This is a very common question many knife owners have asked. The “Paper Cut” test is commonplace in the knife community to get a good glimpse on how sharp your blade is. But does cutting paper actually dull your knife?
Short answer: For most instances – No. The average piece of paper with a razor sharp knife will be sliced like butter.
However, there are a lot of assumptions being made there. There are so many factors that go into the “Paper Cut” test that will determine the end result of your knife blade’s sharpness.
For instance – What type of paper are you cutting? What is the hardness of your blade? Angle of the blade edge? Geometry of the blade?
I could go on and on, so let’s set some “average knife” parameters and continue from there.
Let’s say our average pocket knife has a drop point blade as shown below
The angle of the blade is a common 20 ° and the hardness at HRC 58.
How well would the knife hold up versus the following paper products?
Printer Paper – Your knife will stay plenty sharp. You most likely could cut soft printer paper for an hour straight and see no discernible difference in sharpness.
Glossy Photo Paper – Alright, now you aren’t only cutting paper, but a glossy layer on top of it. Your knife will dull much faster with photo paper because not only is it thicker, harder, and made of different materials – but there is an adhesive layer between the paper and gloss as well.
3-Hole Punched Binder Paper – You might as well be slicing butter. You could cut binder paper all day and not see a difference in sharpness.
In conclusion, most readily-available types of paper won’t harm your blade’s sharpness so feel free to do the “Paper Cut” test regularly.