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FAQ knife definitions SUPPLIERS alloys steel TYPE


African Blackwood

An African Blackwood, also called Mozambique Ebony, it is a rich black with dark brown graining. Used to make fine clarinets, this is one of the very best woods for knife handles.

Alligator Clip

A clip often used on the back of ID badges, it is sometimes used for fastening small knives to the clothing.

Alumina Ceramic

A ceramic material largely made up of Alumina, very abrasive, it is extruded into rods to make up sharpening tools like A. G. Russell's Ceramic Sharpener. First used in this fashion by Crock Stick® inventor Louis Graves.


Fossilized pitch from pre-historic evergreens, much used in jewelry; now used by some makers of handmade knives; best known of these is D'Alton Holder.

Amboyna Wood (also spelled Amboina)

Sometimes referred to as padouk, this is a rare, exotic hardwood with a fragrant aroma which varies in color from yellow to golden brown to red. It is used in cabinet making and is an excellent wood for both turning and finishing. From the Pterocarput indicus tree of the jungles of Southeast Asia.

Arkansas Stone-(Novaculite)

Discovered by Europeans about 1816, these deposits had already been a source of tools for thousands of years. Until the development of modern Alumina, the Arkansas stones were the undisputed leader in knife sharpening. The black hard will still put on a polished edge that can be obtained no other way by hand. The Washita and Soft Arkansas have largely been replaced by ceramic.

Arkansas Toothpick

Early name for Bowie knives, as the first was believed to have been made in Arkansas and the natives of that state were thought to be so tough that they picked their teeth with knives of that size. After the movie, The Iron Mistress, about 1955, it began to mean a large dagger with a needle pointed blade, very unrealistic. Some modern Arkansas makers apply the name to more sensible sized knives.

Arm knife

Small knives carried near the shoulder on the left arm by many tribe of the Sudanese. Double edge blade about six inches long.


Portuguese word for spear, often applied to the Zulu stabbing spear. The word was never used by the natives.


A. G. Russell's name for very old style guard that folds down when the knife is closed and unfolds when the blade is opened.


A very old tool, the old fashioned leather punch is a form of awl. The awl is sort of a hand held drill.

Axis Deer (India Stag)

The smaller of the two Indian and SE Asian deer that furnish antler for the knife industry; these are all shed horn harvested in the jungle by natives.


The top of the blade when the knife is viewed properly, point to the left, handle to the right.



Heavy 16th Century sabre.


A shoulder belt or sling for carrying a sword.

Ballistic Cloth

A heavy nylon type material used for gun cases and knife pouches.

Traditional Barlow


A design that is not less than 150 years old. This was an inexpensive knife usually made with iron bolster and liners, always a one or two blade jack knife with longer than normal bolsters; today barlow knives are usually made in keeping with each firms standard quality and are much sought after by collectors.

fancy Barong


The combined tool and weapon of the Moros of the southern Philippines. The Barong has a leaf shaped blade of about 15 inches by three inches wide that curves to the point and to the handle on both the edge and the back.

Unusual German blade with Baskethilt

Basket Hilt

A sword hilt that entirely covers the hand with connecting bars from guard to pommel, best known of these is the Scot's Broadsword, less well known is the Venetian Schiavonia.

Socket Bayonet Plug Bayonette


A knife, sword or spike intended to be fastened to the end of the barrel of a rifle or musket. The first bayonets were called plug bayonets because the handle was plugged into the barrel. Bayonets were very important when the firearm was single shot, much less important with fully automatic weapons. The earliest bayonet was the so-called Plug Bayonette which was a large dagger with a small pommel that "Plugged into the barrel of the musket changing it into a spike.

Bearded Ax

Bearded Ax

An axe with the lower part of the edge hanging below the principle part of the head as does a goose wing ax. Many of the northern Germanic peoples used axes of this type both for felling trees and for fighting.

BenchMark Knives®

Formed in 1976 to produce knives designed by Blackie Collins.


Bob Loveless and I tried this steel in the 1970s and found that it was a very superior knife steel but that it was really more trouble than it was wosrth. Bob continued to use it from time to time, I never used it again.

1.15 Carbon, 0.50 Manganese, 14.5 Chromium, 1.20 Vanadium, 4.0 Molybedenum.

Black Oxide

A coating put on military knife blades to kill all reflection.

Black pearl

Black Pearl

The correct term is "Black Lip Mother of Pearl". This is very rare and probably the most expensive of all mother of pearls.

BlackJack Knives®

At one time, probably the largest of all specialty knife makers and the only one that specialized in fixed blade knives rather than folders. Began like the others with knives imported from Japan but built a large factory in Illinois and produced all their knives in the US. BlackJack went out of business in 1997.


One who forges a blade to shape.

>Blood Groove

Blood Groove

I hate to tell you this, because this term really sells knives, there is no such thing as a blood groove and there is no sucking action that will hang up a knife in a victims body. The term is "Fuller"; this is a groove that lightens and stiffens the blade.


The word is Spanish but has come to mean a large jungle knife used in the Philippines.


