What is a scandi grind?
What is a scandi grind?
The type of bevels, along with the blade geometry and the steel used, mainly determine the characteristics of the knife itself. The choice of a knife with a certain type of bevels predetermines its characteristics of use. Different shapes of blades and bevels developed as a result of the influence of different cultures and regional traditions. Basically, any knife can be used for its intended purpose of cutting various materials, but some blades cope with some specific tasks more successfully. In this sense, a knife with scandi bevels can be considered a rather specific and special kind of knife.
The design and production of a strong and reliable outdoor, bushcraft knife have been influenced by the experiences of many hunters, fishermen, herders, and villagers in the harsh arctic regions. Some knives reveal a direct link to nature with skillfully designed handles of rare woods. So when you hold such a knife, you are holding a piece of nature in your hands.
- Geometry is the essence of bevels
Scandi bevels usually take up a third of the width of the blade (sometimes as much as 50-75%) and do not have secondary bevels. In other words, the planes of the bevels form the cutting edge. A blade with this kind of bevels is distinguished by its high sharpness level and significant durability. This makes the knife with scandi grind bevels suitable for carving fresh and dry wood and for various bushcraft purposes, as well as being the best choice for nature and hunting.
When it comes to bushcraft, however, it is more of a systematic set of techniques, skills, crafts, and lifestyle philosophy. It is not necessarily about survival, bushcraft and extreme activities, although there is a section on that too. This knowledge may be useful for campers, tourists, hunters, and fishermen, for everyone who, voluntarily or not, has got into the wilderness. Bushcraft is not a tourism activity, but it provides the skills for it.
Blades with scandi blades are quite easy to sharpen and hone on full-size sharpening stones due to the large contact area between the blade and the abrasive. Besides the bevels, Scandinavian knives are distinguished by some specific design features:
- Knives are available with different blade thicknesses, widths, and lengths;
- Barrel-shaped handle;
- A bulge on the end of the handle for convenient use in certain tasks;
- A hidden or stick tang type of mounting is often used for the handles of such knives.
Speaking of knives with scandi grind bevels, it should be mentioned that today there are enough manufacturers with their own vision and marketing of a wide range of models for a wide range of outdoor, bushcraft and survival tasks. The knife is used in bushcraft, hiking, hunting, and fishing.
- Material and design quality
The materials used in the manufacture of knives, in one way or another, prescribe the use of the knife in a particular area. For example, a knife with a thin, narrow blade made of stainless steel and a rubber handle will be best for fishing, while a full-tang carbon steel knife with a wide blade, which has a thick spine and is about 10 cm long, will be best for hiking in the countryside.
Manufacturers in Finland, Sweden, and Norway use traditional steels such as Sandvik 14C28N, 80CrV2 carbon steel, Laurin Metalli, UHC high-carbon steel, and some low-corrosion steels. Besides these, powder steels are being used more and more often.
As mentioned above, depending on the purpose, different steels can be used, the knife can have a one-piece full-tang with wooden or synthetic handle pads or a stick tang.
It is common to find in the classic version full-tang knives with thin, narrow blades not designed for heavy loads. Classic knives have a handle of about 10 cm and the blade is generally shorter than the handle, which makes them easier to use. This can be explained by the fact that winter clothes hinder movement and hunters used shorter knives for skinning, for example.
The sheaths of traditional models are made from leather, while more modern models are made from synthetic materials. The end of the leather sheath can be used for honing and deburring in the field after sharpening.
- Purpose of the knife with scandi bevels
The name of the bevels suggests that it is directly related to its Scandinavian origin. Knives with scandi grind bevels are characterized by high durability, due to the fact that two-thirds of the blade width remains in its original thickness, while the bevel is formed in the form of a wedge on the remaining one-third of the blade width. Because of this geometry, the knife with such a blade splits instead of cutting and meets almost no resistance from the material. This fact makes it an excellent woodworking tool. The peculiarity of these blades is that if used carefully, you can do precise work, and if you put enough pressure, the blade will bite into the material.
The angles on blades with scandi bevels come in the range from 20 - to 27 degrees. The smaller the angle, the sharper the blade and the more suitable for woodcarving. The larger the angle, the more resistant the cutting edge is. Even if you shape the cutting edge at small angles with micro-secondary bevels, it will cut effectively.
The main tasks of such knives in nature include woodworking: - chopping small branches, planing, making kindling, chopping firewood, and similar tasks. The spine of such knives should have sharp edges so you can make a fire with a ferrite rod. For preparing food in camping conditions, you can use a knife with non-scandi grind bevels, which will be more convenient. However, the fact that a knife with scandi bevel splits food instead of cutting is not significant and you can use such a knife for cooking not to carry excessive weight.
Many hunters and fishermen also use scandi grind knives, but please note that you should avoid cutting bones, because at certain angles the edge may chip off. For example, the bones of wild birds are very different in hardness from poultry, so you have to cut in the joints.
- Sharpening scandi knives
Hand sharpening with full-size bars
Hand-sharpening of Scandi grind knives on a full-size bench stone seems to be a simple process, seeing as the bevels are the same as secondary bevels and are in contact with the plane of the abrasive bar.
The abrasives for sharpening are available in a variety of materials of your choice: diamond plates in various grit sizes, and traditional natural and synthetic sharpening stones. The wide secondary bevels make it easy for you to keep the right angle. But before you start the sharpening process, the plane of the sharpening stone should be prepared accordingly and be as flat as possible. This is done to ensure that the plane of the secondary bevels and the abrasive have the tightest possible contact and do their job
You should find a movement that suits you best for the sharpening process and it is highly recommended that you only grind the broad part of the blade bevels in one direction so that the angle does not change. Over time, you can begin making more wide-spaced movements along the entire length of the sharpening stone.
