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Thread: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

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    Default Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    I am new to knives and just wondering if anyone could explain the pros and cons of a knife with serrated blade over a straight one.

    Randy

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    Flashaholic* matrixshaman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Serrated will cut through a tree branch, seat belt and other common things much quicker and easier. But serrated is harder to sharpen. For an EDC I prefer to have at least one serrated blade - usually serrated about half the length of the blade.
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Yep...in general a serrated blade is better for fibrous materials (rope, seatbelt, etc...). Plain edges tend to be better for smooth materials like plastic, etc...

    - Chris

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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    A serrated blade will saw through things easier, but will also snag a bit for fine work, a mixed blade is a good option, will cover best of both worlds, or have a serrated folder and plain fixed blade.

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    Flashaholic* FlashSpyJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    I have discovered that some serrated blades are like a saw and those blades are not good at anything. Those serrated knives that works good to me cut through things a lot easier! One really good serrated blade is the one leatherman have on their multi tools.
    To carve wood I prefer a plain edge, to cut rope, thin plastic (tarpaulin), and other materials like that, I prefer a serrated edge.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Thank you for all the info, I am now starting to have a picture of how a serrated blade is useful on some applications and not on everything. I am looking at picking up a Byrd meadowlark or Raven, but I think I will decide when I am actually in the store and be able to hold it.

    The reason I am getting a small knife that locks is after reading some very useful safety info on non locking folding knives which I have two that I use when travelling and camping, sometimes lending it to my wife to cut things is not actually as safe than a locking folder. Thanks again for the response.

    Randy
    Last edited by Randy555; 02-11-2008 at 05:24 PM.

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    Flashaholic J!m's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    I agree with the general consensus here, but I want to make you aware of WHY the serrated blade works well.

    First of all, a straight blade that is properly sharpened and honed will cut rope as well (or better) than a serrated blade. The reason a serrated blade works so well, is because you have a longer cutting area because of the 'waved' pattern and also because the fine edge of the serrated area only contacts a solid cutting board for example, at the very tips of the cutting edges- the 'raised' areas. So, the perception is that the blade cuts better and / or stays sharper longer, but how well it cuts has much more to do with the quality of the edge (how well it is sharpened and honed), and holding that edge depends on the alloy used for the blade.

    I use and suggest D2 tool steel. The edge holding is fantastic, but it will rust if not cared for properly. I use a Benchmade pocket knife, but many companies use this alloy now.

    So, I undertstand all this and still carry a 1/2 serrated blade. Why? Because usually when you need it most, you are miles away from the nearest honing stone, and the 'preserved' edge of the serrated section is good to go.

    Oh, and for cutting seatbelts, get a specialized tool for that. There is nothing worse than laying someone (or yourself0 open trying to cut a seatbely with a pointed blade. The safety cutters (Benchmade has these as well- like $25.00) are far better, safer and effective at the task of seatbelt cutting. If you are an EMT, at least have your pocket knife blunted on the tip...

    If I could have only one knife for ever, I would have a straight edged, fixed blade knife (and a sharpening kit). That will last me forever...
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Not sure how big is too big for you, but another alternative might be a Spyderco Wings. I prefer a sharp straight edged knife for most of my needs but there has been the odd occasion when I wish I had a serrated edge. I'm still waiting for mine to arrive (just ordered it), hoping it will suit my needs. I doubt it will be the last knife/tool I ever buy though

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    Flashaholic* PhantomPhoton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    In general I have found plain blades work better at almost everything except for when you have to "saw" through god knows what. I cut a lot of tape at my workplace. Athletic tape, Elastikon tape, Gaffers tape, Duct tape; my sharp plain edge blades always to a better job. For finer cutting tasks the plain edge always does a better job as well.
    I carry a serrated rescue blade on the manpurse in case I have to saw through a big mess of something or other, but I use a plain edge a lot more.
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Photonaddict a 2.5 or 3.0 inch is ok for my use and I can EDC without worry, BTW I am from Canada too . Do you know the what the law says about EDC?

    Phantomphoton thanks for your input.

