Chisel ground knives

Ivan Campos

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Apr 4, 1999
Hello, everybody!
I have been very interested in chisel ground knives, but have had little "hands on" experience with then since they are not that popular in Brasil. Does anyone can tell me a little more on its usefulness?
Chisel ground knives cut flesh extremely well, are easy to sharpen (not that a "double ground" knife is all that hard), and supposedly saves the manufacturer some cost on tooling.
They're not as good, however, for just plain utility cutting (I think they tend to slip off of stuff, depending on which side of the bevel is straight). They are good for very precise cutting, because you can line the edge right up with whatever you want to cut.
OK, I am gonna take some flak over this-

I dont like the chisel ground blades, I cant seem to cut well with them, especially when trying to do small, exacting things. They seem to tend to make a more jagged cut than any of the conventional grinds. So my solution is simple- i dont buy them.

I cant sharpen them as easy as a conventional grind.

Remember, this is all my opinion from using a chisel ground blade.
I personally prefer chisel ground blades, for some reason I can get much more controlled and precise cuts with them as opposed to conventional blade grinds. Its really personal preference in my opinion. I am a fairly new and inexperienced knife collector though

All of God's Critters may have knives, but most of them are Benchmade Knives
By the end of the week, I'll hopefully have a Perkins Seraph, which has a modified chisel grind. I'll let you know what I think.

Why did you stab that girl?
You won't believe this, but I had too much coffee!
-Edmond by David Mamet
I am not a big fan of chisel grind. The grind can be exceptionally sharp, but from the knives I have seen it is rare. That includes custom and factory.

I have never had a problem with how they cut. They seem to perform well. My biggest problem is sharpening. I have followed the advice of many people who can sharpen them. Let's just say my success has been non existent. This includes some of the modified chisel grinds that are available.

So I guess I'll stay with the ol'double ground blade. At least until I can figure out how to get at least a decent edge on the chisel grind.
Thanks everybody for all the answers. Your opinion was very close to the data I already had. I am getting interested in chisel ground blades and have made a couple myself, with halfway success (being a full-time custom knife dealer is not enough - I had to make knives as a hobby, too, though I still don´t sell the ones I make!). I have contacted Rob Simonich recently and will be trying some Talonite. I can kkep you informed if you will

By the way, this should not mean the end of the thread, and I expect more opinions to coma, please!

Having been born and raised in Japan, I grew up using their main utility knife called "kiridashi". (Cold Steel used to sell these.) It has a chisel ground triangular blade made of brittle but hard high carbon steel: I remember my dad using his prized kiridashi to pry something and breaking its tip. We used it to sharpen pencils, trim bamboo sticks (for crafts), and carve wood. (I made many wooden swords.) Precise cuts, at least on wood, were no problem. A variation called "kataba" is used by horticulturalists for trimming branches for grafting. (Didn't Spyderco sell these?) Talk about precise cuts! Also, kiridashi is known for its ease for sharpening: you just lay the bevel side flat on the stone; no angle guessing required.

Having said this, I must admit that I have no experience with the modern tanto-shaped chisel ground knives. I don't believe any of the things I said about kiridashi apply for them. Obviously, their tanto shape means that they are not meant to be a wood-cutter. This is somewhat unfortunate, since the strength of the grind is to cut wood. (After all, that is what chisels do, isn't it?)

Ivan, Chisel ground knives cut deep and they felt like it sticks in your flesh. An accident that had happen to me one time. If your thinking of using it for self defense. Go for the chisel ground one.

[This message has been edited by Rommel (edited 07 April 1999).]
I don't like chisel grinds but not for any reason that means no one else should use them.

I hate the aesthetics of chisel grinds--to me they look cheap. One thing I do agree about, BTW, is that some manufacturers use chisel just because it's cheap and simple to make. On the other hand, simplicity isn't a bad thing.

What is a modified chisel grind, by the way? I'm envisioning a grind with two bevels but uneven angles, like one at 20 degrees and the other at 75. That may be way off.

Dark Nemesis, I think what you say shows that the design you learn to use first is more important than the design itself. Chisel and double may be about equal, but because I've always used double I prefer it, while you're new enough to knives to have started using chisels without preconcieved notions.

Bye all.
I guess I have to get in on this one. If I have a choice of two identically designed knives, one chisel and one double ground, I will always go for the double ground because I like the symmetry better. It has nothing to do with performance. In my opinion the chisel grind may be more efficient tactically since it can penetrate and slice better for the same thickness blades. I have both grinds and like them both, but I would pick regular or double ground to chisel given the choice.
I like the chisel ground blade, I have a couple of Florist knives that Swiss Army makes, from Victorinox, that take an extremly sharp edge. When cutting into plastic the chisel edge is aggressive where the conventional edge might slip.

