Types of Dullness

There is a significant difference in edge condition and performance between an edge that is honed on a coarse abrasive and one that has become somewhat dull due to use. Both are less than ideally sharp, but the first has a rough edge with many sharp points, while the second has a somewhat rounded edge (no sharp points) that is not rough.

The coarsely honed edge is excellent for some uses, such as slicing tomatoes. The roughness along the edge actually helps with the slicing action of such a cut. In most woodworking applications, this type of edge is less effective than a truly sharp one.

I’d characterize the two types of edge as “not yet sharp” and “no longer sharp.” My sharpness testing is intended to describe the “no longer sharp” condition. It also seems to distinguish between coarsely and finely honed edges, but much of this difference may be due to the incomplete removal of the wire edge on the more coarsely honed edges.

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