    Randy

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    Flashaholic* Outdoors Fanatic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Serrations reign supreme on small knifes and folders. I prefer a pain edge on larger blades tho, but on small ones a serrated will cut like a much larger blade. It just makes the job easier.
    Last edited by Outdoors Fanatic; 02-13-2008 at 12:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Quote Originally Posted by J!m View Post
    First of all, a straight blade that is properly sharpened and honed will cut rope as well (or better) than a serrated blade. The reason a serrated blade works so well, is because you have a longer cutting area because of the 'waved' pattern and also because the fine edge of the serrated area only contacts a solid cutting board for example, at the very tips of the cutting edges- the 'raised' areas. So, the perception is that the blade cuts better and / or stays sharper longer, but how well it cuts has much more to do with the quality of the edge (how well it is sharpened and honed), and holding that edge depends on the alloy used for the blade.
    This is a really key insight that anyone who enjoys cutting performance should test for themselves and internalize. I once did a cutting experiment. First, I cut some rope with a plain-edge endura, sharpened at the factory angle and finish. Then I cut the same rope with a serrated endura. The serrated endura definitely cut better. But then I drastically thinned-out and roughed-up the plain-edged endura, and lo and behold, it started approaching the serrated endura in rope cutting, while still being a better all-around blade because it is plain edge. THEN, I took my super-thinned-out Calypso Jr. and razor polished it. This knife was so sharp I could push-cut through the rope, no sawing motion needed, and this was the best-performing of all. So, agreeing with your conclusion: with proper edge geometry and finish, you can make a plain edge excel at whatever you want.

    One small disagreement: I've never been convinced that the serrated blade's slicing superiority was due to an effectively-longer cutting edge. When I am pulling that cutting edge towards me, only the front part of the serrations is doing any cutting, the back part is along for the ride, so I tend to think the edge length comes close to equaling out. I think the the key has more to do with the shape of the serrations themselves. Ever saw through something, and as you're cutting, you change the angle of the knife/saw? That's because as you change the angle of attack, you keep presenting the blade to the smallest cross-section of material. With a curving serration, you are kind of getting a leg up on that, putting a small amount of material against that part of the serration, with the curved serration shape forcing the material into the edge instead of away from it (ala a mini hawkbill).

    So, I undertstand all this and still carry a 1/2 serrated blade. Why? Because usually when you need it most, you are miles away from the nearest honing stone, and the 'preserved' edge of the serrated section is good to go.
    What I do is dual-finish my edges. I like to fine finish or even razor polish the blade, then I take the last inch or so (the part of the blade by the handle where the serrations would be, if it were a partially-serrated blade) and put it back on a medium or coarse hone to rough it back up. That last inch gives me a huge advantage in bite when I'm slicing fibrous materials, and I use the other parts of the edge otherwise. Another advantage of this: since the entire edge is in-line (rather than the serrations being slightly out-of-line with the plain edge on a p-s blade), I can use the entire length of the blade in one smooth stroke (useful for food prep etc).

    Joe
    Last edited by Joe Talmadge; 02-14-2008 at 03:45 PM.

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    Flashaholic J!m's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Good points, Joe.

    Bottom line: "Take care of your edge, and it will take care of you."
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Talmadge View Post
    One small disagreement: I've never been convinced that the serrated blade's slicing superiority was due to an effectively-longer cutting edge. When I am pulling that cutting edge towards me, only the front part of the serrations is doing any cutting, the back part is along for the ride, so I tend to think the edge length comes close to equaling out. I think the the key has more to do with the shape of the serrations themselves. Ever saw through something, and as you're cutting, you change the angle of the knife/saw? That's because as you change the angle of attack, you keep presenting the blade to the smallest cross-section of material. With a curving serration, you are kind of getting a leg up on that, putting a small amount of material against that part of the serration, with the curved serration shape forcing the material into the edge instead of away from it (ala a mini hawkbill).
    Not that I'm a knife guru by any means, but I basically agree with the above. I imagine there's a pressure effect, due to a very small area of edge cutting at a particular moment, driven by force applied to the whole knife. Pressure being force/area, smaller area -> more force. And there's the angle effect already described; it allows lengthways force to become a downward force on the edge, and the way conventional knives are, its far easier to pull than push down.

    I'll add that I think that serrated edges seem to have some sort of "sweeping" effect on fibrous materials. As the blade is pulled through the material, I think the serrations help pull fiber ends away from the current cutting zone, so that the edge section in contact with uncut fiber isn't "fighting" already cut material. Basically an enhancement of the pressure effect. Of course the downside is that the cut ends aren't pretty, so if you're doing finish work a plain edge or hot knife is the way to go.

    On the seatbelt thing, I keep a Spyderco Rescue Jr. in the glovebox of my vehicles. Not as safe as a dedicated seatbelt cutter, but its more multipurpose. It turns out that Spyderco serrations are good for cutting radiator hoses, which can be necessary when fitting a generic hose to your engine while you are away from home.

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    Flashaholic strideredc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    I agree that a half and half blade is not as good as one or the other. I now always use a plain blade but I do find the leatherman serrated useful for thick rope and will cut a 5cm thick piece of boating rope faster than a plain edge.

