Beginners Guide to Bushcraft And Survival Knifes
In this article we will get into the "nitty gritty" of the knife world. This article is an comprehensive extension of the Ultimate Bushcraft and Survival Guide.
The knife mindset
Within the knife community there are many debates over what the best knife is, but there are so many variables, it is impossible to have a clear answer.
However, what does hold true on all fronts is that your knife must be comfortable in your hand, functional, and sharp. Find what works for you and learn to sharpen your knife. Everything else is preference.
This simply comes down to either Full Tang or Partial Tang. Partial tang is synonymous with “Stick" or "Rat Tail" tang, but there can be variations from each knife maker.
The generally accepted theory is that a full tang is stronger by design because the handle of the knife is the tang itself with scales or handles on the side. However, there are many partial tang knives on the market that are more that strong enough to get the job done.
Typically, 5” or larger, heavy‐duty construction, 3/16” to 1⁄4” thick. The purpose of a knife within this category is to be able to accomplish a variety of tasks if this is the only tool that you have. A heavy duty “jack of all trades” is a good way to explain it, but the tradeoff is weight and size.
Keep in mind that in a survival or situation you must still take care of your knife, keep it sharp, and a survival knife can still be broken. Saber is probably the most common within this category.
Typically, less than 5” in length, light or heavy‐duty construction, 1/8” to 3/16” thick. The purpose of a knife within this category is to be able to accomplish tasks to wood. This normally includes making notches, carving tacks, processing firewood, while also some small food prep.
Batoning has become very popular within this genre of knife, and is a handy skill to have, but all grinds can perform this task. Some may do it better but choose a grind you feel confident with.
Scandi, Full Flat, and Convex are commonly found within this category.
A Full Flat grind is a type of blade grind commonly found on knives and other edged tools. It refers to a specific way the blade is ground down to form its cutting edge. In a full flat grind, the blade tapers smoothly from the spine (the back of the blade) down to the cutting edge in a single, continuous flat surface.
Here are the key features and benefits of a Full Flat grind:
1. Grind Angle: The primary bevel of a Full Flat grind extends from the spine of the blade all the way to the cutting edge. This means that the entire blade is ground at a consistent angle, resulting in a sharp and efficient cutting edge.
2. Thin Profile: Full Flat grinds are known for their thin blade profiles. This thinness helps reduce friction and resistance when cutting through materials, making them particularly suitable for slicing tasks.
3. Versatility: The thin and even edge of a Full Flat grind allows for a versatile range of cutting tasks. It excels in tasks like slicing, push cuts, and detail work. This makes it a popular choice for kitchen knives, utility knives, and everyday carry (EDC) knives.
4. Ease of Sharpening: Due to the consistent grind angle, sharpening a Full Flat grind is relatively straightforward. The even bevel allows for precise sharpening using various sharpening tools, such as sharpening stones or systems.
5. Reduced Wedging: When cutting through thicker materials, the thin profile of a Full Flat grind can help reduce the tendency for the blade to wedge or get stuck. This is especially useful for cutting tasks where the material might bind against the blade.
6. Lightweight Design: The thin blade profile of a Full Flat grind often contributes to a lighter overall weight for the knife. This can make the knife more comfortable to carry and handle for extended periods.
7. Trade‐offs: While Full Flat grinds excel in slicing tasks, they might be less ideal for heavy chopping or tasks that require a more robust blade design. Thicker blade grinds, such as convex or scandi grinds, might be better suited for such applications.
Remember that different blade grinds have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of grind often depends on the intended use of the knife. A full flat grind is a popular choice for those who prioritize slicing performance and general utility, making it a common option for many types of knives.
A Saber grind is a type of blade grind commonly used on knives and other cutting tools. It refers to a specific way the blade is ground down to create its cutting edge. The saber grind is characterized by a primary bevel that starts higher up on the blade's surface, leaving a portion of the blade's width before transitioning into the cutting edge.
Here are the key features and characteristics of a Saber grind:
1. Primary Bevel Placement: In a Saber grind, the primary bevel begins at a certain height above the cutting edge. This means that there is a flat portion of the blade between the spine (back of the blade) and the start of the bevel. This flat portion is often wider than the bevel itself.