The metal material at the blade end of knife handle; today these are usually of nickel silver or a mild stainless steel. In older less expensive knives they were often made of iron or mild steel.

Bowie Blade

There is no single historical shape, but today it is thought to be a blade shaped very much like the Buck 110 blade.

Bowie Knife

A large knife with a blade that might range from 6 to 14 inches; the original had a blade that was probably 9 inches long with a sturdy guard projecting from both the top and bottom of the knife between blade and handle. Invented by Rezin Bowie and made famous by his brother James, who died at the Alamo.

Bowie, James

The man who made the Bowie knife famous, The knife was actually designed by his brother Rezin.


A company started by Al Buck whose father had taught him to make knives. Al started in his garage and in the 1960s incorporated and began to make production knives. These are really nice people who make good quality knives. The knives of a special 420HC and better stainless have developed a reputation for being difficult to sharpen, if you sharpen them on ceramic or diamonds you will never have any problem.

Butt Cap

A metal, stag or plastic fixture at the pommel (the end away from the blade) end of a knife handle.

Can Opener

The name speaks for itself.

Clip Blade

Clip Blade

Clip blades have for Centuries been the main blade in more knives than not. You have only to look at these knives to know the main feature of a clip blade.

Often found as the main blade in Premium Stockman, Trappers, Jack Knives and other knives.

Clip Blade, California Clip

The clip is even longer than the Turkish clip, it starts just in front of the tang.

Clip Blade, Long

Clip Blade, Long

Main blade in large folding hunters and other large knives.

Clip Blade, Sabre

Clip Blade, Sabre

The Sabre grind is one half to three quarters from the edge with a deep cut swedge.

Clip Blade, Texas Tickler

Clip Blade, Texas Tickler

The Texas Tickler, also called Fish Knife (with hook disgorger) or Jack Knife, in its full size has a 5-1/2" handle.

Clip Blade, Turkish

Clip Blade, Turkish

The Turkish Clip or Yatagan Clip has a very long clip and a deeply swayed edge.

Coping Blade

Coping Blade

A Carpenter's blade, used to work close to outlines. Always a second or third blade.

Corn Blade

Corn Blade

When shoes seldom fit well, a person often had corns on the feet that needed to be trimmed. This was the blade used. This blade has not been made in many years.

Cottons Sampler Blade

Cottons Sampler Blade

No longer made for the trade, now only for collectors. Usually a main or single blade in a larger jack knife handle.

Electrician Screw-Driver & Wire Scraper

Electrician Screw-Driver & Wire Scraper

Very, very rare except in Electrician's knives made in the 1930's and 1940's then later on Government contract.

Manicure Blade, Common

Manicure Blade, Common

This is the most common of all manicure blades.
Often seen as one of the small blades in a whittler.

Manicure Blade, Curved

Manicure Blade, Curved

This is the rarest of manicure blades and found in the highest quality knives. The tip is sharpened like a scalpel for trimming cuticles.

Manicure Blade, Grooved

Manicure Blade, Grooved

This is more expensive and therefore harder to find than the common manicure blade above.

Manicure Blade, Lawton

Manicure Blade, Lawton

I have been unable to find who Lawton was, but this is the most elegant of all manicure blades and is always seen in the back of lobster pattern knives.

Pen Blade

Pen Blade

Pen knives were designed in the days of quill pens. Their purpose was to sharpen the points of the quills. The Pen Blade was the perfect blade for sharpening and splitting the point.

Pen Blade, Curved

Pen Blade, Curved

A rare variation, can be curved up or down.

Pen Blade, Cut-off

Pen Blade, Cut-off

A fairly common variation, often found in whittlers.

Pen Blade, Surgical

Pen Blade, Surgical

I have never seen one of these and have no idea of the original purpose.

Pruning Blade

Pruning Blade

For removing small branches or limbs.



A standard blade in Scout knives, cattleman knives, and Harness Jacks, used for putting holes in leather or plastic.

Razor Blade

Razor Blade

Unusual blade, I have only seen them in Barlows.



Rarely seen in recent years, once a staple in utility knives

Screw-Driver Cap-Lifter

Screw-Driver Cap-Lifter

Rarely seen in recent years, once a staple in utility knives. Includes cap-lifter.

Sheepfoot Blade

Sheepfoot Blade

A strong and useful blade, usually the second blade in stock knives.

Sheepfoot Blade, Long

Sheepfoot Blade, Long

Most often found in Congress pattern knives and rarely as main blade in Jack knives.



Often the second blade in Doctors knives, also for artists knives.

Spear Blade

Spear Blade

This is second in popularity only to the clip blade.

Spear Blade, Long

Spear Blade, Long

This is the Doctor's spear point blade.

Spear Blade, Sabre

Spear Blade, Sabre

Blades ground half to two thirds from the edge to the back and the top front third of the blade with a strong cut swedge.

Spey Blade

Spey Blade

A very useful blade for working with livestock and for carvers.

