TTAG writer Joe Grine and I were musing about the differences between the gun world and the knife world. We joked about telling our wives that we were ‘headed to the knife range’ for the day, where Joe could chop at hanging ropes while I practiced slicing unsupported rice paper. Joe and I have done dozens of very lengthy gun reviews for The Truth About Guns (really lengthy in Joe’s case) and this got us to thinking about exactly what should go into a TTAK knife review.
We already touch on the no-brainers like ergonomics, functionality, mechanical precision, and quality of finish. For really technical attributes like ductility and Rockwell hardness, we mostly have to trust the manufacturer at their word because we lack the engineering equipment and expertise to test them for ourselves.
Styling and aesthetics is almost 100% subjective, so we probably won’t emphasize a knife’s looks unless we think it’s either hideously ugly or drop-dead gorgeous.
But the ability to take a sharp edge and hold that edge through repeated use are as crucial to a blade’s quality as the ability of a rifle to consistently put its bullets where they’re aimed.
Clay came up with some great tests involving food preparation, whittling, and cutting paracord and poly-rope. In search of greater knowledge, I consulted The Master, our resident knife maker Will Woods.
Will recommended the three tests that I more or less portray in these photos. Slicing through 18″ lengths of 2-ply cardboard until the blade starts to tear is a tough test, since cardboard can beat the crap out of a lesser cutting edge. Cutting supported 1″ sisal rope with a variety of draw and push cuts shows how efficient a cutting tool the blade is, and slicing unsupported newsprint shows how wickedly sharp (or not) the blade is.
Ask The Audience
We’re big believers in the wisdom of crowds around here. We won’t be trying to carve marble or bend a blade 90 degrees without snapping it, (unless a manufacturer dares us to) but we’re asking for your suggestions on other simple, repeatable, nondestructive and cheap tests that can help us tell you The Truth About Knives.