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Parts of a knife

Parts of a knife

Introduction or why you need knife terms

Knives became a part of the human household quite a long time ago, but their different types intended for different purposes began to become widespread only with the development of industry and new technologies. Despite the fact that in its structure the knife has just two main parts - the blade and the handle, nowadays it became a fairly advanced technological product.

Following the rapid development and emergence of a wide variety of knife types, a whole list of terms was created to describe the specific parts of each knife type. Of course, it is not always necessary to know absolutely all the terms, but if you face a purchase or a service related question, it would not hurt to know some basic things.

1. Types of knives and their anatomy

All knives fall into two large categories: with fixed blades and folding blades. In turn, both categories can be divided into separate subgroups, within which a number of technical terms describing individual parts of the knife will match, and in some other cases will differ.

1.1. Parts of fixed knives

Among the many fixed knives, which differ largely due to size and shape, two main subgroups can be distinguished: kitchen knives and all other fixed-blade knives.

1.1.1. Parts of a kitchen knife or chefs knife

When describing a knife, one most often speaks of a blade that starts at the point and ends at the handle. Although the blade is the main part of the knife, it is still only a part. An equally important part is the handle of a kitchen knife, which is often made in the same style when there is a whole series of knives in production. Some brands have made their name recognisable using this detail as well.

Kitchen knife parts diagram

1 – Point. The point of a kitchen knife, as with all knives, is the point of convergence of its spine and cutting edge. The point is mainly used for piercing foodstuff. The point of small kitchen knives is used for removing pits or for making holes.

2 – Belly. The belly of the blade is the part that can have a different radius and shape depending on the purpose of the knife. Large kitchen knives do not have a clear bevel transition towards the blade point.

3 – Cutting edge. It is the sharp part of the blade, which forms at the convergence of the blade bevels through sharpening and is used for the primary purpose of the knife.

4 – Spine. The spine is the upper part of the blade. Kitchen knives mostly have a fairly thin spine and often have a wedge shape running from the handle or bolster to the point. With the spine of the blade, you can swipe food off the cutting board. Since the spine of the blade is usually left unsharpened, you can use it for hand pressure when cutting dense or large foods like a cabbage or a pineapple.

5 – Handle pads (scales). The shape and material of the scales should be picked individually, as they affect the convenience of using the knife. Scales can be made from a range of man-made or natural materials.

6 – Pins. The pins attach the scales to the blade tang if the knife blank has a full tang design. Knives with a hidden tang can also have pins.

7 – Heel. It is the area of the blade near the handle, ricasso, bolster or choil. It does not have any real purpose. It may include a steel grade mark and a brand logo.

8 – Bolster. It is the transition point between the knife blade and the handle. On kitchen knives, the bolster protects and prevents fingers from getting on the cutting edge. A number of Japanese and European manufacturers do not have the bolster overlapping the thin area of the blade at the heel.

Japanese knife bolster

9 – You can find a metal tip on the end of the handle of a large kitchen knife, or a pommel as found on hunting knives. However, this is rather an exception than a rule. The weighting of the handle end is used for proper weight distribution of the knife with the point of control in the palm of the hand rather than on the blade.

Kitchen knife butt / pommel

1.1.2.     Parts of other fixed knives

Other fixed knives can include all fixed knives that are radically different from kitchen knives. No matter the size, this group can include hunting knives, hiking knives, bushcraft and survival knives and the like.

Fixed knife parts diagram

1 – Point. The point of these knives is used for the same purpose - to pierce, but may have a slightly different configuration.

2 – Tip. The tip of the blade is connected to the structure of the knife according to its purpose and converges to the point as a wedge.

3 – Spine. The spine of this type of knives depending on the structure of the blade can be thin - thin blades are used for cutting, or thick - thick knives are designed for heavy work.

4 – Heel. The heel of the blade can have additional functional holes. It can also be labeled with the steel grade.

5 – The end of the handle can have a butt cap or a glass breaker.

6 – Belly. The belly of the knife blade can be wide or narrow depending on the purpose of the blade.

7 – Bevel. It is the area of the blade that runs from the blade flat towards the secondary bevel and the cutting edge.

8 – Cutting edge. Edge of any blade is formed during the sharpening process at the convergence of the blade bevels.

9 – Sharpening choil. It is a special recess at the point of contact between the bevels and the heel of the blade, it makes it easier to make the knife sharp during sharpening and makes it more precise.

10 – Ricasso. It is a transition area between the blade and its tang, not sharp.

11 – Finger choil. It serves to provide a comfortable and firm grip closer to the blade for more precise work.

12 – Finger guard. It protects fingers and palm from slipping on the cutting edge.

13 – Lanyard hole

14 - Fuller. It serves to both stiffen the blade and reduce its weight.

15 – Blade flat. It is the flat area of the blade running from the spine to the bevels. It is the most noticeable element on the scandi blades.

16 – Bevels line. It is the border between the blade flat and the bevels themselves.

17 – Scales (if the blade has a full tang design).

18 – Jimping on the spine, on the handle or on the butt can make the grip more confident or work as a glass breaker. This will only work on a full-metal knife design with a proper tang.

19 – Sub hilt. It provides a firm grip on the handle of the knife.

20 – Screws or pins for attaching the scales to the knife tang.

1.2. Folding Knife Parts

With the evolution of technology, several different models of folding knives came along. Whether a knife has a blade lock or not there are a number of mechanical elements and accessories that are similar in all designs in one way or another.

1.2.1. Parts of manual folding knives

Manual folding knife parts diagram

1 – Tip. Pocket knives have a very thin tip.

2 – Belly. Due to the small width of the blade may be small, or vice versa.

