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Thread: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

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    Flashaholic* Linger's Avatar
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    Default I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    I'm considering a ZDP189 blade for edc, and was thinking about getting it in combo edge. I have a few knives with this profile (SOG flash II, CRKT Kiss) and I do enjoy the utility the serrations provide.
    Kitchen: Simple tasks like cutting a fresh crusty baguette seem to agree with the combo edge, and I have only had good experiences with most food-prep type stuff.
    Yard: For plastic strapping to breaking down boxes, the combo edge seems well suited. It does retain some dirt during some garden/weed work but the serrations wipe clean easily.
    'rescue:' I haven't been in a situation where I've had to cut through seat belts, but forum chatter seems to favour serrations in a rescue knife.

    Just putting this out for your input.
    Linger
    Last edited by Linger; 05-07-2011 at 01:05 AM.
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    Enlightened
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    one drawback of serrations is that they are harder to sharpen.

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    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    I don't like serrations. I do appreciate that they add practical value for certain cutting tasks but in my experience I rarely ever wish I had them and in practice when I did have them I hated sharpening my knife. On the other hand I usually touch up my plain edged blades frequently on ultra-fine ceramics and always keep them very sharp, sharper than most people tend to keep their combo-edged knives and have never had problems cutting something.
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    Flashaholic CheepSteal's Avatar
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    I agree with carrot, just depends how often you commit to sharpening your blade.
    Sharpen/hone often=plain edge will cut very nicely, almost gratuitously.
    Not so much=serrations will tear what the plain section won't.

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    Flashaholic* Meganoggin's Avatar
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    The only combo edged knife I have liked was the Surefire Echo fixed blade, which has a chisel grind.

    I prefer plain edged knives for day to day stuff, but lately I have been thinking of getting a fully serrated Spyderco UKPK to see if it packs any more cutting power in to a small package....
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    The problem with serrations is this: Whenever you want a knife that does one job or the other you only have half a knife. There are places where I would want serrations in a knife, but in those situations I would want a completely serrated blade. Examples of this would be an emergency knife that you keep in a car for cutting seat belts (in which case a dedicated seat-belt cutter mechanism would be better or for a parachutist to cut line away in case something goes wrong during a jump.

    You make an example of being able to cut bread and I wonder how small exactly are these loaves of bread you're cutting? Even a baguette will be at least 3" thick which is the same length of my main EDC blade, so I would need a full-length serrated blade in that instance. Chances are if you're cutting bread you're near a kitchen or were at some point, so you should have access to a bread knife (which, coincidentally, is the only serrated blade I own... and it's fully serrated for a reason). Also, the serrations on a partially serrated blade are generally designed for cutting man-made materials, not foods.

    You then also have issues of sharpening the serrations, which is a lot more difficult.

    Personally, I think a lot of knives are ruined by partial serrations.

    If you want both a serrated edge + serrations I recommend you pick up the Leatherman Charge TTi. It has two blades on the outside of the tool that can be opened single-handedly: one is a plain edge, the other is serrated (sheepsfoot) and I believe it has a seatbelt cutter on the end of the sheepsfoot blade. That's the only way you'd ever catch me with a serrated blade on my person. It's made of high-quality components (S30V for the plain edge, if I remember correctly) plus you get a ton of other useful tools.
    Last edited by shaggy999; 05-06-2011 at 11:24 AM.

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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    The first Spydercos I bought were combo edge. I thought they were the greatest thing for cutting strap and rope and still being able to slice an apple if I wanted to. Its taken a few years but I've switched to the point that I carry two knives every day. One plain edged that is as sharp as I can make it and one full serrated edge. I like the serrated edge for cutting things that will just wear out a plain edge, seatbelt strap and rubber matting to name a few.

    I've learned through time that a knife with just one type of edge is often more useful to me than a combo. I still have one of those old Spydercos and will occasionally carry it but with a regular plain edge to back it up.

