Use keywords to find the
item you are looking for.

 
 
.
 


Email:

Name:

  


Home > Knife Knowledge > Knife Terminology

Knife Terminology


Knife History
Making of a Knife
Knife Terminology
Tips for Buying a Knife
Knife Blade Types
Knife Blade Steel Types
Knife Types
Popular Pocket Knife Designs
Knife Handle Materials
Common Knife Blade Grind Types
Knife Locking Mechanism Types
Knife Care

KNIFE TERMINOLOGY

ABS - A polymer made by blending acrylonitrile-styrene copolymer with a butadiene-acrylonitrile rubber or by interpolymerizing polybutadiene with styrene and acrylonitrile; combines the advantages of hardness and strength of the vinyl resin component with the toughness and impact resistance of the rubbery component. Abbreviated ABS.

Alloying Element - Any of the metallic elements that are added during the melting of steel or aluminum in order to increase corrosion resistance, hardness, or strength. Chromium, nickel and vanadium are three of the more common ones used.

Aluminum - Aluminum is a lightweight, silver-white, metallic element that makes up approximately 7 percent of the Earth's crust. Aluminum is mined in the form of bauxite ore where it exists primarily in combination with oxygen as alumina. Aluminum is used in a variety of ways as modern alloying techniques have produed a very durable material. When used for knife handles, aluminum provides a solid feel without the extra weight. It can be formed to provide a very comfortable and secure grip. The most common finishing process for aluminum is anodization which adds color and protection.

Anodization - An electro-chemical process that is used to coat the surface of a metal with an oxide to provide protection and/or color. Commonly used on aluminum and titanium knife handles.

Anodized Aluminum - Aluminum that has gone through an electro-chemical process that coats the surface with an oxide to provide protection and/or color.

AUS 8 Steel - A high carbon, low chromium stainless steel that is an excellent compromise of toughness, strength, edge retention, and resistance to corrosion.

Automatic Knives - A type of knife with a covered blade that springs out of the grip when a button or lever on the grip is pressed. There are two basic types: side-opening and out-the-front. A side-opening knife's blade pivots out of the side of the handle (in the same manner as an ordinary folding knife). An out-the-front knife's blade slides directly forward, out of the front of the handle.

Back Of The Blade - The opposite side of the cutting edge on a single-edged knife. Also referred to as the spine.

Balisong / Butterfly Knife - A balisong, otherwise known as a butterfly knife or a Batangas knife, is a folding pocket knife with two handles counter-rotating around the tang such that, when closed, the blade is concealed within grooves in the handles. When open, there is a lock on the back of the handle pieces to keep the knife rigid.

Bead Blasting - A process where small glass beads are "sprayed" under high pressure onto a surface to produce a matte finish. Commonly used on metal knife handles and sometimes on knife blades to reduce glare.

Belly Of The Blade - The curved part of the cutting edge usually closer to the tip of the knife blade. The belly area is the "sweet spot" for slicing tasks.

Bevel - The tapered area from the spine going down towards the cutting edge of the blade.

Blade Spine - On a single-edge knife, the blade spine would be the back side of the blade where it is the thickest. On a double-edged blade, the blade spine would be the middle part of the blade where it is the thickest.
 
Bolster - A knife bolster is the thick junction between the handle and the knife blade on a fixed blade knife. It strengthens the knife, adds durability, and provides a counter-balance which contributes to better balance and improves control. On folding knives, bolsters are located on one or both ends of the knife handle and are quite often made of nickel silver, stainless steel or brass.

Bone Handle - The most common material for pocket knives handles, Bone Knife Handles are created from naturally deceased animals. Common bone handle types are pickbone or jigged bone, and can be dyed for different colors.
 
Brushed Finish - See "Satin Finish"

Butt Cap - A metal cap fitted over the pommel is referred to as a butt cap.
 
Carbon Fiber - A lightweight material made of small, hair-sized graphite fibers, that have been woven together and fused in an epoxy resin. This creates a three-dimensional appearance and is an excellent, yet expensive, handle material.

