Favorite Grinds

***WARNING – Highly opinionated article! On the rest of the knife topics, I have tried to stick mostly to the facts, with a little interjection now and then. Now that I am writing a topic about “my favorite” it is obviously going to be highly opinionated. This is a highly personal choice, and if you have another one, and it is based on good reason, and it works for you, then that is great. But, it is not likely to change my opinion…..so here it is : )

Of all the grinds explained in my Knife Grinds Explained article, I of course have favorites. I have also described in my Grind Finish article that I prefer to keep a very high polish on all my edges. With that in mind, here is the criteria that I base my judgment for “Favorite Grind” on: Edge strength, cutting ability (very subjective), and ease of field servicing. So, let’s look at each of these one at a time.

***Please keep in mind that there are other factors, such as steel properties, that could affect any one of these. It is easily possible to come to different conclusions on different knives, but it could attributed to something else, and not the grind. So, this is assuming that all other factors are equal.

Field sharpening

The scandi grind is extremely easy to field sharpen. The large wide bevel gives you positive identification of when you are at the proper sharpening angle. This is true whether you are just stropping on leather, or doing more material removal with stones. It doesn’t get much easier than this one.

The convex grind is also fairly simple to field sharpen. If leather stropping with compound is enough (which it usually is) doing so on a convex grind is pretty simple and easy. Even on extended stays, I have not had to do more than that in the field. If more material removal is required, I carry a small set of water stones for this purpose. It is fairly easy to do, but does require more skill than the scandi grind. If carrying water stones seem like overkill, you are half correct. I have not had to use them on my knives, but I definitely use them on my ax. I am picky for having a sharp, high polished ax edge. Since it receive more punishment than a 4-5” knife, it is much more likely to require sharpening. Since the concept is the same for both the ax and convex grind knife, my water stone kit is technically for either.

Stropping a v-grind is also a fairly simple thing to do. If you are required to switch over to stones of a sort that getting the proper angle requires much more practice than a simple grind like a scandi. I hear a lot of people say v-grinds are easy to maintain, and they just use so-and-so diamond stone. Well, that is fine I guess, but that just doesn’t cut it for me. I am way to picky for that. I guess the good thing is that whatever you do in the field, you can undo when you get home and have more time.

Edge Strength

In my article on Grind Dynamics, I already showed why the convex grind is the strongest grind. If you don’t buy the concepts in my articles, there are many other sources of information on the topic, if you are willing to search around a bit.

Cutting ability

This is an area that is highly subjective. But, I will say that the one factor that seems to improve that cutting ability (for my type of use) more than any other is making sure to have a high polish on the edge. There is more about that in my article on Grind Finish. Since there are so many variables and opinions on cutting ability, I am not going to go into more detail. I just wanted it known that it is taken into consideration when choosing what my favorite type of grind is.

Okay….so I have said all this stuff, which is my favorite. Well, convex in general is my favorite to use. A well manufactured full convex is my overall favorite. If that is not available, I also like using either a high-flat grind, or a full-flat grind with a convex secondary bevel. In every knife that matches that description (of mine) I have put that secondary grind on it. My next choice is scandi grind, followed by the v-grind.

Now, if you have used a convex grind in the past, and have not liked it, don’t rule it out just yet. There are many variables that go into making a good full convex grind, and they are not all created equal. As you can imagine, you could have a knife with essentially straight sides leading into a small radius curvature at the end, resulting in the edge. While this profile might be tough, it is unlikely to be very sharp. Plus, when doing a lot of tasks, the side of the blade would contact the material being cut before the actual edge does. This would cause you to hold the knife at non-intuitive angles to cut anything.

On the other extreme, that same knife could have a very large radius of curvature resulting in an almost imperceptible convex edge. This one is more likely to be sharp and behave in a manner that you would be more accustomed to.

Much like changing the sharpening angle of the v-grind, changing the profile of the convex grind has a huge impact on the performance. This profile is something that is going to be mostly under the control of the manufacturer (unless you really want to get into grinding). My main point here is that if you have used one or two convex grinds, and did not like them (I was that way once) there are many variables that can come into play that could change the performance more to your liking. If you don’t want to go out and buy 100 knives to experiment (like me) then the best thing to do, is find a resident knife nut, and play with some toys. If they are really into it, it will be fun for them as well.

One final thought on knife grinds. If you are paying attention, you are probably asking yourself “So…..if this guy who claims to know show much about knives, claims that v-grinds are his least favorite of the bunch…..why the heck are v-grinds the most widely manufactured.” That one is easy and it comes down to manufacturing process. How hard to you think it is to grind down metal at a fixed angle? Very simple, fast and easy. How hard do you think it is to understand the art of creating the perfect convex profile, and then putting that into a high volume manufacturing process? Not so easy…..