If hollow grinds are so bad, why do good knife makers use them?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by maximus83, Dec 14, 2020.

  1. maximus83

    maximus83 Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Seems like hollow grinds get a bad rap. Or at least, they are not among the 'preferred' grinds that you see on a lot of the cool kid favorite grinds and blades.

    But there are a few great companies who have always used them and still do (like Buck). Busse in their knives even big choppers are currently using some hollow grinds. And I've seen others.

    From the perspective of long term sharpening maintenance, I know that hollow grinds have their challenges. But from a user perspective, they also have their advantages and I think this is why good makers like the above keep using them. As a personal example, a couple years ago I got the Buck "Marksman" folder, it was a special one-off build with S35vn steel and a "full flat grind" blade. Was really excited about it, only to find upon getting it, the cutting performance was quite poor and I thought it was too thick behind the edge--chalk that up 100% to blade geometry, it wasn't the steel nor the factory edge that were the main issue. Then a while later, I got a second Buck Marksman, same steel, but this one with their standard hollow factory grind. The slicing and cutting performance on that thing from the factory is amazing, I don't know if I've had a full-size folder that performed that well without extra sharpening. The takeaway for me was, I decided it makes more sense to be open minded to hollow grind knives again, even though for freehand sharpening purposes, thinking of long-term blade maintenance, I kind of prefer flat type grinds (whether full flat, sabre, etc) over 'curvy' type grinds.
  2. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    I don't like them on bigger choppers, but on sport or utility knives they work great. There can't possibly be a controversy here...
  3. spoonrobot


    May 1, 2004
    They get a bad rap because generally they don't cut very well for 95% of what most guys cut - cardboard. HG is also less than ideal for food prep, so you can't even play in the kitchen with them.

    That said, I love hollow grinds. They cut well for most things and are easier to thin out BTE for even better cutting, compared to a FFG or sabre ground blade.
    Dangerously likes this.
  4. maximus83

    maximus83 Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    HH: Have you run into issues with long-term maintenance of hollow grinds after repeated sharpenings?
  5. I see no 'bad' in hollow grinds at all. As mentioned by HH, maybe not the best for heavy chopping work. But for nearly everything else, a well-executed hollow grind makes for a beautiful slicer. The main benefit of a hollow grind is a THIN GRIND extending WELL BEHIND the cutting edge, which will make the blade sail through most materials being cut.

    The hollow also helps keep foods from clinging so tenaciously to the blade, as can happen in the kitchen when chopping up fruits & vegetables.

    A bonus benefit is in sharpening as well. The hollow behind the bevels helps minimize the ugly scratches in the upper portion of the grind, that mar other blades when sharpening. Not to mention, since a properly done hollow grind is so thin behind the cutting edge, it takes a lot less metal removal to completely restore an edge and keep it in good, sharp shape.

    They cut beautifully and are easy to maintain. What's not to like? ;)
    David Martin likes this.
  6. Tetsujin 140.6

    Tetsujin 140.6

    Jan 4, 2011
    The hollow grind is my favorite for 95% of my uses. It's certainly my favorite for an EDC pocket knife.
  7. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998
    Depends on the size of the wheel...

    I like full flat grinds...and hollow grinds. Equal opportunity offender, I am.
  8. maximus83

    maximus83 Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Intuitively, that's what you'd think for choppers--you want a strong solid blade with a lot of meat in the body. But I'm very interested by the fact that Busse are using these hollow grinds on some of their big choppers right now. Since their whole claim to fame is insane levels of brutal chopping performance, you have to think that they must have found a way to keep the blade strong while switching to a hollow grind, where the goal (I guess??) was mainly to shed some weight and improve cutting performance.
  9. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010

    Nope. I have a few Cold Steel and a couple of Buck knives. They grind away like any other knife. They do tend to wedge on deeper cuts in tough materials, but work great on most offhand cutting. The penetrate better on shallow cuts and as long as the overall stock is thin you won't see much difference whatever you do.

    At a guess with the heavier choppers, the overall stock is much thinner than a hatchet. By the time you hit the shoulder of the primary grind you're deep enough to pop out a respectable chip. And it'll probably go past that point with no real issues anyway.
  10. Bigfattyt


    Jun 23, 2007
    Hollow grinds are like other grinds, in that a well done hollow grind is great, a poorly executed one won't be as great. A poorly ground overly thick convex, flat or Saber grind will be less usable as well.

    I don't typically buy hollow ground choppers as a rule.

    I would not hesitate to try out a Busse Chopper with a hollow grind.

    I have folders and fixed blades, production and custom knives what have hollow grinds.

    They seem to cut just fine.
    FortyTwoBlades likes this.
  11. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    Hollow grinds have gone out of favor because they are more difficult to grind.
    There is nothing wrong with hollow grinds at all.
    Some of the multiple angle, stupid grinds on modern knives only sell because they look cool to people who don't know better.
    Knifemaking was pretty well figured out by 1900. For the next hundred years or so some very good knives were made.
    Lately, marketing knives to be "different" has bastardized the industry.
    Yes, I'm a dinosaur-but I learned an awful lot about real knives during the Jurassic....
  12. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    As mentioned, there are good hollow grinds and bad ones. The bad ones are done as economy grinds and are usually very shallow/short/tight-radiused and tend to wedge badly in anything short of a fleshy flexible medium, but so long as the total geometry is done right they can be wickedly effective.
    Bigfattyt and Billy The Hungry like this.
  13. Billy The Hungry

    Billy The Hungry Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 11, 2020
    I prefer hollow grinds in a folding pocket knife.

    Sabers, Scandi and full flats for the choppers!
  14. The thickness behind the edge is what matters, for strength in heavy chopping blades. Almost by default, I always think of very thin blades on smaller knives (folders, traditional pocketknives, kitchen knives), in which the hollow grind makes them even thinner near the edge. Those are the ones that could be damaged in heavy chopping use. But on a big, heavy blade like the Busse knives, it's the thickness (therefore strength) remaining, even with the hollow, that could make them hold up in heavier use. As much thinner as they are, compared to a typical big chopper with a flat or convex grind, they're still quite heavy & strong. And for blades like those, I can definitely see the goal being weight reduction primarily, with the hollow grind. And the hollow may or may not make some difference in cutting ease there, depending on what's being cut.
  15. Mistman68

    Mistman68 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2019
    I used my Umnamzaan to gut and skin a deer this year. One thing I noticed about the hollow grind was that fat collected in the hollow. When I was done both sides had fat clinging to the hollow, pretty good amount. It didn't seem to affect the way it was working but did take a little more effort to clean up. After I scraped the fat off I ran it under really hot water for a bit then disassembled to re-grease, amazingly it was completely clean inside.
    Tetsujin 140.6 likes this.

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