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Thread: Chisel Edge Blades

  1. #1
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    Chisel Edge Blades


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    Chisel edge blades have been very popular for a number of years. Almost every blade ground with this edge has the angle ground on the left side, evidently because that is the side the maker/manufacturer normally places his name/logo on. You know, the side facing the camera. Gotta get that free ink!

    Most people are also right handed, (maybe 90%) meaning if they cut something with their knife, cutting away from themselves, especially a chisel edge blade, the left side of the blade faces downward. If the edge is very sharp, and the blade is held at an awkward angle, it will dig into the material being cut.

    Now, if you're a southpaw, and you cut the same material with that blade, the edge will dig right in and your knife will cut easily. The chisel edge will work just like a chisel, or the blade in a wood plane. So, 10% of the people get a knife that is ground specifically for them.

    What's the answer? Most of those blades should have been ground on the right side, and the logo could be applied to that side, too. Now watch the fur fly!

  2. #2
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    It doesn't matter to me which side of the blade is ground because I don't like chisel grind blades. Period. You have already pointed out one of the reasons why. Another is aethestics, and besides why should I pay full price for a blade that is only ground on one side.
    Mike

  3. #3
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    I acquired Ivan Campos' Standard 150 Tanto in a Christmas giveaway, so did some research on chisel ground blades while compiling a review. Check out Joe Talmadge's FAQ on blades. There are some advantages to a chisel grind as it is very strong, having a lot of material behind the edge, and can easily be honed to a 0 bevel, very sharp. This combination makes it great for fighting blades; several noted makers such as Phil Hartsfield (hope I spelled that correctly) put chisel grinds on their tactical blades; so does Emerson, who has something interesting to say on the topic on that website. Ivan's knives are usually ground on the right side which makes them great for a right hander for slicing veggies, cheese, etc., and can also be used for harder material, wood, cardboard, rope, etc. I believe that some Japanese blades made especially for slicing fish and veggies are chisel ground. But it's really best for defensive or offensive use, i.e., whacking dollops of flesh off unfriendly targets. A chisel grind is also easy for the manufacturer to put on and is relatively easy to maintain. Maybe Ivan or some others can add more.

  4. #4
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    Chisel ground blades don't cut straight because they're not symmetrical. If you cut down through some kind of thick material, the blade will curve towards the flat side.

    That can be bad news if you're holding the object you're cutting with your other hand. For example: if you hold a loaf of bread in your left hand and cut it with a chisel ground blade that's flat on the left side, the blade will curve in towards your hand as you cut.

    Chisel ground blades do have some advantages, but I personally think they're very specialized. If I knew I was just going to make shaving and whittling type cuts with a knife, I'd want the flat side on the left of the blade (I'm right handed). However, if the knife was more for general utility, I'd probably want it ground the "wrong way", like most chisel ground knives are.

  5. #5
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    One of my favorite quotes, straight from Ernie's web page ... speaks volumes about rationale and attitude:

    Originally posted by Ernie on his web page:

    Q. Why do you put the chisel on the front or left side of the blade?

    A. "This is an Emerson signature. Being the knifemaker who brought the chisel grind to worldwide recognition, we are often asked; Why do you put the grind on the opposite side of a traditional Japanese Chef's knife? The answer is simple....We are not making chef's knives. Our knives are hard knives meant for hard users. We do not cut many tomatoes. Our tests and those of a major government agency determined that there was no difference between right and left side grinds for use as a tool or weapon. The left side was chosen for purposes of visual cue and reference."

  6. #6
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    i am not a big fan of chisel edge knives, but i seem to always have one - mt new BM 975SBT sharpens better for me than my old emerson CQC7, why would that be? and i also find it amazing, of all the chisel edges i have had(emerson,woo,BM,GT,etc), the only one ground for right hand use is my CRKT SIFF KISS, also the cheapest of them all lol - go figure.....


    sifu

  7. #7
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    Chisel grind, as noted above is great for cutting raw fish and meat. I keep two chisel-ground Japanese blades for this purpose. Cost, $18 each.

    For general utility tho, I have found them very annoying. Got rid of both my chisel ground tanto blades.
    Chance favors the prepared mind.

  8. #8
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    Ed :

    There are some advantages to a chisel grind as it is very strong, having a lot of material behind the edge, and can easily be honed to a 0 bevel, very sharp.
    You can get full dual flat ground knives as well, Ed Schott makes them for example, puukos etc., the absence of a secondary edge bevel is not restricted to chisel ground knives. In regards to strength, most chisel ground knives are strong not because of the chisel grind, but simply because they are made from thick stock and have low sabre grinds, the Campos knife you mention is an extreme example of such.

