American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Standardizing Knife Testing Protocol

I have needed to do this for a very long time. I've always tested new knives when I received them but there has always been a high degree of variability in those tests. That makes it very hard to really compare one knife to another in ability and could help to explain why my knife collection keeps growing and growing despite my constant attempts to simplify.

The weather today is supposed to be atrocious so this would be a good time to sit down and define just what I want to do with my knives and how to classify their success or failure at those tasks.

The first thing I always do is check fit and finish. This is easily accomplished by simply holding the knife and turning it over and giving it a critical look.

Next is ergonomics. I like to hold the knife in various grips (including Mears' five basic knife grips) to make sure the knife will be comfortable and controllable in those positions.

Third is checking factory sharpness. I really like to sharpen knives right out of the box to put my own edges on them but a knife that comes from the factory dull says an awful lot about the manufacturer.

Then I like to put my edge on the knife and shoot some pictures. Those pictures get cleaned up in Photoshop, uploaded to my online gallery, and put here on the blog for you. I take weights and measurements and include those in my initial write up.

What comes next is what needs to be standardized. Sometimes I carve fuzz sticks. Others I make a firebow hearth board and spindle. Once in a while I'll try to carve a spoon. Frequently I'll baton with the knife and I'll even make figure-4 traps. Making dinner and opening the mail are two more opportunities to use the blades and food prep gives me some of the best patina on Carbon Steel blades--salsa being one of my favorites because of the different colors from the onion, lime, and tomato.

In the coming weeks and months I will be providing you with a standardized list of tasks and a rating for each of those tasks and knives will be given a final score. This will not be an extremely scientific experiment but it should give you even more information about the various knives I post up here so darned often. :)

If you're looking for specific tests to be included please let me know and I'd be more than happy to include them.

Thanks for reading,



At 6:22 AM, Anonymous said...

Well, ease of sharpening and ability to keep an edge are quite important. There are a multitude of variables that make most tests quite difficult to measure, especially if you are not doing them to failure which would destroy the knife.

At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anders said...

Hi Brian.
I agree with "Survivaltopics", ease of sharpening and ability to keep an edge are important. In my opinion its also important to know if the knife is easy to sharp in the field. Just look at the pride of sweden "Fällkniven" compared to the "Frost Mora" knives. Different pricerange I know but I sometimes favour the Mora with high carbon steele and easy field-sharpening over Fällkniven.
The Fällkniven VG10 steele is much harder to sharpen in the field and there G3 is even harder...
I have learnt by alot of practise to sharpen my Fällkniven but its still a much more complicated process than a high carbon blade.
Another thing I would also be interested in is a blades
"sliceability". Many modern knives seem to be more of an "entrytool" than a knife. I supose its some kind of fear by knifemanufactures of having to thin blades. If you cant open a cardoor or break into a house without the blade breaking its no good...
I use my knife for cutting or splitting wood, taking care of game or fish and campchores.

This is a another good initative from you!
There are some "knifedestroyers" out there testing knifes by breaking them, just idiotic i my book.
Hope you get what I mean, alot of "big" words for me...
Best regards
Anders from Sweden


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