View Full Version : Chisel Grind...Pros/Cons

Chris Daigle
03-10-2003, 03:52 PM
Well, I did a search under the topic, but all I was able to find was descriptions of what the blade shape/profile is like.

My question is more about why or why not people have used it in the past. I have a small neck knife design that will be profiled in 1084 at 1/8" thick. It's not meant to resemble any Japanese style in particular. Instead, as being an overall utility design, I wondered if this type of grind would work well.

My final question is whether it would be wise to wait and grind the bevel after heat treat due to the stresses it would add to the one side?? :confused:

I was just more curious on the whole issue than anything. What's everyone's opinion?


03-12-2003, 08:17 PM
i know that the chisel grind is popular among tac knife folks, but the only use i've seen that i like is on japanese cooking knives.
remember that the chisel lends r & l handedness to the knife if it is to be used for cutting - the grind goes on the same side of the blade as the users' master hand.
and yes, i think it would probably be better to grind after the ht unless you can find a heat treater that knows how to straighten the blade during the process.

Chris Daigle
03-12-2003, 11:19 PM
Thanks Wayne. That's probably what I thought about the grinding after H/T. And yeah, I'm aware of the L/R hand option. That's what I thought would be cool, to offer a right or left handed version. I guess it's just not in much of a demand.


Jerry Hossom
03-13-2003, 10:34 AM
Actually, it is in demand by more folks than you might realize. I personally don't think it's a very useful design, but many use it to good effect. One of the fundamental problems with it is sharpening. You really need to sharpen the entire bevel to maintain the zero grind. If you don't, the blade edge thickens quickly and sharpening becomes ever more difficult. A zero grind does give a very sharp edge though.

I did such a grind recently on a harpoon head, and chose to rough grind it before HT, and plan on finishing the grind afterwards. Paul Bos, who does my HT, straightens blades as a matter of course in his process.

Terry Primos
03-13-2003, 11:46 AM
I'm with Jerry, to me it's not a particularly useful design for a general purpose knife. First let me state emphatically that I'm not knocking the work of those who use this grind. It's just not an overall good general purpose grind to me. Please don't take any offense.

Problems I see with a chisel grind are:
- By its design it is only effective in cutting in one direction, and hence it needs to be ground for either left-handed or right-handed use.

- Sharpening can be problematic if you want to maintain the "zero" grind.

On the "plus" side however, chisel grinds can be s-o-o-o sharp. On a something like kitchen knife it can be a real pleasure. Let's say you are right-handed and the bevel is setup for right handed use. You can do some serious slicing with it. As long as the cuts are top to bottom or left to right, it will work great.

Also, I use a chisel-ground clip on my El Camino. It's an excellent choice for the clip on this knife. Again, let's say it's setup for a right-hander. The cutting action for the clip in the standard hold would be left to right (back cut), or bottom to top (upward sweep). Now, since the logic for setting up clip bevel is the opposite of the main blade bevel, this same grind on the clip will work for the right hander when the knife is held edge up/spine down and used for slicing.

With respect to when to make the grind, I do the clips on the El Camino after heat-treating for two reasons. One reason is that it helps lessen the chance of warping. The other reason is that the El Camino is edge quenched (soft spine), and the length of the clip is determined by the termination point of the hardening line at the spine. That is, I want the bevel to be only in the hardened steel. The hardening line gives me a visual guide as to where to start the grind.

Chris Daigle
03-14-2003, 08:14 AM
Thanks again guys. Lots of knowledge there to soak up...

I think you've changed my mind on this particular knife. I'll try the chisel grind one day, but on something I'll just toy with. :cool:


Jason Cutter
03-16-2003, 10:08 PM
I've heard all sorts of things about chisel grinds and basically feel that what it most consistently gives is "handedness." Ie.- l;eft or right handedness. Ie.- it does limit you a bit.

BUT some in the know (whatever that means) say that on tactical knife designs, the decision to position the grind on the left or right depends on the manner in which the knife will be used. And this seems to revolve around whether the knife will be used in the most common "utility manner" ie.- like whittling, where the knife is held and cut in a backhand stroke (from left to right) with the chisel shape facing up, or in a "ballistic cut" ie.- like a big slash or chopping action eg.- sword. On this type then the grind is positioned on the left side. Apparently the most comon way to "slash is with a forehand stroke, ie.- knife coming from over the right shoulder to the left side a bit as you cut down.

In testing my own chisel ground blades, I found that I just did everything better with a right-sided chisel grind. Just COULDN'T DO A THING with a left sided grind. Just me, I reckon. As I said, the above concept is one that has been impressed upon me, not one that I am very convinced about.

