A Knife is Just a Knife Part 2 (of 2)


Last time, I mentioned I bought my first single bladed Spyderco folding knife in my my late teens called the Edura. (If you’d like to go back and check out Part 1, do so HERE.) The back story is when I was little (11-years-old or younger, I don’t really remember) my parents took me to the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. We walked all over, then I saw a guy sharpening knives for free (the knife sharpness when from tearing though paper to a clean, one handed slice) and I stuck around and watched, for most of the day… they had a display case with knives in it and they were really expensive. I did not remember much more than that. Years later (my teens) a friend and fellow scout bought a knife for work. When he showed it to me I had a vague inkling I had see it before. As I thought about it I realized it was the same kind of knife I saw at the state fair. I bought one for myself, the rest of the story you already know. Now, back to expanding your knowledge of knife grinds.

The blade supports the edge; the grind goes on the blade to form the edge. There are five major types of grinds: hollow, full flat, saber, chisel, and Moran.

The hollow grind is the typical grind for most knives. It is achieved by running the shaped slip of metal through two grinding wheels that hollows out, think concave, the portion of metal that is going to take the edge. This grind is perfect for most cutting tasks. The thin edge slips easily through the material, and it tolerates repeated sharpening. The disadvantage of this grind is, if a person tries to push the whole blade through something, it gets stuck when it reaches the edge of the grind, or becomes very difficult to continue the cut. The hollow grind is not as sturdy as the other grinds and is more prone to having the edge fold. This means it will have to be sharpened.

The full flat grind is the second most popular grind. The formed metal is ground flat on each side from the spine to the edge in a V shape. The full flat grind is an excellent performer, good for every task, even light chopping. The reason it is such a great grind is because the V, or wedge shape, easily slips through the materials it contacts. Subsequently, there is more meat, or metal, behind the edge; this means it is far less likely to have an edge fold. An edge fold can still happen if the knife is over sharpened. On the down side, repeated sharpening requires more and more metal to be removed from the edge. As sharpenings take place, it becomes more difficult to put the edge back on the knife. Eventually, it will need to be back beveled. Simply put, this means reconstructing the edge, or put it to a bench grinder.

The saber grind is a very meaty, heavy-duty grind. It was, and still is, mostly used on sabers, like the ones in the Civil War, many military and fixed blade knives, and a few folding knives. It is formed in the same way as the full flat grind. The difference is the grind is only taken half way up the blade. It can be use for chopping because it is very durable, and has a lot of metal behind the edge. The obvious disadvantage of this grind, again, comes with sharpening. It is harder to put an edge on this type of grind than the full flat grind. The sharpening process will take longer also. It too has a very hard time pushing through even the easiest of substances.

Chisel grinds are easy to manufacture. Somewhat like the saber grind, the chisel grind is ground on one side, like a serrated edge, and completely flat on the side opposite the ground edge. It is typically found on kitchen knives, because the edge causes the food to fall away from the blade. It is usually, but not always, found on cheap knives. The blades are often so thin that continual sharpening doesn’t get more difficult, and it still has a good amount of metal to support the edge. The main disadvantage of this type of grind is it tends to cut to the side opposite the ground edge, like a serrated edge.

The Moran grind, named after the inventor of this edge, is the rarest grind to see on a knife. It is a superb performer in all cutting tasks. A convex edge is formed by grinding the blade on a belt grinder. The Moran grind is the same as what is found on an axe, just a lot thinner. It cuts extremely well and doesn’t go dull very quickly. It cuts like a full flat grind, and has more durability. The problem with this grind, and there always seems to be a problem doesn’t there, comes when trying to put an edge back on the blade. Typical, right? If it is repeatedly sharpened on a regular sharpener, then the convex grind is lost and isn’t as useful. The Moran grind requires a belt grinder to keep the edge it was manufactured with. Most people don’t have a belt grinder in their home.

I hope this article had helpful information for you to make an informed decision when buying your next knife. Just follow a few easy steps. First, determine what the knife will be cutting the most. Second, decide if a plain or serrated edge would be best for the job. And third, pick a suitable blade grind, if you have a choice. Following these easy steps will determine the best knife for the job, and make the next cutting task more enjoyable.

What I did not talk about is the kind of steel used for the knife blade, for this I suggests you rely on a good knife manufacture to provide a good steel on their knives, but if you insist on learning about kinds of steel, much reading is required and to get a start on this, sign up for a knife forum… My choice if knife manufacture is Spyderco (they are built on honesty and integrity), but there are many other good companies such as: Kersaw, CRKT (Columbia River Knife & Tool), Microteck Knives to name a few.