20 Common Knife Terms

August 4, 2016

There’s a lot more to knife terminology than “blade” and “handle”. In fact, the list of terms associated with knives is so extensive that, in this post, we’ll just be sharing some of the more common ones.

The following list is a good starting point for newer knife enthusiasts. Longer, more detailed lists can be found online for more advanced knife collectors.

knife anatomy.JPG

Belly – The belly is the curved part of the blade and the area used for slicing. (The larger the belly, the less sharp the point of the blade will be).

Bevel – This refers to the tapered part of the blade that goes from the spine down to the edge.

Blade Lock – The part of a folding knife that “locks” the blade into place. Common lock types include liner locks and lockbacks.

Edge - The Edge is the cutting surface of the blade that extends from point to heel.

False Edge -An edge that isn't sharpened but gives the appearance of being another sharpened cutting edge.

Fixed Blade – A knife that doesn’t fold and is permanently “fixed” into place.

Folding Knife – a knife that is not a solid piece between handle and blade and can be folded closed.

Full Tang - refers to a knife tang that extends the full length and width of the handle.  Full tang constructed knives generally form the handle by the use of Scale material. Scales refer to two pieces of handle material that sandwich the tang between them and are attached to the tang by adhesive and/or rivets /pins.  Full Tang knives are generally considered the most durable and solid knives available.

Guard - The Guard is located between the handle and the blade. Its purpose is to literally guard your hand from slipping up the handle and onto the blade.

Handle Material – The type of material a knife handle is made from. Everything from bone to aluminum and nylon has been used to make knife handles.

Lanyard - A cord used to attach a knife to clothing or a belt.

Lanyard Hole - A hole in the end of a knife handle opposite the blade where a lanyard can be attached.

Mirror Edge - A mirror edge is a refined edge that is so polished, it's reflective. It is achieved by using successively finer abrasives. (See How to Get a Polished Mirror Edge Using the Lansky System).

Neck Knife - a small fixed-blade knife which is carried around one's neck, handle down, by either paracord or a breakaway beaded chain.

Partial Tang - Partial Tang refers to a knife tang that doesn’t fully extend and/or match the width of the blade and handle material. Although considered weaker than Full Tangs, Partial Tangs have their place in the knife world and generally produce much lighter knives.

Ricasso - the unsharpened section of a blade closest to the guard/handle.

Spine - The Spine of a blade refers to the dull, unsharpened back of a blade, the opposite side of the edge. Double edged blades (daggers) do not have a spine but most knives found in the home or for outdoor use will have a spine.

Tip Up/Tip Down – This pocket clip configuration refers to whether the tip of the blade is pointing up or down when folded closed. Example: “The Lansky Responder has a 2-position pocket clip for tip up or tip down carry”.

Tang – the portion of the knife that extends into the handle.

Zytel – a handle material made from glass-filled nylon. Zytel was developed by DuPont and is an excellent knife handle material given its strength and durability.


Also see:



Category: Edge Knowledge


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