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    Enlightened JB5's Avatar
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    If you are going to get an CE blade then I think it should be larger than 3.5" to have enough of each to be useful. I really love my CE Stretch. I have never had an issue keeping SE sharp, the sharpmaker was designed to do just that. Also as I have found that an exceptionally sharpened SE blade can do pretty much do any task a PE can. But all of this is personal preference in the end. Most of the time these days I carry one of each more often than just a CE

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    Flashaholic* Linger's Avatar
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    >What can a plain edge do that a combo edge cannot? What can a combination profile not do?

    Thank-you for your responses. I've been reading the thread all day, and after some thought realized I hadn't quite gotten the question right, leading to the reframing above.

    I get the problematic sharpening. I've been working on my sharpening, thus far with blocks and a diamond embedded 600grit card. But I've bought a spyderco sharp-maker which should include rods for serrations. I imagine sharpenning serrations, especially 64hc ones, will be inconvinient. I hadn't planned on dulling them, meaning I thought I'd put most of the wear on the plain section with the serrations as reserve.

    But why does the serrations mean I only have 1/2 the blade? I find if I'm careful I can make clean, full blade cuts across the both blade profiles. There's a little bit of striation resulting from the serrations but it's minimal to none-existent.

    re: my bad examples - sorry, I admit they're all over the place

    re: bread - a bit of serrations across the top to make an openning, than deep plunging cuts using the serrations to handle the top crust. Bread crust was one example where I find the multiple angles of the serrations more effective than shaving-sharp PE, even very thin ceramic PE.

    Shaggy, in my business/messenger bag, I edc a leatherman Wave (with mint blades), this knife will be on-my-person edc (along with a light, this being cpf and all). So I agree with you, the multi-tool edc is awesome. The metal upgrades on the TTi would be nice, future upgrade may be between that and SOG multi.

    WRD65 - so what is it that had you switch from combo to a PE? I've come across this sentiment on blade forums (just lurked there) and some indicate combo as an 'intro' profile though I can't see why.

    Best,
    Linger

    p.s. re: size - I was thinking ~3" blade. I'm based in an office but spend a lot of time out in the community, usually a pair of casual pants and a button down shirt. I haven't found myself carrying the 3.5" SOG unless its after hours and I'm wearing cargo's. Again, i've got the Wave near at hand, but it could be outside in the car if I'm not carrying my messenger bag.
    Last edited by Linger; 05-06-2011 at 09:21 PM.

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    *Flashaholic* kaichu dento's Avatar
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    I prefer single edge styles for my blades and if I need serrations then I pull out my Charge Ti. When I reach for my regular knife though I like the continuity of an uninterrupted edge.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    Quote Originally Posted by Linger View Post
    >What can a plain edge do that a combo edge cannot? What can a combination profile not do?

    Thank-you for your responses. I've been reading the thread all day, and after some thought realized I hadn't quite gotten the question right, leading to the reframing above.

    I get the problematic sharpening. I've been working on my sharpening, thus far with blocks and a diamond embedded 600grit card. But I've bought a spyderco sharp-maker which should include rods for serrations. I imagine sharpenning serrations, especially 64hc ones, will be inconvinient. I hadn't planned on dulling them, meaning I thought I'd put most of the wear on the plain section with the serrations as reserve.

    But why does the serrations mean I only have 1/2 the blade? I find if I'm careful I can make clean, full blade cuts across the both blade profiles. There's a little bit of striation resulting from the serrations but it's minimal to none-existent.

    re: my bad examples - sorry, I admit they're all over the place

    re: bread - a bit of serrations across the top to make an openning, than deep plunging cuts using the serrations to handle the top crust. Bread crust was one example where I find the multiple angles of the serrations more effective than shaving-sharp PE, even very thin ceramic PE.

    Shaggy, in my business/messenger bag, I edc a leatherman Wave (with mint blades), this knife will be on-my-person edc (along with a light, this being cpf and all). So I agree with you, the multi-tool edc is awesome. The metal upgrades on the TTi would be nice, future upgrade may be between that and SOG multi.