Choil - The unsharpened part where the blade becomes part of the handle. It is left at full thickness, like the blade's spine. Sometimes the choil will be shaped to accept the index finger.

Chromium - A hard, steel-gray metallic alloying element that is resistant to tarnish and corrosion. It is used in the hardening of steel alloys and the production of stainless steels.

Clip-Point Blade - A blade that has a concave or straight cut-out at the tip (which is known as the "clip"). This brings the blade point lower for extra control and enhances the sharpness of the tip. They usually have a false edge and a larger belly to allow for easier slicing.

Cocobolo Wood - A hardwood from the Cocobolo tree, with an appealing grain and fine texture, that ranges in color from bright orange to deep red and dark purple.

Combination Edge (Partially Serrated) - A blade that has a partially serrated, partially plain edge.

Cordura - Cordura is a long lasting, certified fabric from INVISTA that is used in many products. It is resistant to abrasions, tears and scuffs.

Corrosion - The deterioration of a metal, caused by the metal's encironment and it's reaction to that environment

Cryogenic Treatment - The technique of immersing materials in liquid nitrogen (at -196 degrees C or -320 degrees F) in order to strengthen them. The cold temperatures cause the molecules to shift into alignments that are less subject to wear. This process works very well to produce high quality knife blades with superior edge retention.
 
Crink - A crink is a bend at the beginning of the tang that keeps multi-bladed pocket knives from rubbing against each other.
 
Damascus Steel - Created when two types of steel are folded repeatedly during the forging process. This new durable steel retains the properties of the two parent steels, and is very attractive, yet expensive. Click HERE here for more information about Damascus steel blades.

Double-edged Blade - A blade that has been sharpened on both sides, with the point aligned with the spine, going up the middle of the blade.

Double Flat-ground - A blade that is ground flat on both sides of the blade, tapering to an edge that is straight, not rounded.

Drop Point Blade - A blade with a lowered tip due to a convex arc, which provides extra control and leaves the blade's strength intact. This blade knowledge also has a larger belly, which is better for slicing.

Edge - The sharpened side of the blade. Blades will either be single or double-edged.

Ergonomics - Knife designs that work with the structure of the human hand, making for a more useful and comfortable grip.

Escutcheon - this is a small pin or piece of metal attached to the handle for engraving, branding, or just decoration.
 
False Edge - An additional bevel on the back of the blade that enhances the blade's point. This also removes weight from the blade, which may change the blade's balance, and makes penetration easier.

Flat-Grind (Full) - A blade that is ground flat from the cutting edge all the way to the blade's spine, tapering to an edge that is straight, not rounded.

Flat-Saber Grind - A blade that is ground flat from the cutting edge to a grind line running down the center of the blade. It is flat ground just to the grind line, unlike a full flat grind, which tapers from the edge all the way to the blade's spine

Front Opening Automatic Knives - A switchblade knife with a blade that deploys straight out the front of the handle, rather than swinging around a pivot and deploying from the side (like a Side Opening automatic knife. out the Front Automatic Knives can be either Single-action or Double-action.

Full Flat-ground - A blade that is ground flat from the cutting edge all the way to the spine,on one side of the blade, tapering to an edge that is straight, not rounded.

Game Hook - Also known as a gut hook, this knife blade shape is best utilized for opening the flesh of game.
 
Guard - The guard is a separate piece of metal attached between the blade and the top of the handle to protect hands from the edge during cutting.
 
Gut Hook - A sharpened "hook" which lies on the blade's spine. This was designed to allow a hunter to field dress his catch without puncturing it's intestine.

Handguard (or Guard) - A protrusion or expansion between the blade and the top of the handle that protects hands from the edge during cutting.

Hawkbill Blade - A blade that is in the shape of a violently curved hook, much like the talon of a bird of prey.

Hilt - The entire handle, including the pommel and the guard.

Hollow-ground - Edge that is ground with a radius leaving a concave shape above the cutting surface.

Hook Blade - A blade who's edge curves in a concave manner.

