A lexicon of knife terminiology


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A lexicon of knife terminology: Section B
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Baby: A smaller version of a type of knife. For instance baby toothpick, baby copperhead, etc.  See also butterbean and peanut.

Baby Copperhead: A smaller pen knife with a copperhead style handle but instead of both blades being attached to the top bolster, the secondary pen or small skinning blade are attached to the bottom bolster. The pattern was made popular by W. R. Case & Sons.

Back Pocket Knife: Typically a large frame (4.5 inches or greater, closed) single blade knife with a thin profile. Popular patterns include single blade trappers, cokebottle and folding hunters. Back pocket knives may be slipjoints or lock-blades.

Bail: A small ring on the end of folding knife used for the attachment of a lanyard or key ring. Britons and the Commonwealth refer to the bail as a shackle.

Bait Knife:A utility fixed blade knife used for cutting bait and other fishing chores small enough to fit in a tackle box. While Bait Knives have been around for a long time the term is relatively recent, at least from a market perspective. The blade is thicker and lacks the flexibility of a fillet knife and often has a serrated spine suitable for scaling fish.

Bait Knife Eagle Claw Lazer
A modern bait knife with serrated spine and line cutter notch.

Balisong: A knife that has two separate handle sections in which  each section covers one side of the blade when closed.  With a flipping motion the handle section can pivot around to form a grip and expose the blade for use. Believed to have been brought to the Philippines by English sailors, the knives are extremely popular their and were becoming popular in the US until have import restrictions were placed on them due to their potential and popularity as a self-defense weapon.

Bamboo:  A material used for scales, handles and scabbards. Stabilized bamboo is becoming popular due it being a sustainable source of material.

Band Saw Steel: A tough type of tool steel used in the production of band saws and also by custom knife makers.  ASTM standards refer to it as L-6 steel (it also called 15N20) Band Saw steel is often used along with 1095 Steel for the production of Damascus or pattern welded steel

Barlow:   A traditional pattern folding knife with handles shaped like elongated tear drops, with a large bolster on the tang end and no bolster on the butt or cap end (Bare end).  The bolster is  normally 1/3 the length of the knife.  Most Barlows have two blades, a large clip and a pen blade. The blades are always attached at the top end of the knife and normally have their own channel. (see also Grand Daddy Barlow)

Barn Door Jig: A type of cutting used a knife handles in which the cuts run parallel to the direction of the knife handle.

Bartender’s Knife: A traditional pattern folding knife; a type of utility knife that normally has a large spear point blade, a label cutting blade, a cap lifer and a cork screw. These are slowing becoming a thing of the past, being replaced by the bartender’s tool. 

Bartender’s tool: The bartender’s tool consists of serpentine handle with a folding cap lifter on one end and small pen blade on the other.  In the middle is a large cork screw.  While similar to the bartender’s knife the tool dispenses with the large main blade and has a cap lifter made U-shaped piece of steel that wraps around one end of the handle instead of an actual blade.

Bear MGC:  The economy line of knifes marketed by Bear & Son. They are made in the United States.  They began making the knives for the Boy Scouts of America in 2009.

Bear & Son Cutlery:  An American knife making company located in Jacksonville, Alabama that makes all their products in house, not relying on distributors for parts.

Bolster: A metal cap found on the ends of folding knives.  They are normally made of nickel-silver but can be made of other metals.

Belly:  The side opposite the spine; the cutting edge of the blade. Not to be confused with the point of the blade used for poking.

Benchmade: An American Cutlery company located in Beaver Creek Oregon. They specialize in Tactical and Rescue style knives.  Their products are currently made in the US but their old Red Class line was made “off shore.”  Benchmade also markets HK (Heckler & Koch) and HD (Harley Davidson) knife brands.

Bird & Trout A small fixed blade hunting knife, normally around seven to eight inches in the over all length with a slender 3 to 4 inch blade The knife is used to process small game birds and fish, hence the name. They are also called B&T Fish & Bird, Fish & Fowl. See also Bait Knife and Small Game Hunter

Bird and Trout Knife
A Boker 155 Bird & Trout Knife.

Blackjack: Hand crafted high-end USA made knives.  The trademark is currently owned by SMKW but the original company and its owner still make the knives. They primarily make fixed blade knives. SMKW also markets less expensive globally made knives under the Blackjack trademark

Black Jet:  See Jet Stone

Black Pearl:  More appropriate called Black Lip Mother of Pearl.  Pearl derived from black lip oysters (Pinctada margaritifera).

Black Wood: Any wood that is black in color or in some cases wood that has been dyed black, with the exception of ebony. If the knife actually has ebony handles they seller will say so. (See Ebony)

Blade Properties:  The properties that make up the qualities of good blade.  These include:  Hardness (Strength & Toughness), Edge Formation, Wear Resistance (Edge Retention) and Stain Resistance.

Blade Stamp:  A mark stamped into knife’s blade in a location other than the tang.   This is normally information concerning blade quality, company or country of origin. (See also tang stamp.)