Spey Blade, Budding Blade

Spey Blade, Budding Blade

Smaller version of the Spey blade, intended for grafting buds onto other plants.

Spey Blade, Long

The second blade in Trapper pattern knives.

Spey Blade, Long Curved

Spey Blade, Long Curved

Very unusual blade, found in some unusual slim trappers and rarely other knives.

Wharncliffe Blade

Wharncliffe Blade

A very useful blade from the 19th century. Very thick at the back for strength, tapering to a fine point and edge.

California Clip

California Clip Blade

A pocket knife blade with the clip beginning far back from the point perhaps one half inch from the handle.

Camillus Cutlery®

Established about 1875 and in the 1890s and early in the 20th Century made most of the really great knives now sought after by collectors. (Knives like the OVB and others). Today they are probably making the Remington knives; however, they also began making the OVB knives again. Good knives are generally much under rated.


A pocket knife with the handle ends curve up and make a canoe.


A knife designed to do the delicate work of skinning around the eyes and lips of trophy animals; this work is called caping because you are removing the cape of the animal.


The metal reinforcement at the non-blade end of a folding knife handle.


The mineral that transforms iron into steel. High-carbon steel results when .5 percent or more carbon is present. Only a bare .8+ can be absorbed by the iron, the balance in extremely high carbon steel goes to add hardness. Expressed as C.

Case Knife

An old time term much used by hunters until the 1940s now almost never used in the old meaning of a large folding knife or a fixed blade with a sheath. Today it would only be used to mean a knife made by the W. R. Case & Sons Company.

Case, W. R. & Sons

Once the most widely distributed of all American made pocket knives. Has passed through several hands in the past 20 years and is now making a comeback in the hands of the Zippo Lighter family. Look for real improvement.

Cattlemans knife

A knife with a clip or spear master blade, a spey blade and a leather punch. Made with many handle shapes.


See Alumina Ceramic, and Zirconia

Chipped Flint

Chipped Flint

The first knives were probably broken pieces of flint or some other form or chert (jasper, agate, novaculite, quartz or other stone with a conchoidal fracture) exposing sharp edges. Many people are knapping flint in the old ways and some are fastening these blades into stag or wood handles.

Chital (see Axis - India Stag)

The smaller of the two Indian and SE Asian deer that furnish antler for the knife industry; these are all shed horn harvested in the jungle by natives.


The cut away area between the edge and the tang of a pocket knife blade and between the edge and the guard of a straight knife. The choil may or may not have enough space for a finger, it's true purpose is to allow the edge to be sharpened all the way to the tang in a pocket knife and to the end of the edge in others. Any reference of choil and finger space or choil and handle is improper.


Produces hardness and better edge holding when combined with other alloying materials. Used in fairly large amounts, it produces a blade that resists rust. Takes over 12.5% to produce high-carbon stainless steels. Expressed as Cr.


A 15th Century Italian dagger, very wide at the hilt; usually used as a left hand dagger. Name means five fingers wide.



The two handed sword of the Scots.

Clip Point

Clip Point Blade

A blade on which the back line breaks and slants downward to produce a finer and more useful point.


Increases strength and hardness, and permits quenching in higher temperatures. Intensifies the individual effects of other elements in more complex steels. Expressed as CO.

Collins, Blackie

Founder of the Blade magazine and the most prolific inventor in today's knife world.

Congress Pattern

An old pen and pocket knife shape, made with two or four blades.generally a pen blade and a larger sheepfoot blade or two of each. The ends are lower than the center of the back of the handle.


Increases corrosion resistance. Expressed as CU.

Cordia wood

Cordia wood is very similar to Teak and is occasionally used as a substitute for Teak in shipbuilding.

Desert Ironwood

Native to the Sonoran desert (Northern Sonora Mexico and southern Arizona) it is a very dense tight grained wood, takes a very high polish, tends to darken with use and age.

Distal Taper

Distal taper refers to the change in thickness from the base of the blade to the tip, usually in reference to a sword blade. Greatly affects the handling characteristics and performance of the blade.

Diamond Cross Section Blade

Most often found in a stiletto or rapier blade.


The Scottish Dirk is single edged and is a descendent of the Kidney Dagger and was basically used as a left hand knife while fighting with the broadsword. There were also the Dirks carried by midshipmen in the early years of the United States Navy, those usually had slim, curved, single edged blades. This was more a badge of office than a tool.

Today the term dirk is obsolete, these are made only for people who want to dress up in antique clothing for plays and reenactments.

Dozier, R. L. (Bob)

Prominent Knife maker, Sheath maker (Kydex®) and the manufacturer of the worlds very best belt grinder for knife makers.

Drop Forged

Also called closed die forging, the form of the finished item is built into the die, the steel is heated and the hammer forms the plastic steel into the recesses of the die.

Drop Point

A blade design made popular in handmade hunting knives by Bob Loveless beginning about 1969, used earlier by Randall and others.

Eared Dagger

Originating in Venice from Oriental predecessors the Eared Dagger was distinguished by two round plates set an angle to each other at the pommel.


Short for "Every Day Carry".


