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What things must we consider when testing a knife? Standards may vary by blade type. This is the place to discuss what we want to use. Seek to agree wherever possible. Its ok to have differences or to challenge but our purpose should be to produce a Sharper Review.

Our goal is to be a source for reliable, trustworthy reviews that are thought out and fair in all respects.

Tags: review, standards.

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Replies to This Discussion

That's the thing with blade magazine.  They aren't going to give a knife a bad rep.  Why?  Because all they do are EDC tasks.  Any knife will work in an EDC task.  Heck a cheapo 2 dollar knife will work.  That just makes all our opinions worthless.  No knife is better than the other.  It all comes to down to personal preference.  In that case, it would be better to just let other's decide.  Are you (not you specifically, I mean people) so narcissist that you have to influence others with your opinions?

 

And you know what, Don, I have been experiment for a while with a blog/youtube page.  Please take a second to consider the situation.

 

Steve,

 

That's the thing.  I have never trusted any of the so called reviews out there with 100% absolute assurance. 

 

As far as people going through a process.  Okay, sure some.  But just take a second and look at some of the reviews.  Where's the wear on the blade?  On the handles?

 

A table top review is worthless if the knife is clean.  No coating wear.  No scratches on a polished blade.  If you think the person has used the knife and he doesn't show any data, then you are just lying to yourself and he is lying to everyone who is watching or reading.

 

 

I personally want to find better knives, too.  That's why I wanted only outdoor testing.  If a knife (including folding) can survive a day in the woods (come out unscathed, save for coating wear, if the knife has coating) then the knife can survive indefinitely in the cities and as an EDC.  Any "emergency" that might come in the city, I know I can then count on what ever knife (or equipment) I have and my skill set to solve the situation.

i like what tom has to say. you can not review a knife with out first testing the knife. why would anybody care about somebodys opinion on what they thought about it but had never tested it.i think the only way is to have some of us each week test a couple of knives now the people should test the same knives that way it is not just one persons take on the performance of the knife yet it would be a collaboration of us here at ikc and for this forum now this is just my thoughts.....

Tom I understand your frustration and where you're coming from. However please try to refrain from calling someone that doesn't share your opinion "dumb".

 

First of all let me assure you that I have nothing against testing. In fact it's my profession.  In real life I'm a software testing professional. I measure quality in software. Testing is good. but it can be done in many different ways.

 

The problem is all in percieving quality. The reason that that is a problem is because "Quality" a vague.

 

Is a good knife one where the fit & finish is very good?

 

Is a good knife one where it cuts very well?

 

Is a good knife one where it feels well in the hand?

 

How about one where the fit and finish is only so-so, the comfort is BAD and it cuts and retains edge like a monster? What's the verdict on that? is that quality? One person will say it is while the other says it isn't. this is where reviewing comes in. This is also where opinion comes in.

 

We all have certain "standards" that when filled in give us the feeling that something is a quality piece or not.  The problem however is that the standards all differ from person to person.

 

You could use a knife for three straight days in a row, and do nothing but cut wood all day and proclaim that something is the best thing since sliced bread. And still your review could be worthless to me because I just don't cut that much wood.

 

This is why you define the parts that make up quality. Because something that'll sell one person on a knife will make another person condemn it.

 

I like slipjoints......but you may hate them. The fact that something is a slipjoint is actually a selling point for me while for you it's a reason not to buy the thing.

 

Hence you define quality points. You start talking about "weight" and whether you think it's a good thing or not.

 

Once that's done you start talking about cutting ability and whether that's acceptable or not.

 

That done you talk about price/materials/looks/portability/light reflection/sharpenability(is that even a word?)/etc etc etc.

 

A review will ALWAYS be a matter of opinion.

 

A test is easy, you can say:

I made 100 cuts with knife A before it went dull.

I made 200 cuts with knife B before it went dull.

Thus knife B is better than knife A at cutting.

 

It's fine if that's what you're choosing. But be aware of the choice you're making.

Thanks for the comment Alexander.  Clearly we've (unintentionally)exposed what many may perceive as a weakness in the process of reviews/testing. Some may feel not scientific enough, some not practical enough. Our challenge here is to find the area where we are best serving those who read reviews.
i think some people is making this more difficult then it really is. i think we should keep it nice and simple.most reviews that i have seen is simple you check a box in different categories such how does it feel in you hand.you have a box for  good  bad  fair  excellent now this will just be our opinion.and what people want to do with it is up to them.basically this is a survey with us here doing the survey.what do you think? just a thought....
Stephen, that is pretty much the way I see it. All that's needed to do then is define what boxes to tick ;-)

Alexander Noot said:

Tom I understand your frustration and where you're coming from. However please try to refrain from calling someone that doesn't share your opinion "dumb".