Inlays (or Inserts) - Objects of metal or other material inlaid into the handles of a knife.

Jigged Bone - Bone taken from deceased animals, usually the chin bone of a cow, that is textured by having grooves cut into it. It is usually dyed in a wide variety of colors.

Kick - The unsharpened part of the underside of the knife blade, on the front edge of the tang. The blade rests here while in the closed position, which keeps the sharpened part of the edge from hitting the spring.

Kraton - A rubbery thermoplastic polymer that is used as a flexible inlay for knife handles that make for an better grip.

Lanyard - A cord or strap that is sometimes used to attach a knife to clothing or a belt. Originally used by sailors to keep their knives from falling overboard.

Lanyard Hole - A hole placed in the end of a knife handle, on the opposite side from the blade, in order to attach a lanyard.

Lashing Grommets/Jimping - These terms refer to notches that are designed into the back lower part of the blade for better thumb control.
 
Liner - The thin sheets of metal that lie between the blade and the handle material of folding knives.

Liner Lock - A knife that's blade is locked open by a leaf-like spring that butts up against the tang of the blade.

Mark Side - This is another pocket knife term and is the side of the blade with the nail mark.
 
Matte Finish - A brushed or satin finish. Not a mirror finish.

Micarta - The most common form is linen micarta, where layers of linen cloth are soaked in a phoenolic resin, producing a material that is lightweight, yet strong. It has no surface texture, making it is extremely smooth to the touch. It is fairly soft and can be scratched if not treated properly.

Mirror Finish - A highly reflective finish obtained by polishing with successively finer abrasives and then buffing extensively until free of grit lines.

Nail Mark/Nail Nick - On a pocket knife blade the nail mark is a groove cut into the blade so that it can be opened using your fingernail. Most pocket knives use this method of opening the blade.

Nickel - An alloying element used in certain types of stainless steel, providing an increased ability to change shape without fracturing, as well as an increased resistance to corrosion.

Nickel Silver- A copper based alloy that contain 10-45% Zinc and 5-30% Nickel. Commonly used to make bolsters for real Italian knives.

Nonferrous - A metal that does not contain any amount of iron (such as aluminum or titanium).

Obverse - The front side of a knife. With the point of the knife to the left and the edge down, you are looking at the obverse (front) side of the knife.

Pen Blade - The pen blade is the smallest blade on a multi-bladed knife.
 
Pile Side - The reverse side of the blade, opposite of the obverse side.
 
Pinky Shelf - An angled protrusion at the distal-end of the knife handle, where the pinky sits. This portion of the handle provides a leveraging spot for additional control and coordination over the knife while in the hand.

Plain Edge - A sharpened knife blade with no serrations, or teeth.

Pocket Blade - This is the largest blade on a multi-bladed knife.
 
Pocket Clip - A clip used to keep a knife at the top of the pocket, providing easy access.

Point - The extreme end of the blade where the line of the back and the line of the edge meet.

Pommel - The knob or expansion found at the of end a sword or knife.

Powder Coating - The process of applying a dry powder to a metal and then placing it in an oven, where the powder particles melt and fuse together to form a hard, abrasin-resistant coating that is much tougher than common paint. It is available in just about any color imaginable, though the color is added during the powder's manufacturing process. First used in Australia around 1967

Powdered Metal - A procedure used to shape metal pieces. Metal particles are molded under pressure and then fused under high heat. Also known as sintered metal.
 
Quillon - The area of the guard that extends past the section surrounding the tang The most protective part of the guard.

Reverse "S" Blade - A blade shape resembling a backward "S", with the point curving downward. The deep belly curves in the same direction as the point.

Ricasso - The flat section of the blade that lies between the guard and the start of the bevel. This is where you will most often find the tang stamp.

Rockwell Hardness Test - a standardized test used to determine the hardness of steel. The procedure involves forcing a diamond point onto a finished blade at a set pressure. The depth of penetration is then measured to determine the steels hardness. Hardness higher than 60 will be hard to sharpen while hardness below 56 will not hold an edge well. (See “What Is Rockwell Hardness” in the Knife Blade Steel Types section)
 
Rolling Lock - A lock which uses a bearing that rolls into the locked position.
 
