What level of finish is acceptable?

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Kadushu

Full Member
Jul 29, 2014
293
256
Kent
I was just mulling over my favourite knives for various applications, but this extends to any edged tools really, and a lot of my go-to blades came with one or more flaws, such as an uncomfortable handle, a blunt edge or a very wide angle edge which warranted some modification. Consequently I can hardly recommend them in their "out of the box" condition but after a bit of tweaking they are great. My question is: where do you draw the line? What is an acceptable bit of fettling and at what point does it become ridiculous? Is price a factor? Obviously I'm talking about new tools, not restoration projects and answers will be subjective.
 

windz1000r

Tenderfoot
Jul 23, 2021
60
34
29
derbyshire
I was just mulling over my favourite knives for various applications, but this extends to any edged tools really, and a lot of my go-to blades came with one or more flaws, such as an uncomfortable handle, a blunt edge or a very wide angle edge which warranted some modification. Consequently I can hardly recommend them in their "out of the box" condition but after a bit of tweaking they are great. My question is: where do you draw the line? What is an acceptable bit of fettling and at what point does it become ridiculous? Is price a factor? Obviously I'm talking about new tools, not restoration projects and answers will be subjective.
i can chip in here thats for sure
ive got my collection of edged tools to a point of happyness now
i have 3 knives 4 is on the way
ive bought and sold alot
not had one that was perfect out the box no matter weather it was £6 or £160.
what i think we have to remember is most tools now are made to sell to the mass market not just to suit one persons needs.
so i believe some level of tweaks is acceptable.
i pretty much always change the grind for example.
the only knife that is allmost as close to out the box i have and abuse daily is my enzo pk70 scandi grind
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,094
1,213
Berlin
I think an industrial knife hasn't to be shaving sharp out of the box as it will hold the edge longer if it comes a bit less sharp. Not everybody who buys a knife is a master in knife sharpening.
But it should be possible to make it shaving sharp in a few minutes with a simple sharpening stone.

An industrial knife doesn't need to be polished like a mirror. And one can expect the client to grease the sheath himself.

A pretty sharp spine like we find it at a new Morakniv Garberg is OK, because some people like that. The others can get rid of the burr easily.

Nevertheless such a knife has to be usable from the beginning.
 
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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,370
2,140
McBride, BC
What I do (for wood carving) depends on the blade on the bench before me.
What are my plans for whatever I'm going to do with it?

I enjoy revising farrier's hoof trimming knives. Some, especially a few new ones, I just change the bevel angle from 25 degrees to 12 degrees and leave it at that.
Others, I'll knock off the factory handle, haft in a handle of my own hand-size, change the bevel angle, use a Dremel and cut-off disks to change the hooked tip.
There's no magic stuff. You just sit at the bench and do it.

Some blades arrive "carving sharp," others would be hard to cut cheese. After the first dozen or so, you learn to take some pride in what you can build. Take some pride in becoming really good at freehand sharpening. Practice on a decent kitchen knife that you know you will need to use almost every day.
Practice with any sort of an axe or hatchet. They are only bits of steel.

I bought a new blade which arrived yesterday. $54.00CDN at the post office. Carving sharp but not even rivet holes in the shank. I have no appetite to be a blade smith. That plus a new Sitka elbow adze blade will keep me in wood work for a couple of days.
 
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Kadushu

Full Member
Jul 29, 2014
293
256
Kent
I think an industrial knife hasn't to be shaving sharp out of the box as it will hold the edge longer if it comes a bit less sharp. Not everybody who buys a knife is a master in knife sharpening.
But it should be possible to make it shaving sharp in a few minutes with a simple sharpening stone.

An industrial knife doesn't need to be polished like a mirror. And one can expect the client to grease the sheath himself.

A pretty sharp spine like we find it at a new Morakniv Garberg is OK, because some people like that. The others can get rid of the burr easily.

Nevertheless such a knife has to be usable from the beginning.
I suppose useability has grey areas. So many knives seem to come with wide angle edges now. Yes they cut... But it's not an inspiring experience.
 

Kadushu

Full Member
Jul 29, 2014
293
256
Kent
What I do (for wood carving) depends on the blade on the bench before me.
What are my plans for whatever I'm going to do with it?

I enjoy revising farrier's hoof trimming knives. Some, especially a few new ones, I just change the bevel angle from 25 degrees to 12 degrees and leave it at that.
Others, I'll knock off the factory handle, haft in a handle of my own hand-size, change the bevel angle, use a Dremel and cut-off disks to change the hooked tip.
There's no magic stuff. You just sit at the bench and do it.

Some blades arrive "carving sharp," others would be hard to cut cheese. After the first dozen or so, you learn to take some pride in what you can build. Take some pride in becoming really good at freehand sharpening. Practice on a decent kitchen knife that you know you will need to use almost every day.
Practice with any sort of an axe or hatchet. They are only bits of steel.

I bought a new blade which arrived yesterday. $54.00CDN at the post office. Carving sharp but not even rivet holes in the shank. I have no appetite to be a blade smith. That plus a new Sitka elbow adze blade will keep me in wood work for a couple of days.
That's the thing: I enjoy putting a razor edge on a knife and find it interesting how different steels behave or misbehave. I must have spent 2 hours reprofiling a Condor Mayflower which is a cracking little knife now but the 440C clogged up my whetstones something awful. It would've been a whole lot easier if they'd just ground it that way in the first place. The overall shape is great, the handle is spot on and I like the sheath a lot too. The factory edge was so wide it was barely better than a butter knife. It's like selling a brand new car with flat tyres.
 
