Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

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Wartstein
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Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby Wartstein » Sun Feb 14, 2021 5:32 pm

- "Blade centering" seemingly is one of the main things many people check when getting a new knife and are disappointed if it is not 100% perfect.
- Also, "reviewers" on youtube (actually most times "first impression guys") put high value on the centering of the blade.
... And I never really understood why

Of course I am NOT talking about:
- Severe off centering, where the blade touches or even rubs the inside of the scales
- A blade that wanders from left to right and does not stay in place, so is "loose" in some way

But a blade that is a bit or even a bit more out of center, but remains in that position and causes no functional issues:
]What´s the problem here?!

My a tad off centered Spydies work 100 % as well as the perfectly centered ones, and that for years and years.
So a bit off centering is NOT a sign of lower quality
Why should one then bothered by it? And why should one even try to "fix" it? :confused:

Thoughts?

(Edited for better structure)
Last edited by Wartstein on Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby TenGrainBread » Sun Feb 14, 2021 5:57 pm

I agree it doesn't really matter too much if not severe.

If I were the kind of person to buy those expensive mid-tech batch knives that are popular now, that showcase intricate machining patterns, anodization, etc.. then yes I would expect the centering to be good because I am paying more for the machining precision than I am for the function of the knife. But I'm not interested in that, so I don't care if I get an Endura that has a slightly off-center blade. I feel like the youtube knife "review" world is heavily dominated nowadays by the small batch CNC stuff, so that's why they are always talking about and checking the centering on anything they review. To me it's irrelevant.

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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby anycal » Sun Feb 14, 2021 6:10 pm

Resale value of perfection. OCD.

I definitely appreciate dead center blade, able to stay centered through pivot adjustment. But I have some which are not.
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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby chuck_roxas45 » Sun Feb 14, 2021 6:20 pm

It's also a telltale of quality work

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WRB
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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby WRB » Sun Feb 14, 2021 6:31 pm

It’s a sign of quality. If I buy a 5 dollar knife at the gas station I don’t think I have room to complain about the blade being off-center. If I buy a $200+ dollar knife I expect things to be done right. Otherwise why am I paying that much?

I’m actually not that picky and don’t mind if a blade isn’t perfectly centered, but I understand if people are.

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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby Naperville » Sun Feb 14, 2021 6:33 pm

I'm on the Spyderco and USN forums, and I am barely ever on USN.

I see people complaining about a lot of things that just do not resonate with me but their level of attention to detail is good for everyone because companies have to produce good knives. If the blade is way off and hitting the side or lose, I would not like that, but a little off center, I'd eat it.

I'm interested in all of the knife's attributes, but I'm more concerned with blade steel performance. I'm a knife steel nerd!

I do not watch knife reviews but if I'm looking at buying something, I'll search for it on YouTube and watch a few vids to SEE it. I am NOT a fan of those shows. Sometimes I do seek out and watch weekly blade introductions from BladeHQ, KnifeCenter, etc, because I like to see what is available.
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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby bdblue » Sun Feb 14, 2021 6:45 pm

I don't really care. I have 8 or 10 knives in my EDC box and I couldn't tell you how many are centered and how many are not.

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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby The Meat man » Sun Feb 14, 2021 6:59 pm

I think it bugs people for the same reason that asymmetrical grinds or scuffed handles bother people - it doesn't look nice. There's nothing wrong with that. People naturally expect more out of a $200 knife.
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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby Cambertree » Sun Feb 14, 2021 7:47 pm

I think it’s partly a legacy issue related to blades which can warp in the quench or with conversion of retained austenite over time, partly a superficial understanding of what qualities are actually desirable in a cutting tool, and partly a valid desire to have a competently made tool.

My understanding of retained austenite in steel is that it can convert to martensite with time or from being worked. This means that the crystalline cubic structure in those areas would change to a tetragonal structure, and induce some degree of dimensional change and warping.

I’ve heard of carbon steel traditional knives from well known manufacturers taking on banana bends in their blades over time, while just sitting in the box.

I’ve personally had traditional knives which have warped blades in different directions. Some makers I won’t name always have warped blades.

Spyderco cryo most of their blades anyway, which among other things results in no measurable RA, so this is generally a moot point with their knives.

It can also be an indicator of attention to detail by the maker. If they haven’t paid attention to some easily observable qualities, then have they potentially cut corners on things which you can’t see, like the heat treating process?

Then there’s the ‘pocket jewellery’ aspect. There’s about a zillion tabletop Youtube reviews out there where people discuss things like blade centering, ‘fidgetability’, cosmetic fit and finish, and ‘sharpness’, without ever actually zeroing in on the things which are more important IMHO, that relate to the knife’s effectiveness as a cutting tool. Things like blade geometry, behind-the-edge thickness, edge angle, ergonomics in different holds, sharpenability, likely best uses for the knife, any info on heat treatment, what the designer was thinking of etc.

Personally, I have never noticed any performance issues in use from a blade which is slightly off centre. In Spydercos I can generally centre the blade with judicious screw adjustment, or I just don’t care enough to do it.