Rust - A product of corrosion, consisting of hydrated oxides of iron, and happening only to ferrous alloys.

Sabre - The Sabre edge is thick and is a great for chopping and other extreme uses. The flat edge bevel begins in the middle art of the blade and runs flatly to the edge.

Satin Finish - A distinctive finish, where the metal has been "brushed", usually with sand paper of a fine grade, creating a pattern of extremely fine, parallel lines, while still allowing the metal to keep a small amount of it's original reflective brilliance. Not a mirror finish.

Scales - Pieces that are attached to a full tang in order to form a handle.

Scrimshaw - Scrimshaw is the art of etching decorative designs onto knife handles.
 
Serrated Edge - "Teeth" or notches on the back or front of the blade that aid in cutting.

Sheepfoot Blade - A blade with a round, blunt tip that has no point.

Side Opening Automatic Knives - A switchblade knife with a blade that swings around a pivot and deploys from the side, rather than deploying straight out the front of the handle (like a Front Opening automatic knife.

Single-edged Blade - A blade that is sharpened on only one side.

Sintered Metal - A procedure used to shape metal pieces. Metal particles are molded under pressure and then fused under high heat. Also known as powdered metal.
 
Spear Point Blade - A blade shape that has an equal amount of curve on the spine and the cutting edge. The two curves meet at the point. Designed for general-purpose cutting.

Spine Of The Blade - On a single-edge knife, the blade spine would be the back side of the blade where it is the thickest. On a double-edged blade, the blade spine would be the middle part of the blade where it is the thickest.

Stag Horn - Derived from naturally shed deer antlers. When exposed to an open flame, stag takes on a slightly burnt look.

Stainless Steel - Steel that contains at least 10% chromium, and sometimes containing other elements, making it resistant to corrosion. The chromium oxide (CrO) creates a barrier, providing protection from oxygen and moisture, therefore preventing rust formation.

Stiletto - A dagger with a slim blade intended for stabbing.

Tang - The portion of the blade where it connects to the handle.

Tang-Stamp - An imprint indicating anything from knowledge number, collector's number, or the manufacturer's name that is normally located on the ricasso.

Tanto Blade - A blade knowledge where the point is in line with the spine of the blade, making for a strong, thick point. There are quite a few variations of tanto blade, such as whether the front edge meets the bottom edge at an obtuse angle or a curve.

Thermoplastic - A deformable, plastic material that, when heated, melts into a liquid and hardens when cooled. Thermoplastic polymers are different from thermosetting polymers, like Bakelite or vulcanized rubber, which once formed and cooled, can never be remelted and remolded.

Tip - See "Point"

Tip-Down - Refers to the direction that the point, or tip, of a knife's blade is pointing, as when closed and clipped in a pocket, positioned by it's pocket clip. When the tip is pointing down.

Tip-Up - Refers to the direction that the point, or tip, of a knife's blade is pointing, as when closed and clipped in a pocket, positioned by it's pocket clip. When the tip is pointing up.

Titanium - A nonferrous metal with high tensile strength that is light-weight and resistant to corrosion. Often used for knife liners or handle material. Unlike stainless steel knives, titanium knives are almost completely rustproof and corrosion resistant because they contain no carbon. Titanium steel knives require almost no sharpening or maintenance, because they will hold an edge for a very long time.

Trailing Point (Upswept) Blade - A blade knowledge where the point is higher than the spine. They usually have a bigger belly, which is better for slicing, due to the point being up and out of the way.

Wharncliffe Blade - A blade knowledge where the point is dropped to a straight cutting edge.

Zytel - Zytel nylon is thermoplastic material developed by DuPont. Zytel is an excellent material for work knife handles since it is virtually unbreakable and very abrasive resistant. It is one of the least expensive of synthetic handle materials to produce, thereby holding down the cost of the knife. It is quite often given a surface texture to improve gripping when used for knife handles.






Knife Terminology