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Some things to consider before buying a grafting knife

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Grafting knife is different, it isn’t your typical knife because it is beveled on one side. You may use any knife for grafting but if you want to increase your success rate, then grafting knives is mandatory.

The knife is designed to have an exeptionally sharp razor blade that allows you to make a nice flush cut through the scionwood and the rootstock. It also has a razor thin blade as well as a sharp edge. This features are very essential for grafting because it minimize uneven and rough cut.

Yes, practice makes perfect, but if you don’t use proper tools, than you could probably waste your time and resources. You might be saying “ah, for the sake of practice, to get the hang of it, I’ll just use this utility knife”. However when it comes to grafting, you will have to wait for at least 4 weeks before you know the result. Not only you will waste your time, but you will end up wasting your scionwood or rootstock if your graft fail.

If you still want to practice before purchasing your first grafting knife, well okay, than at least you should pick an exceptionally sharp knife or make one. You can actually try to make your own knife.

All you need to have to make a DIY knife are: razor blade, wrap tape and ice cream stick. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Break or split the razor in a half – break by bending it with the wax envelope on the blade, so you won’t cut your fingers.
  2. Clip/clamp the blade using ice cream stick – Clamp the blade in the middle so it will stay firm.
  3. Wrap the ice cream stick with wrap tape – Wrap all the ice cream stick and make sure it is firm.

For a first time grafter, this DIY knife is working like a charm. I’ve been using it for several successful fruit tree grafting, and I’m still using it to graft a relatively small scion and rootstock.

That’s how you make a simple grafting knife, and then you can now practice, practice and practice. When you feel like you’re ready to buy a more proffesional one then you probably want to know some of the types below:

Types of grafting knife

A. Left handed grafting knife

If you are a lefty then use left handed knife. You will find it difficult when you are left handed but you buy a grafting knife that is made for right handed people.

Nonetheles, for cutting off the tail of the nut, the left handed knife, is also great to be used in the right hand.

Choosing a correct knife, one that suits your preference will make a difference.

So when you purchase it online or offline in your local store, make sure to choose the left handed knife, when you are a lefty.

Don’t make the same mistake like I did when I purchase a left handed knife while I’m a right handed. However, don’t get discouraged cause you can have both.

B. Right handed grafting knife

On the contrary, a right handed grafting knife would be for right handed people like I am.

To tell if the knife is left or right handed you can simply look at the bevel. If it is on the left of the blade then it is left handed, but if it is on the right side of the blade then it is right handed.

Wether you are a lefty or right handed, I think you should have both of them. It will come in handy since you will have the flexibility to cut toward yourself or to cut away from yourself.

C. Single bevel grafting knife

Single bevel knife or sometimes also called as chisel edge is completely stright on one side of the blade while the other side has an angle that forms the edge.

A true grafting knife must be super sharp and beveled on only one side. This allows us to perform easy, precise, stright, and smooth flat cut which subsquently increases grafting success rate.

It is important to keep our knife remain sharp. To get the best result, a single bevel knife should be sharpened on an angle of around 15-17 degrees.

When it comes to sharpening, a single bevel knife will require less work because it need to be honed on only one side. However, sharpening does need a lot of practice, expecially when using a whetstone.

D. Stainless steel grafting knife

According to the American Iron & Steel Institute, there are 4 types of steel; (Carbon Steel, Alloy Steel, Stainless Steel, and Tool Steel). Grafting kinves are commonly made of Stainless Steel or Carbon Steel.

Steel basicaly is composed of iron and carbon, what makes it different however are the additional alloys, the ammont of carbon and how it has been processed.

Stainless steel knives made by adding or alloying chromium (Cr) element as the main ingredient. This forms a layer that prevent corrosion and staining of the surface.

Some grafters likes the stainless steel grafting knife because it is resistant to rust, less brittle, and less wear-resistant. However the downside is that it is much more difficult when it comes to sharpening. It is required to be honed more often than carbon steel knives.

E. Carbon steel grafting knife

As the name suggest, carbon steel contain more carbon than the other elements. This makes it becomes a lot harder than the other steel. Which in turn, it gives the steel more durability.

Carbon steel knives can hold an edge much better than stainless steel because the harder the steel, the longer it will hold its edge. It simply means that carbon knives stays sharper longer so less frequent sharpening required. However, honing the knife every time you want to do grafting is best practice.

Unlike stainless, carbon steel needs extra care. It is prone to rust, so you can’t leave carbon knives dirty with sap or residue when storing to your tool kit box. Otherwise, you’ll find your knife look quite bad the next day when you want to use it.

Pro tips: When you done grafting rub the knife with mineral oil and wipe it with paper towel to prevents rusting.

Bottom line; if you are looking for more ease, choose stainless steel knives, but if you take grafting seriously buy carbon steel grafting knife.

You may ask professional grafter, they would probably recommend you with several different knives. In the end, you yourselves that decide which one is best for you.

Don’t overpay. When I started grafting I overthought it and end up buying some pricy knives. What I learned is that it’s more about technique than the knife.

I hope this article is helpful, and let me know what you think about grafting knife in the comment section below.

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