A lexicon of knife terminiology

Return to Index/Main Page
A lexicon of knife terminology: Section T
Numbers  A   B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z 

Table Knife/ Dining Knife / Dinner Knife : The term is interchangeable and refers to knives that are designed for use at the dinner table by the person dining. These include such knives and butter knives, butter spreaders, steak knives, etc. The hallmark is a critical aspect when it comes to collecting table /dining knives. In many cases the knife is seen as part of the entire dining set. See also Kitchen Knife and butter knife.

Tactical Folder (Tac): A generic and misleading name applied to newer pattern knives with pocket clips and feature spring assisted blades that can be opened with one hand. The name tactical is often applied to the knives to give them an aura of being military in nature. They are often black or camouflaged and have military sounding names. As this is a very generic term it should be avoided when describing a knife.

Taiwan: Knives marked Taiwan are made in the Republic of China, not to be confused with the Peoples Republic of China

Take-A-Part: A type of hobo knife in which the knife can be taken apart thus allowing the eating and cutting utensils to be used separately.

Talonite: an expensive non steel alloy sometimes used in knife making.

Tang: The portion of knife blade that extends into the handle. A fixed blade knife is said to have a “full tang” is the tang extend all the way through the handle to the pommel of the knife.  On folding knives, the tang is that portion of the blade that attaches the blade to the handle, including the unsharpened edge of the blade just in front of the handle when the blade is opened. (see Ricasso). Folding knives cannot have a full tang.

Tang stamp: Markings near the base of a knife’s blade that help identify a knife. The information may include country or place of origin, company name, steel type, or a blade pattern number.

1) a Japanese short sword.
2) A knife blade design which resembles that of a Japanese Tanto which is popular among military and tactical knives. The blade normally has a top and bottom edge that runs roughly parallel to each other for the full length with the bottom edge being sharpened.  Near the tip the blade is cut at a sharp angle (45-75 degrees) from the bottom to the top so that top edge is slightly longer than the bottom.  The front tip is sharpened to provide a point/cutting surface.  In some cases, the top of the blade may also be slightly clipped to provide more of a point. (see coping blade for comparison)

Taylor Brands LLC: A company that owns the trademark Schrade and Smith & Wesson. They are located in Kingsport Tennessee. Taylor Brands bought the company trademarks and moved at least part of the manufacturing to China in order to remain profitable.  Taylor Brands also markets Old Timer, Uncle Henry, Schrade Tough, S.W.A.T  and at least 80 other brand names (most of which are imports).

Tempering: Heating and cooling steel to increase its strength and hardness. The way a company tempers its steel if often the difference between an excellent knife and piece of junk.  Typically steel is tempered in a multi-step process. First it is heated to create a solid solution of iron and carbon in a process called austenizing. Once austenized it is quenched. The steel is then tempered by reheating to a specific temperature for a given length of time. The temperature and time is dependent on how the steel is intended to be used. After reheating, the steel cooled slowly to a controlled temperature before being fully quenched to a low temperature. This heating and quenching is what tempers the steels.

Tenite: A type of plant based thermoplastic first produced by the Eastman Chemical Company in 1929 and trademakred in 1932. It has the tactile porperties of wood but it is easily molded and formed. It was often used in making radio cabinets and telephones bodies, toothbrushes and eyeglass frames. Tenite is a stable type of celluloid that is mpervious to water and many solvents, It became a popular material for knife handles and fishing lures after World War II and may still be used as it has proven to be quite stable. Many companies still use tenite for tool handles and casino dice.

Tested Sharp (Anvil): Another Rough Rider Trademark blade etch used on their 440 series stainless steel. It is normally found on the obverse side of the main blade. While not specified, these knives usually have a Rockwell hardness rating of around 56-58HRC.

Texas Toothpick:
1) In the world of fixed blades knives, a slang term sometimes used to describe a large frame western style bowie knife. (See Bowie knife for a fuller description)

2) A term most often used to the describe a small pattern folding toothpick knife that measures around 3 inches in the closed postion. The name was popularized by W. R. Case & Sons (See Toothpick for a fuller description.)

Thumb Hole A hole cut in a blade of folding knife, normally near the pivot point used to open the blade one handed. The advantage of the thumb hole is that it allows ambidextrous deployment whereas a thumb stud normally is left or right handed unless two studs are used. This disadavantage is it may weaken the spine of the blade and lead to a critical failure. See also Flipper, Thumb Stud, Thumb Lever, and extended tang.

Thumb lever Similar to the extended tang. The thumb lever is protusion of the spine on a folding knife that extendeds forward of the pivot point and is used to open the blade. As the thumb lever protrudes from the knife when the blade is closed it adds to the overall length of the closed knife and may be prone to breaking. ' See also Flipper, Thumb Stud, Thumb hole, and extended tang.

Thumb Stud A stub normally screwed or welded into the blade of a folding knife, normally near the pivot point used to open the blade one handed. The disadvantage to the thumb stud is it normally requires left or right hand deployment unless two thumb studs are used.

See also Flipper, Thumb hole, Thumb Lever, and extended tang.

Tickler: A traditional pattern folding knife; normally locking blade toothpick. The lock may be a liner lock but is normally a lock back. (See Toothpick for a fuller description.)

Tiger Eye: This is a chatoyant gemstone. It is normally a metamorphic rock that is a golden to red-brown color with a silky luster. It is sometimes used as knife handle material.  Tiger Eye often is imitated using fiber-optic glass or other types of materials and unknowing dealers will often pass off imitation Tiger Eye as genuine out of pure ignorance not knowing Tiger Eye refers to an actual gemstone.  Many assume the swirly golden pattern makes the handle Tiger Eye. If they seem confused, you may want to pass on the knife. The handle is referred to as Tiger Eye Swirl, Tiger Eye Pattern, or Tiger Stone or Tiger Stripe assume it is imitation Tiger Eye..