Bloodgutter or Bloodgroove: (See: Fuller)

Bloodstone: Bloodstone is green jasper with bright red spots or veins caused by the presence of iron oxide It was treasured in ancient times and served for a long time as the birthstone for March. This attractive chalcedony quartz is also known as heliotrope

Bloody Basin Jasper: Bloody Basin Jasper is a Red jasper with dark red, brown, green or black flecks appearing in it.In many ways it appears to be just the opposite of bloodstone, another type of jasper Bloody Basin Jasper is also called Bloody Red Jasper or Red Jasper It is found in the Bloody Basin located in Arizona, hence the name.

Blue Ridge Cutlery: An American knife wholesaler associated with Smokey Mountain Knife Works (SMKW).

Boater:  See  Rigger’s Knife, definition number 2

Bolo: A bolo is Filipino kniife a kin to the machete, used particularly in the jungles of Indonesia, the Philippines, and in the sugar fields of Cuba. Like Machetes, bolos were often hand made in a variety of locations, the size and shapes of the blades vary tremendously. Bolos are work knives used to clear vegetation for agriculture or cutting trails . It is called an iták or sundáng in Tagalog, the langauge of the Filipinos. The bolo became legnedary during the Philippine revolt in 1898 and the Philippine-American War which followed. It's legend and popularity grew during WWII when US military personnel (Army, Navy and Marines) serving in the Pacific were provided bolos for combat duty.

Boy Scout Knife : A 3 5/8 or 3/34 inch cigar shaped slip joint camp knife that has a main spear blade, can-opener, combination screwdriver/caplister, and punch or awl blade. An Offical Boy Scout Knife will have a BSA shield mounted in the obverse scale. The term is generically applied to any camp/utility knife built in the same pattern. While the Boy Scouts of America offer a variety of Official Boy Scout knives this particular pattern of knife is often identified as the Boy Scout knife. See also Scout, Utility, and Camp

Böker:  An older German cutlery company that currently has its knives manufactured in Germany, Argentina, China and Taiwan.   For the most part Böker Plus knives are made in China or Taiwan.

Bolster: A metal cap, normallt made of  nickel silver or stainless steel, that is located at one or both ends of a folding knife’s handle.

Bone:  A versatile handle material used especially in traditional pattern knives.   Bone normally refers to actual bone normally from domesticicated cattle as part of the by-product of the meat industry. In the United States, this normally refers to domestic (American) cattle bone.  Bone scales used on Case brand knives normally comes from Brazilian Zebu cattle stock. Bone can be smooth or jigged (cut) in a variety of patterns.  It is often dyed.  While very hard and prone chipping and cracking, it is also relatively light weight, does not shrink and is very durable.

Bottle Opener:  Same as cap lifter:

Bowie: Pronounced “Boo-ee” not “Bōw-ee”   Named after American frontiersman Jim Bowie.
1) Any large fix blade knife.

2) The Classic or Western Bowie is a large clip blade knife with a full tang and an “S” shaped quillion . The spine of the blade is sometimes stiffened with a brass plate.  

(See hunter, skinner, and toothpick for comparison.)

Boye Dendritic Cobalt  (BDC)  A non-steel alloy used in knife making. It is wear and corrosion resistant.

Browning:  One of many gun makers turned knife maker in the 1960s.  Originally Browning turned out high-end knives on par with Gerber.  Eventually manufacturing moved overseas and quality faltered.  Today they produce both economy and mid range folding and fixed blade knives similar in quality to Buck.

Buck:  A knife made by Buck Knives, a family owned American enterprise. Buck Knives is located in Post Falls, Idaho and is credited with the introduction of the folding hunter. Their economy line of knives were made in China and use a different quality of steel. Their mid-range and high end knives are made in the United States.

Buck 110: A very popular lockback pocket knife produced by Buck. The pattern has been copied by several companies and is often a target of no name copy cats. The pattern is very popular among knife customizers. Unfortunatly for the Buck Trademark, any knife looking like a Buck 110 is often called a Buck knife buy the unsuspecting.

Budding (Budding & Grafting) knife : A horticulture knife with specialty blade used for lifting bark, and grafting branches . The blade is normally a cotton sampler style blade with an added bark lifter on the end of the spine. . See Garden knife or Horticulture knife for related knives.

Buffalo Bone:   Normally, bone derived from DomesticWater Buffalo used for handle material. Domestic Water Buffalo are common through-out Asia Buffalo Bone is a common feature on knives made in Pakistan and/or India but is also featured on high-end knives.

Buffalo Horn:   Normally, horn derived from DomesticWater Buffalo used for handle material. Domestic Water Buffalo are common through-out Asia The horn is a common feature on knives made in Pakistan and/or India but is also featured on high-end knives.

Burl Wood:  A favorite type of wood used in knife handles. Burl wood is a type of fast growing, abnormal growth found on some trees. Burl wood grows because the tree has experienced some sort of environmental stress or damage. This is often caused by either a fungal attack or an attack by insects. It can also be created with manmade interference.

Butterbean: A traditional pattern folding knife; a small canoe pattern knife less than three inches in length, normally 2 5/8 inches.

Butterfly: see Balisong

Buzzsaw Trapper:  A trapper style knife where the secondary blade is a saw blade. Also called a buzz saw trapper or saw blade trapper.  (See Trapper for fuller description.)

Byrd:  An Economy line of knives offered by Spyderco. They are made in various Asian nations. Byrds use a "bird's eye" thumb hole compared to the circl thumb hole used on Spydercos. They also have lower priced, lower quality blade steel and/or handle material but are still considered quality knives.


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