Knife Terminology

 
 
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AlloyA combination of several metals to create steel superior to both traditional stainless and carbon steel. Most modern alloys will have better edge retention, durability, and corrosion resistance than traditional materials.
 
Anodized AluminumA process using electricity to coat aluminum with a thin protective and decorative film. Usually a colour is added to the material.
 
Assisted OpeningAssisted Opening: A mechanism on certain folding knives used to propel the blade open by applying force to an incorporated thumbstud or flipper.
 

 
BolsterA piece of metal, usually stainless steel, nickel or brass, that is located at the back of a blade where it meets the handle to provide protection and a balance point.
 
ButtSee Pommel.
 
Butterfly KnifeA traditional knife with two handles that are flung open using centrifugal force. Also known as a Bali-Song knife. They are illegal under Canadian law.
 

 
Carbon FiberGraphite fibers the size of a human hairs that are woven together and fused in an epoxy resin. Because of its lightness, strength, and three-dimensional appearance, it is sometimes used as a high quality, although expensive, knife handle material.
 
Carbon SteelA traditional blade material that takes a keen edge easily and offers great strength and resilience. However, it is also prone to rusting and staining and can be outperformed with many modern alloys now available.
 
CarborundumA mixture of silicon and carbon used to make sharpening stones. Our House of Knives grey sharpening stones use Carborundum on one side and Aluminum Oxide on the other.
 
Chisel GrindAn asymmetrical knife edge that is only sharpened on one side. The other side is usually hollow ground to assist in keeping food from sticking. This grind is generally found on woodworking chisels and traditional Japanese sushi knives.
 
ChoilA small round cut-out that separates the cutting portion of a blade from the bolster to make sharpening easier. The term can also describe a cut-out, molded or formed area where the handle and blade meet which protects the index finger while gripping an open blade.
 
ChromiumAn element in stainless steel alloys that increases wear resistance and hardenability and is the most important element in an alloy to prevent corrosion. Most stainless steels, especially in kitchen knives, contain a maximum of between 14% and 16% chromium.
 
Clip-Point BladeA blade with a concave downward grind on the top, while the underside is ground upward. The two angles meet at the tip and determine the depth of the knife's belly.
 
Crock StickCeramic rods placed in the shape of a "V" used to sharpen knives. Individual rods can be used to sharpen scalloped or serrated knives.
 

 
DamascusA blade material formed by layering different alloys of steel together to combine the benefits of each. The layering and forging process results in a "wood-grain" finish on the blade.
 
Drop-Point BladeA blade design made popular in hunting knives where a severe point (see Clip-Point Blade) would be detrimental to skinning. Basically, the tip of the blade is lowered through a convex arc from the spine.
 

 
E.D.C.A term used by knife enthusiasts to denote the knife they like to carry on a daily basis.
 
EscutcheonA small plate inserted into a handle as an inlay which usually shows the name or logo of the manufacturer or a model number.
 

 
Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon (FRN)An injection molded nylon polymer mixed with fiberglass which is used in making lightweight and durable knife handles.
 
 
Finger GroovesContoured or molded design of a handle to fit the fingers comfortably.
 
Flat Ground BladeA strong blade profile that is often used in kitchen knives. The flat grind results in a well supported edge that is easy to maintain but difficult to create because of the increase in blade material.
 
ForgingMethod of manufacturing a knife using extreme heat along with molds, dies and a mechanical hammer to form the blade. The knife is then hardened, tempered and ground. This process produces a finer grain in the steel, giving it more strength and without sacrificing edge retention.
 
FriodurTempering process used by Henckels that utilizes a cooling stage in sub-zero temperatures with liquid methanol to create long-lasting edge retention.
 

 
G-10Handle material made of epoxy filled with woven glass fiber that is impervious to changes in temperature and can be tinted into many colours.
 
Granton Edge (or Scalloped)A type of edge featured on some slicers as well as santokus (Japanese chef's knives) that uses small divots or dimples to create air pockets so that foods will not stick to the blade. Great for cutting thins slices of meats and fish or for starchy veggies and fruits.
 
