Not to mention choosing the best pocket knife for your specific needs. Knowledge of the knife’s features, such as its locking mechanism, blade type, and deployment method, ensures that you can use it effectively while minimizing the risk of accidents. Different knives, like EDC knives and Leathermans, have varying mechanisms, and knowing how to engage or disengage them helps prevent mishandling that could lead to injuries. This pocket knife glossary encompasses 52 terms you need to know, because it turns out that these mini-cutters are quite big on technicalities.
Back: The non-cutting edge of the knife blade, opposite the cutting edge.
Bail: A metal loop or attachment point on the handle for securing the knife with a lanyard or attaching it to a keychain.
Belly: The curved cutting edge of the knife blade, ideal for slicing and general-purpose cutting.
Bevel: The angled edge of the blade that forms the cutting edge.
Bolster: The thick, metal part of the handle located at the base of the blade, providing balance and strength.
Carbon steel: A type of steel containing a higher percentage of carbon, known for its hardness and edge retention.
Choil: A small, unsharpened notch near the blade’s base, allowing users to choke up on the knife for better control.
Clip point: A blade shape with a concave curve leading to a sharply pointed tip, suitable for detailed work.
Damascus steel: A type of steel with a distinctive wavy pattern, created by layering different steel alloys.
Detent: A mechanism that provides resistance to the blade’s opening and closing, ensuring it stays in place.
Drop point: A blade shape with a convex curve from the spine to the tip, versatile for various cutting tasks.
Epoxy: A strong adhesive often used in knife construction to bond handle materials and secure components.
Flipper: A protrusion on the blade that facilitates one-handed opening by using a flicking motion.
Frame lock: A locking mechanism where a portion of the handle moves behind the blade to secure it in place.
FRN: Fiber Reinforced Nylon, a lightweight and durable material commonly used for knife handles.
Front flipper: A flipper tab located on the front of the blade for one-handed opening.
G-10: A high-pressure fiberglass laminate used for durable and lightweight knife handles.
Grind: The shape of the blade’s cutting edge; flat grind, hollow grind, and Scandinavian grind are common types.
Guard: A portion of the knife’s handle or bolster designed to protect the user’s hand.
Gut hook: A specialized blade with a hooked edge for easily opening and field dressing game.
Flipper tab: A small tab on the blade used to facilitate one-handed opening of a folding knife.
Hardware: Various components like screws, pivot pins, and washers used in knife construction.
Heel: The rear part of the cutting edge near the handle.
Inlays: Decorative materials set into the handle, often contrasting with the main handle material.
Jimping: Small notches or grooves on the spine of the blade or handle for improved grip.
Linerlock: A locking mechanism where a metal liner moves into position behind the blade to secure it.
Lockback: A locking mechanism where a metal spine springs into a notch on the blade, securing it.
Micarta: A composite material made of layers of fabric or paper laminated with resin, commonly used for knife handles.
Nail nick: A small groove on the blade that allows users to open a folding knife with their fingernail.
Pins: Small metal rods used to hold the handle scales and other components together.
Pocket Clips: Attachments allowing the knife to be clipped to a pocket; variations include deep carry, reversible, and tip-up/tip-down.
Pommel: The rounded or blunt end of the handle, opposite the blade.
Quillon: The guard on a knife, designed to protect the hand and prevent it from sliding onto the blade.
Retention: The ability of a knife’s sheath or pocket clip to hold the knife securely in place.
Ricasso: The unsharpened portion of the blade between the handle and the cutting edge.
Rockwell Hardness Test: A method to measure the hardness of a material, often used for assessing blade hardness.
Scales: The handle material on each side of the knife, often made of wood, metal, or synthetic materials.
Scrimshaw: Artistic engravings or carvings on the handle or blade, typically done on bone or ivory.
Serrated: Having a notched or toothed edge, ideal for cutting through tough materials.
Sheepsfoot: A blade shape with a straight edge and a blunt, rounded tip, suitable for slicing and push cuts.
Shield: A decorative emblem or insignia embedded in the handle of a knife.
Slip Joint: A non-locking folding knife mechanism that uses spring tension to keep the blade in place.
Spearpoint: A symmetrical blade shape with a double-edged point, suitable for piercing.
Spine: The top, unsharpened edge of the blade.
Stainless Steel: A corrosion-resistant steel alloy commonly used in knife blades.
Swedge: A beveled or ground section along the spine of the blade to reduce weight and improve balance.
Sweep: The curvature of the blade, affecting its cutting performance.
Tang: The portion of the blade that extends into the handle.
Tanto: A blade shape with a straight edge and an angular, reinforced point, designed for piercing.
Tempering: Heat treatment process to improve the toughness and reduce brittleness of the blade.
Thumb Studs: Small, protruding studs on the blade for one-handed opening using the thumb.
Wharncliffe: A blade shape with a straight cutting edge and a spine that tapers to the tip, suitable for precise cutting.