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Gold Member
Dec 23, 1998
What do you guys think is the best grind for an overall utility/combat/all around knife.
For an all-around fixed blade, I think that a flat grind would be best because of it's inherent strength. It keeps the most material in place yet provides an edge that can be very sharp.
Flat grind.

See MAD DOG's article on Combat Knife Selection. www.northlink.com/~maddog

Hollow grind is good for delicate work though and the Sebenza's blade is one of the best examples.

For an all-around fixed-blade, I like the flat grind also. It's the best compromise between performance and strength.

If you go to the front page of the forums and into the articles, you'll see the Blade Geometry FAQ, which explains my views in much more detail.

Flat is best overall. Hollow is great if you want a small fine delicate blade with maximum slicing and minimal toughness; a straightrazor is the classic example. Chisel can make for the best "sharpened prybar", but very few are made with the same high-end steel and heat-treat as found on the best flat-grind high-end pieces such as a Mad Dog.

A chisel Timberline in, say, ATS34 might have more metal than a similar-size Mad Dog, but the Dog will still be tougher due to the steel. If His Angry Canineness ever DID do a chisel grind, you'd have the ultimate "sharp prybar"...but since the chisel is an overall low performance grind, REALLY good knives just don't get made that way...so they LOOK beefy as hell, but aren't.

Jim March
The flat grind is stronger but I like the hollow best for most stuff. But I want my knives to cut the best, no matter if I got to give up a little in strength. But I do like the flat grind too. I have it on about half of my knives.
I used to think that hollow ground was best, until I understood what hollow ground meant! I want a knife I can sharpen forever.

More recently I've been a fan of the "flat" edge, as opposed to the hollow ground or chisel style edge geometries, as a good comprimise between strength and easy of sharpening,

But I just acquired an Ed Fowler made knife, which he says has a "Moran" style edge. As in "Bill Moran", I imagine .

He describes it as a gradual curving together of the two surfaces until they meet at a point. (I've said, "like the Star Trek symbol!" In Vail I guess I'd say it's like the Head Ski logo) He describes how this gives maximum support to the edge, even more so than the flat style.

What do you all think? It must be difficult to put such an edge on a blade, but the theory sounds pretty good! And the knife I have cuts many materials fantastically. It whittles better than any other knife I have ever owned (which isn't really _that_ many anyway, but includes lots of very sharp carbon steel blades).

By the way, I've linked some nice pictures of my new knife over in the Custom Knife Forum. There aren't very big, and I think they came out fantastically well, so feel free to go over there and take a look. And you can always post a comment too!

[This message has been edited by ThomasH (edited 23 January 1999).]
Like a lot of others, I feel that the flat grind offers the best trade off between toughmess and sharpness.

I do like the hollow grind for a pure defensive piece. Odds are that I am not going to sharpen it that often and they do take a mean edge. I own a single edged, boot style fighter made by a guy named Hunnicutt and it is by far and away the sharpest knife that I have ever seen(barring Exactos

I will go with the Moran/Hendrickson or as it is commonly known the convex grind. I just rec. a Black Jack 1-7 that is a convex grind.
Similar to what I have seen Hendrickson and Moran as well as a fella by the name of Gene Hobart do with an edge. Gene used to make longbows and now knives and he is a contractor but Jay is his brother in law and Gene studied under Jay(mostly) and some under "Wild Bill". Anyways hands down the best edges I have seen for toughness, re-sharpenability, and for getting scary sharp. It is also a very tough edge. I used another Black Jack, the Trail Guide this year while bowhunting. Put a new stand up and in the process of doing so had the opportunity to delimb a few branches that were in the way. This was in November and some of the branches were wrist sized. Mostly all of them were in fact. Couldn't believe how the knife worked. Backed up on the stag handle a bit to get a good wirst snap and alot of the branches were cut with 2 strokes, but most with 3-4. Stained the blade but that is all. The edge of the TG was/is still scary sharp. I am sold on this edge for all around general/combat use. The 1-7 I just rec. is the same way. A couple of passes on a steel and then a crock stick and it is scary sharp. Anyways this is the edge these fella's use so it is good enough for me. keep'em sharp.
I love the hollow grind for shallow-penetration type work. But it's worth playing with a hollow grind in various materials. The hollow grind is ultimately thin at the edge, so for shallow cuts it totally rules. However, near the top it suddenly thickens non-linearly. In some materials, once you drive the knife that deeply, it can *bind* in the material. That's why a flat grind remains the best grind for (say) kitchen knives -- when you need to push the knife all the way through many different types of materials, the flat grind doesn't bind. And that's another reason I'm often willing to give up a little of the hollow grind's shallow-penetration performance for the flat grind's greater strength and total-penetration performance.