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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Randy555: Sorry, haven't checked this thread for awhile. Some threads you might find interesting for starters:

    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...d.php?t=148879
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...d.php?t=134622

    There are a few use URLs that point to government sites with the appropriate policies (eg., Bill C68, etc)

    As well as:
    Criminal Code ( R.S., 1985, c. C-46 )
    http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/showdoc...l=50&length=50

    Assisted folders, balisongs, switchblades, push daggers, etc are expressly forbidden as are knives designed to be concealed like belt buckle knives. Obviously you would have a hard time convincing someone that a 6" fixed blade serves the same purpose as a leatherman micra especially if you display it every chance you get so common sense applies as well. You also can't carry a knife regardless of its size or function in places like schools, courthouses, etc. Also, attitudes/perceptions and bylaws may vary between the different provinces.

    Above all else, remember that I'm neither a lawyer nor a police officer so don't trust that what I've written is correct and be sure to do a little research of your own as well. Others who know better may chime in here and correct me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy555 View Post
    Photonaddict a 2.5 or 3.0 inch is ok for my use and I can EDC without worry, BTW I am from Canada too . Do you know the what the law says about EDC?

    Phantomphoton thanks for your input.

    Randy
    Last edited by PhotonAddict; 02-18-2008 at 12:13 AM.

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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotonAddict View Post
    Assisted folders, balisongs, switchblades, push daggers, etc are expressly forbidden as are knives designed to be concealed like belt buckle knives. Obviously you would have a hard time convincing someone that a 6" fixed blade serves the same purpose as a leatherman micra especially if you display it every chance you get so common sense applies as well. You also can't carry a knife regardless of its size or function in places like schools, courthouses, etc. Also, attitudes/perceptions and bylaws may vary between the different provinces.
    Assissted openers like kershaw leek is NOT illegal, unless something changed in last 6 months or so.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Photonaddict thanks for the very useful info. So really it all about using common sense when having to edc a small folders.

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    Flashaholic J!m's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    I just wanted to throw this out for those who EDC their assisted openers, or just any folding blade modern knife for that matter...

    I carry my Benchmade almost every day (clothing choice governs this) and also on the outside of my Canada Goose parka, on the pocket clip.

    I began to get worried about the knife opening slightly, and the razor-sharp D2 blade laying open my $700.00 parka! So, I added a simple 'safety' to my knife: an o-ring.

    I found an appropriate size O-ring and wrapped it around the end of the handle, under the pocket clip (i don't have it handy for a photo, but it's pretty simple). When I need the knife, I just roll the o-ring over the end, and open normally. I can do this with one hand; it just adds another second to opening time.
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Hello All,
    Just thought I'd jump in with my two-bob's worth...

    The choice between serrated and non-serrated obviously depends on your intended use, but also on your personal habits. Assuming you don't have a single intended use...In the majority of situations, a SHARP plain edge is superior to a serrated edge. It’s when you have a mediocre plain edge that things get hazy. A very blunt serrated knife will still hack through stuff, where a blunt plain edge won’t. If you’re someone who keeps a great edge on a knife, then a plain edge is usually the best choice. If you never sharpen your knife, go with serrations. If you’re in between – again, that’s where it gets hazy – but be honest with yourself about which you are!

    A comment on something mentioned earlier – a serrated knife does not really work as a saw – it’s not good on something hard like wood or plastic. The edge makes a cut too thin for the thickness of the blade, so the blade can’t pass through and continue the cut – whereas a saw makes a cut wide enough to allow the blade to pass. So, don’t buy a serrated knife thinking it will make a good saw – unless designed for this purpose, it will perform poorly at best.

    Cheers...

  21. #21

    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Serrated are OK for aduse cutting , ie fibreglass strapping tape , they are not good for precise cutting , ie whittling . On a single bladed item , Ill take plain edge everytime . The only serateds I like are the dedicated blades found on multitools . They are a PITA to sharpen and require special equipment , if you must buy one , do not let it get too dull !

    Chris

  22. #22
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Advantage/disadvantage of serrated blades?

    Different tools for different cutting tasks.

    Keep any knife sharp if you want it to work better and safer.

    Let a knife go really dull and you'll have a harder time bringing the edge back.

    I don't care too much for serrations, but I think it was either Spyderco or A. G. Russell that had one knife with the serrations toward the tip of the blade and a plain edge toward the pivot end of the blade. That sounded like a better idea to me, based on the way I use my knife.

    As for the debate on whether it's the tips of the serrations or the extra length of cutting surface by design, it can be one or the other, or both, depending upon the use. A serrated bread knife uses all of the available edge surface but a serrated rope cutter probably works more by tearing and/or sawing away. Different uses, different purposes, different results.
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