Whether you're looking online or having a conversation with a knife enthusiast, you're bound to hear several terms and phrases thrown around that you may have never heard before. At first it may sound like a foreign language, but it's pretty easy to learn and pick up on. Here are commonly used knife terminology to get familiar with:
Types of Steel
Developed in a partnership between Kershaw and Sandvik Steel. Kershaw worked with Sandvik Steel, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of stainless steel and special alloys, to produce this high-performance steel. Increased nitrogen in the formula enables 14C28N to provide both excellent corrosion resistance and the ability to be hardened to 58-60 rockwell.
This “semi-stainless” tool steel is known for excellent wear resistance and good toughness.
Very stain resistant and tough, 420 is a somewhat “softer” steel. Often used in handle liners as well as blades.
Highly stain and wear resistant, but more ductile, this steel is excellent for use where “flex” is desirable.
This all-around premium knife steel takes and holds an edge extremely well and is also extremely tough and wear resistant.
A tough, durable carbon steel that is designed for hard-use applications such as Kershaw’s Camp Series machetes. 3Cr13 A value-priced high-chromium stainless steel
Steel produced by forge welding layers of or strands of steel to create one homogenous piece. Non ferrous metal are sometimes included in the process. After final shaping, Damascus is etched to highlight the pattern of the steel.
Common Knife Terms
ABILITY TO TAKE AN EDGE
Some steels take a sharper edge than others. Fine-grained steels take an edge more easily than coarse-grained ones.
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a common thermoplastic. It combines strength and rigidity with the toughness of rubber. Inlaid in steel handles, it also offers non-slip grip characteristics.
A mixture of two or more metals in solution; the atoms of one replace or occupy spaces between the atoms of the other, so the materials are inextricably joined.
A blade coating in which a chemical bath converts the surface of the steel to magnetite. Kershaw uses this coating on some blades and pocket clips, mainly for appearance, though it does add some corrosion resistance.
A strong, lightweight weave of bonded carbon atoms. Kershaw occasionally uses it in handle scales; a premium material.
The start of the cutting edge. A small scallop or cutout between the cutting edge and ricasso. The choil is unsharpened and can be decoratively shaped.
A blade shape in which the blade is clipped off at a straight or slightly curved concave angle to the point. Provides a thin, aggressive point, yet sheaths easily.
CNC (COMPUTER NUMERICAL CONTROLLED MACHINING)
Adds dimension to a knife blade or handle and enhances performance. CNC machines can be programmed to execute a precise series of machining operations that can result in the production of some of the complex components of a knife. Kershaw was one of the pioneers in mainstreaming the production of 3D-machined knives. We chose to use CNC machines because they give us the flexibility to create the complex part geometries that some of our knife designs require. CNC also gives us the ability to create just a few pieces for limited-run products or thousands of pieces for knives we produce in higher quantities.
A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units and can be either synthetic or natural. A co-polymer is a compound of two or more different molecules, chosen for specific characteristics. The co-polymers used for knife handles generally have a slightly rubbery texture to improve grip security.
The ability of steel to resist deterioration through reaction with elements in its surrounding environment.
A small divot or dimple machined in the tang of a folding knife blade that allows a ball bearing to drop in when the knife is in the closed position to remain closed. Detent is good when a flipper blade opens easily.
Diamond-Like Carbon coating; a coating that displays properties similar to those of natural diamond, including hardness, wear resistance, and reduced friction. Kershaw uses it to enhance the performance of knife blades and produce an attractive finish.
A process by which a knife blade is made by forcing hot steel into a metal die.
A very common blade style providing a strong, convenient point and easy sheathing; very common in hunting blades and work knives.
Acronym term referring to "everyday carry" meaning a knife is good for everyday use.
The ability of a steel to resist abrasion and wear, so the edge stays sharper longer.
The design science of making products comfortable and efficient for human use.
Small integral tab near the tang of a folder that enables you to open a knife with your index finger. Apply pressure to the flipper and the knife opens quickly and easily.Flippers may be found on both manual and SpeedSafe® knives.
A knife which is built of one solid piece of blade steel from tip to butt; scales are usually attached to form the hand.
Nylon synthetic polymer is reinforced with glass threads for increased strength, stiff ness, and dimensional stability combined with excellent wear resistance.
The ability of steel to be hardened by heat treatment.
Like strength, hardness is a measure of resistance to deformation.
A controlled heating and cooling process designed to improve the physical properties and characteristics of the steel. Tempering, annealing, and quenching are all forms of heat treatment.
The ability of a material to resist cracking or breaking due to sudden impact.
