Demystifying the Anatomy of a Folding Knife: A Comprehensive Guide

Keywords: folding knife anatomy, knife terminology, blade types, handle components, knife mechanisms

Folding knives, with their compact design and versatility, have become an indispensable tool for everyday carry, outdoor adventures, and various practical tasks. However, understanding the intricate anatomy of these knives, with their specialized terminology and diverse components, can be a daunting task for beginners. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the anatomy of a folding knife, providing you with a clear and detailed explanation of each part and its function.

Navigating the Sharp End:

The blade, the heart of a folding knife, is where the cutting action takes place. Let’s delve into the key terms associated with the blade’s anatomy:

  • Back: The unsharpened side of a single-edged blade.
  • Base: The lower part of the blade where it connects to the handle.
  • Bevel: The ground-down portion of the blade that creates the cutting edge.
  • Choil: An unsharpened recess at the base of the blade, beneath the edge, serving as a finger guard.
  • Edge: The thin, sharpened part of the blade responsible for cutting.
  • Flipper: A protrusion at the base of the blade, primarily used as a pressure tab for opening the knife. Can also act as a finger guard when open.
  • Front: The side of the blade with the primary edge.
  • Grind: The method and style used to create the bevel and edge, influencing the blade’s profile and performance. Common grind types include flat, hollow, saber, and others.
  • Hardness: A measure of the blade’s molecular density, indicated by the Rockwell Hardness Scale (HRC). Higher HRC values denote harder blades that hold an edge longer but are more challenging to sharpen.
  • Jimping: Notches on an unsharpened portion of the blade for enhanced grip.
  • Nail Mark/Nick: A curved slot in the blade for opening the knife with a thumb or fingernail.
  • Point: The sharpened tip of the blade, with various types like clip, drop, sheepsfoot, spear, and tanto.
  • Retention: The ability of the blade to maintain its sharpness, often correlated with higher HRC ratings.
  • Ricasso: The unsharpened portion of the blade just above the handle, where a choil might be located.
  • Serration: A jagged, saw-like edge on the blade, sometimes extending partially or entirely.
  • Steel: The primary material for knife blades, typically an alloy of iron and other elements. Stainless steel offers superior rust resistance compared to carbon steel.
  • Swedge: A false edge on the back of the blade, usually towards the tip, remaining unsharpened.
  • Tang: A protrusion extending from the base of the blade, typically short in folding knives but longer in friction folders or for stylistic purposes.
  • Thumbstud: A protrusion on either or both sides of the blade’s base, used for flipping the knife open.
  • Thumb Ramp: A concave angle at the back base of the blade, serving as a guard and providing leverage for applying pressure.

Exploring the Dull End:

The handle, the other half of a folding knife, houses the blade when closed and contains the moving parts, hardware, and other components. Let’s explore the essential terms associated with the handle’s anatomy:

  • Bolster: A thick metal junction where the blade meets the handle, commonly found on culinary knives but sometimes present on folding knives.
  • Guard: An unsharpened protrusion preventing the hand or fingers from slipping onto the blade from the handle. Not all knives have guards.
  • Inlay: An ornamental material embedded into the handle.
  • Joint: The point where the blade and handle meet and are joined by a pivot pin.
  • Lanyard: A cord or leather piece commonly found on hunting and camping knives, used for attaching the knife to a pack or bag.
  • Lanyard Hole: A machined tunnel at the base of the handle for attaching a lanyard.
  • Liner: A thin sheet of metal, usually corrosion-resistant, situated between the blade and handle, protecting both components from damage.
  • Lock: A mechanism that secures the blade in place, whether open or closed, typically requiring user-applied pressure to release.
  • Pocket Clip: An accessory, permanently attached or removable, that allows the knife to be clipped onto a belt, pocket, or other location.
  • Spine: An alternative term for the back of the blade, also referring to the metal piece running along the handle’s back in back lock folding knives.
  • Spring: A component that exerts pressure to keep the knife closed, open, or assist with opening.
  • Standoff: A spacer within the handle housing, preventing the knife from warping.

Featured Folder:

The Zero Tolerance ZT0450 Sinkevich, with its sleek design and robust construction, exemplifies the intricate craftsmanship of folding knives.

Understanding the anatomy of a folding knife, with its specialized terminology and diverse components, empowers you to make informed decisions when choosing the right knife for your needs. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the key terms and their functions, equipping you with the knowledge to navigate the world of folding knives with confidence.

Parts of the Blade

The part of the knife that accomplishes tasks is called the blade. This is the knife’s metal component, specifically the exposed metal that protrudes from the handle. Indeed, although this part of the knife is referred to as the blade, the blade itself is made up of separate parts.

The edge is the long, sharp part of the blade that does most of your cutting, whether youre using a chefs knife, paring knife, boning knife, or any other kind. The cutting edge is used to slice, dice, mince, chop, or do just about any other standard kitchen cutting job.

Even though a knife’s shape can vary, its edge is almost always its most crucial component. Various knives employ their blades in different ways. For instance, because of their serrated edges, bread knives work better on food with tough exteriors than chefs knives do. Both knives, though, depend on their edge to do their jobs.

The beveling of a knife blade, or the angle at which the knife is ground down to the sharp edge, determines how sharp the blade is. The sharpness of the blade increases with decreasing bevel degree. A knife with a 25-degree bevel, for instance, is not as sharp as one with a 15-degree bevel.

