Anatomy of the Knife: Fixed Blade Knives - Part 1: The Blade

February 12, 2013

Here on the Lansky Sharpeners Blog we’ve been providing some serious education on all the different types of blades and grinds.  When you first start learning about knife sharpening and knives, it can be like trying to sip from a fire hydrant on full blast; there’s a lot of information and it comes at you fast.  For such a seemingly simple concept, knives and knife sharpening can get very complicated, very fast.  So, what makes it seem so complicated?


First off, the sea of terminology used to describe different parts of knives can be daunting. Many of the terms used to describe the different parts of a knife stem from other languages and historical terms not in use today. Second, knives have gone through (and still do) so many modifications and changes over the years and more and more terms are added to the vocabulary.


 Combine these two factors and it could lead a grown man to hide in a corner weeping over the good old days when a knife had three parts; a blade, guard and handle.  So wash your hands, slip on your lab coat and put that silly paper mask on. It’s time to learn anatomy; Fixed Blade Knife Anatomy.


Let’s start with the basics; the visible characteristics on a basic fixed blade knife going from the tip of the blade to ricasso.  As I mentioned in my last post Knife Blade Profiles and Uses knife blade come in many shapes and types.  Though knife blades may have different characteristics and design, their anatomy (the different sections and pieces that form a serviceable knife) can generally be broken down with just a few variances. 

                     FIXED BLADE ANATOMY



The Blade

  • The Tip or Point of a blade is simple; it’s the pointy end of the blade. You should know that by now, but I won’t blame you.  Tip and point can be used interchangeably but may be used separately to describe two different aspects of the anatomy.  The “point” being literally the point where the spine and edge meet and the “tip” referring to a small section at the front of the blade that leads up to the point.


  • The Cheek or Face of a blade refers to each side of the blade, often used to refer to the section separate from the grind but can be used to refer to each side of the blade, including the grind.


  • 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. 


  • The Grind or Bevel of the blade is explained thoroughly in my post Knife Edge Grinds and Uses and refers to the cross section of the blade, or the section ground down to form the Edge.  For more information about different grinds and their significance, follow my link above.


  • The Edge is the cutting surface of a blade that extends from point to heel. It’s the sharp part! And also, the reason I have gainful employment.


  • The Belly of the blade refers to the curved section of the edge leading up to the tip. The belly on a blade increases the surface area of the edge and aids in making cuts or slices. Blades with large curved edges like fillet knives and scimitar style daggers have large bellies intended for strong slicing cuts.


  • The Heel of the blade refers the section of the blade next to the guard or handle.  The heel encompasses a small section of the grind, the Plunge Line and the Ricasso.


  • The Plunge Line is where the grind stops and meets the edge, often at a right angle to the grind.


  • The Ricasso is the unsharpened section of a blade, closest to the guard/handle.


  • Some blades may have a Choil. A choil is an unsharpened indent on a blade where it meets the handle or at the plunge line.  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 creat a stopping point when sharpening, to protect the handle.


  • A Fuller or Blood Groove (not shown) is a decorative feature that runs the length or a partial length of the blade.  A fuller may be used to reduce the weight of the blade but often is used purely for decoration.


  • Jibbing (not shown) refers to a pattern of gouges or notches made on the spine of a blade close to the handle. Jibbing is used to aid in grip when doing fine work and as a decorative feature. 

That’s the anatomy of the basic blade on a knife; I think we’ll stop there for now. Remember, more knowledge = a sharper knife, so let this information soak in. Make sure to join me next week as we continue to explore fixed blade knife anatomy in; Anatomy of the Knife: Fixed Blade Knives - Part 2: The Guard, Handle and Tang. Make sure to bookmark this blog, email it to a friend or add our RSS feed.  Stay an Edge above the Rest!



Category: Edge Knowledge


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