Just how sharp is a scalpeldashi? Really the question is more along the lines of: just how sharp is a surgical scalpel blade? Very sharp is unsatisfying, so we embarked on a brief journey to vault a couple common cutting tests namely hair, printer paper, and newsprint. For this testing we used exclusively Swann Morton #10A blades, the blades we supply on our dashi.
Printer paper, this one is all too common. There are some tricks here though. The first is that paper has a “grain,” that is to say it cuts more easily in one direction than another. So when watching people’s tests here, look for ones which change direction, either rotating the sheet of paper or starting at one angle and shifting to another as the cuts progress. The next trick/challenge is technique. There is a technique to cutting printer paper that makes it easier. We know this from conversations with people such as Cliff Stamp who demonstrate this. Unfortunately we have no such talent, so if this works, it is all down to the blade. Finally is sharpening technique. In this case no technique is applied, the blades are of course virgin fresh out of the package, however in general the best edges for cutting paper are very sharp but applied on a coarse stone to leave a “toothy” edge which can keep the paper from slipping away. Cutting then at an angle and drawing the edge through makes cuts easier. That is two more strikes against this blade style passing this test, as the blade is very short and the edge itself is highly polished and refined. The paper used for this test was Staples 20 pound copy paper.
Of course, since you can probably see these gifs as you scroll, you already knew the answer before getting here. The lack of blade length made this slightly more challenging, mostly because cuts had to be very precise. Too deep or shallow and the cutting edge slips off the paper ruining the cut. It worked great though.
Next up is newsprint/thin glossy magazine print. This is apparently different/harder to cut than printer paper? Same challenges apply, but now to super super thin flexible paper. This specific test was done on a semi-gloss Cabelas’ flyer. The flexibility of the paper definitely made it more of a challenge to hold and maintain consistent depth on the blade. Largely though, it was about the same as printer paper which is to say no problem.
Finally, there is hair. Shaving is trivial with one of these blades, but shaving sharp knives are a dime a dozen anyway so that is no great challenge nor anything special. The real trick is whittling a hair. This is where things get a little more prickly. All the men of STO have short hair, hair too short to test. The ladies available and willing to donate to the cause have fine blonde hair, which doesn’t show up on camera. A dog, owned by one of our partners, has just the finest softest imaginable hair, which both doesn’t show up on camera and is too fine to be cut. There is a third option for hair sourcing from men with short hair, and those hairs are easily whittled by one of these scalpel blades as it turns out, but they aren’t *cough* suitable for a family friendly venue as such. So this one you’ll just have to take our word for, the scalpel blades will whittle some human hairs.
And that is a wrap, a little almost-science applied to some common sharpness tests to demonstrate just how sharp one of our scalpeldashi can be.