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General Traditional Knife Terms

On this page I will cover some basic general traditional knife terms. I was working on some of the more complex terms, when I realized that in many of the definitions I refer to the terms below, and not everyone will know them. So I have them detailed out below. Click on the image for a large version. Next week I will update and add to my previous article on Blade Parts for Folders - and more importantly add a image to show where each part is.

General Folder Part Terms & Definitions

Head & Swelled Head

Top of the handle, opposite the butt. A swelled head bulges out a little, giving a little bit of protection for your fingers from slipping forward.



The end of a knife.



The front is the side where the blade rests in the closed position.



The back of the knife. Sometimes called the spine of the knife, although the spine really refers to a fixed blade. One way to determine the workmanship and attention to detail in a knife is to look at the back of a knife and see how well the back lines up with the scales and the blade. Collectors are looking for a smooth transition with small or no gaps. If there are gaps it doesn’t necessarily mean the knife is junk, but it is an indication that many buyers look for.



As the name implies, the bolsters help support the knife and lend strength to the structure. In the past, iron, mild steel, copper, and brass were common bolster materials. Nowadays nickel silver and mild stainless steel are more common.



The metal reinforcement at the non-blade end of a folding knife handle. See also Bolster.


Match Edge

Marks the transition from the handle material, or scales, to the bolster and cap. Again, collectors look for gaps (or lack thereof) in the Match Edges to determine workmanship.


Obverse Side

The front side of a open knife, with the point of the knife to the left and the edge down, you are looking at the obverse (front) side of a knife. Usually maker’s marks and brand logos are on this side.

Reverse Side

The reverse side is the opposite of the Obverse Side.



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