Today, knives come in a variety of shapes and sizes and with a diver range of uses and functions. However, all knives have the same base structure and consist of a few basic parts. If you are keen on becoming a knife collector or an expert on the subject, you should start by learning the different parts of a knife.
The most important part of the knife, blades are available in many materials like stainless steel, carbon steel and other variations of the alloy. While stainless steel remains the most popular choice for the blade, other more durable options like high carbon alloys are taking over. Apart from being rust-free and non-reactive, high carbon stainless steel blades are stronger and do not discolour even after years of usage. In fact, the edge of such blades are designed to retain their sharpness despite rough use.
The handle is the second most important part of the knife as it helps you use the blade safely. Knife handles can be made from several materials depending on the output quality, pricing and intended use. Most kitchen knives are made from softer yet durable materials like wood, rubber and plastic while outdoor and combat knife handles are often made from tougher materials like leather, stainless steel, aluminium and Micarta.
The spine is the thickest portion of the blade. In single edged blades, this could refer to the blunt side while in double edged blades, the spine is the middle section where it is the thickest.
The sharp end of the knife that is used for piercing through surfaces is called the point.
Extending from the point to the knife’s heel, the edge is the cutting surface of the knife.
The cross section shape of the knife’s blade is called the grind.
Oftentimes, metal blades can be quite heavy to use. Adding a groove to the edge of the blade makes the blade lighter without affecting its sharpness or other cutting functions.
The guard is a small barrier at the edge of the handle that separates it from the blade. This small barrier protects your hand from slipping onto the blade when pressure is applied.
Located at the junction of the handle and the blade, a ricasso is a small flat metal section added to separate the two sections.
A lanyard is a strap of fabric or leather secured to the end of the handle which is worn across the wrist when using. This feature is not available in all knives but is commonly found in multi-tools, combat knives, survival knives and other outdoor usage models.
Also known as the butt, the hilt is the end of the handle that is designed for blunt force. It is a small extension to the design and is ideal for breaking or cracking food items, wood and other small objects.
The section of the blade that extends into the knife handle is called tang, which helps stabilise and strengthen the knife. Knives that are used for heavy duty work like cleavers or chef’s knives often include tangs that are almost as long the handle itself to allow it to withstand rough use. It is important to note that blades with smaller tangs are not as durable and more commonly used for less exhaustive work and less frequently.
Securing the tang to the handle is what the rivet does best. It is important that all rivets used in the knife are 100% smooth, sturdy and lie in alignment with the surface of the handle itself. This helps secure the blade tightly onto the handle and make the knife more durable.
Also known as a collar or shank, a bolster is attached at the meeting point of the handle and the blade is often the sign of a quality knife. This bolster helps balance the knife and protects your hands from cuts. In quality knives, the bolster is tightly attached to the handle and the blade ensuring that the knife is always balanced when placed on a surface.