    The main advantage of a chisel grind is as noted in the above that because it is flat on one side you can make very thin slices with it because there is little deformation of the material being cut because the wedging action only takes place on the side of which the material is falling away as it is being cut. This is why it is found on chisels as otherwise you would have to raise the chisel at an angle above the edge bevel or it would just skate across the surface of the wood.

    Ease of sharpening is often mentioned, but that is overstated for the most part as while you only have to sharpen on one side it is just a concentration of work. For example instead of doing 10 passes on the Sharpmaker on both sides with a dual flat ground edge, for a chisel ground edge you just do 20 passes on the side with the edge bevel.

    There is also the issue of a lower drag profile vs a dual flat ground blade, but I think that while this is true, it would be a very small effect and that even minor improvements to the dual flat ground blade would mask that effect completly.

    -Cliff

  9. #9
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    Chisel ground blades have advantages for fighting. The wound channel created in a stab is a boxy kind of hole, which is less likely to close in on itself. This means more wound trauma. A dagger, in contrast, creates a thin oval channel which easily closes in on itself and helps stop itself from bleeding.

    On a combat chisel groudn blade for a right hander, you want the grind on the left side, as forehand slashes and other forehand strikes make up the majority of movements made.

    To overcome the first point, though, techniques can be applied to make any blade create better wound trauma. Comma cutting, as desctibed iby Janich, makes a dagger just as nasty as a chisel ground American Tanto.

  10. #10
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    Cliff,
    Thanks for your excellent observations and comments. I always appreciate your thoughtful responses.
    Ed

  11. #11
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    This is the first chisel grind thread I've seen that anyone is responding too, so I'll take advantage of it. Does anyone have a fully ground chisel blade (no secondary edge bevel) that they use frequently? If so, how does it work. I read that a chisel ground blade made in that manner doesnt really have a tendency to curve to one side during cutting. I havent tried one myself.
    On another note, I have some calculations that show that a chisel ground blade ground to a given included angle requires less material removal than a conventional bevel ground to the same angle. If anyone wants them, I'll email them. I'll be back later to see what kind of mess I started.

  12. #12
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    I did the math and dragon2 is righ, I did the math.
    Given two blades, sharpend at the same angle and beveled at the same angle, with the thickness of the blade at the back of the edge being the same, the chisel grind requires less metal removal to remove a chip of equal size.
    So whats that mean? Chisel grinds have an advantage over double ground edges if the blade was used harshly. So it makes sense for Emerson's "Hard use knives" I guess.

    Something I've observed is that you can't get most chisel ground knives very sharp.
    I think it's because of the finish.
    On bead blasted finishes and other things like parkerized/coated blades I think the surface irregularities cause the knife to not take a fine edge.
    The same effect gives those hard coated blades their edges.
    Last edited by Knife Fumbler; 08-17-2001 at 12:45 AM.

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by Knife Fumbler
    I did the math and dragon2 is righ, I did the math.

    Given two blades, sharpend at the same angle and beveled at the same angle, with the thickness of the blade at the back of the edge being the same, the chisel grind requires less metal removal to remove a chip of equal size.

    So whats that mean? Chisel grinds have an advantage over double ground edges if the blade was used harshly. So it makes sense for Emerson's "Hard use knives" I guess.
    Okay, I feel I need to add my worthless 2 cents here...

    I'm not good at math, even when someone else does the computing, so the above is pretty much worthless to me.

    What I can tell you is that a user here reported sticking his Commander into a steel belted radial, and ended up with a nice chipped blade that Emerson said was not covered under the warranty.

    After reading that, I took every knife I had on hand and stuck them into a steel belted radial, and while the blades did scratch, not even one chipped or otherwise ended up damaged.

    Lesson learned is that you don't want to use the Commander too hard. Honestly, if you advertise as the #1 hard use knives, I would think the warranty would cover tire sticking damage.

    It would seem that either the chisel grind is not as strong, or the heat treatment is substandard, or this was an isolated case.

    Disclaimer: This is is no way a slam on Emerson knives. I am only replying with my experience as compared to another users reported experience, in repsonse to an opinion that chisel grind knives are tougher.

  14. #14
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    I don't know what the edge angle is on commander, but the only one I've handled seemed to have a very thin edge. Just the angle itself could explain edge chipping.
    What part of the blade chipped?
    I wouldn't try sticking a commander in anything, the tip is just not pointy enough. Perhaps the force needed to push a commander into something hard is too much for the blade (which to mee seemed a little thin).

  15. #15
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    Dragon2, when you get a chance, drop me an email with your reasoning in regards to the above.