The cutting portion of the blade.


Making knife shapes that work with the structure of the human hand. Claimed by many, achieved by few.


A small metal inlay on the handle of the knife to place the initials of the owner or the trademark of the maker or just for decoration, often shaped as shields, hence the name, but, can be of any shape.

European Stag

Antler from the Red Deer, a large elk like animal found throughout Europe. Has been used for knife handles for at least as long as there have been knives of metal, and probably long before that. This stag has never been a substitute for the antler of the axis and sambar deer of India and Southeast Asia. The European Red Deer has a very coarse and open center, much like the American elk. Because of the large amount of pith in the center, it mostly has to be used as handle scales. The antler of the Red Deer is a limited substitute for the antler of both the Axis and the Sambar, that have both been embargoed by the Indian government.

False Edge

A sharpened area on the back of the point of some large knives.

Ferrara, Andrea

A maker of extremely fine sword blades from the middle of the 16th Century his work was so celebrated that he was counterfeited in his own time and after. Many of his blades and copies were used in the basket hilted broadswords of Scotland.

Fiber Glass (in plastic handles)

Many of todays thermoplastic materials are improved by adding chopped glass fibers often as much as 40% of a product may be glass. Adds great strength.

File & Wire

Before the Rockwell tester, the File & Wire mark was used to indicate that the hardness and toughness of a blade had passed the file and wire test. The test consisted of cutting the edge bevel with a new file to test the hardness and then tapping the blade edge through a piece of wire of a known hardness to test the toughness. If the edge was not blunted by the wire, it passed the test and was marked with "File & Wire Tested". This method and mark was used by Schatt & Morgan for many years and evolved into a brand. Today, the Schatt & Morgan brand is produced by Queen Cutlery in the old Schatt & Morgan factory in Titusville, Pa.

Flat Ground

The surface of the blade is flat from or near the back of the blade to the beginning of the sharpening bevel. Most production pocket knives are flat ground; most handmade hunting knives are hollow ground.

Full Length Tang

A tang that runs through the hilt, handle and pommel.

Full Tang

A tang which shows all around the handle of the knife between two pieces of handle material.


A groove that lightens and stiffens the blade. Also known as a blood groove, though the term is inaccurate.

General Purpose Blade

Term used by A. G. Russell for the very pointed droppoint designed for his series of "One Hand Knives".


A Portland OR advertising firm that decided to give their clients Christmas gifts of kitchen knives in the late 1940s. Very shortly that tail began to wag the dog and Gerber Legendary Blades is a huge company.

German Silver

A alloy of copper, zinc and nickel. also known as Nickel Silver.


A stainless steel with slightly less Carbon, slightly more Chromium, and much less Molybdenum than ATS-34. GIN-1 has no Nickel, Tungsten or Vanadium. Slightly softer than AUS-8. Also known as Gingami-1.
Carbon-0.90%, Manganese-0.60%, Chromium-15.50%,


The short stabbing sword of the Roman Legions. The blade was 18-24 inches long.

Goose Wing Axe

The most beautiful of the Bearded Axes, most often seen as a Northern European axe sharpened one side only for squaring timbers.


See Hilt.


In pocket knife language, to have the handle put on the knife. In general English it means to have put on a handle of a tool, including knives.

Hammer Forged

Self explanatory, a hammer has beaten (forged) hot steel into shape.

Handmade Knife

The blade and handle are shaped by hand, either the blade or handle is held in the hand and applied to the cutting medium, i.e. the grinder, etc. or the knife is fixed in a vise (or otherwise held) and the cutting medium (files, abrasive strips, portable grinder) is held in the hand and applied to the knife.


The measure of hardness for tool steels is most commonly done with a Rockwell tester, see Rockwell. The best hardness for one steel is not always the best for another. Generally, the best knives with steel blades should be hardened to the high 50s or low 60s on the Rockwell C scale. An exception to general hardness rules is for Stelite, (not a steel) will be about 42 on C scale.

High Alloy

A highly complex alloy rather than a simple one.


A steel with .5 Carbon or more, the term high carbon steel is often used to mean a non stainless steel; this is not a proper use as all stainless knife steel is also high carbon.

High-Carbon Stainless

Any stainless steel used to make a knife blade must be high carbon to make a decent knife. Any high carbon Stainless steel will stain. It stains less than other steels but it will stain.

High-Speed Steel

Steels designed to machine other steels. These machine tools will hold an edge even when heated red hot by friction.


To a sword collector the hilt encompasses the entire handle and guard; to the modern knife world, hilt and quillion mean the same thing: the guard, single or double, between the handle and the blade. Made of brass, nickel silver or stainless steel, sometimes of damascus steel.

Hitachi Super Blue Steel

The term "blue steel" actually refers to the color of the paper wrapper in which the raw bar stock is shipped. This is a high-carbon non-stainless steel in the 1.4% to 1.5% carbon range alloyed with silica (0.1% to 0.2%) and manganese (0.2% to 0.3%), and with chromium (0.2% to 0.5%) and Tungsten (2.0% to 2.5%) added for toughness. This is significantly more carbon than is found in most U.S. steels which tend to have about 1.0% carbon. This added carbon allows the blades to be hardened in the mid-60s Rc. allowing for a thin razor edge.

