There are hundreds of varieties of knives, and most of us use them religiously on a daily basis. If you are somebody who enjoys collecting knives, it is important to learn about knives, and firstly, knife terms.
A knife, which you see today, has gone through many modifications through years, and it still does. Therefore, there are a lot of terms associated with it, many terms are no longer used in the modern era.
If you think a knife is a very simple tool as it just has a handle and a sharp blade and that is all with a knife, then you are wrong. A simple looking knife has many parts, many terminologies than you might ever imagine. Of course, as you might already know, the most important part of a knife is the edge. Because the edge is the sharp part of the knife and it does the entire job (yeah, mostly). But equally, all the other parts of a knife compliment the edge so you can make the most out of your knife.
Fixed Blade Knives
Fixed blade knives are special knives which can be used as survival knives, hunting knives, boot knives and throw knives. They are non-foldable, the blade is always exposed. So, you need to use a sheath to protect the knife, yourself (and other people) while not using it. Especially when you carry it with you.
Fixed blades knives are convenient to use for many purposes, especially in the case of emergencies. Mostly, hunters, sportsperson, and campers find it more useful. There are different fixed blade knife terminologies, which you should know for academic interest.
Glossary of (Fixed Blade) Knife Terms
As you see in the image above, the point of a knife is the very end of the blade. The tip is the first few inches of the knife, same as what it sounds like.
The sweep/belly of the knife is the curved section of the blade on the edge, which leads up to the point. The curve of the belly varies with different fixed blade knives and this portion designed for increasing the surface area while making a cut. If you want to have a strong sliced cut, you need to use knives which have a large curved belly. Sweep is another name for belly, according to knife terminology.
The edge of the blade is the sharpest part of a knife, which extends from grind to point. It is the main part where you focus on while sharpening a knife.
The face/cheek of a knife refers to each side of the blade, which is a flat side.
The grind, or bevel, is the section, which extends down to form the edge. Some knives only have one bevel, which forms an edge. Whereas some knives have a primary and secondary grind, and they are known as double grind knives. With double grind knives, secondary grind alters the primary one forming an angle.
The spine is the unsharpened side of a blade, which is exactly opposite to the edge. The spine extends all the way from tip to the full length of the blade. Daggers are double-edged, which will not have a spine, but most of the knives used for outdoor purposes come with a spine.
The heel of the blade is the segment, which is next to the handle. The heel also includes a small section of the Ricasso and the plunge line.
- Plunge line: the plunge line has an abrupt ending of the grind where it meets the edge at a right angle.
- Ricasso: is a thick and flat segment of the blade, which is at the beginning of the handle and the end of the grind.
- Choil: a choil is an unsharpened and curved indent where it meets the handle at the end of the blade. The size of a choil dictates its purpose, if it’s large then it can be used as a forward finger grip. If it’s small then the choil may be there to create a stopping point when sharpening, to protect the handle.
The location of the Guard is between the blade and the handle. To be exact, it’s between the handle and the Ricasso. Its purpose is to protect your hand from slipping off the handle onto the blade. Guards always come in different shapes and designs, but the purpose always remains unchanged.
The quillon is a part of the guard, which extend towards the handle. It is created for the extra protection of your hands while using the knife. In knives meant for outdoor applications, the quillon extends out just in the front portion of the knife. Whereas in knives designed for aggressive purposes, quillon extends out in both front and back portion.
This part is between the handle and the blade of the knife (not shown in picture above). Although bolsters can be found on different sections of the handle. If the knife does not have a guard, it will have a bolster that serves the same purpose as that of the guard. The Bolster helps in providing more grip and balance to the blade. The Bolster can provide balance to a blade and is more commonly found on full tang knives. Bolsters can also be used to “bolster” or strengthen the weak points on a knife, such as where the blade ends and the tang and handle begins. Bolster may also be shaped like a guard (with quillions) to offer protection.
The handle of a knife needs no explanation. It is the portion that you hold the knife by and its purpose is to give proper grip. There are many types of knife handles in diffirent shapes and sizes. They play an important role in overall appearance of the knife and in durability, strength of the knife. The way the handle is attached to the knife could tell you how strong it is. Different materials are using for making the handles (read more about knife handle materials here) and handles comes in beautiful designs.
The tang is the portion of the blade, which goes inside the handle. Tang is essential while constructing a knife because it determines the balance, durability and weight of a knife. Tang has two classifications, the full and partial according to the way of its construction.
A full tang design knife will have a single piece of steel for both tang and blade with the same width. Full tanged knives are the one, which has the ultimate strength, and it is highly durable too. In the case of full tang knife, the style of handle leads into various classifications as follows:
- Scaled tang: The scaled tang knife is a full tang knife that has 2 pieces of handle material attached to both the sides of the tang.
- Skeletonized tang: The skeletonized tang is a type of full tang knife where some portions of the tang removed to reduce the weight of the knife. These types come without a handle material, but may feature a cord (usually paracord) wrapped handle.
- Extended tang: The extended tang knife will have the tang extended beyond the handle, and it functions as a hammer surface.
A partial tanged knife will have a partial tang which doesn’t extend to the full length of the knife. It will not be of the same width as that of the blade and the handle. Obviously, partial tang knives are weaker than full tang knives. Partial tang knives are the lightest versions when compared to full tangs.
- Stick tang: Stick tangs are the ones, which have a narrow tang, and it is the weakest of knife tangs. The tang comes in a small size to reduce the overall weight of the knife.
- Push tang: In push tang knives, the tang is short, and it inserted into the handle material.
- Hidden tang: Like push tang, in hidden tang, the tang inserted into the handle material. However, it is much longer than a push tang, and it extends to the bottom of the knife.
Tang types decide the weight of the knife and partial tang knives have light weight. Nevertheless, it should be avoid for survival knives because they are on the heavier side so as not to compromise the strength.
The pommel refers to the butt of the knife and hence is known as the butt cap. Apart from serving as a method of attachment, it is also using as an entity to increase the balance of a knife. It can also use for hammering and to strike surfaces.
As it is not possible to fold fixed blade knives, the sheath is imperative. It serves as a protection for both the knife and the one who uses it. A sheath could affect how quickly you can take the knife out.
We discussed different parts of the blade and now let’s talk about different blade materials. Most of the people think knives are manufactured by metal blades only, which is not right. It is true that steel is the common material used for making knives. Manufacturers mix different alloys with steel to make knives. The type of formula used determines the hardness, strength and corrosion resistance of a knife. If you are interested in knife making steels, read more here.
Ceramic is also using to make knife blades – the hardest ones. Ceramic blades are generally sharper than any other material, but they have high brittle nature. Plastics and various polymers are also used to make blades which are soft. Sometimes, polymer blades can be surprisingly hard but is not at all durable when compared to steel blades. The main advantage of plastic and polymer blades is that, they will withstand metal detectors because of insulating properties.
The blade comes in different designs/types: straight back, drop point, tanto point, spear point and clip point.
It is important to know these knife terms. Because it will help you to choose the right knife for your purposes. In this article, we have covered the most important and common knife terminologies. Hope that it provided you with enough academic understanding and would help you make the right choice.References