 

Sorry 'bout that.  I'm just annoyed by the flurry of reviews out there that are like that.  Though, not really much of an opinion but more of a general observation/fact.  

 

If I asked one to right a review article on gene-based therapies and no research or experiments had been done on altering specific gene expression in certain cells, where can one begin writing a review?  There is no basis.  One does not have the necessary information to make inferences or even opinions.  If we take  step back on that hypothetical path, what the heck are vectors?  No one has done any research with them?  How do we know they work?  

 

The fact of the matter is that one needs a basis for generating interpretations, inferences and  then we can make opinions.  

 

Alexander Noot said:

First of all let me assure you that I have nothing against testing. In fact it's my profession.  In real life I'm a software testing professional. I measure quality in software. Testing is good. but it can be done in many different ways.

 

The problem is all in percieving quality. The reason that that is a problem is because "Quality" a vague.


Is a good knife one where the fit & finish is very good?

Is a good knife one where it cuts very well?

Is a good knife one where it feels well in the hand?

How about one where the fit and finish is only so-so, the comfort is BAD and it cuts and retains edge like a monster? What's the verdict on that? is that quality? One person will say it is while the other says it isn't. this is where reviewing comes in. This is also where opinion comes in.

 

We all have certain "standards" that when filled in give us the feeling that something is a quality piece or not.  The problem however is that the standards all differ from person to person.

 

True, quality is difficult to gauge.  However, there has to be some base level that is universal.

 

Let's compare two hypothetical knives (I'm going to tweak your example just a bit).  Each exactly the same shape, design, material, HT, etc.  Except for a few things.

 

Knife 1 has absolutely perfect handles.  Contoured, polished, flush with the blade, etc.  However, the blade has not been finished well.  Though, the edge is screaming sharp.

 

Knife 2 also has absolutely perfect handles.  Contoured, polished, flush with the blade, etc.  In addition to this the blade is put to a beautiful polish.  But there is no edge.

 

I'm sure we can agree that both knives are still quality.  Knife 1 doesn't actually have a finishing on the blade but it does cut.  Except Knife 2 doesn't cut.  So which is better?  

 

Well under those terms, I would have to take the knife that cuts over the knife that is well polished (if I wanted to I could polish the blade myself).  However, I can also, myself, just put an edge on Knife 2.  If you really think about it, both knives are of equal quality.

 

Why?  They have been built upon the same platform.  We are using the exact same materials, the exact same steel and HT.  The only thing that we define as quality is the level of "completion" we, the knife user, want.  Real differences in quality between these two knives are therefore an illusion.  

 

Opinions are great, I'm not going to deny that.  I am an extremely opinionated person.  However, before we can make opinions, we need a good reason to make that opinion.  To make a good review we need to clearly lay out facts and clearly lay out opinions.  

 

Alexander Noot said:

You could use a knife for three straight days in a row, and do nothing but cut wood all day and proclaim that something is the best thing since sliced bread. And still your review could be worthless to me because I just don't cut that much wood.

 

If you look at it that way, sure it  isn't very useful make much use.  But why are you interpreting that even though the knife can cut wood well it is worthless to you because you "just don't cut that much wood?"

 

Wood is a difficult material to cut and can wear an edge down very fast.  We can agree upon that, right?  (Unless you cut paper!)  If a knife can cut wood for three days straight with out sharpening, then I'm sure on softer material (like tomatoes or asparagus or apples or etc.) it will cut (on a wood or plastic cutting board, no granite. please) 'til the cows come home.  

 

The difference between a good reviewer and bad reviewer (or experimenter) is their ability to interpret the results from experiments.  Be clear on what can be concluded and be clear on limitations from the test.

 

Alexander Noot said:

 

This is why you define the parts that make up quality. Because something that'll sell one person on a knife will make another person condemn it. 


I like slipjoints......but you may hate them. The fact that something is a slipjoint is actually a selling point for me while for you it's a reason not to buy the thing.

Hence you define quality points. You start talking about "weight" and whether you think it's a good thing or not.

Once that's done you start talking about cutting ability and whether that's acceptable or not.

That done you talk about price/materials/looks/portability/light reflection/sharpenability(is that even a word?)/etc etc etc.

A review will ALWAYS be a matter of opinion.