Practical advice: you will find it much easier to hold the correct angle with short motions than with longer motions across the entire plane of the bar. Therefore, always start with shorter movements.
If your blade is rather blunt, start the sharpening process with a coarse stone of about 300 - 400 grit. A burr may form on the cutting edge after roughing, which will tell you that the sharpening process at this stage is complete. Then you can move to an abrasive stone in the 500 - 2000 grit range. For the final sharpening stage, you can use 6,000 - 8,000 grit abrasive bars. It is not necessary to polish the entire secondary bevels to a mirror finish, a small area along the cutting edge is sufficient.
Sharpening of the curved part of the blade - the rounded area near the tip - can sometimes seem like a bit of a challenge. Sharpening of the straight area is not different from the method described above.
Two ways to sharpen the rounded area:
- Sharpen the rounded area diagonally in relation to the secondary bevel. This movement will be similar to the straight area, but at the same time, the handle of the knife is lifted so that the secondary bevel plane with the rounded area is in full contact with the abrasive stone.
- The second option is to start sharpening at the straight area of the bevels, then gently raise the handle to sharpen the rounded area in one motion, without losing contact with the abrasive. This method is more complicated and requires more experience. This is especially important if you are using an abrasive stone with a loose bonding agent because it can damage the plane.
After sharpening, thoroughly clean the knife of abrasive sludge and wipe the blade with oil to keep it safe. If the knife has a wooden handle, it could use some oil as well.
Sharpening with a household sharpener
It may seem that sharpening a knife with a scandi grind bevels on a household sharpener is easier. This is both true and false. Household sharpeners are different and considering that the width of the secondary bevel on the curved part near the edge differs from the main one, there may be an issue with the correct clamping of the blade. This issue must be checked on a case-by-case basis. Once the correct blade position has been found, the rest is quite common. However, you must remember that you will have to sharpen the entire secondary bevel and you need to have appropriate abrasives. Similar to hand sharpening, you also can create a micro-secondary bevel instead of a full sharpening.
To save time and protect the blade and the abrasive, a blade with Scandi bevels can be sharpened at a small area to form a micro-secondary bevel instead of a full sharpening operation. For a start, micro-secondary bevels can be shaped at a straight angle, but eventually, you can make convex micro-secondary bevels.
- Comparison with competitors
Comparing a number of similar knives made from slightly different steels turned out to be quite interesting. The knives used for the test were: a knife with straight bevels from the spine, a knife with convex secondary bevels, a knife with half-convex from the middle, and a knife with a scandi bevels.
In the wood-cutting comparison, the knife with straight bevels showed the worst results. The knife with scandi grind bevels and small convex offset (4.3°) turned into something between convex and a scandi and ranked third in terms of efficiency and convenience.
The knife with the convex grind from the middle of the blade turned out to be a pretty good competitive option in terms of ease of operation and quality of cut.
The knife with scandi bevels turned out to be the most aggressive and efficient in woodwork. You can see the results online at the following links, although the recording is in Russian, but you can quite understand the result of the test
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCiNUVDQab4 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx353POQzGk).
If you compare it with a Yakut knife, the results are as follows:
- A knife with a scandi bevels is more effective at planing and moves in a direction you want it to move;
- Suitable for both right- and left-handed people;
- The knife with scandi grind bevels can split and has a strong design;
- the handle design has the advantage of a finger choil that protects the palm from slipping on the blade;
- unlike the Yakut knife, the skandi is not able to drill and pick with a massive tip of the blade.
If you look at a copy of the survival knife with scandi bevels from the famous Canadian manufacturer Grohmann Knives, you can immediately see that the knife with scandi bevels is much more convenient for power planing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBSkXNen1_c).
For example, if you watch the video tests of different short-bladed wood carving knives, you will immediately see that a regular knife with scandi grind bevels loses quite clearly in some features due to the size of the blade and the angle of the bevels.
- The world's major manufacturers
Among the leading European companies that produce knives with a scandi grind bevels in series are such famous brands as MoraKniv, Brisa, Enzo, Helle, Casström, Ahti, Marttiini, Roselli, Karesuando, EKA, Hultafors, Paaso Puukot, Kauhavan Puukkopaja, Eräpuu, WoodsKnife, Riipi Puukko, Uniikkipuukot, Brusletto and a number of other less known companies.
In the Americas, the companies producing knives with this type of blade are: Esee, Tops, ColdSteel, CONDOR TOOL & KNIFE and of course the Canadian company Grohmann Knives.
- Summary: pros and cons of use
Let us just summarize the advantages and disadvantages of knives with a Scandi bevels.
The advantages are:
- Relatively easy manual sharpening compared to other types of bevels;
- The bevels are easy to manufacture and this circumstance explains their mass production;
- Despite the thin cutting edge, the knife with a scandi grind bevels has a strong design;
- Blade geometry remains intact after sharpening.
Because of these qualities, Scandi grind knives are the best for woodcarving and many other tasks.
Nevertheless, nothing is perfect and such knives also have their weaknesses:
- Due to the wedge-like shape, the blade can tilt when penetrating deep into the material;
- With traditional manual sharpening, you have to grind away a significant amount of metal from the blade;
- The shape of the wedge is not always convenient for cutting some materials;
- It takes quite a lot of time to sharpen blunt blades;
- Some knives do not have a finger guard which can cause injury if your palm slips on the blade.
Based on all this, we can conclude that knives with scandi bevels can be considered the most effective for woodworking and for many other tasks associated with bushcraft and outdoors.