Also, if you’ve been trained in how to assess blade straightness, it’s actually very rare to see fixed blades in particular which are actually laser straight. I was lucky enough to be shown how to assess blade straightness by Murray Carter so I could better select knives to buy at the Seki Knife Show a few years back. All the knives we randomly selected to practice on exhibited slight bends and asymmetry.

https://youtu.be/twW3g9jNL0s

At first I practiced the skill at every chance I had. Now, I rarely do it, unless I’m considering buying a custom knife at a show, and then I do it very surreptitiously so as not to offend the maker if I then choose not to buy the knife. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it, and I figure if it is so minor that it doesn’t affect the use of the knife, then I don’t care about it.

Just my opinions, of course. :)

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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby TkoK83Spy » Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:07 pm

I'm not thrilled if it's not centered, but as long as it's not rubbing on the liner/scale, I can live with it. I've been able to tinker with most to get them centered, but I have a few that are slightly off. No biggie in my book.
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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby Cl1ff » Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:57 pm

I want a centered blade, but I can live with a crooked one if not fixable.

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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby Bloke » Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:00 pm

An expensive pinned knife with blade out of centre would annoy me.

Screwed construction knives with blades out of centre doesn’t faze me as I’d prolly pull the knife apart to lube and tune it anyways.

It’s easy to centralise a blade in a screwed knife and you don’t need to fully disassemble to do it. :)
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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby SRT392HEMI » Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:02 pm

My OCD forces me to tinker until centered.

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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby Bill1170 » Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:34 pm

Many knife fans care more about aesthetics than function because they have little practical need for a pocket knife. If folding knives are man-jewelry first and matter separators second, it stands to reason that aesthetics will hold higher importance for those customers.

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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby JuPaul » Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:35 pm

Everyone has their own reasons, but I agree that on an expensive production knife or a really expensive mid-tech knife I would expect the maker to pay attention to that type of detail. On less expensive knives, it doesn't bother me as long as it's not terrible, and generally I can improve it quite a bit myself if I feel like it.
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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby Sharp Guy » Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:00 pm

I have to admit that an off center blade bothers my OCD a little but not to the point that I'd ever complain or sell a knife because of it. If it's way off center (rubbing the inside scale or liner) then I might have issue with it. A tiny bit off center not a big deal. I have a lot of knives (for me) and I'm actually amazed that only a couple are off center a tiny bit.

Bill1170 wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:34 pm
Many knife fans care more about aesthetics than function because they have little practical need for a pocket knife. If folding knives are man-jewelry first and matter separators second, it stands to reason that aesthetics will hold higher importance for those customers.
^ I think this is very true
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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby Spydergirl88 » Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:22 pm

I'll take an off center blade any day over a proud tip. Both are fixable but become less acceptable the further you go past $100

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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby Abyss_Fish » Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:35 pm

Depends on the knife, If it's full flat ground in the way spydercos usually are or if the sabre grind ends before contact with the handle, then slight off center-itude is usually fine since there's very little chance of blade rubbing. But if the grind is close enough to the handle when closed it can be real trouble.

There's definitely some mild snobbery going around though. There's a time and place for beauty, I mean 90% of my knives are customized and I WAY love fancy shamcy kitchen knives, but I'm not gonna buy that 500 dollar kitchen knife unless it's >0.010 behind the edge, ya know? In the end knives are tools and form follows function, always.
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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby Bill1170 » Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:39 pm

Abyss_Fish wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:35 pm
Depends on the knife, If it's full flat ground in the way spydercos usually are or if the sabre grind ends before contact with the handle, then slight off center-itude is usually fine since there's very little chance of blade rubbing. But if the grind is close enough to the handle when closed it can be real trouble.

There's definitely some mild snobbery going around though. There's a time and place for beauty, I mean 90% of my knives are customized and I WAY love fancy shamcy kitchen knives, but I'm not gonna buy that 500 dollar kitchen knife unless it's >0.010 behind the edge, ya know? In the end knives are tools and form follows function, always.
You want MORE than 0.010” behind the edge? Or was that a typo?

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Re: Why are so many people concerned with perfect blade centering?

Postby Wartstein » Mon Feb 15, 2021 12:05 am

Good points, y´all! :)

I certainly did not want to show disrespect at all for people who just like the looks and (for them) aesthetics of y perfectly centered blade!
I also think it might be a "retroactive effect"-thing: Makers know, that customers see perfect centering as a sign of quality, and so they show their skills by putting high value on perfect centering in order to satisfy the customers... and that again could make those think perfect centering is an important sign of quality indeed (when functionally speaking is it not really...)

I just feel perfect centering, as long as it has no functional impact and is no indicator for possible issues in the future, is sometimes a bit overemphasized..while, as Cambertree pointed out perfectly, other, probably more important aspects get little to no attention.

But I admit: I am probably not the "standard" here: I like the look of used knives, I like little individual "imperfections" as long as they don´t impair function, and so an a bit off centered blade is just nothing I´d even really notice.
But of course it is an equally valuable approach to put more value on "aesthetic perfection!
Top three going by pocket-time: Endura 4 in VG 10/Micarta-scales; Stretch 1 in VG 10; Endura 4 in HAP 40


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