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Edge Retention

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Aerosmith101, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. Aerosmith101


    Oct 28, 2018
    Just out of curiosity what steel has the best edge Retention?
  2. NapalmCheese


    Aug 24, 2006
    None of them have 'the best' edge retention. They all excel at holding an edge meant for certain types of jobs (cutting hard stuff, cutting soft stuff, whatever).

    From my experience nothing holds a fine edge really well, but stuff that's easy to strop or steel back to a good fine edge seems to let me do more work more quickly than stuff that takes specialized equipment to sharpen.
    115Italian likes this.
  3. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
  4. DeadboxHero


    Mar 22, 2014
    Kinda depends on what you consider edge retention, cutting longer or staying sharp longer are different.

    Cutting longer relys on carbides, there volume and hardness.

    Staying sharp longer relys more on the hardness of the overall steel matrix and having very fine structures both grain and carbide. This usually means reduced carbide volume AND reduced cutting endurance, so it's a inverse relationship.

    Staying sharp longer also relys on how sharp it was before use, so it's inseparable from the users ability to sharpen it. A better Sharpeners knife will stay sharper longer because it started sharper.

    All the steels from s110v to 440c can be sharpened to a higher Sharpness then any of us can hope to achieve, so it's not just the steel, it's our ability to excute sound practices that makes the difference, what we see in practice is some steels simply get sharper faster with less hassle.

    Again, what steel has the best edge retension?
    In reality, it really depends on how the knife edge is going dull.
    Blunting from cutting?
    Rolling from impact?
    Chipping from abuse?

    Different steel compositions can be used negate some of these issues but at a cost to others so technically the best edge retension for me is not the same for you depending on preference and use. Again, trade offs.

    In testing, it's the hardest steel with the most alloy that wins, but in real world use there are other factors. People aren't cutting like robots in repeatable cuts endlessly. If the main reason the edge is dulling is chipping from excess scraping, chiseling, and torquing the edge in materials or making contact with hard materials or impact energy then technically another type of steel may have more retention for that user. However, in a controlled environment, high hardness and high alloy wins if you have the tools and ability to sharpen it and the experience to use it properly.

    Also it's keep in mind when buying or looking at a knife it's the geometry that cuts not the steel. Just because it's super duper steel doesn't mean it will have the best edge retention by itself without the blade geometry to express it and a user that can handle that geometry.

    Also a reality check, you want better retention? Be a better Sharpener.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  5. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    Rex121 and maxamet. They Excell at edge retention but have many cons. Ie sharpening takes forever not very corrosion resistant, possibly chippy. Not hard use. Rare and expensive. Spyderco and Creely blades are two offering them. Iirc @DeadboxHero had some maxamet recently.

    You may be better off with 20cv, 204p or m390 as with a good heat treatment they are the most balanced super steel. Or heck vanax super clean if you want a custom.
    Dangerously likes this.
  6. John_0917

    John_0917 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 15, 2014
    I’ll give a simple answer since these questions always seem to get the run around “edge retention heat treat blah blah”...

    For straight slicing (with no impacts or lateral forces), it’s very hard to beat ZDP189, Maxamet and S110V.

    I will note that all these steels definitely do give up ground in some of their other traits.
  7. Sal Glesser

    Sal Glesser Moderator Moderator

    Dec 27, 1998
    In my opinion, Jim (Ankerson) and Shawn (Deadboxhero) are bright, passionate edge junky's and I for one appreciate their involvement and truth seeking. (Like most Edge Junky's, they're nuts :p).

    FYI, I agree that geometry is far more critical than often thought. When we first began making knives in the early 80's, the best steels available at the time were in the 1.0% (+ or -) carbon content range. We also learned that we could double edge retention of most steel by using carefully shaped serrations (another geometry). Now with the addition of powdered steels and nitrogen steels, we can add far more carbon and vanadium and many of these (powdered steels) that also respond well to teeth. We also learned that steels like H-1, for some reason, respond exceptionally well to the serrated "geometry".

    The serrated "geometry" has more linear inches of cutting edge, has single point contact penetration, and the teeth protect the inner cutting surface.