3 – Bevels. Usually straight and run from the spine of the blade.

4 – Spine. Folding knives usually have a small spine thickness.

5 – There may be a small sharpening choil or a finger choil on the blade, depending on the model.

6 – Pivot screw

7 – Rivet screw for holding entire structure and scales in place.

8 – Lanyard hole. 

1.2.2. Parts of knives opened with one hand (One Hand Opening Manual / Spring Assisted Folding Knife)

This group of folding knives has become quite popular in recent times and often these knives have significant differences in terms of the use of different materials, accessories, design, blade locking mechanisms and other things.

There are a number of differences in the construction of this these knives: they have no longitudinal symmetry; and their scales and locking mechanisms can be made of completely different materials.

One Hand Opening Manual / Spring Assisted Folding Knife parts diagram

The left side of all right-handed knives is considered to be the face side as shown in the diagram above:

1 – Tip. The point of convergence of the spine and the cutting edge.

2 – Swedge. Removing steel thickness of the spine near the tip increases its piercing ability.

3 – Spine. It can be parallel to the cutting edge or converge at an angle.

4 – Blade flat. One hand opening knives sometime have this in their design.

5 – Thumb hole. Can be combined with a flipper.

6 – Jimpings. They serve as a finger stop.

7 – Screws. They fix the scales to the knife and allow the mechanism to work coaxially.

8 – Handle. It can can have scales or be without them.

9 – Lanyard hole. Usually at the end of the handle.

10 – Pivot screw. It is the central element that holds and allows the movement of the blade.

11 – Flipper. This element allows quick opening of the blade.

12 – Sharpening choil. The choil allows convenient and proper sharpening of the cutting edge.

13 – Ricasso. Sometimes here you will find a steel grade designation or a manufacturer's logo.

14 – Knife blade bevels.

15 – Cutting edge.

16 – Tip. This part of the blade is used for fine work.

The right side of One Hand Opening Manual / Spring Assisted Folding Knife parts diagram

The right or reverse side of a right-handed knife can show several other elements that are different from the face side of the knife:

1 – Lanyard hole.

2 – Jimping. A jimping in the area of the butt of the handle.

3 – Titanium part of the handle without a scale.

4 – Carrying clip.

5 – Jimping on the handle.

6 – Jimping on the spine of the blade.

7 – Blade opening hole.

8 – Tip.

9 – Cutting edge.

10 – Sharpening choil.

11 – Flipper.

12 – Pivot screw.

13 – The blade lock can have a different design.

14 – Handle butt.

One Hand Opening Manual knife parts diagram. Top view

If you look at the knife from above, you will also see additional details:

1 – Point with a wedge-shaped convergence to the tip.

2 – The plane of the spine.

3 – Jimping top view.

4 – Pivot screw.

5 – Spacers.

6 – Handle scale.

7 – Jimping on the butt of the handle, top view.

8 – Carry pocket clip.

9 – Frame lock.

One Hand Opening Manual knife parts diagram. Bottom view

If you look at the knife from the bottom or cutting edge side, you will see the point (1), the wedge of the cutting edge (2) and the frame lock (3).

1.2.3. Parts of semi-automatic and automatic switchblades.

Automatic knife parts diagram

Automatic knives are not much different in design but often aim for the speed of use, however this is a controversial point.

1 – Swedge (spine bevel). It makes the tip more aggressive, especially if there is a false blade on this bevel.

2 – Belly. Usually small, due to the purpose of the blade.

3 – Spine. It can also have a bevel in the direction of the tip.

4 – Sharpening choil. It is unusual for this type of blade.

5 – Button for automatic blade release. This is the most distinctive detail of this group of mechanisms.

7 – Scale screws.

8 – Lanyard hole. Lanyard provides easy removal from the pocket.

9 – Pivot screw. Together with the rest ensures the operation of the mechanism.

1.2.4. Parts of front knives

OTF (out the front) knife parts diagram

Out-the-front knives are a pretty special product that have their own distinctive features, almost like automatic switchblades. A special feature of this knife is the «Out The Front Knife» technology. The blade "shoots" out of the handle not from the side, but exactly from the front. The mechanism is triggered with a button. The return of the blade is triggered in the same way, with a button.

The parts of a knife like an OTF knife inlcude the following elements:

1 – Cutting edge of the blade. The blade can be double-edged and partly serrated.

2 – Bevels of such a blade are usually very narrow.

3 – Fuller is a common element for dagger-like blades.

4 – There can be a sharpening choil or a finger choil.

5 – Trigger button.

6 – Handle body, which covers the mechanism.

7 – Jimping on the body provides a confident grip.

8 – Glass breaker. Sometimes there can be a lanyard hole and a pocket clip on the other side.

1.2.5. Parts of a knife of butterfly type

Butterfly knife parts diagram

The butterfly knife is a rather unusual folding knife that many people like, but which often falls under various restrictions. You can easily recognise such a knife by its distinctive handle, which splits into halves and conceals the blade.

1 – Cutting edge of the blade is quite thin and narrow.

2 – Blade bevels can be both dagger-like and classic straight or with a blade flat.

3 – Sharpening choil. Makes it easier to make a knife sharp. Not a usual element for a butterfly knife.

4 – Pivot screws. They provide rotation and hold the structure.

5 – Tang pins. Only allowed in some countries. They are used to stabilise the knife structure against the pivot screws.

6 – Handle. The most prominent element of this knife type.

7 – Latch. It keeps the handle closed.


It is not easy to make a manual guide for all cases in today's rapidly evolving technological environment. Due to this, this article only covers the basic terms of the most common types of knives and their parts. This guide should be sufficient for even a fairly advanced user.

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