Knife anatomy 101: Full tang knife parts breakdown

Knife terminology is confusing, and that is why there is so much inaccurate and incomplete information on the web. As a knife maker, it is important to understand these terms in order to communicate clearly with coworkers, peers, and customers. And the same is true for you, so here is a quick rundown of full-tang knife anatomy.

Reference figure 1 for the following discussion.

Full tang knife anatomy. Anatomy of a knife. Knife parts. ricasso, choil, knife part names


  • TANG: In case you're already lost, full-tang is where the tang or part of the knife steel below the blade goes all the way to the pommel following the full shape of the handle. Then the handle is typically finished with two scales that attach on either side of the steel tang. The other most common tang style is called a stick or rat tail tang, where the blade steel tapers into a thin stick of steel that goes inside a solid, one-piece style handle.
  • BLADE GRIND/BEVEL: I go into detail on different types of blade grinds and their bevels in these articles, but in terms of anatomy, it's the area of the blade that has been ground to take the flat steel from the spine, and thin it down to meet the cutting edge. The bevel area can be further broken down into the primary and secondary bevel. Primary bevel is the first angle transitioning from the flat or spine area of the blade (on a scandi-grind the primary bevel is the only bevel, terminating in the fully sharp cutting edge). On most other blade designs a secondary bevel is more or less the sharpened edge.
    • GRIND LINE: The transition from the bevel and the flat is called the grind line. On sabre ground knives, the quality of the grind line-- in terms of cleanness and straightness is coveted. This style of blade grind is highlighted in our Scout series.
    • PLUNGE LINE: The plunge line is the transition between the blade bevel and the ricasso. Sometimes these are perpendicular to the cutting edge or angled, like in the Prometheus Hunter in Fig. 1
    • CHOIL & RICASSO: Down where the plunge line terminates there is a terminal cut-out called a choil. This clearly defines a separation between the sharpened blade and the ricasso. The choil is not simply  aesthetic, but rather an important feature to allow the knife edge to be cleanly sharpened, both in terms of initial edge, and with repeated sharpenings by the end user. Without the choil the sharpening process is interrupted as the thin edge of the blade steel suddenly widens as it transitions into the thicker ricasso area. Not only is it awkward, but it can grab or hang-up on materials when cutting. And furthermore, after many subsequent sharpenings, the ricasso protrudes farther and farther in front of the cutting edge as blade material is removed in the sharpening process.
    As you can see from the graphic, not all knives have all parts on the list. Guards, pommels, fullers, and bolsters are all more common on daggers and stick-tang styles fighting knives, but sometimes these features do make their way into modern camp and carry knives. For instance, the Long Hunter Camp knife in our Outdoor knife collection has brass bolsters in a full-tang handle design.
    Feel free to contact us with questions and check out our made-to-order options on your next knife!

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