Pocket Knife Anatomy
"FIT AND FINISH": How knife pieces “fit” together and how the knife is “finished.” Clean edges, smooth mechanics, and that close-up inspection that elicits a “daaang they did a good job making this thing” are indicators of excellent fit and finish.
BLADE AND HANDLE
- TIP: the pokey, stabby part of the knife.
- THUMB STUD: the little fulcrum spot that allows for a one hand opening with the thumb.
- THUMB RAMP: a handy, dandy place to put your thumb while using the blade. It helps provide a better grip for more accurate use.
- JIMPING: texture anywhere on the knife that adds grip.
- PIVOT: the area where the blade rotates for opening and closing.
- CHAMFER: a bezel or rounded edge typically used for comfort and aesthetics. Plus, it's fun to say out loud. Try it. Chamfer. Mmmm.
- FRAME SCREW: used to hold the frame of the knife together.
- LANYARD HOLE: getcher' paracord! This is where you attach a lanyard for style and extending the handle.
- EDGE: the cuttey slicey part of the knife.
- BEVEL OR GRIND: located right above the edge. A thinned out part of the blade that draws the slice through.
- BLADE LENGTH: AKTI says you measure blade length from the tip of the knife to the forward-most part of the handle. Check your local laws to ensure you carry the within a lawful blade length.
- SHARPENING CHOIL: if the edge of the knife extends to the handle scale, it's going to be a real pain to sharpen the entire edge, and you could damage the handle. The choil allows the edge breathing room to sharpen it all the way without risking any scale or handle damage.
- LOCK: the lock keeps the knife open while in use, preventing accidents. Typically, there is a detent mechanism to keep it closed while unused.
- FINGER CHOIL: a handy spot shared between the handle and the blade to put your index finger while using the knife. Increases grip and comfort. Check out the Baby Banter.
- MILLING: added texture to the knife to increase comfort and provide better ergonomics.
- POCKET CLIP: keeps the knife clipped to the pocket for easy retrieval. "Ambidextrous" pocket clips reverse sides for left or right handed carry.
- BLADE: that snug little slicer that nests into the handle when closed.
- HANDLE SCALE: keeps the knife together and gives it style. Think of it like sheetrock and paint in a house. A variety of scale materials and styles are used for different purposes.
- LINER: the structural part of the mechanism, usually made out of steel. It's like the framing in a house. Always located underneath the scales.
- BARREL SPACER: a tubular connecting piece between the two liners. Also comes in back spacer varieties that conveniently collect lint in your pockets. It helps to keep the liners and scales separated at the right distance to give the blade the necessary space when closed.
- PIVOT PIN: tubular piece that helps to keep all of the pivot parts in place for safe manipulation.
- BLADE TANG: The part of the blade that connects with the lock. On fixed blade knives, the tang refers to the amount of steel extending from tip to butt: partial tang, tapered tang, and full tang.
- STOP PIN: a small piece that prevents the blade from over-rotating. The stop pin is always there; if it's not visible in your knife it means it's hidden inside the handle close to the pivot-- an internal stop pin.
- PIVOT SCREW: a screw that keeps the pivot pin tight and secure. Typically a T8 or a hex bit.
- WASHER: circular pieces that help the pivoting of the knife be a pleasant experience. Generally you will find one washer in each side of the blade, but we have seen 2 in each side, and even different materials per side. People get reaaal particular about their washers.
A budget washer is better than no washers at all. Even though this material is the lowest end when it comes to washers in pocket knives, when done right, they can still provide a good and smooth experience. A bit of knife lubricant can always help the situation.
Washer used in many mid-grade knives. Even though teflon provides an overall better experience than nylon washers, they are still considered to be in the lower end as far a washer materials go.
PHOSPHOR BRONZE WASHER
Considered highest quality washer for smoothest opening. They are very sought after in the knife community, which is why they are used by many high quality knife companies and custom makers.
Invented as IKBS Bearings by Flavio Ikoma. A channel is milled into the blade, and individual ball bearings live in the channel for silky smooth opening. The problem? If you open the knife, the ball bearings are freeeeee!
Caged bearings are the answer to individual ball bearings on pocket knives. The caged bearings are press fit into a washer so that they don't escape when a knife is disassembled. This makes for smooth opening with easier cleaning and pivot maintenance.
Slides through the pivot hole of the blade, then attaches on both sides of the handle via screws. The blade rotates on the center bushing. This is what helps to keep all of the pivot pieces in place, and the blade centered when closed.
“Tip up” and “tip down” refer to the direction of the blade tip when the knife is clipped inside the left or right pocket. That is mainly a choice of preference. However, the main recommendation for right or left carry is to keep the spine of the blade guarded by the outside seam of the pocket. This helps to prevent accidental openings in your pocket, in which you might get cut if you don't notice. Also: if you carry tip down, we love you, but we'll never understand you.
- WIRE CLIP: companies like Spyderco and Giant Mouse love to use the wire clip in some of their models. This type of clip is usually a deep carry format, and it is held by only one screw utilizing the edges of it to set pressure in both sides of the wire.
- STANDARD CLIP: Usually made of bent steel or titanium, and held by two or three screws instead of one.
- MILLED CLIP: Typically made from a single piece of titanium that has been machined to add tension for clipping to the pocket.
All my friends know the low rider.
Basically, if you put your knife in your pocket and the handle is completely hiding, that is deep carry (because the knife is inserted deeper into the pocket). Opposite to that, if the knife still shows the end of the handle when in the pocket, that is not a deep carry. Some people prefer deep carry for discretion, but others prefer a regular carry for ease of reach when the knife is needed.
Instead of using screws, the entire knife is pinned together. This is common on most traditional pocket knives, and it makes the disassembly and maintenance significantly harder than in a modern knife with a screw construction. But it also creates a super clean look and vibe. Sometimes it's all about the vibe, eh?
The knife is held together via removable screws, allowing easy disassembly and maintenance. Almost all the time this is done with torx screws. This type of construction has made it easier for companies to offer spare parts (Right to Repair for the win!) instead of replacing the whole knife.
The detent is composed of a detent ball and a detent hole. The small ball is inserted into the lock of liner locks and frame locks. When the knife is closed, the ball slides into the detent hole on the blade. This keeps the knife closed, while also allowing for easy opening. In flipper knives, the detent also provides pressure for reliable deployment. A good detent ensures a consistent opening and safe knife closure.