i have had a cold steel voyager tanto with a flat grind and a benchmade cqc7's (2 of them).
the cold steel knives really took an edge but holding it was mediocre. the cqc7's took an edge great too and held it better.

the flat grind on the CS knives was their saving grace, that and lock strength. the chisel edges required more work for certain cuts but the edge pulled through. chisel grind is not that bad but their are better grinds out there.

if you buy a emerson or other chisel ground knife realise it is probably for defensive purposes first and other stuff second. it aint a utility piece folks. its for a weapon. that said it does a great job for what it is designed for.

overall go with flat ground. Cardinal Mad Dog is correct. although i violate a comandment of the church or tatical truth daily (i carry a folder), he is still corect.

Are you saying that the CS Voyager Tanto is a "real" flatgrind inasmuch as the bevel is all the way to the spine ?
That is my understanding of a flat grind. IMO, there are no parallel "flats".....just a continuous bevel from spine to edge.
The advantage of "my" flat grind is in the minimal wedging effect provided by the long. continuous bevel.
If I misunderstood your post, I apologize.
And the difference in edge-holding.....same steels ?

Brian W E
ICQ #21525343

I tend to consider a flat grind to be better for most uses. In all but the shallowest cuts or softest materials, the hollow ground knife will bind as the spine wedges in.

It seems to me that part of the popularity of hollow grinds is that they are the only way to get a thin enough edge with a small included angle on the thick stock that has become fashionable in the industry over the last 15 or so years. I make my hunters from 3/32" and 1/8" stock, bowies from 3/16" (usually) and kitchen knives from 1/16". When these thinner blades are flat ground, and distal tapered, they will cut with any hollow ground knife, and definitely be tough. They will also be more flexible than the same length of hollow grind.

As a knifemaker, hollow grinding does offer several advantages. First, it gives you a crisper grind line compared to a flat saber grind. Second, it leaves the spine full thickness for most of the length of the knife, for people who want that look. This also makes the knife stiffer but somewhat more likely to break at the (unavoidable) cross section change at the ricasso. Third, it can be a little easier to do properly than a good flat grind. If you want a knife free of wows and ripples flat grinding, particularly on larger blades, is pretty labour intensive.

So, then the next question is, can a tanto style blade be flat ground or is it's design such that it requires more metal down closer to the edge's. I don't think I have seen a flat ground Tanto knife anywere. Am I misunderstanding the term flat ground.
For example, the Timberline Specwar that Jim March is a chisel grind but has more metal through out the width of the blade than the Mad Dog, so it should be more of a prybar than the MD, shouldn't it. The MD will be thinner all the way down(assuming both are the same thickness of course). Correct me if I'm wrong.
ok the cs tanto is not exactly a flat ground blade. it is close enough though.

MAD DOG KNIVES STILL ARE THE BEST. dont wast your time with a timberland.

an aspiring owner of a mad dog knife.
Most CS tantos I've seen are hollow-ground on the bottom edge. This goes for the Voyager folders and their classic tantos.

CS tantos like the Recon Tanto are not hollow-ground though. They are sabre ground (memnoch has corrected himself about calling them flat ground). The sabre grind is one of my least fave grinds, simply because it emphasizes strength way more than cutting performance. My Ontario machete is sabre-grind; beyond that, I can easily do with all my other knives being hollow- or flat-ground, for cutting performance.


[This message has been edited by Joe Talmadge (edited 24 January 1999).]
Well it appears that flat grind is the way to go. Now, can a tanto style knife be made in a flat grind. I don't think I have ever seen that due to the blade style.
Head to one of the many sites that have pictures of Mad Dog knives (e.g., www.mdenterprise.com) and check out Kevin McClung's tantos. They are flat ground.

Since we were talking about an all-around knife (utility/combat/etc. as per your original post) though, I'm a bit surprised it's a tanto that you're looking at.
Joe, it was just a question, I basically have every possible style, but have been wondering about a tanto flat ground. I guess MD is the only one.
T. R. Rinaldi makes a FB v grind tanto, I think it's called Sharkstooth. Great as a weapon, but I and I believe others question it's utility value. And I mean that as a question. It may not be a versatile utility knife but I wonder if it is good for some utility tasks.

Ron Knight