Holder, D'Alton

An important maker of hand made knives, served almost 20 years as an officer of the Guild; first modern maker to use amber in knife handles, has taught many others to make knives.

Hollow Ground

The surface of the blade is concave; if properly ground to a thin edge this is a very effective way of making a knife, is done by grinding the blade on a round surface (face of a wheel) and forming a hollow above the cutting edge and below the top edge of the blade.


Used as a noun it means a fine stone used to put a finished edge on a knife or razor. Used as a verb it is the action of finishing the edge of a knife.

Honing Oil

A light oil used to keep the surface of a sharpening stone free of steel deposits and debris.

Horn, Jess

A very important maker of hand made folding knives. One of the very first to achieve world wide prominence.


A style of sheath knife. Used for hunting, camping and skinning.


Objects of metal or other material inlaid into the handles of a knife or it could be the handled material inlaid into an interframe knife.

Integral Hilt

The hilt and blade are machined or forged from the same piece of metal; the term "full integral" means that the blade, hilt, tang and pommel are all from the same piece of steel.


Ron Lake, another folding knife maker who achieved world prominence about 1972; invented the Interframe® method of inlaying handle material in solid metal handle frames.


The Arab knife, found in every country the Arabs have lived in. Strongly curved blade, double edged with a rib in the middle. Each country has a somewhat different version.

Japanese Blades

Instead of naming the different blades separately I have decided to list them all here. Jin Tachi, the longest, from about 33 inches. Katana and Tachi 24 to 30 inches. Wakizashi 16 to 20 inches, the Tanto and Aikuchi with lengths of 11 to 16 inches and the Yoroi Toshi having blades of 9-12 inches and the Kwaiken with blades of 3 to 6 inches. A really good understanding of the blades of Japan requires more study than that of all other knives combined. We can only offer the simplest terms.

Jigged Bone

Bone that has had the surface cut to give a textured finish. Originally done to imitate deer antler, then in many different textures just for beauty and to give a better grip.


Persian knife with straight blade and handle and with no guard, often has an armor piercing point.


The most common of Hindu India's knives double edge blade ranges from a few inches to sword length. The handle is made up of two bars extending from the back of the blade in line with two or more cross bars that make up the handle at right angle to the blade.


A material of great strength used to make bullet proof garments and used to reinforce thermoplastic material sometime used in knife handles.


Arabic for knife, this is generally used for the Persian version, a double edged dagger with a curved or even double curved blade and a handle pistol grip shaped, often of jade or other stone.

Khyber Knife

The knife of the Afridis and other tribes living in or near the Khyber Pass between Afghanistan and India. With a long straight back that is heavily ribbed on the back and that tapers to a fine point this knife has no guard and the sheath encloses the handle and is worn slid under the sash.


A projection at the bottom of the tang at the end of the edge, by resting on the spring this projection controls the distance of the edge from the back spring when the knife is closed.

Kidney Dagger

Also called the Ballock Dagger, carried in Northern Europe and England in the 14th and 15th century generally across the back for left hand use. It got it's name from the wooden handle with it's carved guard of two lobes.


Like the Persian Shamshir this Turkish Saber is often included in the category Scimetar. The Turkish Kilij generally has the same curved edge intended for the draw cut but the curve stops for the last 8 or 10 inches of the back to the point. None of this class can be used for thrusting.


A tool with a blade and a handle. The blade will have at least one sharp edge. The first blade could have been of bone or stone, the first handle may have been a piece of hide used to protect the hand from sharp edges of chipped or broken stone.

Knife, Boot

A knife small enough to be concealed in a boot, generally considered a defensive knife.

Knife, Combat

The K-Bar of WWII shows what a combat knife should be; it can open cans of food, it can dig a foxhole or it can be used in hand-to-hand combat.

Knife, Fighting

A knife that is intended for killing sentries, for hand-to-hand fighting and little else.

Knife, Folding

Any knife that allows the blade to be folded into the handle. Pocket knives, Folding hunters etc.

Knife, Gentlemen's

Any knife that is trim and elegant in form. something that could be carried without embarrassment anywhere.

Knife, Hunting

A knife used for skinning and butchering large and small game. Originally a kitchen knife carried into the field, now very special knives are designed every year. Today it usually means a knife with a blade of 3 to 6 inches with a guard between the blade and the handle.

Knife, Pen

Used for trimming the points of quill pens, now a style of knife carried by men who want a very small and unobtrusive knife for dress wear.

Knife, Pocket

Any knife that can be comfortably carried in a pocket, may have several blades, almost always a folding knife.


The forward curved knife or sword of Egypt, carried by Alexander to much of the ancient world.


A man made material resembling rubber that can be molded into knife handles or handle parts to offer better gripping ability.

Kressler, Dietmar

The most prominent of European makers of hand made knives, trained in the U.S. in the early 1970s.


