Cutting Through Confusion: A Breakdown of Common Knife Terminology.
Knives are one of those things that you don’t realize how much you’ll be using until you have them in your pocket. Whether you’re opening packages, doing quick fixes around the house, or enjoying the outdoors, a good sharp knife makes things easier and safer.
However, even if you didn’t consciously think about it before, you’ve certainly seen that knives come in a myriad of shapes. Each one is designed with a specific purpose in mind, just like knife grinding, each with its own unique set of pros and cons.
1. The spine
The return of the blade, usually blunt. Thick thorns add strength.
The part of the blade between the handle and the beginning of the sharp edge. They often contain the “tang stamp”, the maker’s symbol.
Grooves in the spine of the blade or handle to increase grip.
4. The belly
The curved part of the blade where the sharp edge approaches the tip.
Many small points that scrape the surface like a saw.
The blunt part of the blade between the handle and the sharp edge.
The part of the knife blade that extends below the handle.
Types of grinding with a knife
The shape of the blade when viewed as a cross section. The Four Basic Being:
Hollow grinding is a knife grinding technique that has a concave shape when examined cross sectionally. This grinding is produced by removing the steel from the edge of the blade, which results in a thin, sharp edge. Because of this, the hollow grind has a reputation for producing extremely sharp edges, making it popular with those who hunt and practice survival skills. However, the edge is thinner and has less backing than steel, which makes it more susceptible to damage and requires more frequent maintenance and sharpening. Hollow-grind knives are commonly used for tasks such as chopping and skinning.
Flat grinding / V-Edge
The simplest type of edge is the flat milling, which is commonly referred to as a V-edge. It has an equal taper from spine to cutting edge, so the blade width is constant from spine to edge. A symmetrical edge is produced by this milling by reducing steel from both sides of the blade. This type of grind is ideal for knives used in chopping and chopping work because they are easy to maintain and sharpen. A chef’s knife, which is the primary knife used in kitchens for slicing and chopping food, is a typical example of a flat-sharpening knife.
Due to the difficulty of sharpening, convex grinding, also known as “axe grinding”, is seen as a highly specialized grinding. By removing the steel from the edge of the blade, this grind results in a convex rather than concave shape. This creates a thicker, stronger edge that is more resilient to wear and tear. However, the wider edge makes it more difficult to maintain and sharpen. Convex floor knives are often used for labor-intensive jobs such as chopping wood.
Compound bevel is the most common type of factory-made blade. It has a constant taper similar to a flat grind, and the cutting edge is produced by a secondary bevel. In order to achieve this grinding, steel is removed from both sides of the blade, resulting in a symmetrical edge. A secondary bevel is then introduced into the edge to produce a sharper edge. This gives the blade a sharp edge for cutting work and enhances the longevity of the blade due to the relative thickness of the rest of the blade. A good general purpose grind that works well for many different jobs.
Types of knife shape
The shape of the blade can determine the strength, sharpness, punching ability and ultimately the job it is best suited for.
The classic all-purpose blade features a concave “clip” on the spine to increase point sharpness. Useful for drilling or cutting in tight spaces or as a pick. It is a common blade shape found in traditional pocket knives as well as larger hunting knives thanks to its versatility for various leathering applications as well as camp chores.
The sheep’s foot blade has a curved back and a flat, straight edge. The dull back is designed to be gripped with the fingers for precise control, and was originally used to clip sheep’s hooves and is frequently used for distilling.
Drop point is one of the most common blades. Drop points also make good hunting knives: to avoid decapitating an animal’s organs while performing a field dressing, the drop point has a downward convex curve that reduces the point. The drop point design also provides a great combination of power and control, making it a smart choice for both tough and demanding cutting jobs. They are also common on a variety of knives, including fixed and folding blade knives, and even kitchen knives.
A narrow head and a wide, curved belly, the skin is ideal for separating the skin from the flesh and for slicing through thicker layers. Like the drop point, the downward-facing point reduces the risk of cutting through the skin, while the more dramatic slide of the blade allows for longer and faster horizontal slices while skinning.
The Wharncliffe blade is known for its distinctive design and durability. The blade has a straight edge and a convex spine that tapers to the point. It works well for rough carving and cutting, and the fine point makes precise cuts possible. Although the blade is often confused with a sheep’s foot blade, the distinctive convex spine distinguishes it.
The short, tapered blade with a slight sweeping edge makes it easier to control difficult places. It’s a common design for blades used in taxidermy—used to remove the “head,” the neck and head of an animal, for mounting. This format makes it easier to control embarrassing situations. It makes blade design simple and precise, making it a great option for jobs that require dexterity and precision.
Initially designed to neutralize cattle, the straight blade was designed with a slight point, from the possibility of an accidental puncture. It is still popular for skinning and stripping small animals, and is common on pocket knives.
A small, multi-purpose blade similar to the drop point found on pocket knives, originally used to sharpen blades. The shape of the blade makes it easy to control and precise, making it an excellent choice for jobs that require dexterity and precision. People often use it as a small utility knife for opening packages, cutting strings, or even preparing food outside the kitchen.
Many tactical knives feature the distinctive and eye-catching Tanto blade. The blade has a thick spine where the leading edge angles rather than curves at the back. The tip resulting from this design is very strong and sharp, making it ideal for hacking through bulky objects. In self-defense, survival, and tactical scenarios when the ability to cut through tough materials like leather, rubber, and even metal is essential, a Tanto blade is very useful. The broad spine of the blade also makes it less likely to break or bend when used rigorously, making it a tough choice for heavy housework. Knife enthusiasts appreciate Tanto blades for their distinctive aesthetic appeal.