Gut-HookA sharpened hook often located on the spine of a hunting knife blade near the tip. This design allows the hunter to field dress the animal without puncturing the intestine or tearing the hide.
 

 
Hawkbill BladeBlade shaped in a sharply curved downward hook. The inside edge of the blade is sharpened and works particularly well for fishermen who reach out and pull toward them while cutting lines, webbing and nets.
 
Hollow GrindAn edge put onto a knife that is slightly concave in order to prevent foods from sticking to the knife. It is often found on fillet knives because it allows for a sharper, although less durable edge. Straight razors typically use hollow grinds.
 
HoningHoning a knife means to realign and deburr the edge. Frequent honing is essential and will keep your knife cutting like new for months. (See sharpening steel)
 
Honing OilUsed with a stone to aid with the sharpening process and float away particles of steel removed from the blade being sharpened or small particles of the stone worn away through use.
 

 
Illegal or Prohibited KnivesKnives that we cannot sell include any that have a blade that opens automatically by gravity or centrifugal force or by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in or attached to the handle of the knife. Banned knives include switchblades and knives such as Butterfly knives that open by snapping the knife in a circular motion. There are, however, no federal laws about the length of a knife that can be carried, although some municipalities have their own laws regarding this. Any officer may confiscate any weapon that they feel may pose a threat to society.
 

 
Jigged BoneGenuine animal bone typically used in knife handles and often to emulate stag antler. The bone is usually dyed and surface texture is obtained by cutting holes or notches into the bone.
 

 
KickThe unsharpened portion along the underside of the knife blade where the edge begins. It keeps the blade "kicked out" so the edge does not hit the back spacer.
 
KratonA rubbery thermoplastic polymer used as a flexible inlay on knife handles or as a general handle material for increased grip, especially in wet and cold conditions.
 
KydexA thin thermoplastic material commonly used for firearm holsters and knife sheaths for military personnel. It is flexible and resistant to sweat, chemicals, oils, solvents and temperature extremes. It is shaped by heat and retains its set form.
 

 
Lanyard HoleA hole placed in the knife handle opposite the blade. Originally used by sailors or fishers who would place a cord through the hole to keep from losing it overboard.
 
Liner Lock: A locking mechanism that uses a length of steel inside the handle to lock the blade in place while open. Liner locks allow a knife to be closed using one hand.
 
Lock-BackA traditional locking mechanism that uses a piece of steel along the back of the handle to lock the blade in place while in use. When the piece of steel is depressed, the blade is unlocked and the knife can be closed.
 

 
ManganeseAn element in stainless steel alloys that increases hardenability, strength and wear resistance and greatly improves the steel quality.
 
MicartaAn epoxy resin often in a composite with linen or paper fabric as a handle material. It is incredibly lightweight, durable and visually appealing. It can be bead blasted or polished, changing it's appearance.
 
MolybdenumAn element in stainless steel alloys that prevents brittleness and increases strength at high temperature.
 

 
Nail MarkA small finger notch or slot in the side of a blade that assists in opening the knife.
 
NickelAn element in stainless steel alloys that increases strength, corrosion resistance and toughness. Often used in flatware to increase stain resistance.
 

 
PommelA second bolster added to the back end of a handle on a fixed blade knife. Sometimes it will have nickel or brass accents added to it.
 
Push DaggerA knife with a usually double-edged blade that is designed in such a fashion that the handle is placed perpendicular to the main cutting edge and fits in the hand while the blade protrudes from between the fingers. They are illegal under Canadian Law.
 

 
QuillonHandle side of the guard on a fixed blade knife.
 

 
ReamerSmall tool on a Swiss Army Knife that is sharpened on one side and has a hole in the blade that can punch holes in leather.
 
RicassoFlat area of a blade before it enters the handle on a fixed blade knife.
 
Rockwell HardnessThe standard test of the hardness of steel. The higher the number, the better the edge retention of the knife, but the more difficult it is to re-sharpen. The steel can also become brittle if it becomes too hard. Most stainless steels fall between 56 to 60 HRC with any number above that being very hard.
 