Tin cutter: A stubby triangular shaped blade with the thumb stud that functioned as an earyl style can opener.

Titanium: Titanium is an extremely effective rust inhibitor and is often used to coat knives. Newer titanium alloys can be hardened near 50 Rc, and at that hardness seem to take something approaching a useful edge.  Navy SEALs have knives with titanium blades because it holds up well in salt water.  This has made the knives popular.

Titusville Cutlery: Family trademark owned by the family of Tony Watkins of SMKW. The knives are USA made by Queen.

TL-29: The US military designation for the Standard Linesman knife. See also Linesman

Tool Steel: Varying grades of carbon steel used in the making of tools. Tool steel tends to be harder and have greater edge retention. Tool steel is more prone to rusting than stainless steel. It is used by high-end custom knife makers, and in some Damascus blades. Unfortunately unless the person says what type of tool steel is being used, it becomes a somewhat innocuous term that is meaningless. Assume that if the type of tool steel is not mentioned, it is just plain-carbon steel, the lowest grade of tool steel.

Toothpick: A traditional pattern folding knife; normally consisting of a powderhorn type handle with bolsters on both ends and single California clip or muskrat blade. The bottom bolster will end in a point whereas the top bolster is normally rounded or squared off. Compare to tickler and sodbuster.

Toughness: A blade’s ability to take an impact without damage. Toughness is related to strength except it measures a blade’s ability resist chipping, cracking, etc.

Tortex: A material that was developed out of Delrin shortly after the ban on the trade of tortoise shell in the 1970s.  It was originally developed for use as guitar picks and often designed to looked like tortoiseshell materials.  Guitar players wanted a material that could be used on guitars that would deliver the same type of performance as tortoise shell picks.  This required a tough long wearing material that could stand up to steel strings of guitars.  Today, Tortex guitar picks come in a variety of colors.  Knife makers are more  interested in the  imitation tortoiseshell pattern Tortex but use Delrin for their other needs.

Tortoise shell: An old material used in the making of knife handles and scales. Due to over use of Tortoise shell, it was officially banned internationally for use in the production of jewelry and other commericial uses in 1973. Today all tortoiseshell is imitation. Early imitation tortoise shell was made from celluloid, typically a splotchy translucent amber and dark brown pattern. Due to celluloids negative features, other materials were sought for imitation tortoise shell. One of the most popular materials used for tortoiseshell was Tortex, a material developed from Delrin. Tortex was first used in the production of guitar picks due to its superior strength. Today most tortoise sell is made from acrylllic or other transparent plastics. While all current production is imitation, most often is just referred to as tortoise shell. (According to Steve Koontz, former VP of Televised Sales at SMKW, the use of Tortoise shell for knife production in the USA ceased in 1904 long before the international ban took place.)

Traditional: Normally refers to well defined patterns of knives, especially folding slip-joint knives. However, some switchblades and other locking knives are also often lumped in with the traditional pattern knives. In short it is a somewhat vague term. As the name implies, these are well established industry patterns that have a tradition to them and have been around for quite some time; often for multiple generations with little or no change.. Among some of the more popular traditional patterns are the Trapper, Stockman, Canoe, Scout, and Barlow but there are dozens other traditional pattern folders. The same is true for traditional fixed blade knives. See Slip-Joint for comparison.

Trailing Point: A blade commonnly found on upswept skinning knives and some fighting knives. A trailing point blade has a back edge that curves upward to end above the spine, allowing larger more curve and larger cutting edge. In some cases, the entire blade may be curved. See Upswept Skinner for comparison.

Trapper: A traditional pattern folding knife; normally a large frame knife with a slight curve to the handle that has two large blades that drop into separate channels.  The standard trapper is 4 1/8 inches, closed with two blades, a clip and spay.Many companies make non-traditional trappers with other blade types. There are also single blade trappers with just a clip blade and mulitple blade trappers. The Standard Trapper is believed to be the most collected of the traditional pattern slip-joint knives. (Compare to folding hunter, copperhead, barlow, and peanut.)

A Camillus made Remington Trapper w/ pakawood handles.

Truffle Knife: A traditional European knife (normally a slipjoint) used in collecting truffles (a type of mushroom). Truffle knives are a type of horticulture knife. The term is often used interchangeably with Mushroom and/or Mycology knife, however Truffle knives normally have a more slender blade and often have a pointed bottom to the than handle which is to uncover the subterranean truffle. See also Mushroom Knife.

Tru-Sharp Surgical Steel: Steel used in the manufacturing of many Case knives. It is believed to be 425M or 420HC stainless.  They tend to have an HRC of around 56-58.

Tungsten: Tungsten is a carbide former added to steel it increases wear resistance. When combined properly with chromium or molybdenum, tungsten will make the steel to be a high-speed steel. The high-speed steel M2 has a high amount of tungsten. The strongest carbide former behind vanadium.

Turquoise: A knife scale/handle material. Assume it to be Imitation unless it is advertised as genuine or synthetic. If it is genuine you will need to also try to determine if it has been stabilized or reconstituted. Most reputable dealers with state if the turquoise they are using is genuine, synthetic or imitation. If it is any color than blue-green, perhaps yellow-green, or white most likely not turquoise. Red and yellow turquoise are more than likely imitation and are actually replicating jaspar. (see synthetic and imitation). Turquoise is often used in Native American and new age jewelry and is therefore sometimes used as a knife handle material

Return to Index/Main Page