It is a topic knife enthusiasts have debated about for hours: serrated or straight edge knives. More often than not, this discussion devolves into simply which one is better, without providing tangible benefits to either model. Even though you may have an individual preference for one of the styles, the importance put on a serrated blade when compared to the straight-edged blade depends upon the intended function.
If you are in the market for a knife, you must understand what kind of blade you need to get so you can make an informed choice about whether to obtain serrated or straight knives. The answer to the fundamental question of straight-edged versus serrated depends on the situation you are using it for: If you plan on slice cutting more, serrated is more suited for your task; if you are going to do a push cut, think about getting a straight edge knife.
A straight-edged blade appears just like it sounds: straight. The beautiful part of straight-edged blades is that they are usually extremely pointed and keen. This sharpness facilitates better precision and control when using the knife. It is also perfect for anything that needs push cuts, which are formed by pushing through things instead of just slicing through them. Push cuts work great for things like cutting apples and potatoes, shaving, and chopping wood.
One of the biggest drawbacks to the plain edge design is the tendency to fly off of the material when you are attempting a slice or a cut. Knives with a smaller belly count on their point have reduced cutting power when it comes to going into the object. Know that, with short-bladed knives, you will not be able to leave a deep cut if you do not have the leverage to drive it in.
Knives that have edges with fine-protruding teeth can be considered serrated. While they may be less precise than straight-edged blade cuts, they are ideal for slice cuts. Slice cuts are when you have to drag the edge of the blade back and forth in order to cut through an object. This kind of cut is used for items such as tomatoes, bread, and rope.
One of the biggest advantages of the serrated style is that the area of contact for the knife is comparatively much smaller than a straight edge knife. The pointy tips of the serrations function much like the tips of blades that pierce and sink into the material with little resistance. Thus, serrated blades are the best choice when it comes to dealing with hard, tough materials such as wood or hard plastic.
In contrast to slicing, serrated blades utilize exclusively the push-pull form of cutting. This type of cutting requires less area of contact when compared to regular blade knives. This aspect means that serrated blades are more suited for jobs where it is trickier to establish stable footing.
There is a form of knife that incorporates the best of both models into one knife. These hybrid knives, with a straight edge at the top and a serrated edge at the bottom, are mainly intended as multi-function survival knives. Be careful to get the serrations located at the correct part of the knife. Most users report that small serrations are ideal when you are getting a hybrid model. That way, you can maintain functionality without any loss in the speed in which you inflict cuts.
If you are going to be using a knife for self-defense, do not choose one particular design that excels at one function but at the expense of everything else. Know that the majority of serrated knives are not meant for self-defense purposes. The biggest disadvantage of serrated knives is that they can lock up against fibers when you are cutting or slicing, limiting the depth at which these cuts can penetrate.
While some argue for the superiority of serrated blades for self-defense, the Wharncliffe style of straight blades is very popular for this purpose. Wharncliffe blades contain a straight edge and a defined point where the spine recedes below to form the edge. Especially when you are slashing, the Wharncliffe style of blade allows for a lot of force to be put into the tip of the blade.
For the tasks that you need to do when the tip is responsible for most of the cutting action, you are going to need a Wharncliffe style blade. Another significant advantage of plain edges is that they are much easier to sharpen, compared to serrated knives.
While the straight edge knife is clearly better when it comes to push cutting, it should be stated that the serrated edge will penetrate deeper; only, of course, given a smaller area of contact with the serrations.
One of the greatest advantages of the serrated design is that the laws of physics dictate that the longer the blade and the greater the distance, the more force you will have to use to cut through. Serrated blades override this rule due to their geometric design. With the small tips, you can apply lateral movement, not just friction. In other words, you are catching the material in the path of the object itself.
Serrated Utility Knife
Due to basic physics and geometry, it makes sense that serrations will simply slice better. While it is true that very sharp knives easily slice soft materials, they tend to become duller much faster than serrated knives. Serrated knives are also ideal to use when you are cutting into a softer material that is filled with a denser core.
Even though serrated blades have some advantages when it comes to forceful cutting, it is harder to sharpen and make smooth, controlled cuts. It is important to remember that if your serrations are too large, they will get caught up in a fight.
Most importantly, to prevent any injuries, make sure to purchase all of your knife choices from a reputable dealer. Otherwise, you run the risk of your knife breaking in the middle of a tough job and causing harm to yourself or others. For utility purposes, most of the time serrated blades come out on top. However, despite its potential lack of depth, the plain edge can still slice remarkably well, in detail, and with excellent control.
Make sure to keep your straight edge knife as sharp as possible in order to overcome the shortcomings when compared to serrated blades.
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