Most western kitchen knives are double-beveled, meaning theyre sharpened on both sides. Some Japanese knives, like a santoku knife, are traditionally only beveled on one side. The Tip and the Point

The knife’s tip is actually its sharp, pointy end, as the name suggests. When cutting delicate materials that need meticulous attention to detail, like garnishes or tiny cuts, this end of the blade is utilized. The point can be used to make holes in objects; for instance, it can be used to make tiny holes in roasts to insert garlic cloves. Imagine it like a spear point.

The part of the blade that is not sharp, away from the edge, is called the spine. It is the thickest component of the knife, substantially thicker than the blade, and provides the strength of the tool. Compared to a knife with a thin spine, one with a thick spine can withstand more pressure.

The portion of the knife nearest to your hand is its heel. At this point, the knife’s blade ends and it curves upward to become the handle. Similar to the spine, the rear of the heel will be filed down so as not to sever your hand on it.

Most kitchen knives will have a pronounced heel. They place some distance between your hand and the blade to prevent you from hurting yourself. Certain knives, such as pocket or steak knives, might not even have a heel.

Parts of the Handle

After looking at the blade, let’s examine the handle, which is another essential component of a knife.

One of the most important parts of the handle is its connection to the blade: whether its a full tang or partial tang.

The unsharpened portion of the blade that enters the knife handle is called the tang. A full tang knife is stronger than a partial tang knife because its metal component extends all the way to the handle. Heavy use is far less likely to damage the knife because the metal is all the way through the handle. The strongest option is to use a full tang knife for kitchen knives or any heavy-duty knife.

A full tang knife can be identified by the presence of metal at the handle’s end. The spine of the knife should pass through the handle and end at the back. Unless it’s a hidden tang knife, in which case the manufacturer would notify you, a partial tang knife won’t have metal visible through the handle.

The tiny but essential rivets are what hold the blade and handle together. Although rivets come in a variety of forms, they all serve the same purpose: they keep your knife together. Without them, you would be left with a blade without a handle, which is not good for anyone using the kitchen, let’s be honest.

Though wood, plastic, and steel are the most popular materials, a knife handle, also referred to as the scales in a full tang knife, can be made of a wide variety of materials.

The most crucial feature of a kitchen knife’s handle material is that it is easy to hold and does not quickly become slippery. This is particularly true in a kitchen setting where washing hands, fruits, and vegetables frequently results in wet knife handles.

Although some bolster shapes can obstruct electric knife sharpeners, the bolster serves as a strengthening component for the entire knife, sitting where the blade meets the handle. There are instances when the knife bolster acts as a spacer between the handle and the blade. Although some manufacturers are now including bolsters and reshaping bolster shapes to combine elements of Western and Japanese knife designs, traditional Japanese-style knives do not have them.

With the use of a bolster, you can exert significant hand pressure on the blade without jeopardizing your safety or the knife’s structural integrity. Keep in mind that the verb “bolster” means to strengthen, and kitchen knives are no exception.

While many knives have a full bolster, there are some significant benefits to having a sloped bolster instead. Most notably, it makes a more efficient grip possible, which we like to refer to as the pinch grip. When using the pinch grip, you can cut more precisely because your hand is closer to the knife’s blade rather than awkwardly gripping the handle. You’ll have much more control over your cuts if you can just place your thumb and index finger’s first knuckle on the bolster to perform the pinch grip.

The end of the knife that is opposite the point is called the pommel, sometimes referred to as the butt of the knife. It’s not used in cooking very often, but it comes in a variety of shapes, and generally you want it to be sturdy. The pommel should ideally protrude toward the end to provide additional grip.

Knife Bolsters, How to make a knife bolster, How to attach bolsters on a knife


What is a bolster on a pocket knife?

Bolster – The bolster is the band that joins the blade of the knife to its handle. The bolster provides balance for the knife and also helps to protect the hand from getting in the way of the knife edge. Tang – The tang is the part of the blade that extends into the handle of the knife.

What do you use the bolster of the knife for?

A knife bolster is a thick junction between the handle and the knife blade which provides a smooth transition from the blade to the handle. A bolster strengthens the knife, adds durability, and provides a counter-balance.

How does a bolster lock knife work?

BOLSTER LOCK To close: a pivoting bolster releases the rocker arm. A firing button with a lug inserts into a detent hole to keep it closed. Press the button to release the lug and fire the torsion spring.

What is a knife with a full bolster?

A full-Bolster is integral, meaning it is forged from the same piece of steel that the knife is made of. Its design drops from the handle to the heel, creating a finger guard. The Full-Bolster also offers strength which is beneficial when the knife may be used with a heavy hand or used on hard food products.

What is a bolster on a knife?

Bolster: A thick metal junction where the knife blade meets the handle, typically seen on culinary knives, but does exist on some folding knives. Guard: Any unsharpened piece of protruding material which keeps the hand and/or fingers from slipping up the blade from the handle. Not all knives necessarily have a guard.

What is a full bolster knife?

The full bolster moves the balance of the knife toward the handle. A knife with this type of balance requires more pushing strength. You will need to use more force to cut, as opposed to a knife with a balance toward the blade.

What are the different types of bolsters on kitchen knives?

There are several types of bolsters commonly found on kitchen knives: A full bolster on a kitchen knife refers to a thick metal band that runs the full length of the blade and joins the handle. The purpose of the full bolster is to provide both structural support and balance to the knife, making it easier and more comfortable to use.

What is the difference between a Bolster and a knife guard?

The extra weight from the bolsters gives the knives a better feel for heavier tasks. A knife bolster’s purpose is to provide balance to the blade especially on full tang blades for enhanced handling of the knife during cutting, while a knife Guard’s purpose is to guard your hand against slipping up the handle when using the knife.

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