Non-metallic particles that can either form naturally during the steel-making process or can accidentally get into steel. These inclusions can affect the steel’s quality; the fewer the inclusions, the cleaner and higher quality the steel.
INSET LINER LOCK
To build an inset liner lock, Kershaw insets a strip of steel inside a knife’s handle, usually when the handle is G-10 or glass-filled nylon. Insetting the lock in this way enables us to create a slimmer knife, while still providing the strength and security of a locking liner.
Notches on the spine of a knife blade, or other places on a knife, designed to help prevent your hand from slipping during use.
An exclusive, rubberized texture and pattern used on the handle of certain Kershaw knives. K-Texture™ that provides an extremely secure grip.
A hole in the butt end of the knife to enable to user to attach a cord or lanyard.
LEFT/RIGHT-HAND CARRY POCKETCLIP
The knife handles on some models are drilled for both left and right hand clip carry allowing the clip to be mounted on either side of the handle and thus ideal for both left- and right handed knife users.
A pivoted latch connected to a spring and positioned on the back of a knife handle. It locks the blade open. To close the knife, depress the latch to release the blade.
On a folding knife, the liners are the flat plates that support the handle sides, bolsters, spine, and blade pivot. In a locking liner, as the blade is opened, one of the liners moves behind the blade to hold it in the open position. This prevents the knife from accidentally closing. To close the knife, the locking liner must be pushed to the side and the blade folded back into the handle.
An industrial laminate composed of layers of fiber embedded in a resin and subjected to heat and high-pressure to make the material extremely hard and dense; has industrial and decorative applications.
Polymethyl methacrylate is strong and lightweight material, familiar to most people as acrylic glass, and has good impact strength.
The pieces of material that are fitted to the tang of a full-tang knife or to the liners of a folding knife. There are a wide variety of handle materials available from natural, such as wood and bone, to manmade, such as G-10.
A blade with a fairly straight cutting edge with the spine rounded down to meet the point. It is a very strong design for bearing down on a cutting chore.
Internal steel liners that have been drilled full of holes (skeletonizing) to lighten the handle yet remain very strong.
A blade that is sharpened on both top and bottom and generally found in weapons. SPEEDSAFE® Kershaw’s patented manual assisted-opening system; the user starts the blade out of the handle, then the SpeedSafe®. torsion bar takes over to fully open the knife.
The “stainless” in stainless steel; this is its ability to withstand rust.
The ability to take a load without permanently deforming. When it comes to steel, strength is directly related to hardness. The harder the steel, the stronger it is.
Kershaw uses the Sub-Frame Lock to create an extremely sturdy locking frame in our lightweight anodized aluminum or G-10 handles. This enables us to make a larger knife that is still light enough to carry every An epoxy-filled woven glass fiber; it is extremely stable, unaffected by temperature changes, and can be decoratively tinted, ground, and polished. G-10 makes excellent handles and handle scales for knives.
The part of the blade that connects to the handle. Also serves as the foundation of the handle.
TANTO/MODIFIED TANTO BLADE
A blade with two edges: the bottom cutting edge and a shorter edge angled from the point. Good for punching and multi-purpose use. Knife makers modify the tanto blade in numerous ways for both style and function.
The slow, steady heating of steel, followed by a slow cooling phase; this heating and cooling helps relieve stress in the steel to strengthen it.
The ability of steel to resist breakage by stretching.
This refers to the position in which a folding pocketknife is carried when clipped to the pocket: with the closed tip pointing up or down. Many Kershaw knives offer the ability to reverse the clip for either method of carry.
A lightweight, corrosion-resistant metal with high tensile strength. Often used as handle materials, for liners, or as a blade coating, where it enhances performance.
Produces an attractive black or grey blade coating that increases the blade’s hardness, helps maintain the edge, and increased the lifetime of the blade.
When oxygen is introduced into the PVD process, the result is Kershaw’s spectacular “rainbow” finishes. The Rainbow Chive, Scallion, and Leek all feature this amazing multicolored finish. And like our other PVD coatings, it won’t scratch off.
The ability of the steel to withstand shock loading without damage; the opposite of brittleness. In a blade, higher toughness means less chipping or cracking. Toughness can be lost in very hard steel, although heat treatment can be used to improve toughness in a hard steel.
TRAC-TEC (grip tape)
A rough-surfaced insert that provides additional friction for a non-slip grip.
The ability of the steel to withstand abrasion.
At EKnives, we're always happy to answer any questions you may have - so don't be affraid to ask about a specific term that you're unfamiliar with. Simply contact us at contact us at (423)-525-9477. We are standing by and eager to assist you with finding the perfect knife.