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beautiful damascus gentleman's knife - but not sharp?

xrayzebra Jul 22, 2006

  1. xrayzebra

    xrayzebra whirling dervish

    I just got a beautiful medium to small folder with a damascus blade and, being new to higher end folders in damascus, I have a question for those with more experience.

    I do not want to mention the maker, because I do not want this to be perceived as a complaint, and I would appreciate if you know what I am talking about, if you do not bring up the name either.

    This is a very highly respected company, and I am absolutely sure that they have a reason, or that, if the knife is not right, they would make it right for me.

    So, this is a very pretty little upscale folder (like $500) with a damascus blade, and it is a gem in every way except that it is not sharp. I can rub my thumb callous along the edge in a way that would draw blood on about any other knife I would carry, and it does not even cut much past the depth of the ridges of my fingerprints.

    I would not expect a dagger to have real sharp edges, and I would not expect the typical double edged knife to be as sharp as a single edge. This knife, though, is a somewhat typical thin drop point pocket folder style blade

    I have a couple of possible theories:

    1 - The maker assumes this will normally be more of a safe queen than an edc, so they ship it barely sharp with the understanding that you can always make it sharper if you wish, but you can never reasonably make it unsharp without ruining it. I recall older knife collectors I have known stating that a knife was "never sharpened" as if this was a real plus, making it more valuable. I always assumed they meant "never re-sharpened" rather than "not sharp," but now I am wondering.

    2 - Maybe it has something to do with the damascus? Would you expect an expensive, brand new damascus blade to be less sharp than you would another type of steel?

    I know that the sharper you make any edge, the quicker it will dull under use. And, I know that any really good knife maker will put the most appropriate edge on a blade - considering the edge holding characteristics of the particular steel. Is it possible that this blade is not very sharp because the damascus won't hold a scary sharp edge as well as it will a barely sharp edge?

    3 - I am also under the impression that damascus, at least in older styles, has different qualities from typical steels, in that it can have a bit more of a "rough" edge when sharpened, like microscopic serrations. I have heard that because the layers of steel have different hardness, it gets a sort of grainy edge.

    I have heard that a damascus edge that does not cut as well by direct pressure (pressure perpendicular to the edge, like a chopping motion) may still cut better by slicing (where there is back and forth lengthwise motion of the edge against the material being cut.

    This would explain why the edge does not "feel" as sharp as I'd expect, but would actually run counter to my expereince, since I have pulled the edge along my thumb with very little cutting of the callous.

    I am happy with every other aspect of this superb little knife, and I am not terribly disappointed with the sharpness. If I carried this knife, I would use it very prudently anyway, as it is more of a "jewelry carry" knife than a user.

    I am not bitching about it - I am just trying to draw on the immense amount of knife knowledge present at JD to see if I'd be a fool to ask the maker (or someone who does sharpening better than I do) to put a bit more bite on the edge for me. I don't want to make it so sharp the edge rolls, and I don't want to greatly devalue the knife.

    On the other hand, I'm wondering if I shouldn't just sharpen it, use it, and sharpen it again when it needs it, and not worry about it.

    Thanks for your opinions!
  2. Mr.LaBella

    Mr.LaBella ←The № 1 Devil→ Administrator

    I see NO reason why a damascus knife should NOT be sharp? Some people choose to carry and use damascus knives....so why the hell not?

    I think one slipped through good ol' x-boy man lover! You want I should handle (facilitate) the return emails and correspondence for you?
  3. Stabber

    Stabber Stabber's Steel Connection Knife Maker or Craftsman

    It should definatly be sharp. I have, and have seen damascus blades that are insane sharp. I'd get it back to the maker for a sharpening. Lets see some pics.
  4. SuperD

    SuperD Sebbiephile

    I'm no expert on Damascus, but isn't it usually in the 'tool steel' category. If so it should take/hold an edge as well as or better than anything made. So, unless it was just sold as a 'safe queen', I think it may have just 'slipped through the crack' as it were.

    Edit: I have a HALO III that was never sharpened at all before it left the factory. It was an oversight I was told by the original owner. Only reason I bring it up is to say it could happen to the best of companies. As it is a 'safe queen' for me, I have never sent it back.
  5. xrayzebra

    xrayzebra whirling dervish

    Thanks all... I think I'll give it a couple strokes on the lansky setup, and if it isn't satisfactory, I'll call the maker and send it in for sharpening. I have complete confidence they will take care of it. The seller immediately offered to handle it for me.

    I was kinda figuring as some have suggested, it's just one that "slipped through" without a final honing, but then wondered if maybe I was missing some "different tradition" or something.

    Thanks Ron, I can handle it - I don't think I need you to break anybody's knees yet.

    Thanks E3 - no, it isn't one of yours, or I would have asked you first. It is a larger company, not an individual maker. (E3 PM'd me, offering to make good if it was one of his!) If your knives match the description I gave, I guess I need to get to know you better though.

    I guess there is no reason for suspense... it's a CRK Mnandi, and it is totally gorgeous. I am having connection problems tonight... had to resort to dial-up and even that is sucking worse than usual, so I will not post pix. I'll do a separate thread later.

    It's a Mnandi with Devon Thomas raindrop damascus and mammoth ivory. Having had "a few" beers at a party tonight, I "looked at it" again while trying to get connected and did manage to unintentionally draw blood. If this had been as sharp as my CRK Aviator though, as hard as I pressed to draw blood, it would have amputated the finger.

    I also got a Sebbie at the same time, also with mammoth, but in S30V, and it's plenty sharp.

    These are my first CRK folders. I can see why everyone says "bank vault lock-up." Once the frame lock engages, they feel like fixed blade knives.
  6. OilMan

    OilMan Jaded Brigade Member

    The Obenauf in Mike Norris Damascus I just picked up wasn't all that sharp when I got it either but I was planning on taking it down to 30 degrees at some point anyway so it just got done faster. They should come sharp anyway though.:ronl:
  7. Mr.LaBella

    Mr.LaBella ←The № 1 Devil→ Administrator


    you have THE best luck!

  8. bart-1

    bart-1 6th degree black belt/internet fighting discipline Knife Maker or Craftsman

    I would expect it to be sharp unless you asked special to not have it sharpened.
  9. OilMan

    OilMan Jaded Brigade Member

    Well, and I'm a picky bitch.:firedevil
  10. Andy

    Andy Mostly Harmless

    I only have one knife that isn't sharp and that was specificaly made as a demo model for shows/shops and so didn't need a cutting edge
  11. LarryLuana

    LarryLuana Average member

    I would send it back

    to get it sharpened because you are going to use it, and even for light duty you want to be able to cut those mean envelopes:)
    I also think if this is your first damascus don't want to have the feeling damascus does not cut because it does if it has the right properties.
    I have a Mike Draper custom damascus(knife in my avatar), and it cuts like no other knife in my collection. I have used, and abused this knife, and it just keeps on going(like a Timex). Holds an edge like I could not believe, and sharp as any knife in my collection.
    I enjoy using the knife cuz I cannot get over how good that 1084/15N20 is.
    Get her sharpened, and enjoy her I say. You only live once, and need to know damascus is not just for looks.

  12. wes

    wes Mephistopheles Super Moderator Brigade Member

    I say practice sharpening on it. The damascus won't show the scratches, right?
  13. The General

    The General The Devil's General Brigade Member

    It ought to be razor sharp.

    If you want it so, I can do it for you.

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