Knife Glossary

Knife Glossary
Last Updated: 08/05/2010

ABS:

Black amorphous thermoplastic terpolymer with a very high impact strength. Sometimes used for knife scale parts.

AMBIDEXTROUS:

To use either hand with equal ease. In the knife world it typically refers to a knife or knife part that can be used by people that are right-handed or left-handed with equal ease. Many knives are not particularly useful or useable by left-handed people so an ambidextrous knife would be of interest to them.

BACK:

Refers to the backside of the blade. On a single edged blade (most knives) this refers to the unsharpened side of the blade. Sometimes the back has jimping. On some knife blades, the back is sharp also. A sharp back is common on many OTF (out the front) knives.

BACK LOCK:

A blade locking system that is on the back of the handle. A Back Lock system uses a rocker arm with one end of the arm connected to a notch in the blade’s tang. It locks the blade in the open position.

BALISONG KNIVES:

A style of knife that is most often thought to have originated in the Philippines although some claim it arrived there via English sailors. A balisong has two separate handles that rotate around the knife blade. When closed, the blade rests in a slot in either handle and is in a “safe” position.

BATCH:

A small run of a particular knife model. Sometimes these models are numbered and gain special value for collectors.

BELLY:

The part of the blade that curves. A belly improves the slicing ability of the blade. They can be either a plain belly or a serrated belly. Something to be aware of as regards the belly of a knife: a bigger belly generally means a less sharp knife. Be aware of the size of your knife’s belly because it affects if your knife is better for slicing or for penetration.

BEVEL:

The sloping area that tapers from the spine to the edge of the blade. There are actually two bevels on a knife blade. The first is the BLADE BEVEL. This is the larger bevel that goes from the spine almost to the edge of the blade. At this point, the EDGE BEVEL steps in and is a steeper angle. This is the actual cutting edge of the blade. Some knives that are FLAT GROUND have no real edge bevel since the edge bevel angle is identical to the blade bevel angle.

BI-DIRECTIONAL TEXTURING:

A series of graduating sized steps that move from the middle of the handle out to either end. Bi-Directional texturing is normally done in texture molded FRN handles. The pattern gives greater grip and reduces slippage in the hand.

BLADE LOCK:

The blade lock is the mechanical part on the knife that engages/disengages the blade of the knife in the open position. Some common types of blade locks are back locks, liner locks, or frame lock. Other styles of blade locks are axis lock, button lock, arc-locks, and slippits—just to name a few.

BLADE SPINE:

The thickest part of the blade is the spine. On a single edge blade, this is found on the back of the blade. On a double edged blade it is the middle part of the blade that is the thickest.

BOLSTERS:

A metal cover that is found on either or both ends of the handle of a knife. Most bolsters are made from nickel, silver, brass, or stainless steel. A good example of bolsters are Frank Beltrame knives . Nearly all of his stiletto knives have bolsters at either end of the handle.

BOWIE:

Used in reference to a blade shape that has an upswept tip that curves. The tip is also double edged near the point. This style of blade is named for James Bowie who made this style of blade famous back in the 1800’s.

BUTT:

The end of a bowie knife. Sometimes called the pommel. It can be found in a wide variety of shapes and sizes—each designed for a specific purpose. Some butts are designed for hammering, but the most common butt shape is pointed and used as “skullcrackers” or “bonecrushers” although this style of butt is often advertised as a “glass breaker”. This pointed end is useful in combat. Many knife butts have a lanyard hole in them.

BUTT CAP:

A metal cap that is fitted over the pommel of the knife.

CARBIDE:

A hard and sharp carbon or iron material. Many knife manufacturers use carbide on the glass breaking tip found at the base of the handle on some knives.

CARBON:

Carbon is used on many knife blades. It takes an edge much easier than most steels. The drawback to carbon is that it is more susceptible to corrosion if it isn't properly maintained.

