There are 2 main parts of any knife, the handle and the blade. Each of those are made of several other parts as shown in the picture below.
The blade consists of 8 parts: the point, edge, tip, swedge, belly, spine, heel and ricasso.
- Point. The blade point is where the spine (back) and edge (cutting area) come together at the front of the knife.
- Edge. The edge is the part of the knife that does the cutting. Different types of grinds are used to form the edge, and this determines the characteristics of the blade. See below for more on blade grinds. The edge can be plain or serrated. Serrations make it easier to cut through things like rope or paracord.
- Tip. The tip is the front of the knife, directly behind the point. The strength of the tip is an important characteristic of a knife because a weak tip can break and then the knife will not have an effective point.
- Swedge (or swage). A swedge is a beveled false edge along the knife spine, normally not sharpened. The purpose of a swedge is to reduce the thickness of the point to improve the knife’s piercing ability.
- Belly. The belly of a knife is the rounded part of the cutting edge at the lower front of a blade. Not all knives have bellies. The belly is the main contact area of a knife and a bigger belly with a high grind makes for a great slicing knife for hunters and survival food prep.
- Spine. The spine is the unsharpened top portion of the blade opposite the edge. It's the thickest part of the knife and it gives the knife its strength. The spine may have jimping. Jimping is regular, machined cuts on the spine of a knife. Jimping improves traction on the blade for the thumb and helps give better control when using the knife.
- Heel. The heel is the broadest section of the knife's edge and is located at the back of the blade. It's the blade's strongest point, and it's perfect for slicing through tough things.
- Ricasso. The ricasso is the middle of the knife. It is the transition point between the two blade and handle.
- Full Tang. You want a full tang knife for survival purposes. A full tang gives the maximum strength and stability to the knife. On a full tang knife, the tang extend through the entire length of the handle and connects to the butt or pommel of the knife.
- Partial tang. As the names implies, a partial tang only extends part way into the knife handle. This means the knife is inherently weaker and the knife handle could separate from the blade during hard use.
- Rat-tail tang. A rat-tail tang is a smaller, partial tang that gives some added strength to a blade but is weaker than other tang types.
2. Handle/Scales. The handle of a knife is where the user holds the knife. When it is made of 2 pieces, the handle is called "scales". Knife handles are made of a variety of materials, including different types of wood, plastic, deer antler, aluminum, stainless steel, carbon fiber, titanium, and fiberglass laminates. Knife handles are also made from synthetic materials like G-10 and Micarta. These composite materials are layered for maximum durability and are currently very popular. Scales are fastened to the knife frame by rivets, pins, or screws.
3. Choil. There are 2 types of knife choils. The first is a finger choil. A finger choil is a large un-sharpened part of the knife blade where the blade becomes part of the handle. This choil is curved to hold the index finger for better control over the blade. The second type of choil is a sharpening choil. This is a small notch or relief at the end of the edge that allows the blade to be sharpened all the way to the heel of the blade.
4. Bolster. Bolsters can be both functional and decorative. On a fixed blade knife, the bolster is to a band of metal between the blade and handle used to strengthen and support the transition between the blade and the handle. Folding blade knives had decorative bolsters.
5. Quillion. The quillon is the guard knife or sword to protect the hand from harm from other blades slipping down the blade and to prevent your hand from slipping forward onto the blade of your knife.
6. Butt/Pommel. The butt of a knife is the end of the handle and end of the tang on a full tang knife. The pommel is can be either part of the tang or an end cap that reinforces the butt so it can be used for striking or hammering.
Thanks for reading the knife parts blog! Please leave any comments or suggestions below. My next knife blog article will talk about the different blade point types and what they are designed and used for.