    -Cliff

  16. #16
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    Chisel grind

    I like em, but don't like the tanto and other blade styles that usually are associated with chisel grinds.

    I use 3 chisel grind knives daily in food prep. They are all, predictably, ground on the right side for right hand use. They all slice VERY predictably, very finely, and very easily. As well, they all sharpen very well, and easily, but then so do my other knives.

    For the way I use knives in the field, cooking, whittling, cutting, I like knives that have the attributes of chef's knives. Maybe because I have spent so many hours with one in my hands, so I know how to use it? For that reason one of my favorite camp knives is a Boye Basic and D.H. Russell style Greco.

    I have often thought of getting a utility blade with chisel grind, but haven't seen one I like with the grind on the right side. Durability of the edge is a question mark for me, as my chisel cook knives do tend to show more deformation that the regular grinds. Does anyone have a maker or brand to recommend in a sheath knife, right hand grind, 3-4 inch blade?

  17. #17
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    Just got back from a balisong lesson and read all the cool replies. It may take a few to work up the necessary diagrams, but as soon as I do, I'll email them. Thanks for checking the math Fumbler. I hate to do some and come up w/ the "right" answer only to learn that I swapped a decimal point on the second line.

  18. #18
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    This subject always interests me, however often it is discussed. There usually is something to be gleaned from such discussion that hasn't been mentioned previously, or that my poor memory has missplaced. This thread has been no different.

    I need to ask a very basic question here. Hopefully, it won't appear stupid, but the quote provided by rdangerer has kind of jostled my understanding of chisel edges and tantos. Are Cold Steel folding tantos blessed with a chisel edge, or not? Have they always been one way or the other? Isn't it generally regarded that CS popularized both tantos and chisel grinds? Am I imagining that?

    I must confess that generic "our tests" and unspecified "government" studies or conclusions rarely carry much weight with me. I sure seem to recall an awful lot of right handed poeple who state that when cutting with their chisel-edged tantos on the left side of the blade, that keeping control of cutting is difficult. There is no reason to not believe them. I'm certainly no scientist, but having all the "sharp" on one side, surely has some impact upon the willingness of a blade to track thru material being cut. And, it seems logical to me that which hand a knife is held in, ie which side of the blade receives more pressure ought to have an effect upon same.

    I have heard that Japanese kitchen knives have gained considerable popularity, and understand that the chisel grind on them is usually on the right side. Is this accurate, or not? As Bud has pointed out, the majority of chisel grinds on pocket knives are done on the left side of the blade, the same one with the maker's mark or symbol. Has CS spoken about the "correct" side for chisel grinds? We know that EK has spoken on the issue. One poster here has gone against the conventional "wisdom" that chisel grinds belong on the same side as the user's dominant hand.

    Who is right? Why have tests not been done and made public? I'd also like to know, how CS Voyagers stack up against each other -- the chisel ground tantos and the, presumably, double ground clip points. Which configuration will cut the most rope? Which needs to be sharpened more frequently?

    Guess what I'm saying is that after all these threads, at least partly because there are no definitive studies to draw upon, of which I'm aware, that we end up no closer to answering whether the chisel grind is beneficial for utility work, or not. On top of that, I have to rearrange history in my mind, if the quote is to be believed.

  19. #19
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    Which side is right

    Bugs, I can't give much more info than what I did in the post above, which shows how fast I can exhaust my store of knowledge! It certainly would be interesting to see a cutting test as you mentioned, or some like Cliff does. I can tell you that when you order a Japanese chisel ground knife, and there are a few blade styles and purposes, you have to specify if it is for a right or left handed person. If it is for a righty, you will receive a knife with the flat side facing the left as you hold it in a normal grip. This permits the knife to track true during slicing, with the food peeling off in a beautiful curl to the right. For the most critical slicing task in a Japanese kitchen, cutting raw fish, including the dangerous Lion(?) fish, it is critical to control the slice width throughout the cut. They work!

    I'm with you on government testing.

  20. #20
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    From my experience, when you're talking about cutting food,
    the blade on a chisel grind will not track either way because you're usually slicing and the material is soft.
    In hard materials with push cuts, the chisel grinds do tend to track towards the flat side.
    I don't know if this is true, it;s just my guess, but you would want a correctly ground chisel blade for delicate cutting (like fish) so you could see and more easily place the edge where you wanted it.
    It's easier to place a cutting plane than it is to place a curved side...I don't know if you understand what i'm saying...kinda difficult to describe.
    As for Cold steel's knives and/or claims, I've never handled them, so I wouldn;t know.

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