2. Transition to Cutting Edge: The primary bevel tapers down to meet the cutting edge. This transition can be abrupt or more gradual, depending on the design of the knife and the specific intentions of the grind.
3. Blade Strength: The flat portion of the blade between the spine and the bevel provides some added thickness and strength to the blade. This can make the knife more durable and suitable for tasks that involve more forceful cutting, such as chopping or heavier‐duty utility work.
4. Cutting Performance: Saber grinds are known for their versatility, offering a balance between the strength of thicker blade grinds and the cutting performance of thinner grinds. This balance makes them well‐suited for a variety of cutting tasks, from slicing to light chopping.
5. Ease of Sharpening: Sharpening a Saber grind can be relatively straightforward since the primary bevel allows for good contact with sharpening tools. However, the transition area between the bevel and the cutting edge might require a bit of attention to ensure a consistent edge.
6. Trade‐offs: While a Saber grind offers a good compromise between strength and cutting performance, it might not excel in extreme slicing tasks or detail work as much as some other grinds like full flat grinds or hollow grinds. Additionally, the added thickness near the spine might affect the knife's overall balance and weight.
7. Variations: There can be variations within the Saber grind category, such as high saber grinds (where the bevel starts higher up on the blade) and low Saber grinds (where the bevel starts closer to the cutting edge). These variations can influence the grind's performance in different cutting scenarios.
Saber grinds are commonly found on a range of knives, including outdoor and survival knives, utility knives, and some tactical knives. Their blend of durability and cutting ability makes them a popular choice for those who need a versatile tool that can handle various cutting tasks without sacrificing too much strength.
A Hollow grind is a type of blade grind used in knife making and is known for its distinct concave curvature along the cutting edge. In a Hollow grind, the primary bevel is ground on both sides of the blade, creating a concave depression in the center of the blade. This results in a blade edge that forms a "V" shape, with the edges of the "V" meeting at the apex of the cutting edge.
Here are the key features and characteristics of a Hollow grind:
1. Concave Profile: The defining feature of a Hollow grind is the concave curve along the blade's edge. This curvature results from grinding away material from both sides of the blade, leaving the central part of the blade thinner than the areas near the spine and the edge.
2. Sharper Cutting Edge: The curvature of the Hollow grind concentrates the cutting force along a very thin edge, allowing for exceptional cutting performance. The thin edge easily penetrates materials, making it ideal for slicing and precision tasks.
3. Reduced Friction: The thin edge of a hollow grind reduces the friction and resistance encountered during cutting, making it particularly efficient for slicing through various materials.
4. Detail Work: Hollow grinds are favored by many craftsmen and chefs for tasks that require precision and finesse, such as carving, skinning, and filleting.
5. Challenges in Sharpening: While the thin edge of a Hollow grind provides excellent cutting performance, it can be more delicate and require careful maintenance. Sharpening a Hollow grind requires attention to maintaining the curve of the grind and can be more challenging than sharpening other blade types.
6. Steeper Bevel Angle: Hollow grinds typically have a steeper bevel angle, which can result in a delicate cutting edge that might require more frequent touch‐ups to maintain its performance.
7. Limited Durability: The thin edge of a Hollow grind might not be as durable as other blade grinds, and it might chip or roll more easily when subjected to heavy cutting or impact.
8. Variations: There are different degrees of Hollow grinds, ranging from shallow hollows to deep hollows. The depth of the hollow affects the blade's cutting performance, strength, and overall design.
Hollow grinds are commonly found on straight razors, carving knives, and some kitchen knives. They are especially valued in applications where precise cutting and clean slicing are paramount. However, due to their delicate nature and potential challenges in sharpening, Hollow grinds might not be the best choice for heavy‐duty tasks or knives that will face a lot of abuse.
A Scandi grind, also known as a Scandinavian grind, is a type of blade grind used in knife making that originates from the Scandinavian region. It's characterized by its simple and functional design, featuring a single bevel that extends from the cutting edge all the way to the spine of the blade.
The Scandi grind is often associated with traditional and outdoor knives due
to its durability and ease of maintenance.
