Culinary Knife Grinds
In order to stock your restaurant with the kitchen knives best suited to your needs, you need to know the materials the blade and handle are made from, the shape and intended purpose of the blade, and the type of grind used to give the blade its sharp edge. While the first two items on that list are relatively common knowledge, grinds are often a little more confusing. Like blade shapes, different knife grinds are best used for different tasks, and the grind you choose will determine the maintenance your knife will require. Learn more about culinary knife grinds below.
What is a Knife Grind?
In order to best explain knife grind options, we will first define the parts of a blade.
- The spine of the blade is the thick, dull top edge of the blade opposite the sharp cutting edge. The width of the spine may vary depending on the type of grind and how many times the blade has been sharpened over its life on grinds that go all the way to the spine.1
- A blade's point is exactly what it sounds like: the end of the blade where the metal comes to a sharp angle. Depending on the shape and grind of the blade, the point may serve different purposes, but it is sometimes fragile and should always be treated with care.
- The edge is the thinnest part of the blade, the sharp surface of the kitchen knife that slices or chops through food.
- A bevel is where the flat side of the blade transitions into an angle to provide a sharp edge. Some blades also have a secondary bevel where the angle of the first bevel transitions into a more acute angle for a sharper edge. Not every blade has a bevel, as some are sharpened gradually across the entire side of the blade from the spine to create a flat or convex surface that ends in the sharp edge.
- The grind of the blade refers to the shape of the metal between the spine and the edge, or the angles or shapes used by the manufacturer or sharpener to provide a sharp edge. The shape of a grind is most commonly depicted with a cross-section of the blade.
Types of Knife Grinds
Flat grind knife blades are a V-shape on the cross section, with one straight line from the edge up to the spine on each side of the blade. This grind is also sometimes called a full-flat grind or a V-grind. A true flat grind is somewhat rare on modern knives, due to most manufacturers including a secondary bevel.
A Scandinavian grind, also known as a scandi or sabre grind, is a sub-type of a flat grind. This grind is also sometimes called a V-grind, so if you see that label on a blade you may need to ask for further clarification. This blade also has a V-shape, but instead of the angle going all the way up to the spine, there is instead a bevel partway down the blade, so a good portion of the blade is the same thickness as the spine.
A knife with a chisel grind is only ground on one side, with the back of the blade remaining completely flat or being formed into a concave shape to limit food adhesion. The other side can be ground in one line to the spine, or from a bevel partway down the blade. This grind type is often seen on Japanese culinary knives, due to a traditional belief that this shape produces cleaner cuts, despite requiring more skill to use.2 Because of the one-sided grind, these knives are designed for left- or right-handed use, which can limit versatility. They need to be sharpened fairly regularly, but provide an incredibly sharp edge.
Hollow ground knives are some of the sharpest knives available. This grind uses a bevel that curves inward until the two sides meet in a razor-sharp edge. This grind type requires frequent maintenance and is the most brittle of all the grind types so it is not suitable for chopping, but its thin, sharp edge makes it ideal for slicing meat and vegetables.
Knives with a convex grind use a convex curve instead of a beveled angle, curving to meet in a point at the edge. This grind is not very common and can be difficult to sharpen, but provides a very durable edge, making it the preferred grind by many for cleavers and butchers' knives.
Double-bevel grinds, also known as a compound bevel, are similar to a Scandinavian grind, with a bevel starting partway down the blade. However, near the edge will be a secondary bevel with a much more acute angle. This grind type is very durable but not as sharp as some of the other grinds. Common on Western-style knives, these blades usually have an angle of 20 to 22 degrees on the secondary bevel. This grind type can actually be combined with some of the styles above; for example, the knife used in the labeled image at the top of the page has a chisel grind, but also a compound bevel.