    WRD65 - so what is it that had you switch from combo to a PE? I've come across this sentiment on blade forums (just lurked there) and some indicate combo as an 'intro' profile though I can't see why.

    Best,
    Linger

    p.s. re: size - I was thinking ~3" blade. I'm based in an office but spend a lot of time out in the community, usually a pair of casual pants and a button down shirt. I haven't found myself carrying the 3.5" SOG unless its after hours and I'm wearing cargo's. Again, i've got the Wave near at hand, but it could be outside in the car if I'm not carrying my messenger bag.
    So here's the thing, when you're using serrations you are generally using a sawing motion with significant force to "chew" threw the material you're cutting. Sawing requires a sort of back-and-forth motion. The longer section you have of serrations the easier it is to cut. Imagine trying to saw a tree that is 10" in diameter with a 12" saw. You are going to be making tons of tiny back and forth motions and it's going to suck up all your energy and take forever to cut. Compare this with using a 24" saw that can take long, slow strokes across the tree. You'll have it cut in no time. So the trick to having a serrated cutting surface is to have that serrated section as long as possible (i.e. a dedicated knife). This is the opposite of what you get with a combo edged knife. You're lucky to get 2" of serrations on a 6" knife. For standard 3" EDC knives you get even less. What are you going to cut with 1" of teeth?

    I also have to point out that there's different teeth for different purposes. Most of the serrated edges on combo edged knives are terrible for sawing through wood or bone, but will work great on a lot of man-made stuff (cloth, rubber, rope, seatbelts).

    You also have the issue that the serrations rear their ugly head when you don't want them to. You might be slicing through material (let's take cloth as an example) when one of the teeth catches and then causes the material to tear/rip when what you wanted was a clean cut.

    The short answer is that with a combo edge you're limiting the amount of tool you have for the job. When you need a plain edge the serrations take up valuable space. When you need a serrated edge the plain edge takes up valuable space.

    The question shouldn't be whether the serrations are useful (they are), the question is how often do you need them. If you're cutting rope all day long then you want serrations. But if you're cutting rope all day and need serrations all day then you need a knife who's entire edge is serrations and not a combo edge. You can still use a plain edged knife to cut things that would be better cut with a serrated knife, it will just be a little bit harder and might wear the edge down a little quicker. But if you're only doing it on occasion then it shouldn't really matter.

    There's basically three thought processes that people go through when considering a combo edge:

    "I need serrations" - If you need serrations, you need a dedicated serrated knife
    "Serrations might be useful" - Just about anything that you can cut with a serrated knife you can cut with a plain edge, as mentioned above it just might take a bit more work. You have to realise that the plain edge of the knife will always be useful, the serrated edge will not be always useful, and so for most tasks you are wasting valuable space on your knife. Your best bet is to just get a plain edge knife and work a little bit harder to cut the few things that would be easier with serrations.
    "Serrations aren't useful" - In this situation you also would just be getting a plain edge.

    So in none of the situations above is a combo edge really worth sinking money into.

    With the exception of tactical hand-to-hand fixed blade combat knives I can't think of any situation where a combo knife might be useful, and even then I would give pause. Perhaps a folding rescue tool for the car they would be useful, but I would prefer a knife with a dedicated seatbelt cutter instead.

    The reason why combo edges are referred to as "intro" knives is because having a small section of serrations causes an increase in perceived value by the general populace who have no idea how useless the short section of serrations really are. Combo edged knives sell really well at Wally world, but that doesn't mean they're more useful. People are quite often looking for that "one knife" that does "everything". But there's no such thing. Knife users who figure that out migrate quite quickly to dedicated PE or SE knives and away from combo knives.

    One thing that I have noticed as well among people who own CE knives is that they let the plain edge get dull because they don't know how to sharpen a knife and then they're stuck with just the serrations which they end up using for everything. And the serrations are dull as well, but because of the shape of the teeth they get at least some cutting power with them but they have to expend a lot of energy to do it and the knives quickly become dangerous.

