharp, but will outperform the razor polished edge on slicing type cuts, sometimes significantly. If most of your work involves slicing cuts (cutting rope, etc.) you should strongly consider backing off to the coarser stones, or even a file. This may be one of the most important decisions you make -- probably more important than finding the perfect sharpening system!

Recently, Mike Swaim (a contributor to rec.knives) has been running and documenting a number of knife tests. Mike's tests indicate that for certain uses, a coarse-ground blade will significantly outperform a razor polished blade. In fact, a razor polished blade which does extremely poor in Mike's tests will sometimes perform with the very best knives when re-sharpened using a coarser grind. Mike's coarse grind was done on a file, so it is very coarse, but he's since begun favoring very coarse stones over files.

The tests seem to indicate that you should think carefully about your grit strategy. If you know you have one particular usage that you do often, it's worth a few minutes of your time to test out whether or not a dull-feeling 300-grit sharpened knife will outperform your razor-edged 1200-grit sharpened knife. The 300-grit knife may not shave hair well, but if you need it to cut rope, it may be just the ticket!

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Old 07-23-2019, 09:14 AM   #2
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Interesting article. I'll use a file for axe's and lawn mower blades not my knifes. I tend to get mine somewhere in the middle of polished and coarse. While the coarse edge seems to stay sharp longer the polished edge cuts smoother and hurts less when you get yourself.
I like looks of a highly polished edge but I haven't gotten my skills or my stones to that level yet.
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:14 AM   #3
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My experience with coarse sharpening is somewhat limited. Let me start by admitting that aesthetics is my primary concern. Otherwise I’d just carry a Glock and a Ka-Bar.

Most of my serious cutting is in the kitchen. For tomatoes, a polished edge is spectacular. It’s the way to go. For slicing a tri-tip, a polished knife works very nicely. When stabbing my hand, the polished edge releases a lot of blood.

A coarse edge is far superior when slicing banana stems. The only time I’ve ever cut banana stems was when playing with knives. A polished edge isn’t very good here. A coarse edge is also very good for cutting artichokes. I should experiment more on celery and carrots.

For everyday use, I don’t do anything fancy. There’s boxes and envelopes, but I can’t say which edge is best. It probably doesn’t matter. I cut up fabric to use as rags, and polished is much better here. Jacking a door lock will beat up either style of edge. Stabbing an air hole into five-gallon bucket can goof up a needle-point tip.

I can’t remember the last time I needed to cut a manila rope while hanging one-handed off the boom in a gale-force storm, but coarseness intrigues me. I might have to pick out a knife and see what I can do in the 400 grit realm.
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:21 PM   #4
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I've backed off in kitchen knives, finding my Norton 150 followed by a few laps on a butcher's steel works great for anything I encounter there. I shave with a collection of straights, there 8,000 and loaded strop are minimal for comfort with my beard.
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:44 PM   #5
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It depends on the blade's purpose. For fast cutting of tough material a coarse edge may cut better, last longer and work faster. For fine work, a very sharp polished edge is sharper and cuts cleaner, deeper and faster.

Like Bentlink, I shave with straight razors and wine them to 12,000 grit via a progression...but they are very delicate thin edges.
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Old 07-23-2019, 06:55 PM   #6
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I've never tried to polish an edge, the finest stones I have for my Wicked Edge sharpener are 1,000 grit. So far, I'm happy with what I can do just working up to 800 grit.
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Old 07-23-2019, 07:23 PM   #7
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smoother for skin(aka my leg ) and shaving...coarse for seatbelts--rope
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Old 07-24-2019, 05:44 AM   #8
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Last night I got all enthused, so instead of going to bed on time, I got out the big chef's knife and the stones. I used only a 400 grit diamond plate. It's a bit difficult to get rid of a burr at this grit, but eventually got the edge pretty good. It cuts through banana stems as expected. When I finished, it was too late to shave my legs or go cut the seatbelts out of the truck. It's unlikely that I'll need to cut the rigging on a pirate ship today, but I'm having artichokes for dinner. I'll test the knife out on them.
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Old 07-26-2019, 07:26 AM   #9
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Everyday knives are to 600 and my strop (to knock off the burr) is a piece of Poplar with saddle leather rough side up, loaded with Flitz. I also have a bunch of $5 knives laying around the house/shop that are regularly taken to 300 and I knock the burr off with just the leather.
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