Knife Glossary

See a word you don't understand. Check here first. We have put together an extensive glossary of knife terms just for you. Don't see the word you are wondering about? Chat, email or call us and we'll try and help you out and maybe even add it to the glossary.

Anodization: an electrochemical process which adds color to titanium, which is especially conducive to this coloring process. Depending on the voltage used, colors can vary (high voltage = dark color, low voltage = light color).
Anodizing: a electrolytic passivation process used to increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of metal parts. Both alters the appearance of and improves the texture of knives.
Backspacer: On folders it holds the two sides of the handle together.

Bead Blasting: a process by which steel, aluminum, and titanium are finished. Bead blasting is commonly found on tactical folders and fixed blades, for it provides a 100% subdued, non-glare finish.

Belly: The curved arc of the main blade. Especially useful for skinning knives as a large belly helps separate the skin and fat from internal organs without puncturing them with the point.

Black Oxide: A coating to prevent reflection used in the knife industry.  It also adds a further degree of corrosion resistance to metal blades.

Bolster: The portion of the handle that surrounds and strengthens the pivot. Traditionally, bolsters were metal but now they are often made of many other materials.  On larger knives the bolster serves to balance the knives as well.

Bowie Knife: A blade with an upswept, curving tip that is double-edged near the point. It is named for Colonel James Bowie who made this shape famous in the 19th century American west.

Butt: Quite simply the rear area of a knife. It might have a bolster, or a pommel, or an exposed tang, regardless the back end of the knife is the butt.

Carbon Fiber: Graphite fibers (the size of a human hair) are woven together and fused in epoxy resin. It's lightweight, three-dimensional in appearance and is a superior (and expensive) handle material.

Choil: The unsharpened section of a blade and the tang, typically located in front of the guard on the blade.  You should NOT choke up on your knife by placing your finger here. It’s not a grip and your finger will slide onto the cutting edge if you try it.

Chromium: With other alloying materials, the edge of the knife blade is stronger and resists rust.

Cutting Edge (Edge Face): The sharpened, working section of a knife blade.

Damascus Steel: Hot forged layers of soft and hard steel welded together with a visible grain or texture, which creates a swirled appearance.

Drop Forged: A process used in knife making where hot metal is shaped within the walls of two dies.
Double Flat-ground: A blade that is ground flat on both sides of the blade, tapering to an edge with no radius.

EDC (Every Day Carry): A knife that is carried and used on a daily basis, this is the knife you take to work everyday. EDC’s are usually tough knives that can stand up to a lot of use and abuse.  Folding blades are popular due to their lighter weight and portability.

Ergonomics: The study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements, and its cognitive abilities. Knives designed to be comfortable to use and not wear out the user are referred to as ‘Ergonomic’.

Fiber Glass: Fibrous glass commonly used to add strength to plastic knife handles.

Finger Groove: Channels on the knife handle to accommodate fingers.
Flat-Grind (Full): A knife edge tapering from the cutting edge all the way to the blade's spine which is ground totally flat without a radius.
Fuller (Blood-Groove): The Fuller is a channel or groove running down the middle of a blade.  It is not designed as a blood channel or as a means to decrease suction when drawing a blade from a wound, as is often claimed. The Fuller is actually an ingenious way of reducing the weight of the blade while not sacrificing strength.

Gut Hook: A sharpened hook on the spine of a knife which is designed to cut open the abdomen of game without puncturing any internal organs and spoiling the meat.

Hamaguri Grind (Appleseed Grind or Moran Grind): A convex grind

Hammer Forged: The use of a hammer to shape a knife during the forging process

Handguard: A protrusion on a knife’s handle, near the blade.  Handguards were designed to protect a wielder’s hand while parrying an opponent’s blow. It ensures that the opponents blade doesn’t slide down and injure the wielder’s hand. Alternatively, they also protect a user by ensuring that their hand does not slide up onto the blade.
Handle: The area where the knife is gripped.  Typically made of a material which will both provides friction to produce grip for the hand and a degree of cushion so that the wielder does not hurt there hand due to heavy use.

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

Jimping: Notches down the spine of a blade created to provide grip on a knife beyond the bolster.

Kraton: A rubbery thermoplastic polymer commonly used on knife handles to provide better grip

Kydex: A flexible thermoplastic commonly used for knife sheaths

Lanyard Hole (Thong Hole): A hole placed in the end of a knife handle opposite the blade. Originally used by sailors who would place a cord through such a hole in their knife to keep from losing it overboard.

Liner: On a folding knife, this is the flat plate that supports the handle sides, bolsters, spine, and blade pivot.

Micarta: A lightweight composite of linen or paper fabric in an epoxy resin commonly used as a handle material.

Nesting: The hollowing out of a section of the inside of a knife’s handle where the lock and/or liner is then inset/inlayed and fitted into the hollow section. Nesting increases strength and creates a thinner overall profile to the knife.

Point (Tip): The distal front end of the blade, which determines the look and use of the knife.
Pommel: A rounded knob on the end of sword or knife handle.

Quillion: A guard on a knife that protects the wielder’s hand from sliding onto the blade.

Ricasso: The thick, non-ground part of the knife blade between the grinds and the bolsters.

Rivets: Pieces of metal or other material that secure the handle or bolsters to the tang
Rockwell Hardness Scale: The Rockwell test determines the hardness by measuring the depth of penetration of an indenter under a large load compared to the penetration made by a preload.
Saber Grind: A knife's edge, ground completely flat without a radius that tapers from the cutting edge to a grind line down the center of the blade. Differs from a Full Flat Grind in that the Flat-Saber is only flat ground to the grind line, where as the Full Flat Grind tapers all the way to the spine.
Satin Finish: A soft brushed appearance
Scale: A knife handle made of scales or slabs of material that are riveted, screwed or bonded together.

Slip Joint: Found most commonly on traditional pocket knives, the opened blade does not lock, but is held in place by a spring device that allows the blade to fold if a certain amount of pressure is applied.

Spine (Back): Unsharpened side of the blade opposite of the cutting edge

Stainless Steel: Steel that contains a minimum of 12-1/2-13% chromium, making it resistant to corrosion. The chromium oxide "CrO" creates a barrier to oxygen and moisture, preventing rust formation.  It is not stain “proof” but rather stain resistant, hence the name stain-LESS.

Swedge (False Edge): An unsharpened bevel on the spine or back of the blade usually toward the tip. The Swedge can be sharpened to create a double edge.

Tang: The tang refers to the metal piece that projects into the handle. It also refers to all the metal blade piece that the handle is mounted to. Tang’s come in a number of different ways: Tapered Tang: Where the full tang tapers to the butt of the knife improving balance. Full Tang: Where the edge of the tang is visible along the entire handle of the knife. Hidden Tang: Where the tang is hidden, usually completely, beneath the handle material that is held between the guard and the pommel. It’s not as strong as full tang. Partial Tang: The tang does not extend the full length of the handle. Rat Tail Tang: A small diameter rod extending the length of the handle is welded to the normal tang.  

Thumb Ramp (Thumb Rest, Thumb Rise): The extended profile portion of the knife that accommodates the thumb. The thumb ramp helps the thumb apply pressure, guiding the knife in the cut, and may be reinforced by the bolsters on heavy duty knives

Utility Knife: A utility knife is a knife used for general or utility purposes.  The utility knife was originally a fixed blade knife with a cutting edge suitable for general work such as cutting hides and cordage, scraping hides, butchering animals, cleaning fish, and other tasks.

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