SpyderEdgeForever wrote:I know the issues of serrations has been discussed before but here we go again, and I add this warning: This can be a touchy topic because of so many well-seasoned opinions on the matter.
One core basic starting question: How necessary are serrations when it comes to cutting power and ability? Could a well-made and well-sharpened Plain-Edge knife do all that one can do with serrations, or, are there certain cutting tasks in which a Serrated-Edge is absolutely necessary and functionally just better, that would leave the PE 'in the dust'?
I don't know if there really is any scenario where serrations are actually necessary, but there are certainly situations where serrations can perform better than PE. That doesn't mean you can't get the job done with PE, you may just have an easier time using SE. I think probably any job CAN be done with PE, but some jobs will certainly be easier with SE. If I could only have one knife, it would no doubt be PE, but fortunately I'm not forced into choosing one or the other and can carry both (and I do).
Regarding the serrations themselves, they come in different forms and different patterns, from more open saw-like ones to very closely-spaced serrations, some more curved, others more square-like: In what way does that make a difference?
Size and pattern can greatly change how serrations behave. If you think of a PE hawkbill blade for example, the entire blade is essentially one very large serration. The point of serrations is....the point, or points. If you space the serrations too far apart (in other words make them too big/wide), then the points are also spaced further apart and performance begins to resemble more of a hawkbill type blade. When the points are closer together, they penetrate the material being cut, allowing the scoops to do their thing. If you make the points too close together (think bread knife) then you run into a similar situation as a "bed of nails", where the points are so close together that the surface pressure created by the blade being pushed into the material is distributed over so many points that they're less likely to pierce the material. So, you need to find a balance somewhere in the middle of all this. I haven't tried every pattern available, but I do think Spyderco's pattern does a very nice job. For my personal uses, I could actually live without the small serrations and would probably be happy with just repeating large serrations.
Some have said a very sharp and thin edge that is plain edged can outdo any serrated edge for most cutting tasks: Would you find that to be true?
I wouldn't say this is true or false. It's very circumstantial. If you're slicing things, then yes a thin PE will no doubt perform the best (think surgeons scalpel). Serrations are definitely a specialized edge, and so they will perform better in specific uses, whereas PE is obviously going to be the most versatile. But again, simply saying that one can out perform the other is silly until you define what is being cut. Even then, you have to consider things like edge retention, edge damage (think steak knife and a ceramic plate) etc..
And thirdly, what are some good ways one could re-sharpen a serrated edge in the field if they did not have access to a quality sharpening tool like a SharpMaker or other system? Could you sharpen a serrated edge with natural stones if they are the right shape, or would you have a very difficult time doing this?
"In the field" is an area where SE is definitely at a disadvantage. Or to say the least, you need to plan ahead and bring some type of appropriate sharpening device if you really expect to dull your SE while out in the field. A simple tapered diamond rod can put a great working edge on practically any SE knife and if you're truly "in the field" then you won't care about a mirror edge sharpened up to 10k+ edge grit. However, one advantage of SE is no doubt that the edge is typically tougher and will take more abuse, and even once it gets pretty dull will still "saw" through many materials long after a PE knife has thrown in the towel and just slides across the material.
Now, aside from all that, I really think people worry too much about this stuff, and focus way too much on what's "best" when best is really just what you like and are comfortable with. But, I do wish people were more open minded, because SE really can be fun to play with if a person cares enough to explore and experiment with new things. I went the distance with mine and tried it for myself and really had my eyes opened. I still would choose PE if it were my only option, but I will always EDC a SE blade of some kind now, probably for the rest of my life. It's just too easy to carry a small second blade, and I get far too much enjoyment out of playing with the two types and learning from those experiences. It's easy to just stick with the beaten path and always use PE, and that's fine if that's all you need, but there's a whole other world of awesome to be had with SE.