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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,370
2,140
McBride, BC
Get a cheap carborundum axe stone, a brass bristle BBQ brush and a liter of 5-30 motor oil. The oil will be the swarf carrier as you grind off the clogged whetstone surface of metal and smashed abrasive particles. Flush it well, flood it to get it clean. (I've crapped up my share of stones.) The stone is buggered up now anyway, you might as well try to get it cleaned up. Something new to learn to do well.

Some people try to avoid paying attention to bevel angles. In my mechanic's handbook, I see (and use) 5 different tip angles for HSS drill bits.

For wood carving tools, 30, 28, 25, 20, 15, 12 degrees are the total included bevel angles that I need to use. From a Stanley Bailey #5 plane to my 2-handed planer knives for smoothing split wood surfaces.

For all of my non- carving edges knives, I have elected to keep every one of them at 25 degrees.

3 of my 5 cleavers, the little 15cm ones, tarnish really badly. I could waste days trying to clean them off only to make a mess tomorrow. Sharp? Clean? Slice and dice.

I was taught freehand sharpening. All the unwritten tricks. I decided that I was going to get to be really good at it. It took a lot of practice to gain a skill that I never dwell on. I make it look simple, sharpening a crooked knife over my knee or an elbow adze with silicon carbide sandpaper wrapped around a tennis ball.
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,094
1,213
Berlin
We have enough of serious knive makers in Europe, trusty old brands as well as little one man work shops.

There is no need to buy a knife from a third world country and wonder about if they managed to reach the same quality like the guys in Sheffield, Solingen and Mora.

As YouTube is full of videos that show beginners who use their knives as splitting wedges, we don't need to wonder about that newcomer brands offer splitting wedges with handle.

Nothing against learning batoning as survival skill though, but that isn't the main purpose of a bushcraft knife.
 

Kadushu

Full Member
Jul 29, 2014
293
256
Kent
We have enough of serious knive makers in Europe, trusty old brands as well as little one man work shops.

There is no need to buy a knife from a third world country and wonder about if they managed to reach the same quality like the guys in Sheffield, Solingen and Mora.

As YouTube is full of videos that show beginners who use their knives as splitting wedges, we don't need to wonder about that newcomer brands offer splitting wedges with handle.

Nothing against learning batoning as survival skill though, but that isn't the main purpose of a bushcraft knife.
That's a fair point. I'd previously considered the splitting wedge style knife an American thing but that may not be completely accurate.
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,094
1,213
Berlin
I use to play also in the American bushcraft forum. Most of them seem to use exactly the knives that we use here or very similar US made ones, also still similar hunting knives.

In a thread about disappointing equipment Condor knives were mentioned pretty often although the Condor Woodlaw also has a few skillfull fans. The main point seems, that they had been relatively cheap and worth the money, but became pretty expensive now. It seems that the same models are delivered differently hardened. One is OK, the other too soft to hold the edge.

But generally spoken they all seem to own a SAK or similar folding knife, or an Opinel Carbone No8, or a Morakniv version, Terävä knife, another Scandinavian knife, or a US made variation of this stile, usually as a füll tang version, endless variations of Skookum Bush Tool and Woodlore knives too.

The only difference is, that the Kephart knife is very common too. A very similar sailors knife was one of the standard knifes among the German Boy Scouts in the eighties. Fix blades and larger but in use very comparable to larger Opinel knives. Even closer to that seems an Old Hickory pattern.

That's nearly exactly what the HJ issued to every German boy in the thirties, the Nazis just added a too long finger quard and a handle that looked a bit like the current Wehrmacht bayonet handle.
These flat grind knives are very good all purpose knives, only the finger guard disturbed when cooking. The Nazis surely also have seen this production as potential fighting knives in an already planed war.
The American Kephart knive has a classical and well working all purpose handle of course. It's obviously developed out of a short butcher knife.
 
Last edited:

Spirit fish

Nomad
Aug 12, 2021
297
67
28
Doncaster
We have enough of serious knive makers in Europe, trusty old brands as well as little one man work shops.

There is no need to buy a knife from a third world country and wonder about if they managed to reach the same quality like the guys in Sheffield, Solingen and Mora.

As YouTube is full of videos that show beginners who use their knives as splitting wedges, we don't need to wonder about that newcomer brands offer splitting wedges with handle.

Nothing against learning batoning as survival skill though, but that isn't the main purpose of a bushcraft knife.
that's what a a xe is for
 
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Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,805
840
Canada
I think that so long as the construction is sound and the steel isn't too thick behind the edge, it's OK if the edge itself is only approximately sharp. I've thinned out the blade behind the edge on a couple of knives, but feel it is something easy to get wrong and I'd rather not have to.

Handles are something else, though. More than half the reason for paying out for a decent handmade knife is the skills brought to shaping the handle. I've proved myself to be very bad at it :lol: But, again, if the shape is essentially good, burrs and pointy bits can be sanded off.
 
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