 

Okay.  So even if a review is ALWAYS a matter of opinion.  Where did those opinions from from?  If we are being reasonable (which I think you we should, to some extent, try), then we can make a credulous explanation that can extracted from results. 

 

So, let's say I do hate slip-joints?  What is the basis for my hatred in slip-joints (just to be clear, I don't hate slip-joints).  Is it because I would rather have a locking knife?  If so what are the benefits of a locking knife over a slip-joint knife?  

 

If I am reasonable I will note that a locked knife will have a less likely chance to close on my fingers if I try to penetrate objects.  However, under normal cutting tasks, a slip-joint and locked knife are equally the same because the cutting motion will force the blades into the open position and the blade will not travel further due to some stop pin.

 

If I am unreasonable, then I don't need to explain myself.  In that case, I can't take myself seriously.

 

If we are to define quality, then I can define anything that I want with no explanation.  How useful is that.  I can just define that "bad" means "good."  I can define a "baseball bat" as a fantastic "knife" that will easily "cut" tomatoes.  Are you going to believe what I define is true without evidence?

 

"Define that parts that make up the quality." ...... Okay, so what if I gave you extremely well machined slabs of G-10, a good heat treated blade.  Sure, both are quality, but they aren't assembled into a knife.   However, can I say that the knife is not quality?

 

Alexander Noot said:

 

A test is easy, you can say: I made 100 cuts with knife A before it went dull.
I made 200 cuts with knife B before it went dull.
Thus knife B is better than knife A at cutting


Again, you might be right that testing is easy.  

 

However, if one over simplifies testing, then one will seriously overlook the interpretations.  What inferences can you make from such a simply test?  

 

From what you outlined in that test, you can infer that knife B is better than knife A at cutting, but you can only be sure of that on the material that you used for the test.  But from that test you can't make the same conclusions on other material, until you have tested the two knives on other materials.  

 

Also from that test, you are missing several details that could explain why knife B cut better than knife A.  What was the angle of the grind?  Is knife B a full height flat grind?  Is knife A a very low saber grind?  Even then, what is the final bevel?  Did you use the entire length of the each knife or only a portion.  Were the edges polished or rough?  Did one knife have a wire edge?  What about steels?  What about heat-treatment?  The questions can be endless.

 

It isn't just as simple as knife B cut better than knife A.  There has to be an explanation.  You have to make sure that explanation can be made sensible from your test.

 

So really, all I wanted to say is ( and not to sound like a broken record) we need good solid evidence that we can interpret, infer, and then form opinions.  We also need to be sure that what we can interpret and  what we can conclude is reasonable from the data gathered.  We also need to know that each test will have some limitations and that those limitations need to be made explicit. 

 

After that we can then write reviews that will be slightly more honest than the rest of the reviews out there.  Let them know that the knife is great and can cut well, however, I, the reviewer, might note that there are still flaws on the knife that the reader might be interested in knowing.  

Whew...

 

Well if we want to keep it simple, let's just streamline the format that I made and give a knife a go at it.  You can make opinions and interpretations in the discussion/conclusion section.  

 

We can forget about measurements since that will only complicate things even more.

 

http://playground.sun.com/~nozh2002 (link, I believe is dead)

 

The site above, done by Vassili (nozh2002), had data on edge retention via manila rope test.  His youtube page is still up and many of his posts on the various forums are also still up.  If we want to do something similar in edge retention we can.  However, I do warn you that this will be very time consuming.

 

So let's just give this experimental review set up a test. 

 

Would anyone like to be the guinea pig?  Write up a review with our initial format?
Tom, Go ahead give it a try, I believe others may follow. Also for first few keep it simple no point in starting too complex and down the road we can fine tune and add things that are appropriate.
Would anyone like to be the guinea pig?  Write up a review with our initial format?

I have been following this and I have to tell you it has been very interesting.  This is always a tough area, people are passionate about reviews they love and reviews they dont like at all.  I have recently read several of Tom's, I like them.  I like this the best

Tom, Go ahead give it a try, I believe others may follow. Also for first few keep it simple no point in starting too complex and down the road we can fine tune and add things that are appropriate.
Would anyone like to be the guinea pig?  Write up a review with our initial format?

Hahaha, Jan.  

 

Alright.  I'll give it a go with my Kershaw Skyline.  Now, I just need to go buy some food and cut some stuff up.  So far, I am actually quite impressed with this knife.

Thanks Pat, I think that makes for a great review. I am a big fan of function mostly because I use a knife or knives every single day. So anything that demonstrates functionality is really useful to my knife buying.


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