Anatomy of a Fixed-Blade Knife

Knife salesmen/women love to fling around the jargon of their trade. It immediately puts THEM in the expert class — not you. Today just might be a good day to level-the-playing-field a bit. Our sub-title could be:

More Than You May Want to Know About a Knife

We’ll examine a fixed-blade knife today.



Anatomy of a Fixed Blade Knife!


1The Blade – The ‘business end’ of a knife.

2Handle – How you grip a knife.  The issue of a tang comes in here but I will save most of  this discussion for later.  One of the tang’s most important jobs is to give balance to a knife.

3Point or Tip of the knife. Its main function is to pierce or create a point of entry.

4The Edge – The cutting area of a knife that extends from the point to the blade heel.

5 The Grind – Where the blade starts to get thinner. The area across the blade that starts at the thinning of the spine and ends at the blade edge.

6Spine – The top of the knife, opposite of the blade edge. It is usually thicker than the edge.

7The Fuller – An indentation on many knives that reduces the weight of the knife.  The fuller does not reduce the structural integrity of the knife, however.

8The Ricasso –  The thick part of the blade that has no edge; where the handle and blade meet.

9 The Guard – This metal barrier protects the hand from injury.

10 The Butt – The end of the knife.

11 Hole for the Lanyard – A method for keeping the knife attached to the wrist, belt, etc.

The advantage of a fixed blade is that it is strong (single weapon from point to butt of knife). It has no moving parts and is easy to make.

In the 2nd entry, I mentioned the ‘tang.’ The tang is the part of the knife not usually seen. It is covered by the wood, plastic or other material of the handle.

To me, the tang is how I determine the value of the knife. A full tang indicates that the blade metal completely fills the handle (and can usually be seen above and below the handle material – as in the photo below). The full tang is indicated below by the first red dot, on the top edge of the handle. The other dots are not significant for this discussion.



Full Tang Knife!


Knives with partial tangs (the metal of the blade extending part way into the handle and held in place by rivets or pins), may also be an excellent knife.

Of the partial tangs, I feel the ‘rat tail’ tang to be the weakest (the knife blade narrows in the handle, to look like a rat tail comb).

The ‘push tang’ is the one you do not want. The tang end extends less than 1/2 the way into the handle. The tang has been pushed in and rivets used to hold it in place.

The next time the salesperson throws a little jargon your way, you can throw a little back!


This blog is a companion to my website:



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