If you are not a knife aficionado, you may think the only important parts of a knife is its blade and handle.
However, all the parts of a knife are important, including the knife's grind, a part of the knife we often overlook.
So if you’re not familiar with knife grinds, you have come to the right place.
In this ProSurvivalStrategies.com Guide, you will learn:
- What is a knife grind?
- Why are knife grinds important?
- What are the different types of knife grinds?
- And much more!
What is a knife grind?
The knife or blade grind refers to how the geometrical cross-section of the blade is formed. By using special grinding machines, considerable amounts of blade metal is removed to reveal the knife’s cutting edge. The blade grind is not to be confused with the blade’s profile which is the shape of the blade’s cross-section (from spine to edge) or the bevel that forms the sharpened edge. To learn more about blade profiles check out our article.
Why are knife grinds important?
Knowing the type of grind on your knife is important as it changes its entire dynamic and how it’s used. Certain grinds will also require different maintenance needs, including special sharpening techniques and honing angles.
The type of grind on your knife will have a significant effect on how efficiently it can perform a specific task. Attempting a particular job with the wrong type of grind can make completing that job much more challenging, not to mention severe damage to your blade’s edge. This is why it’s important to have a basic understanding of knife grinds.
Knowledge of knife grinds will enable you to identify which is the right grind for your knife’s purpose, as well as allow you to properly care for and maintain your knife. Keep in mind however, an appropriate grind will not only depend upon the knife’s intended use, but also the material in which it's composed of.
Some knife fanatics regrind their blades to enhance blade properties or to make new ones. Regrinding a blade not only improves it’s cutting edge but also simplifies sharpening and maintenance regimes.
A regrind can be considered a reshaping of the blade’s edge. A delicate balance lies between making the edge thin enough to cut with effectively, while still retaining enough thickness to maintain durability.
Regrinding a blade can be difficult, especially if you lack the necessary skill set and the proper equipment. If you don’t feel comfortable enough doing it yourself, we recommend seeking a professional who can do it for you. They can also customize your blade to your specific needs and preferences.
What are the different types of knife grinds?
There are a variety of grind types, each possessing its own strengths, weaknesses and preferred uses. Some grinds are more durable, while others are sharper and some strive to have a level of both.
What follows below is by no means the full extent of knife grinds. These are some common grinds, many of which can be modified or combined to form customized grinds. They include important features, their advantages and disadvantages including their preferred uses.
Before we discuss the different types of knife grinds, there is another important term that you should be acquainted with and that is a “bevel”. Basically, the bevel is an angle that has been ground to the blade’s surface to form its cutting edge. A bevel can be on one or both sides of a blade. If a bevel appears on both sides, it is considered to be a double-bevel knife.
Now let’s dive into the different knife grinds!
The hollow grind has been and still is one of the most popular grinds used today.
As the name suggests, a hollow grind is well, hollow. It’s where both sides of the blade curve inward until they meet. This concave design is what produces its razor-sharp edge which is why it was first exclusively used on straight razors and has now become a fan favorite among hunters and sportsmen alike.
What are the advantages of a Hollow Grind?
In addition to having an incredibly sharp edge, a hollow grind is easier to sharpen. The thickness at the edge will remain consistently thin without getting thicker with every sharpening.
What are the disadvantages of a Hollow Grind?
Although the curved design produces an extremely sharp edge, it’s not very durable. The thinner edges make it weak and more vulnerable to breaking. It can also dull fairly quickly which will require constant maintenance.
The hollow grind is not suitable for heavy chopping or cutting hard materials.
What are the preferred uses for a Hollow Grind?
This type of grind is excellent for field dressing and skinning which is why it often appears on hunting knives.
DID YOU KNOW?
Issued during World War II and given to the First Special Service Force a/k/a “Devil’s Brigade” (the American and Canadian Commando Unit), the V-42 Stiletto was designed with a concave hollow ground cross-section. With its twin edges double hollow-ground, it delivered increased cutting performance.
Of all blade grinds, the flat grind is considered to be the simplest and the one most appealing to the eye. Yet, it is one that is more difficult to achieve.
A flat grind appears in three different geometric patterns.