Here are the key features and characteristics of a Scandi grind:
1. Single Bevel: The most distinctive feature of a Scandi grind is that it has only one
primary bevel, which starts from the cutting edge and continues upwards towards the spine of the blade. This means there is no secondary bevel or compound grind like some other blade styles.
2. Flat Bevel: The primary bevel of a Scandi grind is usually flat or slightly convex, with no concave curves like in a hollow grind. This results in a relatively robust and durable edge.
3. Cutting Performance: Scandi grinds excel at woodworking, carving, and slicing tasks. The flat bevel makes it easy to control the angle of the blade during precise cuts, and the grind's simplicity ensures that the blade is less likely to get stuck in the material being cut.
4. Durability: The absence of a secondary bevel means there's more metal near the edge, making the Scandi grind inherently stronger and more resistant to chipping or rolling when used for tougher cutting tasks or when subjected to lateral stress.
5. Ease of Sharpening: Scandi grinds are known for their ease of sharpening. The single bevel allows for a consistent and straightforward sharpening process, making it a good choice for users who prefer to maintain their knives themselves.
6. Bushcraft and Outdoors: Scandi grinds are often found on knives designed for outdoor and bushcraft activities. Their durability and reliable cutting performance make them well‐suited for tasks like carving, feathering, and wood processing.
7. Drawbacks: While Scandi grinds are excellent for certain tasks, they might not perform as well for slicing tasks compared to other grinds like full flat grinds. The absence of a secondary bevel means they can be less suited for tasks that require more refined cutting techniques.
8. Variations: Within the category of Scandi grinds, there can be variations in the width of the bevel, the angle of the grind, and the thickness of the blade. These variations influence the knife's overall performance and intended use.
Scandi grinds are favored by those who appreciate the practicality, strength, and
straightforward maintenance of this blade grind. They often have a rustic and traditional appeal, making them a popular choice for enthusiasts of traditional outdoor skills and crafts.
A Convex grind is a type of blade grind used in knife making where the cutting edge curves outward in a convex manner from the spine to the edge. Unlike some other grinds that feature flat or concave bevels, a Convex grind forms a rounded profile along the blade's edge. This type of grind has its own unique characteristics and benefits that make it popular for various cutting tasks.
Here are the key features and characteristics of a Convex grind:
1. Curved Edge: The main defining feature of a convex grind is the outward curve of the cutting edge. This curvature results from the gradual removal of material from both sides of the blade, leaving a smooth, rounded transition from the spine to the edge.
2. Strength and Durability: Convex grinds are known for their strength and durability. The curved shape of the edge distributes the cutting force over a broader area, making it less prone to chipping or rolling when subjected to heavy use or lateral stress.
3. Versatile Cutting: Convex grinds offer a good balance between slicing performance and robustness. They are versatile enough to handle a range of cutting tasks, from slicing and chopping to tasks that require more durability.
4. Smooth Cutting: The curved edge geometry of a Convex grind allows for smoother slicing through materials. The rounded profile reduces friction and drag, making it effective for both soft and harder materials.
5. Edge Resilience: Convex edges tend to be more resilient than other edges to micro‐chipping and rolling, making them suitable for tasks where the knife encounters harder or abrasive materials.
6. Challenging Sharpening: While Convex grinds are excellent in many aspects, they can be more challenging to sharpen compared to other grinds. Maintaining the curvature and achieving a consistent edge can require specialized sharpening techniques, such as using leather strops or convex sharpening systems.
7. Applications: Convex grinds are commonly found on outdoor knives, heavy‐duty utility knives, and some survival knives. They are also popular for axes and certain tools designed for chopping and demanding tasks.
8. Customization: Some knife makers and users prefer to have a convex edge on their knives but might choose to vary the degree of convexity based on their preferences and intended use.
Convex grinds are appreciated by those who need a knife that can handle both precise slicing and tasks requiring more durability. They combine cutting performance with strength, making them a preferred choice for professionals and enthusiasts who value a versatile and resilient cutting tool. However, due to the challenges in sharpening, users should be willing to invest time in learning proper sharpening techniques or seek out professionals who specialize in convex edge maintenance.