When looking for any kind of knife, people focus on a lot of different characteristics. Some ponder the way in which a knife opens, selecting from fixed blades or folding knives, spring-assisted knives or automatics such as OTFs. Others take a good, hard look at the steel of a knife, selecting something practical like carbon steel or choosing a more decorative option like Damascus. A number of connoisseurs will consider the materials that make up the handle, selecting either decorate options like bone or practical ones such as rubber or impact-resistant composite. One element of a knife that gets precious little attention, though, is its grind. In this article, we’ll discuss what grind is and how the different kinds of grinds function.
What Is a Grind?
It’s surprising that so few people know what a grind is, especially given its importance to a knife’s functioning. Let’s try to explain what it is by imagining a cross section of a blade that runs perpendicular to the spine. In virtually all knives, you’d see the top of the cross section (the part nearest to the spine) stay thicker, but as you neared its cutting edge, you’d see it narrow toward a point. That’s the grind. The knifemaker quite literally grinds away metal at the knife’s edge until only a small part remains.
To understand the importance of a grind, imagine what would happen if it didn’t exist. The edge of the knife would remain blunt and wouldn’t do much in the way of cutting. By removing material, you end up with the sharp edges that users expect. However, there’s an inverse relationship between thinness of grind and robustness of blade. The thinner a grind gets, the more fragile and prone to breaking the edge becomes.
Types of Knife Grind
A grind might seem simple, but there’s nearly a score of different types, each suited to its own particular purpose. Trying to use a knife in a way that goes against the nature of its grind will simply lead to frustration, poor cutting action, or even a chipped or broken blade. In this section, you’ll find the various types of knife grinds, what they excel at, and how you should best use them.
Flat grinds are very easy to achieve, which is why they’re popular in mass-produced blades. Even if you’re never heard the term, you’re doubtless familiar with how these look. Most kitchen knives and many everyday carry knives sport a flat grind. Viewed from a cross-section perspective, a flat grind is essentially an even triangle all the way down to the tip. That final bevel of the grind will dip very slightly into a cutting point. (Most grinds have two beveling angles.) Flat grinds remain common due to their reliability, and this sort of grind excels at general purpose cutting in a straight, even manner. You’ll find flat grinds in food prep contexts, as well as with some survival knifes and folding knives designed for whittling.
Were you to look at a cross section of a blade with a hollow grind, you’d understand how it got its name. Crafting this sort of grind involves removing large amounts of metal so that the cross section shows a concave slope down to the edge. Hollow grinds excel at slicing and will power through sticky material without slowing down. However, they’re so thin that they can’t stand up to any rigorous use (e.g., chopping), and they tend to dull quickly. Expect to find them on knives designed for kitchen work and fileting.
If flat grinds look like perfect triangles and hollow slope inward, a convex grind swells outward. Know how an axe head looks? Then you have an idea about how a convex grind works. Because it retains more material than other grinds, it won’t work well for slicing. Instead, these grinds facilitate hard use and work well for chopping through tough matter. Machetes and some survival knives feature convex grinds, as do many tantos and swords.
Saber grinds are remarkably similar to flat grinds, and some experts even place them in the same category. They do have subtle differences, though. Saber grinds seek to remove minimal material above the immediate cutting edge, which improves the blade’s hardiness. This makes for an excellent multi-purpose tool that can exceed at many tasks. Tactical knives and combat knives usually feature saber grinds.
A Scandi grind is basically a more radical version of a saber grind, maintaining even more material above the cutting edge and having only a single straight bevel on both sides. Each of these bevels meet at the zero-degree mark, meaning that the grind is simultaneously severe and even. This grind appears on outdoorsman blades, and while it works well, it faces several drawbacks. Most will find it difficult to successfully sharpen a Scandi grind without removing more material than they might otherwise desire. Additionally, this grind doesn’t always perform as well with slicing.
When you combine two different and relatively wide bevel angles on each side of a blade, you get a compound grind. This technique is supposed to lend it slicing and chopping power, but another major consideration is aesthetic. The way the light catches these grinds makes them almost twinkle, making it a big selling point.
A V grind is almost identical to a Scandi grind. The only difference is that it pares away more metal higher up on the blade. While some experts state that a V grind shouldn’t occupy its own category, you will still find references to it, hence its inclusion here!
Unsurprisingly, a chisel grind only removes material from one side of the blade. This offers several advantages, such as extreme strength and excellent chopping action. However, they tend to dull quickly and require regular resharpening in order to function well. While you can slice with them, it won’t work as finely as other options listed above. And chisel grinds won’t function well in more than one direction, often making them unworkable for left-handed individuals.
Browse our selection of knives here at TacKnives! We have many styles in multiple grinds