Full Flat Grind (also referred as “FFG”)
The first pattern is the “full flat grind” where both sides of the blade taper evenly from the blade’s spine all the way to its cutting edge.
What are the advantages of a Full Flat Grind?
Since there is a lot of blade metal removed from the sides, it creates an extremely sharp cutting edge, perfect for slicing and skinning.
With its sloped symmetrical bevel, it can penetrate material and substance without much resistance which is why this type of grind is found on most kitchen and chef’s knives.
You won’t find too many true full flat grinds on the market these days since most manufacturers put a second or compound bevel on blades.
What are the disadvantages of a Full Flat Grind?
Although a full flat grind produces an incredibly sharp edge, it is not quite as durable as some of the other grind types. With the edge being thinner, it makes it weaker and more vulnerable. This is why it’s not recommended for heavier tasks as it is incapable of performing without risking the blade from breaking.
What are the preferred uses for a Full Flat Grind?
A Full Flat Grind is best used on EDC knives, hunting knives and of course kitchen and chef’s knives.
High Flat Grind
The High Flat Grind is the second pattern of flat grinds and is more commonly used than the full flat grind. There is only one differentiating factor separating the High Flat Grind from the Full Flat Grind.
While the Full Flat Grind starts at the spine, the High Flat Grind leaves a small part of the blade the same thickness as the spine before tapering to the edge.
Scandinavian / Scandi / Sabre / “V” Grind
Although the third and final flat grind pattern is one that goes by several names, such as the Scandinavian Grind, Scandi Grind, Sabre Grind and “V” Grind, there are a few slight differences between the Scandi grind and the Sabre grind.
Let’s first discuss the Scandinavian Grind a/k/a Scandi Grind. It is quite similar to the High Flat Grind except the taper begins closer to the edge leaving more of the blade the same thickness as the spine. While many other grinds feature an edge bevel, the Scandi goes all the way to the edge tip. You won’t find a second bevel/grind on a Scandinavian Grind.
What are the advantages of High Flat and Scandi Grinds?
Since more material is left behind the edge, it provides additional strength and greater durability. They are also easier to sharpen in the field.
What are the disadvantages of High Flat and Scandi Grinds?
Having more material behind the edge means that more material will need to be removed when it comes time for sharpening. Additionally, their edges are known to dull fairly quickly.
What are the preferred uses of High Flat and Scandi Grinds?
High Flat and Scandinavian Grinds are the preferred choice for survival knives since this type of grind is much easier to sharpen in the field. You can determine the sharpening angle just by placing the knife on its side since the bevel makes the grind easily recognizable.
It’s also great for whittling and wood-working since the defined bevel makes it easier for you to observe the edge in relation to the wood grain’s orientation.
Now the Sabre or “V” Grind on the other hand is slightly different. While being similar to the flat grind, the bevel starts roughly in the center of the blade, not from its spine. And although it has a single high bevel much like the Scandi grind, the Sabre Grind or “V” Grind includes a sharper secondary bevel closer to the edge. It is this secondary bevel that would be sharpened, not the higher bevel since it is at a much shallower angle than the Scandi grind.
What are the advantages of a Sabre Grind?
The Sabre grind pattern was created with muscle in mind. It provides strength to the edge giving it incredible durability to handle heavier tasks.
What are the disadvantages of a Sabre Grind?
While the added strength provides more durability to the edge, its cutting ability suffers some. It may require a bit more strength from the user to cut since it creates drag that a thinner grind would not otherwise have.
What are the preferred uses for the Sabre Grind?
The Sabre Grind is excellent for cutting through larger, more dense objects. Most survival, tactical and military knives accommodate the Sabre grind due to its thickness and its ability to withstand hard use.
In sum, flat ground blades have the advantage of being incredibly sharp and especially easy to sharpen, whether it's on a flat stone or out in the field. A disadvantage, however, is that their edges are not very durable, leaving them more vulnerable to breakage. Their edges can also dull rather quickly requiring constant maintenance.
There’s no surprise here that chisel grinds would appear on, you guessed it, chisels.
