The grind of a blade refers to the shape of the cross-section of the blade. It is distinct from the type of blade (e.g., clip point or drop point knife, sabre or cutlass, axe or chisel, etc.), though different tools and blades may have lent their name to a particular grind.
Grinding involves removing significant portions of metal from the blade and is thus distinct from honing and polishing. It is notably done when first sharpening the blade or when a blade has been significantly damaged or abused (such as breaking a tip, chipping, or extensive corrosion) A well maintained blade will need less frequent grinding than one which is not treated well.
The terms edge angle and included angle can be important when talking about grinding. The edge angle is measured between the surface of an edge and a line running from the point of the cutting edge to the back edge. The included angle is the sum of the edge angles. All other things being equal, the smaller the included angle the sharper the blade and the easier it is to damage the edge.
An appropriate grind will depend upon what the blade is to be used for and the material from which the blade is made. Knife manufacturers may offer the same model of knife with different grinds on the blade and owners of a blade may choose to reshape it as a different grind to obtain different blade properties. A tradeoff exists between a blade's ability to take an edge and its ability to keep an edge. Various grinds are easier to maintain than others or can provide a better shape over the life of the blade as the blade is worn away by repeated sharpening.
A sharp object works by concentrating pressure, but high pressures can nick a thin blade or even cause it to roll over into a rounded tube when it is used against hard materials. An irregular material or angled cut is also likely to apply much more torque to hollow-ground blades due to the "lip" formed on either side of the edge. More blade material can be included directly behind the cutting edge to reinforce it, but during sharpening some proportion of this material must be removed to reshape the edge, making the process more time-consuming. Also, any object being cut must be moved aside to make way for this wider blade section, and any force distributed to the grind surface reduces the pressure applied at the edge.
One way around this dilemma is to use the blade at an angle, which can make a blade's grind seem less steep, much as a switchback makes a trail easier to climb. Using the edge in this way is made easier by introducing a curve in the blade, as seen in sabers, scimitars, and katana, among many others. Some old European swords (most memorably Hrunting) and the Indonesian style of kris have a wavelike shape, with much the same effect in drawing or thrusting cuts.
When speaking of Japanese edged weapons, the term niku (meat) refers to the grind of the blade: an edge with more niku is more convex and/or steep and therefore tougher, though it seems less sharp. Katana tend to have much more niku than wakizashi.
It is possible to combine grinds or produce other variations. For example, some blades may be flat ground for much of the blade but be convex ground towards the edge.