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Sharpening a Hollow Ground Knife

Whether you call it a hollow ground or a hollow grind, you can sharpen these knives with ease.

A hollow grind is produced when you use a wheel to sharpen the edge of a knife. Because there is less material directly behind the edge, this type of edge is less durable (although the degree to this is more theoretical than in actual practice).

A straight razor has a hollow grind. A straight razor has a very delicate edge, but the usage of the edge doesn’t require a durable edge. The hollow grind means you only remove metal at the cutting edge, and to a lesser extent the spine.

Since a hollow grind takes the form of the outside diameter of the wheel where is was sharpened, different wheel diameters will produce a more or less hollow grind. Said another way, a large wheel produces a very shallow hollow grind, a small wheel produces a more pronounced hollow grind.

The illustration to the right shows an exaggerated hollow grind. This displays the cross-sections of a knife.

There are some people in the kitchen cutlery business who have decided to adopt the term "hollow grind" to refer to the indentations near the edge of the knife. The photos at the bottom show the difference between a Granton (or scalloped edge) and a true hollow grind. Yes, the Granton does have "hollow" indentations but using "hollow grind" to refer to this is very confusing. It is common for us to get calls from customers looking to sharpen their hollow ground knives when they just have scallops.

Yes, we are probably in the minority as most major kitchen cutlery manufacturers refer to those edges as a hollow grind. However, since we're a sharpening business, not a knife business, we will stick to the original usage and not perpetuate the confusion.

Whether you have a true hollow ground knife or not, we recommend a standard sharpening method using a sharpening stone or a good sharpening system. Sharpening a true hollow ground knife with a sharpening stone will produce a more durable flat grind at the edge. If you are sharpening a kitchen knife with the indentations on the sides, we also recommend a sharpening stone or a good sharpening system.

In short, if you just want to sharpen your knife that is hollow ground (either definition), we wouldn't change the method of sharpening.

Hollow Ground Not Hollow Ground

This is a photograph of a true hollow ground edge.

While some people call these a hollow grind, this is in fact a granton edge or sometimes called a scalloped edge.