The Three Types of Blade Edges  

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Choosing the Perfect Edges for Your Knives

There are  three types basic types of knife edge and at the most fundamental level they have not really changed in thousands of years.  When knives were first created, they used flint knapping techniques which could offer both serrated and straight/plain edges and of course a combination edge as well.  Knife making techniques have improved drastically over the years but the three basic edge types remain the same. So we are stuck with three basic knife edges you will see listed below.  If you’re trying to decide what type of edge is best for your needs, then consider the following information on the different characteristics of each style.

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PLAIN EDGE ADVANTAGES

Probably the oldest style in existence, the plain edge is a favorite of many for its simple design and straightforward abilities. High quality plain edge blades are really good at slicing and general purpose cutting tasks.  If you’re looking for a knife that is easier in terms of maintenance, then a plain edge is certainly for you. Plain edge knives are also great for precise cutting tasks where details is important.  Because of its simpler design, this type of edge is much easier to clean and sharpen on your own. For new knife-users a plain edge will be best to start out with, so you can get an idea of the advantages of its design before moving on to more detailed blades.  Many people do prefer a plain edge for bushcraft and wilderness survival type tasks.

PLAIN EDGE DISADVANTAGES

One of the disadvantages of the plain edge is that they do not generally hold an edge as long as some of the other edge types (of course this also has to do with the type and hardness of the blade steel). It is also not particularly great at being able to saw through materials. For that reason straight edge knives are often not preferred for tactical applications, law enforcement and first responders, etc as cutting through seat belt webbing and thick rope, etc can be more difficult.

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PARTIALLY SERRATED KNIVES ADVANTAGES

Partially serrated knives are designed to have the benefits of both plain edged knives and fully-serrated knives. Of course, this type of design has become much more popular for knife enthusiasts because it allows the user to work on various projects with one knife.  The plain edge does much of the slicing, while the serrated edge is perfect for sawing, and cutting stubborn materials.  For those who would like to do a variety of different tasks without investing a lot in various tools, this style can be very advantageous for its flexibility.  Many people like partially serrated knives as their every day carry knives because of the versatility it offers for a wide range of situations.

PARTIALLY SERRATED KNIVES DISADVANTAGES

The most obvious disadvantage of the partially serrated knife is the difficulty in sharpening it. Unlike the plain edge, which is easy to sharpen, the partially serrated knife requires different types of sharpening and is very difficult to sharpen on its edges.  Another disadvantage is the difficulty in finding a serrated pattern that will suit the needs of the user. There are a variety of different designs available, and the placement of the different serrations make some tasks easier or much harder, depending on their actual functions.

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FULLY SERRATED KNIVES ADVANTAGES

Fully serrated knives are great at cutting tough thick or stubborn materials and sawing through thick materials, clothing and even cutting flesh in a dire emergency. Many people prefer a razor sharp fully serrated edge knife as a primary fighting knife for self defense. They are also commonly carried by law enforcement and first responders due to their excellent ability to cut through seat belts and webbing to extricate people from car crashes. If you need to cut something and do it with speed and ease and are not worried about precision a fully serrated knife is a great choice!

FULLY SERRATED KNIVES DISADVANTAGES

The fully-serrated knife is difficult to use when you’re looking for a clean and precise cut. Instead, you’re going to find that this knife is more for strength than it is for consistency. The knife is also much more difficult to sharpen with the various edges and changes in angle, so many users are forced to send the knife back to the manufacturer to have it properly sharpened.

SO WHICH EDGE IS BEST?

It really depends on the tasks that you are planning to perform. If you are looking for a great bushcraft and survival blade go with a straight edge. If you are looking for a good every day carry blade that can handle anything go for a partial serrated edge folder.  If you want a self defense knife or are an emergency responder go for a fully serrated knife. Remember, if you are a beginner with serrated knives, but would like to learn how to sharpen them on your own, then you should refer to a sharpening guide to help you learn the proper way to handle them while sharpening.  But of course if you’re interested in a wide variety of projects, then you may want to consider one of each to ensure that you get the best cut every time!

Note: This post was a collaboration between Ron Berg of Knives.com and JJ Johnson author of RealitySurvival.com. 

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