I made an 11 1/2" blade traditional tanto point not Americanized, of A2 tool steel with a chisel edge an man does it CUT and CHOP! it is amazing how well it does this, I had the blade heat treated by Paul Bos and he agreed that if I was going to hack things with it to draw the temper back to take the shock. The handl has Sting Ray skin under traditional cord wrap and then epoxy coated. This knife was inspired by watching RJ Martin at the Ashokan Seminar in Sept 98, his knives are extremely sharp and cut very well.

My .03

When a fellow says, "it ain't the money but the principle of the thing,"
it's the money.
F. McKinney Hubbard

I don't mind a chisel ground blade on a knife that is primarily a fighter, like my BM CQC7. The chisel grind is a hellacious slicer. I don't like it for a utility knife, though. In a using knife I prefer a flat, sabre or hollow grind. The problem I have with the chisel grind is that it doesn't slice straight. When trying to slice it always wants to bend away from the bevel. I work in the graphic arts industry and I have to cut alot of film. I like to have a blade that'll make a nice straight slice.


Mike Melone

"One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them." --Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1796

[This message has been edited by MM (edited 10 April 1999).]
There's a lot of confusion about which of the qualities of a knife are caused by which feature.... Most of the chisel grinds on the market have no secondary bevel, like a puukko. (A "modified chisel grind" has a secondary bevel. When you get it, that is ... that kind of thing is easy to change to suit yourself.) People say things like a chisel grind cuts better on certain materials -- compared to what? Certainly not compared to a symmetrical grind with the same angle; it won't cut a bit better.

I'd like to see discussions comparing chisel grind to symmetrical grind compare chisel grind to symmetrical grind, and not knives with a secondary bevel to knives without, or knives ground to an acute angle with knives ground to a less acute angle, or knives made of one steel to knives made of another ... I don't suppose it'll ever happen, but I'd like to see it. Oh, well.

-Cougar Allen :{)
Wich angle have you used on your tanto, Gary? I have made a couple and they are very sharp, but the edge is a bit fragile.

As a maker of both chisel ground and conventionally ground knives, I'd like to make a few comments. this question comes to me frequently, and I do plan to tackle it in more detail on my website at a point in the future.

There are chisel grinds with and without secondary bevels. This has been said here. I produce both, but, primarily the "zero thickness edge" one, mainly because I make tactical knives designed to cut clothing and flesh.

There is no easier knife to grind than a totally straight edge with a secondary bevel. which may be why you see so many commercial folders with this type of edge geometry and grind. With only one side ground, grind line symmetry doesn't matter, and holding a constant thickness edge doesn't really matter that much, either-you can compensate for varying edge thickness when you put on the edge bevel. Also, you can use a workrest set at the desired angle, and just go nuts. The benefits of the chisel grind that come from less friction during the cut are lost to a greater degree as the thickness of the secondary bevel increase

I havn't seen many traditional Japanese knives with perfectly straight edges or points-they understand that the curved edge slashes better. All my chisel ground blades have curved edges-some more, some less.
When grinding my blades, freehand, of course, I have to get the entire edge at the same thickness at exactly the same time, or the edge would be wavy (grinding too far in one spot), or, there would be a flat spot where the edge wasn't thin enough. This is not a simple thing to do, although the challenges involved in doing it are different than those faced in grinding a double grind.
As for the edge being off center, if the knife is canted slightly in the hand, the edge can be oriented in use just like a conventionally ground knife.

When cutting different materials, the chisel grind does behave differently at first (difficult to cut straight, wanders), until your hand develops the ability to control it.

On high speed, high impact cuts, like Martial artists make, the chisel grind really rocks. Don't really know why, but, it does.

And, there is the matter of personal preference, which can't be discounted.

One last thing-the bevel angle has to be carefully matched to the steel and the heat treat, as well as the intended use of the knife and the stock thickness of the blade.

Hope this helped some.

RJ Martin
Thanks for your highly detailed answer, Randall.
regarding bevel angles, steel thickness and heat treat, could you give us some specific examples, like what you use to put on your knives?
Just one thing to add. Right side grind for right handed use, and left side grind for lefty.
I agree with you, db, that the side of the grind should be right or left according to the user, from an utilitarian standpoint, but would it make any difference in a knife with strictly fighting purposes? I mean, you don´t need so precise a cut, then. All you need is a cut that make as much damage.