CARBON FIBER:

Carbon Fiber is a weave of graphite fibers that are then fused in an epoxy resin. Extremely lightweight and durable, this material is used in many high end knife handles. It has a unique three dimensional appearance and is often a grey and black but can be found in other colors.

CHAMFERED:

Often knife makers "break" or chamfer the sharp corners of a handle or a specific part of the handle or blade. This means they create a beveled cut to replace the sharp corner. Chamfering, or easing, a corner makes it more comfortable to hold and gives a much smoother contact spot for your hands.

CHOIL:

This is the unsharpened part of the blade that is opposite the sharpened side and is found right where the blade and the handle meet. Many knife makers will create an indentation here that gives a spot for your index finger to manipulate the blade.

CLIP:

Many knives have a clip as an accessory. The clip is used to attach or hook your knife to a belt or your pocket. On most knives that have a clip, the clip is removable. On some knives, the clip is reversible for left or right hand users.

CLIP POINT BLADE:

A clip blade is the most common blade found on folding knives in the United States. A clip blade is ground from the spine in an angled line down to the tip of the blade. The sharp side of the blade, or the edge of the blade, slopes upward. This style of blade is versatile. If a clip point blade has an extremely narrow blade (created by having a longer concave curve on the top side) then it is often refered to as a California clip or a Turkish clip.

COCOBOLO:

A beatiful hardwood that ranges from a dark purple all the way to a very bright orange. It has an extremely fine grain and is relatively easy to work with--for a hardwood. It also polishes to a high sheen. Cocobolo is very popular as an inlay on knife handles. A good example of a cocobolo inlay is the ProTech line of knives--ProTech frequently produces their knives with a variety of wood inlays.

COMBINATION EDGE:

Generally refers to a blade that has a part straight (plain or standard) edge blade and a part serrated edge blade.

CONCAVE GROUND:

This grind is formed by having a blade bevel that tapers from the spine to the sharp edge in a curve. Think of it as an indented curve from the spine to the sharp edge of the blade. This type of grind is the simplest to keep sharp but it also makes for a weak edge. A weak edge is more likely to chip.

COVER:

The material that covers the liner between the bolsters of the knife.

CRINK:

A bend at the beginning of the tang. The crink keeps the baldes on a multi-bladed knife from rubbing against each other.

DAGGER:

A blade shape. A grind down the center of a blade that effectively divides the blade lengthwise into two mirror sides that both taper from the center down to the edges of the blade.

DAMASCUS STEEL:

A combination of two types of steel (generally one hard and one softer) that is made by repeatedly folding the metals together during the forging of the steel. It creates an attractive pattern and a new steel that has the properties of the two original steels. Damascus blades are typically done in a variety of patterns formed by the layers of steel and how they are manipulated during the forging process. Many of these different damascus styles carry the name of the person who created that particular style of damascus steel pattern.

DETENT:

A small divot machined into the blade tang. A ball bearing "pops" into the detent when the knife is closed and acts as a lock or a brake on the blade. A detent and the ball bearing don't really lock the blade but hold it from just poping open on its own with the positive pressure created by the snug fit of the ball bearing into the divot.

Diamond Coating:

This is the mechanical entrapment of diamond crystals in the metal substrate done by depositing metal by layers from a plating solution until enough is built up around the diamond crystals to hold them in place.

DOUBLE FLAT GROUND:

A blade style where the blade is ground flat on both sides of the blade. This creates a taper to an edge with no radius.

DROP POINT BLADE:

A style of blade that has a convex curve that slopes downward to the point. The cutting edge slopes upward in a more severe arc. These two arcs create a wide tip that is a little stronger than many and is perfect for heavy work. This style of blade is less effective for penetration and piercing style cuts.

EDC:

Acronym for Every Day Carry. Means a knife that is suited to be carried and used daily for the type of tasks you would encounter.

EMT:

Acronym for Emergency Medical Technician.

ENC:

Acronym for Every Night Carry. Means a knife that is suited to be carried and used nightly for the type of tasks you may encounter during a typical night.

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knife glossary, knife dictionary