I’ve bought many grafting knives over the years and I thought I would give a report as I’m getting ready for grafting season and sharpening my knives. I have decided these are my preferences in this order.
Antonini Old Bear grafting knife. I like this one the most as it comes from the factory with only one edge sharpened (chisel grind) I also like the straight blade with no curve. I only use locking blade knives now and this one works well. This knife is easy to sharpen and just today I brought it to razor sharp with my shapton water stones in no time. These are cheap
Opinel. I have many of these and mostly use my number 6 and 8. These come from the factor with a V edge but I convert them to chisel grind. It doesn’t take long with a 400 grit stone to convert. Also easy to sharpen. I use the bigger ones for field grafting and larger cleft cuts. These are REALLY cheap
Tina. I don’t like this one at all. I have been unable to bring it to a razor sharp edge. My guess is the steel is much harder than my other knives and I just haven’t worked it enough. I also dislike fixed blade grafting knives. I like to fold the knife and stick it in my pocket.
Victorinox and others. I have some but will no longer use them. I only use folding knives that lock for safety. I have also begun to teach my young kids to graft and only want them using locking back knives. I have had and seen a few accidents with non-locking knives and I don’t want to see that again.
Schatt and Morgan Cotton sampler recommended by @Barkslip and Tina left handed folding knife.
The cotton sampler is simply not possible to get nowadays without paying a fortune. I’m glad I got it when I did.
Both were initially professionally sharpened until I figured out how to do it myself. Bevel is for left handed grafting.
Leather hone In background. Used between sessions.
This is my knife for 99%. I think it’s the best knife made. This one is brand new with only 30+ grafts on it and my last two both lasted 10-years each. This is micro surgery and huge scion cutting all in one. It’s very heavy, balanced; razor sharp from the box.
I recently brought an Antonini Old Bear grafting knife. Will be doing my first grafts this spring, and it seemed like a good place to start. I put a couple coats of poly on the bare wood handle to help it last longer. The few practice whip and tongue cuts I made seemed to work well.
I have that exact same knife. So far, I do not like it but I think it is operator error.
I am guessing that the Tina has much better and harder steel than the old bear or opinel making it harder to sharpen. I bet if I spend more time on it, I will have better luck. I will get the stones out again tomorrow.
Harder steel usually results in better edge retention at the expense of time to get it sharpened.
I will report again tomorrow.
The first (left) is a zenport I got from Amazon for $11 at least 6 years ago and have done hundreds of grafts with. It is functional, sharpens reasonably well and keeps going.
Then I got a bit of an upgrade, the A M Leonard folder in the middle. It is their house brand and I think I paid $25 for it on sale a few years back. It holds a significantly sharper blade than the Zenport and is a very nice knife. I saw Italy stamped on it and daydreamed about it possibly being made by Tina. The only downside is that the thin, sharp blade can get a little ding or wave in the edge as you can see in about the middle of the blade, which just takes time of the stone to work out.
Then I got some new stones to sharpen with and wanted to get something to practice with, so I picked up the cheap Linsen grafting knife on Amazon for around $10 based on a review from someone saying they got a nice edge on it after sharpening. It has a very steep bevel and I think it probably needs to be reground or something like that to change it to actually make this thing sharp. Right now about all it is useful for is splitting a trunk for a cleft graft when you don’t want to punish one of your better knives. For a cheap knife the Zenport is a much better deal.
These are all chisel grind (one side sharpened only), but I’ve also used a utility knife a fair amount. While not as easy to finesse, they certainly work.
I have Opinels in both stainless and carbon. It makes no difference to me.
The carbon ones haven’t really rusted. They same to be the same to sharpen and hold an edge the same amount of time. The carbon ones develop a patina.
Any tips? and what tools do you use? I am sharpening my knife every year and it does get sharp but not to the sharpness it was when I bought it. Also, I am not sure I am improving my sharpening skills either.
For a klutz like me, I needed a good knife sharpener — one that guarantees the bevel angle will stay constant through the sharpening process without learning complicated techniques. I got a tsprof knife sharpener many years ago with a set of resin bonded diamond stones. Not cheap but useful around the house for many things including kitchen knives.
When used properly, the edge will become as sharp as a razor blade while staying perfectly suitable for grafting. Many injuries are caused I think by people using blunt knives that slip or knives that aren’t ground on just one side.