I'm hoping to start reviewing knives, starting with the ones I own and moving onto ones I (hope to) purchase. Of course, that means I'm going to need some sort of system to afford some semblance of elegance and objectivity.
I've used Everyday Commentary's system as a baseline (Anthony has devised a great method) and gone from there. Many of the categories are the same, but I've tweaked it a bit for my purposes.
I'll evaluate knives based on ten categories each scored between zero and two. Zero being abysmal, one being adequate, and two being exceptional. As usual, this will result in a total score between zero and twenty.
Then ten categories and a brief explanation are as follows:
Perhaps the most important material used in knife construction is steel. The choice of blade-steel largely determines the “quality” of a knife, its utility, and, more often than not, the cost of the product. Blade-steel comes in many different types with many different attributes associated with each type.
The most relevant considerations are (1) sharpness, (2) durability, (3) rust resistance, and (4) maintenance. Sharpness is predominantly determined by the amount of carbon in the steel; higher-carbon steels are capable of holding a finer edge. Durability is a balancing act. It’s affected by both how hard a particular steel is and its plasticity (steel should be hard enough to retain an edge and muscle through material, but should be soft enough so it’s not brittle and prone to chipping and the like). Rust resistance is important, too. Rust is bad. Ease of maintenance is also important; while I have no problem sitting down and sharpening a knife, it’s nice to have a steel which won’t fight you.
Blade-steel is still an enigma for me. I’m not a metallurgist and don’t pretend to be. I’ll try to do as much research I can about steels I’m unfamiliar with and make sure to provide my underlying reasoning as to a particular score.
Fit of Parts:
Is the knife well-constructed? Do all the parts fit together properly? Is there wiggle where there shouldn’t be? Etc.
Spear, clip, tanto, recurve, etc. There are plenty of blade shapes on the market and they’re all good for something (generally). In an EDC knife I seem to be looking for something that’s going to be a great general utility blade, something that performs well in most “traditional” tasks. Serrations are also considered here.
If you were to look at a blade from the point with the handle facing away from you the shape you would see is the blade grind. Simple grinds are good for EDC but more robust grinds have their place. Depending on the intended use, the grind can make or break a blade.
All folding knives have some sort of mechanism. to keep them open, whether that is a traditional lock or otherwise. This will evaluate the type and quality of the mechanism used. Non-locking knives will not be prejudiced and in the event that I evaluate a fixed-blade I’ll evaluate the sheathing system.
Is it pretty? Is the underlying design admirable or is it otherwise lacking?
What good is a knife if it doesn’t fit well in your hand? This category will evaluate how well the grip portion of the knife is executed; this depends on the type and size of the knife and what it’s principally being used for.
How does the knife open? Is it manual, assisted, or automatic? Does it employ a thumb-stud, a flipper, a “wave” device, a thumbhole, nothing at all?
How is the knife carried? Most pocket knives have a pocket clip (strange, huh). Some, however, don’t have such a convenient device (also strange). This will evaluate the type and quality of the carry method and discuss the ease of deployment and replacement into a pocket (or wherever it’s carried).
Is the knife comfortable to carry? Is it oddly shaped? Does it sit in a strange way while in a pocket? Etc.