Glossary of Common Knife Making Terms


To help you in your understanding as you browse through all the knives, accessories and gift items on, we offer this glossary of common knife making terms. If there is a particular word, phrase or anything that you don’t understand here, please feel free to contact us and we’ll try to explain what we can. If you feel that a term is not accurately or fully defined, we welcome your thoughts as well!.

Blade: That portion of the knife used primarily for cutting

Bolster: Piece of metal added to the handle above the guard for strength and decoration.

Epoxy: a bonding agent composed of polymide or amino resin to which is added a hardening agent which causes a chemical reaction to occur.

Guard: In knife design, a synonymous term for hilt. That portion which forms a platform for the users hand between the handle and the blade.

Micarta: A synthetic handle material developed by wood laminates, linen or paper combining with a phenolic resin.

Pakkawood: Multiple layers of maple or birch veneers that have been impregnated with resin and color and then bonded under high heat and pressure to from one piece.

Pins: Short pieces of malleable metal (usually brass or copper) used to join knife parts, especially scales to tangs.

Pommel: A piece of soft metal, usually curved, and affixed to the upper portion of the tang. Pommels are generally thought of as being larger and more prominent than butt plates or caps.

Ricasso: The unsharpened portion of the blade immediately below the hilt.

Rivets: “Cutlers Rivets” – A special-purpose two-piece rivet widely used for joining scale handles to tangs.

Scales: Known also as slabs, these relatively thin pieces of wood, stag, horn or synthetic material are pinned or riveted to the tang in full tang construction.

Stag: Antler material from any member of the deer family.

Tang: That portion of the knife that extends into or through the handle.

Temper: The process of reheating hardened steel to a desired temperature, below its critical temperature point, primarily to impart toughness.