The knife of the Malay Peninsula, the blade is usually of Damascus with layers of nickel-iron between layers of steel. Offers a unique appearance.


The knife of Nepal and the Gurkha troops from that country. This knife is believed to be descended from the Kopis of Alexander's army. Very heavy point and light handle combined with the forward curve make it very effective in combat or the jungle.


Material used for very strong and convenient sheaths. Must be molded to each individual knife. Best known sheath maker using Kydex® is R. L. Dozier.

Laminated Steel

Very hard tool steel core, the outer sides are of softer material that gives great strength. Harry Morseth began the use of this material in the U.S. about 1946. It had been used for centuries in Scandinavia and in Japan.


Sometimes used to attach a knife to clothing or belt.

Lanyard Hole

A hole usually found at the butt of a knife handle to attach a thong or lanyard

Laser Scrimshaw

Using a laser to mass produce scrimshaw designs on knife handles.


Thin sheets of metal between the blade and the handle material of folding knives.


Michael Walker modernized the old use of the center liner for locking a blade open. Never successful outside of linemen's knives until Walker developed a knife with easy moving blade and positive lock and a detent to keep the blade closed.


A folding knife that has a lock release at the rear of the back of the handle.


Material used to keep screws from unscrewing.

Main Gauche

Left hand dagger used with a rapier about 17th Century. Very fancy guard around the hand with long quillions.

Malay Archipelago

The thousands of islands found between Indo China and Australia.

Malay Pirates

In the previous centuries many of the peoples living in the Malay states were pirates and sailing through their waters was very dangerous.


Expressed as Mn. Increases toughness and hardenability.

Mark Side

The side of the blade with the Nail Mark that can be the obverse or the reverse side of the blade.

Mark, Common

The short crescent shaped groove commonly seen on pocket knife blades.

Mark, French

A Long Mark with short marks pressed into the steel at the bottom of the mark that look like the top of a castle wall.

Mark, Long

The long straight groove often seen on the main blade of stock knives


A tool for working with rope. Often attached to the handles of sailors knives.


Japan's greatest swordmaker b. 1265 d.1358.

Matte Finish

A brushed or satin finish, term usually applied to all metal pocket knife handles.

Mediterranean Barlow

A barlow knife with a Mediterranean shape: the blade at the large end of a tapered serpentine handle. Must have the distinctive long Barlow bolsters.


Phenolic resin and layers of cloth or paper; makes very fine knife handles. Originally a Westinghouse trademark.


Is used to increase hardness in tool steels. Expressed as Mo.

Moran, W

Well know bladesmith, made famous by Ken Warner, Bill Moran is one of the founders of the "American Bladesmith Society".

Morseth Knives

The firm started by Harry Morseth and continued after 1971 by A. G. Russell. Most famous for use of Laminated Steel and 3 piece stag handles.

Morseth, Harry

Pioneer knife maker, began selling knives in the 1920s.

Mortise Tang

A method of applying scales to a narrow tang. Used by Marble's and the Swedes in the early part of this Century and by D. E. Henry in handmade knives. Half the thickness of the tang is removed from the inner surface of each scale.

Mother of Pearl

The shell of the pearl oyster from the South Pacific, a popular knife handle material; expensive

Muskrat Trapper

A pocket knife usually about 4 inches closed and usually of serpentine shape with a blade at each end, most often both California Clip blades.


Bohler N690, the equivalent of 440F, which is 440C with a bit of Cobalt. It is imported from Austria.

1.07% Carbon, 17% Chromium, 1.5% Cobalt, 1.1% Molybdenum, 0.1% Vanadium

Nail Mark

A groove cut or pressed into the back of the blade for the thumb nail to easily open the knife.

Nail Pull

see Nail Mark


Adds strength and toughness. Expressed as NI.

Nickel Silver or German Silver

A alloy of copper, zinc and nickel.


Used in place of carbon for the steel matrix. The Nitrogen atom will function in a similar manner to the carbon atom but offers unusual advantages in corrosion resistance. Expressed as N.


The Latin name for the stone from which Arkansas Stones are cut. This stone is found in a wide range of density and ranges from very coarse to very very fine.


Volcanic glass: whenever it could be found it was much preferred to the more common forms of chert. Glass was much easier to work and worked cleaner than any of the other materials available to primitives.


The front side of a knife, with the point of the knife to the left and the edge down, you are looking at the obverse (front) side of a knife.


Walrus, dogs, bears and raccoons and probably whales and seals have a bone in their penis, this bone is called an oosic. The walrus oosic is large enough to make into knife handles and is more popular than pretty.


Malay for Jungle knife, many versions.


The shell of the pearl oyster from the South Pacific, a popular knife handle material; expensive.

Pen Blade

A very small spear point blade originally meant for trimming quill pen points.


Originally an alloy of tin & lead, now pewter dishes are made lead free.


A screwdriver meant to fit the philips screw with its cross slot.


Improves strength, machinability, and hardness. Creates brittleness in high concentrations. Expressed as P.

