31st Jan, 2013

Grinds

It was a long time ago that I wrote the page for my blog about knife grinds. While a lot of the information still holds true, my personal preferences have changed greatly!!

Just yesterday I had a customer write me and ask me the following question:

What advantages do you see in a scandi grind besides ease of sharpening (I find convex to perform well, and is incredibly easy to sharpen)… “

Since I took a decent amount of time responding with a thorough response, I figured I would share it here.

Different grinds are all about what YOU do with your knife. There is no one grind that does everything well. If someone tells you that, it is because they only know how to (or only sell) one type of grind.

Assuming all things kept equal (steel, heat treatment, tempering, etc) a convex grind is the most durable grind there is. Immediately after the cutting edge, the edge quickly gets supported by more steel the fastest of any other grind. That is why axes are made with a convex grind. They receive lots of impact, and hold up really, really well.

The reason I am not a fan of them is that most of the knives I use and use often, are 4″ or so. I am not chopping, beating on it, or pounding through concrete blocks. Meaning that durability is not on the top of my priority list for that type of knife. What is at the top is cutting ability. For me, all that extra steel behind the edge of convex grind is just too much unnecessary ”meat.” Once the cut has occurred all the steel must not but pushed through the material you are cutting, and slicing ability is greatly reduced.

If I like the feel (and ease of sharpening of a convex edge) what I do us put a full height flat grind on the knife, and then put the secondary grind on with a slack belt so that it is mildly convex. I think it works well because you get a touch more durability with the small convex grind, it can be easily sharpened like a convex grind, but once you get past the secondary edge, you don’t have all that steel (that I don’t think you need in a 4″ knife) left to get in the way of your cutting.

That is not to say that the scandi grind is a super slicer. In fact, it is definitely not the best at slicing, especially non-deformable things (like an apple). The full height of the grind occurs over a short distance, and once you get past that, you are now trying to push the full stock thickness of the knife through the object you are cutting.

In my personal knives, I minimize that by going with thinner stock. I know that a thick piece of steel is reassuring in your hand but is also not as necessary as most people think. My favorite scandi grinds are made from 3/32″ stock. It is thick enough that you can use it much harder than you think, still has enough bevel for control (which I will get to next) but yet is thin enough to improve its slicing ability (even though it will never be the best slicer compared to other grinds).

What keeps me coming back to the scandi grind is the carving control. If you carve stuff from wood often (especially green wood) the scandi grind bites and holds well. The flat bevel works like a wood plane and it is very easy to control the depth of cuts and keep them even over long distances. A very simple test is to try and remove the bark from a green stick. You quickly find the correct angle to hold the scandi knife, can hold it easily, and can quickly shave the bark. With other grinds (especially the convex) you are always hunting for the correct angle, and once you have it, it is not easy to hold. There is always a bit of “wobble” going on during that process.

Once I got used to that feel and that control, I could not give it up unless I am in a position to have more than one knife.

To make a long story short (too late)…….

I like scandi’s for wood crafting, carving, light food work (not cooking grand meals, but if I am doing that I can afford a second knife), and venturing into the general purpose arena.

I like the full flat grind with convex secondary for a more general purpose knife. Works great of food, game (skinning and butchering), opening packages, boxes, and in general a more general purpose knife.

I think a convex grind is just too overkill for 4″-ish knife.

You asked my opinion….so there it is :)

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