Blind Horse Knives has been making production and custom knives for several years now, with a fairly recent addition of Scandi ground knives. A question could be put forth wondering “what is a Scandi grind?”Many people who are well versed in the differences between flat, hollow, and convex ground knives get confused by the varied and sometimes erroneous terminology surrounding Scandi grind knives.
Generally speaking, a Scandi ground knife is full spine width until the main grind. The main grind will start low on the knife towards the edge, and is actually the edge bevel itself. Blind Horse Knives provided me with a Bushcrafter and Bushbaby, both Scandi ground for testing and comparison purposes….
One of the biggest arguments revolving around Scandi ground knives is in relation to the primary grind. Some swear it needs to be flat or “V” bevel, and others say it needs to be convex. Both the Bushcrafter and Bushbaby showed a slightly convex grind. The actual edge showed the same amount of care that I’ve seen on the other factory fresh Blind Horse offerings I’ve purchased or held. It had a nice amount of polish to it, but was not a mirror. Both knives would easily shave arm hair. Since so many people talk about how good Scandi ground knives are for wood carving, I decided that carving a spoon would be a perfect test of that claim.
Spoon carving generally involves batoning, cutting with the grain, cutting against the grain, cutting cross grain, and goodly amounts of detail work. Once an appropriate piece of wood was located, I set to work removing most of the unnecessary wood. Both knives exhibited an excellent ability to remove large slices of wood at a time without binding, and remain easily controlled. One of the major differences I’ve found working with a Scandi ground knife versus another type of grind is the angle that the blade needs to be to get a good bite into what is being cut. Both BHK knives were no exception to that. I ended up needing to hold the knife at an angle slightly higher than I am used to relative to the wood. That was not a bad thing. It merely required a slight modification to my cutting technique, and once I had that figured out it was smooth sailing to complete my spoon.
Once I had slogged through a more complicated carving project I figured that I should try out the knives in some more general bushcraft uses. Tent stakes, splitting firewood, and making tinder were all easily accomplished with both the Bushcrafter and Bushbaby. For the more general purpose uses I found the Bushcrafter to be a little less tiresome and slightly handier, mostly because of the larger sized blade and handle. For more detailed used I preferred the Bushbaby, mostly because when I choked up on the handle I could index the point of the knife with my finger, which makes the use of the knife very intuitive to the point where I didn’t need to look at the knife to tell what I was doing.
When it came time to sharpen both knives I really saw how easy it would be for someone new to sharpening knives to get them back to factory sharp or even sharper. For someone who’s got plenty of experience sharpening knives it wouldn’t be of concern, but for someone inexperienced, sharpening a knife can be quite a chore. The biggest issue is usually the question of what angle to hold the knife at while sharpening it. With the Scandi grind on the Bushcrafter and Bushbaby there is a sharpening guide built right into the knife. Simply laying either knife so the entire edge bevel is flat against your preferred sharpening medium will automatically lock in the correct sharpening angle. This is a major advantage for someone with little to no sharpening experience.
The only type of cutting where the knives didn’t excel involved uses where the knives needed to be pushed entirely through the cutting medium past the edge grind. The biggest example was cutting food. For overall usage they both work decently well, but cutting crispy things such as carrots, apples, and celery returned a less than stellar result. The carrots and celery ended up splitting before the cuts were completed, and the apples split some and bruised some. This was no surprise, and in all honesty was an expected result. This is a common occurrence with knives that have a thicker Scandi grind and an overall thick spine. I certainly couldn’t recommend either for dedicated kitchen duty over a more purpose built knife, but that is far and away from their design and intended usage. Both will certainly do the job if called into service.
The Bushcrafter and Bushbaby are both made out of O1 tool steel, and the two that I received for testing have matte finished green canvas Micarta handles that are attached with epoxy and Corby bolts. O1 is a non-stainless tool and die steel that was developed to be very heat and abrasion resistant, and those qualities make it an excellent knife steel as well. It may not be as new, as stainless or as “high speed” as some of the fancier super steels in use today, but it is far less expensive and performs quite admirably. I am rather fond of the O1 as a knife steel, and the guys at Blind Horse have the heat treatment spot on. The RC hardness of the knives are in the fifty-seven to fifty-nine range, which is right in the sweet spot for O1 of maintaining excellent edge holding capabilities and relative ease of sharpening while allowing for the steel in the knife to flex and deform instead of chipping and cracking should the knife hit a rock, nail, or some other very hard surface.
The Micarta handles are nearly indestructible. They are next to impossible to break, very chemical resistant, and they provide an excellent grip. The epoxy and Corby bolt combination used to attach the handles makes sure that everything stays together with no chance of coming apart, even with rather extreme abuse. The way the handles are shaped allows for a nearly infinite variety of grips, and they work for any size hands. In extended usage, neither knife created a hot spot anywhere because of the handles.
Both knives came with the standard bushcraft type sheaths that Blind Horse provides, which is a pouch sheath that has a firesteel loop on the side, a belt loop n the back, and a D-ring with a leather dangler attached to it on top. Being right handed I normally carry a knife on my right side, but the two knives were supplied with left handed sheaths this time. Since I carry a pistol on my right side, the knives can get in the way. With being able to carry either knife on my left side, that alleviated and concern of getting tangled up or accidentally exposing my pistol when I was carrying concealed and needed to use one of the knives.
The guys at Blind Horse do like to leave the spines of the knives rather squared off, and that was the only source of discomfort during the testing process. The reason why they keep the spines of the knives so sharp is to create an excellent area for using as a bark or hide scraper, and also as a rather excellent firesteel striker. I did test the spines of both knives scraping bark to make fuzz for fire starting, then lighting the fuzz using a firesteel and the spine of the knife as the striker. The combination works very well. Since I was mostly using the knives for utility purposes and carving, I rounded off the spines a touch using four hundred grit sandpaper, but left the last inch or so of the spines sharp to continue use as a scraper and striker. For me this is the best compromise I have found. I’m glad that the knives come with a sharp spine from Blind Horse, because it only takes a minute to round them off if wanted. To sharpen up the spines after purchasing the knives would be quite a bit more work.
The Buscrafter and Bushbaby from Blind Horse knives are not the first I have owned from the company, nor will they be the last. I really enjoy their products. For the price, it is very difficult to imagine that you are purchasing a knife that is hand made in the USA of such quality. These two are the first opportunity I’ve had to extensively use a Scandi ground knife made by the company, and I have to say that I’m not disappointed. For anyone who is experienced with, or wants to become experienced with, the world of Scandi Ground knives – the Blind Horse Knives Scandi Ground Bushcrafters are an excellent choice.
Scandi Grind Knife discussion on the Woodsmonkey Forum…