Pillow Sword

Meant to be by the bedside as the name implies.

Pocket Blade

See Main Blade

Pocket Clip

A clip intended to keep a knife or other tool at the top of the pocket for easy access. Made popular by Sal Glasser of Spyderco.


The extreme end of the blade where the line of the back and the line of the edge come together.


A Middle English word for the butt end of a sword or knife handle.


A small dagger with a blade of triangular, round or square cross section cannot cut. Fit only for thrusting or stabbing. Also poingard.

Pouch Sheath

An improved sheath, the handle is half covered; friction holds the hilt and or the handle, keeping the knife safely in the sheath. The pouch sheath will not work with double hilted knives.

Powder Metal

Patented by Era Steel in Sweden and Crucible Metals in U.S.A. in the 1970's.

This is a method of making steel by blowing finely divided powdered iron, carbon, and other materials into a billet and then applying heat and pressure until a steel is achieved with finer grain, finer carbides, therefore greater strength and better wear resistance.

The Swedes went on to invent a method of blowing the particles into patterns; the result is "Damasteel". It has the look of pattern welded Damascus yet is actually a superior, powder metal stainless tool steel.

Pull, Long

See Mark, Long

Puma Knives

German trademark: these knives were made popular in America by importer Kurt Guttman in the years following WWII.


The Georgian national knife, very like the Kindjals of the Cossacks.

Queen Cutlery

A knifemaking firm. First American firm to make heavy use of stainless steel in knife blades.


A bar between the handle and the blade can be either single or double.

Randall Knives

Handmade knives by a small firm founded by W. D. Randall in 1938. Owned and operated since 1976 by Gary Randall, son of founder.

Randall, W. D.

Inspired by a Scagel knife in the 1930's Bo, (as he was called) was the second successful maker of hand made knives in this century.


A long thin sword meant for thrusting, Early versions were double edged and could cut as well as thrust, later models were only for thrusting. The art of fence developed and the rapier followed, it got longer then shorter. It began with the "Broad Sword" of the 15th Century and ended as the "Small Sword" of the 18th Century and then the Epee of today.


This is the opposite side of the knife than the obverse side. Knives are usually marked on the obverse rather than the reverse.


The flat area above and behind the hollow or flat ground area of the blade.

Rockwell Hardness (Rc)

The C scale which is used for measuring the hardness of tool steels is measured by pressing a diamond a precisely measured distance into the steel. These measurements can be understood throughout the world.

Rondell Dagger

The handle is spool-like with a round disc as hilt and as pommel.


Man made material. that offers attractive appearance, great strength and durability. Phenolic resin and layers of cloth.A trademark of A. G. Russell Knives

ity of Swords - Seki City, Japan

For 800 years, the center of Japanese sword making has been located in almost the exact center of the main island of Japan. Seki City of Gifu Prefecture, about half way between Tokyo and Osaka, was blessed with local sources of iron sand and plenty of timber for charcoal.

The swords of Seki City have been highly valued from about 1200 AD until the present. The Japanese Katana, unknown to the west until about 1860, had by the 1920s grown a reputation of mythic proportions. It was widely believed that a Japanese Warrior of sufficient strength could, with a single blow, cut a machine gun barrel in half. It is true that Japanese swordsmanship was very advanced by the mid 19th Century, largely due to the suppression of firearms in Japan until that time. But the Samurai focus on the importance of the sword also had a major impact.

Today the katana is so highly prized that, while still made in Seki City, it is also made in Spain, Taiwan and Red China, as well as by makers of handmade swords all over the World.


A sword with a slightly curved blade, single edge with a short back edge, most often a sword for use mounted.

Sabre Ground

Blades ground half to two thirds from the edge to the back and the top front third of the blade with a strong false edge or swedge.


A very large, elk sized deer in India and S.E. Asia; the antler is used for knife handles and is commonly called stag or India stag.

Sandvik 12C27

Tool steel made in Sweden, Swedish steel has always been a premium steel for tools because the iron ore is very clean, that is to say it has very little Sulphur S or Phosphorus P in it. Carbon 0.6%, Manganese 0.35%, Chromium 14.0%.

Sandvik 12C27MOD

Sandvik 12C27Mod is a martensitic stainless chromium steel developed for the manufacture of kitchen tools with high wear and corrosion resistance properties. After heat treatment the steel grade is characterized by high hardness with very good wear and corrosion resistance. Sandvik 12C27Mod is used mainly for kitchen tools, such as different types of knives and scissors, which need to tolerate dishwashing.Carbon-0.52%, Manganese-0.60%, Chromium-14.50%

Satin Finish

A finish that is not mirror polished; the lines from the fine abrasive gives a satin appearance.

Scagel, William

In the 1960s and 1970s, Bill Scagel was virtually unknown to most of America's growing leigons of knife collectors. But Scagel has become a household word to knife collectors today. He was the first truly great knifemaker of the 20th century. It was a Scagel knife that inspired Randall to begin his knifemaking career and it was a handful of Scagel knives in the Randall Musuem that led collectors to begin searching out knives by this great pioneer. Most of Scagel's production is still out there in old trunks and gun cases, as "Granddad's old hunting knife".

