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Knife-ology: Knife Anatomy 101

OFFGRID's Patrick McCarthy ran a great primer on blades last week: Knife Anatomy 101. This is an excerpt:

Here’s some more detail on each term…

1. GRIND LINE – The meeting point of a grind with a flat surface or opposing grind. In the illustration above, the line shown is where the swedge meets the flat and the primary bevel.
2. SWEDGE (also spelled swage) – A tapered or beveled false edge (usually not fully sharpened) along the spine of the knife. It reduces the point thickness for improved piercing ability.
3. JIMPING – Repeating ridges or cuts. These may be decorative (such as those on the spine), or used for additional grip on the knife (such as those on the thumb rise).
4. SPINE – The top edge of the knife, opposite the blade edge. The spine runs all the way from the tip to the butt.
5. THUMB RISE (also called thumb ramp) – A slight incline in the spine, meant to provide a place for the user’s thumb while cutting.

Knife Anatomy 101-2


It's a Good Thing to have an Emerson — it's even better to know the name of all the naughty bits you're playing with.

That's five of about 20 definitions in the first part of the infographic. Here's some more from their handy stabby-implement-lexicon:

-BOLSTER – A thick junction between the handle and the flat of the blade. Bolsters can be found at the front and the rear of some knives, and they strengthen the knife and add balance.

-GUARD – Part of the handle that prevents the user’s hand from slipping. A curved quillion on the handle may form the guard, or a knife may have a separate guard plate installed between the handle and blade.

-FULLER (also called cannelure or blood groove) – A groove cut into the blade, often at the center of double-edged knives and swords. These have been called “blood grooves” due to the myth that they release suction or vacuum created by stabbing a living thing, thus allow blood to run out more easily. However, there is LITTLE TO NO EVIDENCE that this actually happens. In reality, a fuller lightens the blade by removing steel, and may also stiffen some blade designs (such as a broadsword).

-SERRATION – Repeated jagged cuts into the blade edge, providing the ability to saw and tear through tough materials.

That pique your interest? Go read the whole damn thing on

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