Terminology can be confusing, and there are plenty of forum posts that conflate terms and simplify knife anatomy to give the wrong impression. As a knife maker, it is important to understand these terms in order to communicate clearly with coworkers, peers, and customers, so here is a quick rundown of full-tang knife anatomy.
Reference figure 1 for the following discussion.
In case you're already lost, full-tang is where the tang or part of the knife steel that isn't 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.
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 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
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.
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 ricasso. Not only is it awkward, but it can grab or hang-up on materials when cutting. And furthermore, after many subsequent sharpenings the ricasso portions 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.