In his book, For Knife Lovers Only, Harry McEvoy said "During his 90 years, Bill Scagel produced more real treasures in cutlery than most other knife crafters, before or since. His hunting knives enjoyed such a fabulous reputation that hunters literally beat a path to his door over a period of some 50 years to purchase,... those beautiful, functional, handcrafted Scagel blades."


To knife people the word scale refers to the handle parts on each side of a full tang hunting knife or the parts on the sides of a pocket knife or folder.


One who performs the art of scrimshaw.


Using a needle or knife point to scratch or cut designs on whalebone or ivory. Sailors on whaling ships made it popular in this country and it has been popular with knife people since the mid 1960s.


The knife or sword of the Saxon peoples.


The sword of the Masai of East Africa, much wider near the point.


The serrations may vary from saw teeth to wide scallops in the edge; helps in the cutting of seat-belts and plastic rope.

Sgain Dubh

A small single edged knife with no guard that the Scots often carried in the stocking or the armpit.


The sabre of the Persian, the name probably led to the word Scimitar we use for all of the deeply curved eastern sabers.


The sword of the Cossacks. straight or slightly curved without a guard.

Sheepfoot Blade

Has a straight edge with the back of the blade falling in a strong curve to the point of the blade.


see Escutcheon


The principle element in the new man made rust preventatives.

Slip Joint

A term that is used for ordinary folding knives that do not lock.

Small Sword

The rapier evolved into the Small Sword and it remained in this form from the end of the 17th century until men no longer wore swords as part of their daily dress. It was still worn as part of diplomatic dress as late as the 1940s.


Material layered between the handle material and the hilt or guard of the knife. Generally of contrasting color.

Spear Point Blade

The edge and the back of the blade curve to each other and meet in the middle.

Spey Blade

Blade intended for the castration of livestock. The cutting edge curves up strongly to meet a very minor clip. Most often found in Stock knives or Cattleman's knives.

Spring Steel

Any tool steel that will remain flexible when properly heat treated.


A specialty knife company formed by Sal Glasser about 1978, introducing the concept of an easily opened knife clipped to the top of the trouser pocket. His patent on a round hole in a hump on top of the blade has made his company a huge success.


Deer antler, generally from one of two deer native to India and S.E. Asia; the Sambar and the Chitel. Recently and historically the antler of American white-tail and mule deer.

Stainless Steel

The only stainless that will not rust is used in sinks and hospital fittings. Any stainless that will hold an edge will be subject to humidity, salt and acid fluids. (Stainless means just that when applied to knives, It stains less).


A dagger with a slim blade intended for stabbing.

Stock Knife

Three bladed knife with clip main blade, sheepfoot blade and spay blade.

Sub Hilt

A second hilt behind the index finger on the lower edge of a fighting knife handle; another R. W. Loveless design feature.


Improves machinability when added in minute quantities. Expressed as S.


A bevel grind on the edge of the back of a blade. If it were sharp it would not be a swedge but would be a False Edge.


That part of the blade that is either fastened between scales to make the handle or goes through a hole in the handle material. Also the part of a pocket knife blade that is between the handles.

Tapered Tang

A method of grinding a full tang to taper to the butt of the knife, improving balance as well as appearance. Brought to modern knife making by R. W. Loveless.

Thong Hole

A hole at the butt of a knife handle intended for a wrist thong or lanyard.

Thumbolt® Sheath

The very safest sheath for fixed blade knives, invented by Blackie Collins; the patent and trademark are owned by A. G. Russell .


A material that can be both hard and tough, widely used to armor jet-fighters. About 1/3 lighter than steel it is very useful for knife parts. It will not hold an edge so is not useful as a blade.


The fighting ax of the American Indian, began as a club with wooden or stone head became a hatchet with the advent of iron heads from the Europeans.


A two bladed knife, most commonly with both blades at the same end, the blades often a drop point and a long spey blade. The exception to the blades being at the same end is the Muskrat Trapper which always has a blade at each end.


Used in small quantities in several steels used in handmade knives. Helps to produce a fine, dense grain structure. Expressed as W.

Turkish Clip Blade

A very distinctive blade shape that has a very long clip, even more than a California Clip; also has a curved edge.


Expressed as V. Helps to produce fine grain during heat treat.

Wharncliffe Blade

A blade with a straight edge and an almost needle like point

Wharncliffe Handle

A serpentine handle with one end larger than the other, often used in three blade whittler patterns.


A stone for whetting, or sharpening edged tools.


The most beautiful of all sabers, with it's forward curved blade it would have been as fine to use as to look at. Said to be Turkish in origin made with out guard and always with eared pommel.


Material of great hardness, (included in ceramic used in making ceramic blades) and used as grain on grinding belts for grinding knives.


A thermoplastic material used in molding handles for knives, generally containing 25 to 50% chopped fiberglas or kevlar" fiber or carbon fiber.



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