A Guide to Knife Grinds
To beginners, a knife consists of two parts: a blade and a handle. This simplistic view of the knife is fine for most people, but if you want to know your knife on an intimate level, you must understand how every part of the knife influences how you use it.
One of the most overlooked aspects of a knife is the grind. A grind refers to the shape of the cross-section of the blade or how the blade is thinned to reveal the cutting edge. Believe it or not, the type of grind you have on a knife changes the whole dynamic of the blade, which is why knowing the different edges on your knives will help you better understand how to maximize and take care of your knife.
Here are some of the most common types of knife grinds, their attributes, and their strengths.
The Hollow Grind has been a historically popular type of grind, especially in the hunting community. This type of grind is concave, meaning the sides curve inward until they meet. Although the curved sides meet at a razor-sharp edge, the grind is not very durable and can dull fairly quickly.
A Hollow Grind is found on a knife like the Buck Woodsman because it's ideal for skinning.
Full Flat Grind
The flat grind is the simplest type of grind, but it comes in three main varieties. The first is the Full Flat Grind. The Full Flat Grind begins tapering to the edge from the spine evenly on both sides. This means the edge is extremely sharp but it's not as durable. A true Full Flat Grind, which does not have a secondary bevel (see Compound Bevel section), is rare these days. This is best used when pushing the whole knife into something, which is why you'll often see this grind on chef's knives.
A sample knife with a Full Flat Grind is the Spyderco Sage.
High Flat Grind
The High Flat Grind is the second type of flat grind. Whereas the Full Flat Grind begins tapering toward the edge from the spine, a High Flat Grind leaves a small portion of the blade the same thickness as the spine before it begins tapering toward the edge. What defines the High Flat Grind is that the bevel begins close to the spine.
A High Flat Grind can be found on the CRKT Ritter.
Scandinavian Grind (aka V Grind)
The Scandinavian, also known as the V Grind, is the third type of flat grind. Unlike the High Flat Grind, the Scandi doesn't begin tapering until closer to the edge. That means much more of the blade is left the same thickness as the spine. The Scandi Grind, along with the High Flat Grind, is more common today.
The Scandi and High Flat Grinds are also the recommended grinds for survival knives because they're far easier to sharpen in the field. You can tell the angle by simply laying the knife on its side because the bevel makes the grind obvious. Still, one of the major downsides is that it dulls fairly easily.
Another recommended use for these two types of flat grinds is whittling because the clear bevel allows you to see the edge in relation to the wood grain much better.
One example of a Scandi Grind is found on the Mora Bushcraft.
A Chisel Grind looks like you might expect: one side is completely flat—from the spine to the edge—and the other side has a single bevel that starts around the middle of the blade. It then tapers in a straight line toward the edge. The actual degrees vary, but a typical angle of a Chisel Grind is about 25 degrees.
Chisel Grinds are, unsurprisingly, found most commonly on chisels, but they can also appear on some folders and chef's knives. The advantage of having a Chisel Grind on knives is thoroughly debated, but it's exceptionally sharp and great for woodworking or cooking. One of the downsides is the constant maintenance needed to keep the edge.
Check out the Mora Craftline HighQ Chisel Knife to see a Chisel Grind in action.
Rather than curving inward like the Hollow Grind, a Convex Grind features a rounded curve that comes to a point. Basically, picture a Scandi Grind, but instead of a straight grind, it's curved. Not only is the Convex Grind one of the most durable but it also holds an edge quite well. Its ideal use is chopping, though the nature of the grind makes it extremely difficult to make and sharpen, so it's usually considered a specialized edge.
The Fallkniven F1 survival knife has a Convex Grind.
Compound Bevel Grind
All the grinds up until this point have been fairly straightforward, but the next grind can be a bit confusing. A Compound Bevel Grind (also known as a Double Bevel Grind) adds a secondary bevel to the existing grind.
The Compound Bevel Grind is probably the most common type of grind in knives today because it is not mutually exclusive from the previously mentioned grinds. For example, you could have a Double Bevel Flat Grind or a Scandi Grind with a secondary Convex Grind. Both of these would be Compound Bevel Grinds.
The benefit of having two bevels is that it improves cutting ability and is less prone to chipping. With the additional durability comes some sacrifice to the sharpness of the edge.
An example is the Ontario Knife Company SP2 Spec Plus Air Force Knife, which has a Double Bevel Flat Grind.
An asymmetrical grind is one that has two different grind styles on the same blade. For example, there could be a Convex Grind on one side of the blade and a Scandi Grind on the other. There are different combinations you can make into Asymmetrical Grinds and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.