Recommendation? Hunter/Skinner Grind Question

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Travis Talboys, Mar 28, 2019.

  1. Travis Talboys

    Travis Talboys KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 30, 2018
    I will be starting a new blade in the next few days for a friend of mine. It will be a small (3-3.5 inch blade length), hunter/skinner made from 5160. I will likely etch and stone wash it. As I don't usually make hunter/skinners, and I am not a hunter, I am unsure what grind is typical/preferred.

    I was hoping that this forum, with it's endless supply of knowledge, might piont me in the right direction.

    Kentucky likes this.
  2. Kentucky


    Dec 13, 2008
    Flat grind. Thin and slicy.a hollow grind isn’t out of the question.. I’m a lifelong hunter/trapper/fisherman.. thick knives are a pain when skimming and quartering. Thick on the spin is fine but I like to take my hunters down to .009-.012 or so on the edge..
    That’s just my opinion
  3. Matt Rochester

    Matt Rochester

    Nov 28, 2014
    As far as the skinning part goes it’s hard to beat a thin hollow grind. It’s great for shallow slices which is basically what you’re doing when skinning game. A full flat will work fine, I just think a hollow works better.
  4. tim37a


    May 18, 2010
    Well, we have 1 for flat grind and 1 for hollow grind. I am a knife maker who makes skinners and I would like to hear more responses. Come on, hunters, let's hear from you.
  5. nmbarta


    May 18, 2018
    Well, I haven't posted here in quite a while, but I do stop by quite often. Lots of good info, but when it comes to knife making I don't have much to offer as I've only made a couple dozen blades.
    I do hunt and camp in some rough places, so a knife is never "just a knife" to me.
    I prefer a flat grind taken to about .009-.012 as well....ish, for a good tough all around hunter/skinner/who know's knife. I keep my edge at 40 for this. I know that 40 doesn't cut as well, but 40 degrees on a .012 edge taken to a true edge will do everything a hunter needs it to do and will hold up to some of the things he "might" need it to do.
    For just cleaning and skinning, you can go flat or hollow and you'll never know the difference, but I'd take the edge to .005.
    Edge geometry has way more to do with performance for the given task than the grind does. It could be argued that a hollow would make a better skinner, but if it's done right, the hide/meat won't ever see anything other than the edge.
    Ken H> likes this.
  6. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    What grind you put on (full flat or hollow) is definitely a personal decision, but one thing to consider is how thick the blade is going to be. For instance, I like full flat grind on my knives, but I also like to use thin stock, like 1/16" up to 3/32" or so. For thicker knives, say 1/8" plus, a nice hollow grind may be more preferable. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but one thing about a hollow grind is that the edge doesn't thicken quite nearly as much as it is sharpened over time (if the hollow grind was done well). I have the Cold Steel Pendelton Hunter, and even tho the blade is short, it has relative massively thick blade, like 3/16" if memory serves. But it has a decent hollow grind to it, and it cuts well. Still....that's not how I would approach making a hunting/skinning knife. I prefer full flat grind with 3/32" thick spines, down to a ~0.010" edge that is thin behind the edge...much like a good Japanese custom kitchen knife is...thinned behind the edge.
  7. rodriguez7

    rodriguez7 Gila wilderness knife works

    Feb 1, 2009
    I’ve been using a convex grind on mine, done on a slack belt. Taking it down to around .015. My personal elk knife from last year was in cpm 4v, around .020 behind the edge, convexed down close to a zero grind. I don’t usually measure it. But it did dam good on my elk, skinned and quartered a rutting bull with one touch up between!
  8. rodriguez7

    rodriguez7 Gila wilderness knife works

    Feb 1, 2009
    I keep my edges somewhat thick. But that’s because I’ll use that knife for everything, from chopping wood, batonning, popping joints, splitting rib cages, or breast bones. You name it, it’ll usually be used! Yet it still cuts really well! Maybe it’s the convexed nature of the blade that glides through flesh!
  9. Randydb

    Randydb Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    All of the above....if it is a pure skinner that I just get out to gut and skin with, then thin and durable edge are what I want. It's nice to gut and skin a moose and only have to touch up once.

    But most of the time my hunting carry knife gets used for all sorts of other stuff, like splitting the pelvis and a million other things that need more strength. So I wind up with something a bit more substantial on my hip that does a nice job skinning, but still is strong enough to handle the other stuff.
    One of my buddies carries a fairly solid hunter/skinner on his hip, but carries a small thin dedicated skinner in his backpack. It comes out when we gut and skin and serves as his backup knife too.
  10. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    I make a 3-4” blade, nice belly, not too pointy. I go ffg, and thin at the edge unless the guy tells me he bangs against bone or hammers through a pelvis. Canadian hunters love 15n20. It doesn’t get brittle in the cold. L6 would be similar, but I haven’t made any in L6, as my stock was thick, and I used it for bigger knives. Most guys like steel between 0.080” and 0.110” thick at the spine with a distal taper. I take mine down to under 0.010” before sharpening, usually 0.007”, and 0.005” with z-wear. I go 15dps. With 15n20, I go Rc62, with z-wear, Rc62-63. People don’t want to pay for z-wear at first, but once they have one, they only use that steel.
  11. Travis Talboys

    Travis Talboys KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 30, 2018
    Thank you everyone for all the input. I'm hearing skinny and sharp is more important than the grind, though flat seems to be the preference. I'm not sure how much separating of joints my friend will be doing with this particular blade. He carries a small bag with him with several knives in it. I'm hoping I can turn out something he will want to carry all the time, though, so every detail counts.
    Kentucky likes this.

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