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Anatomy of a Knife

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The Anatomy of a Knife There are hundreds of types and styles of knives that can be categorized by the way they are constructed, their intended purpose, or even their country of origin. By and large, though, a knife can be identified by its anatomy—that is, its parts and mechanisms. Knives, in a general sense, have two basic parts—the blade and the handle. The Handle The handle can be made of a number of different materials in a wide variety of shapes and styles.
  • Wood handles are quite common, not only because wood is a readily available material but also because wood comes in many styles and colors.
  • Plastic handles are also quite common and popular because they are easy to care for and cheap to manufacture.
  • Leather handles are used a lot for survival or military-type knives.
  • Sometimes the tang of the blade is covered in cording, silk, or other material.
  • Handles are sometimes crafted from stone, ivory, antler, and mother of pearl. Handles made from or inlaid with these materials are often used in ceremonial knives.
While the primary purpose of the handle is to provide a place to grip a knife, the handle does serve a couple of other purposes. The barrier where the blade meets the handle is called the guard and prevents your hand from slipping onto the blade. However, not ever knife has a guard. The end of the handle is called the butt and can be used as a weapon in its own right.

The Blade
Every blade has three basic parts: the point, which is the tip of the blade and is used for piercing; the edge, which is the sharp cutting side of the blade; and the spine, which is the unsharpened side opposite of the edge. Knives with a fixed blade also have a tang which is simply the extension of the blade into the handle.

There are also several different types of blades.

  • Fixed blades—A fixed blade doesn’t fold or slide and is considered to be the strongest type because the tang reinforces its strength. A fixed bladed knife may also be called a sheath knife.
  • Folding blades—A folding blade folds up easily into its handle and is generally compact enough to carry in your pocket—hence the name, pocket knife. For safety reasons, most folding blades have locking mechanisms to keep them open when in use. Such a folding blade is called a lockblade. There are a number of different mechanisms used in lock blade knives.
  • Lock back blades—A lock back blade locks into place when open with a pivoted latch connected to a spring. The lock is disengaged by pressing down the latch to release the blade.
  • Liner lock blade--A liner lock blade uses a leaf spring next to the blade that snaps into place behind the blade when it is opened. The blade can be closed by pushing the spring aside.
  • Frame lock blade--The frame lock is similar to the liner lock except that it uses a part of the blade as the mechanism, rather than a separate piece of spring steel.
  • Axis Lock--This is a proprietary lock licensed exclusively to Benchmade Knife company. A cylinder shaped bearing is placed with tension in such a way that it will push between the blade and a part of the handle to lock the blade open.
  • Automatic blade—Automatic blades are knives that open at the touch of a button. These are often referred to as switchblades. In most cases, automatic blades are illegal for civilian use.

All of these parts make up the anatomy of a knife. Your needs will determine which of these features will be most beneficial to you. While the options might seem overwhelming, the nice thing is that there is a knife to fit nearly every need.

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