A lexicon of knife terminiology

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A lexicon of knife terminology: Section T
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Tactical Folder (Tac):  A newer pattern knife with flat sides, often with metal scales and a relatively short single blade that opens with thumb studs or via spring assist. Tac knives have a minimalist approach to design preferring function to design.  These were popularized by Spyderco and Kershaw and copied by just about any knife company wishing to remain relevant.

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

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.)

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 serpentine type handle with bolsters on both ends and single California clip or muskrat blade. The bottom bolster will end in a point where as the top bolster is normally rounded or squared off. Compare to tickler and sodbuster.


From top to bottom
Standard (4 inch) Toothpick by W.R. Case & Sons;
Baby (3 inch) Toothpick by Rough Rider (also called the Texas Toothpick)
Large (5 inch) Toothpick, again by Rough Rider.

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 th eproduction 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 materiasl used for tortoiseshell is 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, it is not normally called imitaion. (According to Steve Koontz, VP of Televised Sales at SMKW, the use of Tortoise shell for knife production in the USA ceased in 1904)

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 or perhaps yellow-green it is either synthetic or imitation. (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

Traditional:  Normally refers to well defined patterns of knives, especially folding knives. The traditional pattern differentiate blade types and handle styles.

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 as mulitple blade trappers. The most commonly cllected hover are standard trappers with clip and spay blades (Compare to folding hunter, copperhead, barlow, and peanut.) 

Remington Trapper
A traditional 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.

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