    Smaug, palonej, John_0917 and 15 others like this.
  8. shunsui

    shunsui Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 12, 2008
    Oddly enough the knife community, for some reason, never takes the hint. :D
  9. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    For my small super thin kitchen knife for fruit, veg and package opening my Japanese High Carbon White Paper Steel knife has gone a full one and one half years and it is still shave sharp; was hair whittling for an entire year.
    for my work knife for cutting dusty and somewhat abrasive materials I find FOR ME M4 to be superior to even S110V (I have several work knives in S110V). I have three knives in M4 (Spyderco) and they are perfection : hold a shave sharp or near shave sharp edge for weeks of daily use and sharpen / touch up like steel from heaven (deburs super easy and gets hair whittling with very little work).
    I just have no desire to look at any other steel now . M4 is " It ".
  10. Lee48


    Apr 29, 2005
    Once you learn how to sharpen your knives, edge retention is not an issue.
    Barrettboy and Tommy-Chi like this.
  11. PC87


    Dec 27, 2011
  12. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    . . . still though . . . I wouldn't complain too much if M4 keeps appearing in Spyderco knives.
    :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
    DeadboxHero likes this.
  13. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    I would go further.
    I would say, and this is a quote from the old Japanese Shokunin who say : A master is he (she) who has the sharpest tools and sharpens the least.
    Be aware of what and how you cut.

    Shokunin : highly skilled crafts person who is committed to doing the best work possible with the most speed possible . . . they have a strong sense of commitment to the community as well.
    DeadboxHero likes this.
  14. Sergeua

    Sergeua Gold Member Gold Member

    May 1, 2016
    Cut this cardboard up today with 8Cr14MoV steel and it's still shaving. I'm impressed because it's super easy for me to sharpen this knife. Another 1/3 rd more of the pictured after and still grabs hairs.
    A bit of spydercos brown doublestuff and just a tad of strop and back to loco.
    *No microbevels and careful burr inspection.
    Check this Russian tester out. He goes the distance https://kiyasov.com/youtube/results/
    *its more one knife vs the other rather than steel but steel helps
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  15. gscreely

    gscreely KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 3, 2008
    Rex 121 is prone to rust for sure, but it is not as chippy as you might think. In fact, I don't think Rex 121 is substantially more chippy than 20cv, s110v, zdp. Rex 121 does not have a lot of chromium which helps with its toughness with its insane carbide volume.

    Vanax is almost twice as expensive as Rex 121, I have a few (Vanax Makos) in the works at the moment. Honestly, my all-around favorite steel is LC200N. It does not have the edge retention of say 20CV, but a little better edge hold than S30V, very good toughness, and fantastic corrosion resistance. I don't think many steels do as many things as well. Perhaps Vanax will, but it is more pricey.
    Mo2 likes this.
  16. GatorFlash1

    GatorFlash1 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 28, 2012
    Best edge retention knife is a Gamma Knife used in surgery. It never has to be sharpened.

    Barrettboy likes this.
  17. Gossman Knives

    Gossman Knives Edged Toolmaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 9, 2004
    I've had good luck with edge retention with CPM 4V at 63rc.
    Scott 4v3vtest2.jpg
    hugofeynman and Mo2 like this.
  18. NPT


    Nov 3, 2018
    Is there a thread anywhere here that makes general comparisons between the steels? My preference would be edge retention and ease of sharpening. I'm not worried about corrosion resistance. To be honest, I kind of like the standard tool steels. D2 A1, etc.
  19. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    A1 is the standard for sure.
    Mo2 likes this.
  20. Bob6794


    Apr 21, 2013
    I would listen to Sal, from my experience so far trying to put Spydercos serrated knives through it's paces for a week or two I would say it rings true. I only have the Bryd Hawkbill but I've put it through a pretty good workout, and I don't doubt for a second what he says about the serrated H1 knives. You would probably be very happy with it.

    If your curious what I've done with the knife, I have sliced up piles of cardboard to test the edge retention. 8cr13mov performed far better than it deserved, reminded me of d2 or cpm-154. Used at my work cutting fiberous materials and plastic straps, performed well in that. Used to cut through a thin metal hinge like a can opener using the small plain blade portion and it had no major damage and still sliced paper for me a few days latter in the same section. Didn't want to wait for a large 1ton bag of rocks to cut open to test out how well the serrations protected the cutting edge so I sharpened it than ran it across a steel rod several times than proceeded to slice receipt paper, not as easily as before but it still was sharp in certain areas compared to a completely ruined edge, still usable to say the least.

    As for sharpening just look up how to sharpen Spyderco serrations or spyderedges, that was one forum post awhile back on Spyderco forum packed with info on how to sharpen them.

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