The chisel grinds are best done after HT. Many HT-ers WON'T straighten out a bent blade. The chisel grind warps every single time on carbon steels, and very often on high-alloys. I've had good luck with CG's with D-2 and 440C but still a bit of grinding had to be done AFTER HT. Warpage is all about un-evenness, and chisel grinds get it as uneven as anything gets !!

Everything is 50% fashion, anyhow. Cheers. Jason.

03-17-2003, 07:29 PM
How about a single side flat or hollow grind as opposed to chisel.The chisel grind is very low,steep,and really sucks if the zero tolerance type isn't done.A single side hollow or flat will give the one side look,while allowing the freedom of doing almost any blade shape,your just doing 1 side,and you get an edge,one side ,but hey thats what people want.Just an Idea for ya.

Jason Cutter
03-17-2003, 08:21 PM
Wrathlord, I think that most contemporary "chisel grinds" are what you've described - the single-sided high flat or hollowgrind. But I agree that the real definition of a "chisel" grind is a steep, abrupt and short grind which is one-sided.

I must add, I have heard from different sources that a chisel grind in EASIER to do than a conventional double-sided grind. I actually think thats false. For all the complications described in this thread alone, a good chisel grind is actually quite difficult to do well and takes a fair bit of skill in grinding and getting angles and thicknesses correct as well as coping with an unforgiving heat treatment process.

03-17-2003, 09:27 PM
Make em all the time,actually isn't that different heat treating them than standard grinds. A one side grind wether hollow or flat is just that,that is not chisel,true chisel is what Phil Hartsfield does.It is not hollow or flat,but a combination of convex and flat,in a very low steep manor.He is a master of that style of grind.James Piorek is also very good at doing them,so I am very familiar with that genre of cutlery,I was just saying that a single side hollow or flat would offer more utility than a chisel.Just my opinion.

Chris Daigle
03-18-2003, 08:13 AM
wrathlord, I think what you descridbed is what I had in mind... i.e. a simple flat grind applied to only one side. I was under the impression that to be a chisel grind, all you had to do was remove metal from one side. :confused: Not an accurate definition...

Good food for thought though! Never thought about the hollow grind approach.

I may try it on the back of a blade like Terry was talking about.

Thanks again guys,

11-20-2005, 07:50 AM
I know this is very late (I only resently discovered this place), but I have a bit of interesting info regarding this type of edge. My people, the Inupiaq Eskimo in Alaska use a chisel grind on our ulu knives (which, incidently, is a women's knife if you didn't know). The reason is that the ulu will "cut away" from the fingers holding the seal (or whatever animal you are cutting). This is safety by design. There are no lefthand/righthand ulus. One merely rotates the ulu, depending which hand is being used to skin/cut. ~~~Suluuq

11-20-2005, 01:01 PM
Rusty, that is an interesting bit of info on the ulu having a chisel grind. Thanks.

Jason Cutter
11-20-2005, 03:41 PM
I know this is very late (I only resently discovered this place), but I have a bit of interesting info regarding this type of edge. My people, the Inupiaq Eskimo in Alaska use a chisel grind on our ulu knives (which, incidently, is a women's knife if you didn't know). The reason is that the ulu will "cut away" from the fingers holding the seal (or whatever animal you are cutting). This is safety by design. There are no lefthand/righthand ulus. One merely rotates the ulu, depending which hand is being used to skin/cut. ~~~Suluuq

Thanks for that interesting piece of information. Its applied technology in a way I'd never considered before. And its a super-simple, sensible idea, too. I've been slowly collecting ideas and info about the chisel grind concept, and this piece of info will be filed for future reference. Jason.

11-23-2005, 06:01 AM
Heres something you folks might find interesting too. The most common steel used to make ulus these days in my area (Kotzebue) is carpentry handsaw blades. I have no idea what type of steel these are made from, but it seems to hold an edge well, and sharpens easily. Plus, the blades flex when necessary. Folks up here like them. I've yet to make an ulu, but I did re-handle one before. One of there days I intend to make a few. ~~~Suluuq

Jason Cutter
11-23-2005, 05:28 PM
Ruaty-Gunn, many carpentry handsaw blades are made of L6 / 15N20 or sometimes 1050 in the cheap China-made saws. I use this steel myself to make very flexible, lowcost kitchen knives and fillet knives. As you said, makes excellent knives. A bit soft in the edge, but very easily sharpened, and still holds an edge longer than the terrible cheap kitchen knives that proliferate the market nowadays. Jason.

11-23-2005, 06:39 PM
Rusty, got any pics or scans of old or new ulu's?

11-24-2005, 04:33 AM
No, I don't have pics. One of these days I expect to take some pics of knives/ulus, but am subject to the usage of a friends camera (I don't own one). ~~~Suluuq

11-24-2005, 05:47 AM
ulu history (