While I believe there is always room for improvement in all things these are the tests that I am currently using to test the performance of Wenger blades. I hope someday to be chopping telephone poles in half with a single swipe and whittling through railroad tracks and still be able to shave hair afterwards.... or maybe someday to make a knife so sharp that simply waving it through the air could obliterate an entire village via the accidental splitting of an atom... But I digress. The first thing I do after a blade has been heat treated is to finish polish the blade and put an edge on it. I then proceed to start cutting things. I start with 3/8 sisal rope and make at least 140+ cuts without the blade getting noticeably dull. I will then put each blade through what is call the “brass rod” or edge flex test. This is accomplished by locking a piece of ¼” rod in a vice and drawing the side of the cutting edge over the rod while applying down pressure on either side of the rod as the blade is slid over it. The point of this is not to cut the brass rod but to cause the edge to flex and then to have it return to straight as it passes off the rod. If the blade chips it is too hard, if it stays bent at the edge then it is too soft. All Wenger Blades return to true before they are tested further. I then move on to a piece of deer or elk antler and do some whittling there. The edge should stay sharp without any damage after all of these tests without being re-sharpened to go out my door to the customer. Larger blades such as bowies and camp knives or fighters are put through some more tests such as chopping 2x4's in half, cutting 1/4" brass rods in two or splitting logs in two via batoning. Keep in mind that some of these tests are considered abusive but are performed in my shop as a means of quality control.
Wenger Blades axes are tested by chopping holes in the light to medium duty metal doors and by chopping through horn and bone. The back spike models are tested further by smashing holes in sedimentary stone such as sand stone and in modern masonry such as cinder blocks and mortar. The cutting edges are not put through the latter tests because they are designed to cut, not smash.
As I mentioned earlier I am a member of the American Bladesmith Society. The ABS is a group of outstanding knifemakers/bladesmiths who make it their goal to promote the art and science of the forged blade. The ABS is comprised of mostly bladesmiths both professional and amateur along with some collectors and admirers of the forged blade. The knifemaker portion of its members are broken into three categories based mostly on three skill levels. First is the apprentice, (amateur) then there is the professional levels of Journeyman followed by Master Smith which is the top rating you can achieve in the ABS. These knifemakers are among the best in the world. It takes at least 2 years of training and membership in the ABS to test for the Journeyman Smith rating and another 2 years of further training to test for Master Smith.
To learn more about Journeyman Smith testing standards, visit the American Bladesmith Society.