    Also, you mentioned that you didn't plan to use the serrations that often so you don't think you'd need to sharpen them that often, but even the best stainless steels will still corrode over time just from moisture in the air. It will just happen slower (actually, it happens pretty quick when the knife is in a pocket where sweat accumulates). So you will still need to sharpen those edges on occasion (maybe once a year or something if you're not using them), but if you're using the serrations so infrequently that they only need to be sharpened due to corrosion and not due to use I would argue you don't need the serrations at all.

    As I mentioned before, if you want both you're way better off with a nice multi-tool like the Charge. That's just my .02. There are people I know who swear by CE knives and that's just fine. But I find them useless and the lack of a plain edge option has kept me from buying several knives that I thought were pretty sweet otherwise.

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Linger's Avatar
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    Shaggy999,

    Thank-you. I appreciate the time you spent putting these experiences into words.
    I appreciate the insight that work effort increases with shortening blade length.
    Of course I would maintain the edge as best I knew how, though I can understand how lack of maintenance has dulled the reputation of CE knives.
    I'll make sure to practice up sharpening the serrations when I get my sharp-maker (and for the next several months to become proficient at it).

    Again, I really appreciate the knowledge you gathered into that post, I believe it has changed my mind. I'll think on it, and attend to blade usage tomorrow when I'm doing some yard work.

    Thank-you,
    Linger

  13. #13

    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    I have full serrated, half, and plain edge. Lately I find that I prefer plain edge the most. It seems to be the most usable for my everyday tasks. Like Carrott said, a well-sharpened plain edge does everything I want it to.
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    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    Great post, shaggy999. You've explained very succinctly why us knife afis tend to shy away from CE.
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    Flashaholic* Linger's Avatar
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    Thanx for the comments. Short story is, I went with the plain edge for this edc purchase ($64 for a spyderco delica zdp189). I thought about saber ground vs. full flat grind and went saber for possible added tip strength as it's edc and may be doing some plunge cuts or piercing. Also my Spyder Military and Sog flash II are both full flat ground.
    Working in the yard over the weekend, I found that I did favour the short section for most cuts (e.g. partner wants a length of cord cut from the larger roll) and that I percieved that the serrated section as at risk for tearing or ripping the material. Meaning that I did seem to be concentrating the usage and subsequent wear on a small section of the blade. It is interesting how many cutting tasks are actually managed by a 1/2inch section, which likely speaks to the huge growth of micro knives
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    Flashaholic* Meganoggin's Avatar
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    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    Good point Linger. We can only carry sub 3" non locking folders in the UK and there are actually very few tasks that I cannot perform with my Spyderco UKPK. However, I always carry a larger locking blade when I can (work).

    There are some very interesting, very small knives coming out soon that look like great performers for there size like the Spyderco Squeek.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    When it comes to camping knives, I really don't have a preference on serrated or not, but on my pocket knife, I have to have it serrated. I use it to saw through things at least once or twice a day. Even if it is just a loose piece of string on my shirt, I use the serrated part of my pocket knife more than the straight blade. I really like Ontario Knife Company's Rat 1 Folder.



    This is a solid and fairly large pocket knife, but it is fairly skinny and fits in your pocket nicely. The steel is AUS-8 so you know it will last for a very long time, and the pocket clip can be adjusted in multiple ways.

  18. #18

    Default Re: I like the combo edge (half serrated), do you? shortcomings of this edge profile?

    Quote Originally Posted by carrot View Post
    I don't like serrations. I do appreciate that they add practical value for certain cutting tasks but in my experience I rarely ever wish I had them and in practice when I did have them I hated sharpening my knife. On the other hand I usually touch up my plain edged blades frequently on ultra-fine ceramics and always keep them very sharp, sharper than most people tend to keep their combo-edged knives and have never had problems cutting something.
    Care to sharpen some of my knives?

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