A chisel grind is completely flat on one side while the other side has a single bevel which begins at about the center of the blade and then tapers down at an angle to meet the edge. It appears almost like a “V” shape.
The exact degrees vary, but generally, the bevel angle is roughly between 25 and 30 degrees which results in a more durable edge.
What are the advantages of a Chisel Grind?
The chisel grind provides an exceptionally sharp edge without sacrificing any blade strength.
Japanese culinary knives are designed with chisel grinds which is why they are much sharper than the conventional double-bevel Western knives. Knives with this type of grind can be made in both left- and right-handed varieties, of course depending upon which side has been ground.
What are the disadvantages of a Chisel Grind?
In order to keep its incredibly sharp edge, this grind will require continual maintenance due to its single bevel.
What are the preferred uses for a Chisel Grind?
This chisel grind is also great for wood-working since it allows you to easily follow the wood grain’s orientation in relation to the edge bevel. It’s also ideal on some high-end Japanese culinary knives since the one flat side makes separating food much easier. A chisel grind can also be found on some modern tactical knives.
Convex Grind (a/k/a Axe Grind)
Opposite to the hollow grind, the convex grind tapers outward, towards the edge.
What are the advantages of a Convex Grind?
Since the taper is curved, it can retain more metal behind the edge, making for a stronger edge while still providing a good level of sharpness.
This type of grind can be seen on axes which is why it has been occasionally called an “axe grind”.
What are the disadvantages of a Convex Grind?
Reproducing this type of grind on a flat stone takes incredible skill and a lot of labor due to the angle of the taper always changing. Not only is it hard to create, but extremely difficult to sharpen. Convex blades also need thicker material to obtain its rather sharp and efficient cutting edge.
For those reasons, convex grinds are considered to be specialized grinds and any knives with a good convex edge will likely be more expensive.
What are the preferred uses for a Convex Grind?
Convex grinds are best used for wood-working and bushcraft. If you are carving curls on a feather stick, a traditional bushcraft technique, the convex grind will not disappoint.
Compound Grind (a/k/a Double Bevel Grind)
The compound grind is considered the most common in modern knives today and the one that’s most confusing since it adds another, secondary bevel to the pre-existing grind. A compound grind would generally not exist without some embodiment from any of the previously mentioned grinds.
What are the advantages of a Compound Grind?
Its secondary bevel keeps the part behind the existing bevel thinner which improves cutting ability and is less prone to chipping.
What are the disadvantages of a Compound Grind?
Having two bevels adds to its durability, but at the expense of edge sharpness.
What are the preferred uses for a Compound Grind?
This style of grind is idyllic for food preparation, wood-working, whittling and general use. They can also be found on EDC’s, survival, tactical and military knives.
Any grind that is not identical on both sides of a blade could be characterized as being an asymmetrical grind, much like the chisel grind. However, it typically refers to the grind having a special secondary bevel.
For example, the secondary bevel can be flat on one side while being convex on the other.
What are the advantages of an Asymmetrical Grind?
An Asymmetrical grind is considered one of the stronger grinds. It is designed for tougher tasks due to their durability and rather sharp edge.
Asymmetrical grinds are also easier to sharpen. It allows you to hone just the flat side of the blade and then remove the built-up burr from the opposite side. Not only does this speed up the sharpening process but is also less susceptible to chipping and cracks thanks to its added strength.
What are the disadvantages of an Asymmetrical Grind?
Much like the Sabre grind, the secondary bevel adds to its overall strength but does not quite share the same level of sharpness.
What are the preferred uses of an Asymmetrical Grind?
This type of grind can often be found on tactical knives due to its combined attributes of durability, strength and sharpness.
Truth be told, knife grinds are not created equal nor are all cutting tasks. Understanding knife grinds, how they vary and what tasks they are suitable for will help you select the right tool for the right job. The grind you choose will also determine the proper maintenance and sharpening methods your blade will require. Through some trial and error, you will be able to find a grind that best suits your needs and preferences.
Whether you're a novice or seasoned pro, we hope this article provided a bit more knowledge on some common types of knife grinds. We look forward to any questions, comments or suggestions you may have!
Remember “Always stay sharp!”