RostfreiGerman word for stainless. Often found on lower end knives to make them sound more exotic or older knives.
 

 
ScaleA slab of material that is riveted, screwed or bonded to the tang of a knife to create a complete handle.
 
ScrimshawDecorative engraving or etching on whalebone, ivory or Mastodon tusks and sometimes used in knife handles. Originated on sailing ships, especially whaling ships.
 
Sintermental Component Technology (SCT)Henckels' manufacturing process on their Twin German-made knives. Blades are stamped out of three different pieces of steel that are sintered together on a molecular level which allows them to utilize different qualities and hardnesses of steel for each part of a knife (i.e. softer steel for the handle and bolster and harder steel for the blade).
 
Serrated Edge (or Saw Tooth)The knife will have small teeth on the edge that can start the cutting on tough materials (bread, tomatoes or rope). Serrated edges are found quite often on cheaper knives (i.e. TV informercial knives) to prolong the lifespan of the edge since the quality of steel is lower. A serrated edge will tear through most materials instead of slicing, so they are best suited for their specific tasks. Cannot be re-sharpened easily.
 
Sharpening SteelA tool used to re-align the edge on the blade of a knife. Despite its name, a sharpening steel will not re-sharpen a dull knife, rather it is used to hone and maintain the existing edge on a blade.
 
Sheepfoot BladeA blade with a straight edge and a round, thick tip that has no point. The design inhibits accidental stabbing while working in emergency situations, or around livestock or inflatable boats.
 
Slip JointA non-locking blade that has a spring acting against it which provides some resistance to its opening and closing as it pivots within the handle (i.e. Swiss Army Knives).
 
SolingenCity in Germany that is widely recognized as the knife manufacturing capitol of the world and where many of the best knives come from. Henckels, Wusthof, and Dovo are all located in Solingen. For a blade to have the Solingen name, the blade must have been processed and finished during all the key manufacturing stages within the industrial boundaries of Solingen.
 
SpineThe backside or closed edge of a folding knife.
 
StagProduced from animal antlers for use in handles of sporting knives. The majority comes from India and is known as Sambar Stag. Canada also exports a large amount of stag for use worldwide.
 
Stainless SteelSteel that contains a minimum of 12.5%-13% chromium, making it resistant to corrosion, but not necessarily stain-proof. The chromium oxide (CrO) creates a barrier to oxygen and moisture preventing rust formation.
 
StampedA method of producing large quantities of knives using a "cookie cutter" to cut out the shapes of blades and components.
 
StilettoA knife that is double-edged and has very thin profile.
 
StropA leather strap used to hone and realign the edge on straight razors.
 
SwitchbladeA spring loaded knife that is opened by pressing a button or lever attached to the handle. They are illegal under Canadian Law.
 

 
TangThe portion of the blade where it connects to the handle. Most higher end knives will have a full tang, meaning that it carries through to the end of the handle, but on cheaper knives or most swords, it will only be a half tang, or a rat-tail, where it tapers into a screw to connect the blade and handle.
 
TemperingA heat treating step used to give the blade steel consistent hardness and durability.
 
TitaniumA non-ferrous metal with very high tensile strength that is lightweight and resistant to corrosion. Often used for handle materials or knife liners.
 

 
VanadiumAn element in stainless steel alloys that contributes to wear resistance and hardenability.
 

 
"Walk and Talk"The term used when opening and closing a folding pocket knife. When opening the knife, during the last bit it will snap into the fully open position. This is known as the walk. When closing the same blade, it will spring closed as it approaches the handle creating the talk. This opening and closing should be crisp and produce a definite "click".
 
WeltAn extra liner sown into a leather sheath of a fixed blade sporting knife to strengthen the edge and prevent premature wear while drawing the knife in and out.
 
WharncliffeA blade design in which the spine of the knife drops to meet a straight cutting edge.
 

 
ZytelA lightweight and extremely durable handle material that can withstand constant use and holds up well in wet and cold conditions.
 
 

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