Some terms used in the making of a knife.

Blade: The steel part that has the edge or edges, back, it is also used to describe the knife as a whole. This is also used for both Fixed blade and Folders, the Fixed blade is as implied it is fixed in one solid piece, and the Folder has a blade that folds into the handle.

Edge: The cutting part of the blade. Not the part to hold.

False edge: The non cutting edge opposite the cutting edge, normally from the tip of the blade going back to the handle and will vary from knife to knife, some will be short and some will be quite long.

Single edge: The blade has only one cutting edge on the blade.

Double edge: The blade has two cutting edges on the blade.

Serration: The blade has a number of grooves or serrations cut into the edge or back to allow for a sawing action to be achieved.

Tang: The part of the blade that is inside the handle. A Full tang will be seen from the side of the blade, while a Hidden Tang will not be visible.

Bolster: The adornment between the handle and the front part of the blade.

Pommel: The adornment at the back end of the knife.

Handle: The part to hold, this is where the hand goes.

Thumb stud: The thumb stud is used to open and close the blade on a one handed opening folding knife.

Folder: Another name is a Pocketknife; it is a knife with a blade that folds into the handle. This will fall into a number of categories, One handed openers, Automatics (This used to be a “Flick” knife), Slip Locks, Back Locks, Liner Locks, Gentleman’s, Ladies, etc.

Liner lock: The locking method used to hold the blade open on a liner lock style of knife, it locks the blade open by moving in behind the bottom half of the blade, and has to be moved with a finger before the blade will close.

Back lock: The mechanism used to lock the blade in the open position, found at the back of the handle and has to be moved with a finger before the blade will close.

Phantom Lock: something new? This uses one of the handle slabs as a lock, the whole handle slab is moved over to release the blade.

Slip lock: One of the oldest methods, still used on a lot of knives, the “Lock” just slips off when closing, there is no positive locking and the blade can close on the fingers, wonder how many of us have done this?

Ricasso: The piece of real estate between the blade and the handle.

Hollow grind: This is a method using a round wheel to achieve a grind in the blade, and is visible as a hollow in the blade.

Flat grind: The grind goes from the edge up the blade, sometimes from edge to back or just halfway, depends on the style (Mood of the Knifemaker?) of the knife.

Damascus: The usage of the term “Damascus” is not really the name of the steel, this was derived from the time that steel swords were brought from the East to the West via the trade port of Damascus in Syria, the steel mostly came from Wootz in India, this will often also be called British Wootz steel, again a misnomer, the art of making Wootz was lost, there is an article called The Key Role of Impurities in Ancient Damascus Steel Blades by: J.D. Verhoeven, A.H. Pendray, and W.E. Dauksch. See Articles page on:

Pattern welded: See Damascus

Liner: Something on a folder, this is the piece of material used to separate the slabs on a folding knife, it could be made of various materials, and the favourite is titanium,

Lanyard ring or hole: A hole, normally, in the back end of the knife and used to tie a string/rope/chain to the knife, the other end of the lanyard is attached to the body, round the neck, the belt, etc.

Pinning: The bits of material used to hold the knife together, these could be Brass, Stainless Steel, Aluminium, solid on tubular.

Forged: This is a huge subject: See Articles page on:

Stock removal: This is a huge subject: See Articles page on:

Fuller: A hollow down the centre of the knife. Also called a blood groove, blood did not flow readily down a knife with a fuller, it is also one of those misnomers, it is a design feature to lighten the blade while maintaining the strength down the centre of the blade.

Guard: A section of material that is in front of the blade and protects the hand from an opponents knife blade, as well as preventing the hand from slipping forward onto the blade when thrusting with the knife.

Nail groove: The little grove slot in the side of the blade use for opening a folder, with the advent of the one handed opening knife the nail groove is rapidly falling into disuse.


Some terms used for making a Dirk.

The blade, a single edge, spear pointed blade, usually long enough to protrude below the edge of the Targe by 100 to 125 mm (4 to 5 inches), making the Dirk about 300 to 330 mm (12 to 13 inches) long.

The by-knife is usually 100 mm (four inches) long and the by-fork is two tined. These are made to match the Dirk and are mounted in the sheath, either side by side with the handles just below the Dirk, or one above the other, they where originally mounted side by side.

The sheath is usually made with a reinforced wooden lining to support the by-knife and fork.

The Pommel has a variety of finishes, a large circular brass disk, a decorative motive or a semi precious stone such as an amethyst or Citrine.

The handle, usually cylindrical in shape, with grooves or one or two bands or Celtic knot work carved around it, which can have decorative pins placed in the carving.

Some terms used for making an Sgian Dubh.

The Sgian Dubh, or stocking knife.

Some terms used for making a Targe

Carried on the left forearm is a round leather-covered shield called a Targe about 400 mm (16 inches) in diameter

Jutting from the centre is a steel spike, about 300 mm (10 inches) long.
Two leather straps are used for holding the Targe in the left hand.

Some terms used for making a Scots Claymore (This would be a yard long Basket Hilt broadsword), to differentiate from a traditional Claymore, which was a two handed broadsword.

There are very few knives as distinctive as the Scottish Dirk; it is worn as a part of the formal dress of the Scot. In what other type of clothing than a Kilt could you walk into a dinner party with a 300 mm knife hanging down the front of your cloths?