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A strong, resilient, and iridescent organic-inorganic composite material produced by some mollusks, like the Abalone, as an inner shell layer.
Also known as "Mother-of-Pearl" because it is literally the "mother", or creator, of true pearls.
It has been used for centuries as a decorative feature of watch faces, knives, guns, and jewelry.

Nickel (Ni)
An alloying element used in certain types of steel, providing an increased ability to change shape without fracturing.
When large amounts are used in stainless steel, in addition to large amounts of Chromium (Cr), a hard oxide forms on the metal surface that inhibits corrosion.

Nickel Silver
Also known as "German Silver".
A Copper (Cu) based alloy that contain 10-45% Zinc (Zn) and 5-30% Nickel (Ni).
Commonly used to make bolsters for real Italian knives.

Also known as "Nitridization".
A "Case Hardening" process in which Nitrogen (Ni) is infused into the surface of a steel part by either "Gas Nitriding" where the part is heated in a gas stream containing nitrogenous gas, or by "Pack Nitriding" where the part is heated in a salt bath that contains nitrogen-bearing organic compounds.
This hardens the surface to a depth of about 500 micrometers.
Nitrided parts have a surface Rockwell Hardness (HRC) of almost 70.

A Metal or Alloy that does not contain any Iron (Fe).
Aluminum (Al) and Titanium (Ti) are two examples.

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 the knife.
The opposite of "Reverse"

Optimiser System
Benchmade's patented convertible spring assist system.
It consists of a steel torsion spring-bar, located inside the handle, along the handle's spine, that is secured and in contact with the blade's tang.
The spring-bar is tensioned against the tang while in the closed position.
The spring-bar is engaged once the blade is rotated open to a 30 degree angle, which continues opening the blade to its full, locked open position.
Benchmade claims the advantage to their Optimiser design over similar concepts is that fact that the blade must be rotated open beyond a 30-degree angle for the spring-bar to activate, which is a plus due to the added control.
The other function is that the torsion spring-bar can be added or removed easily, and at the user's discretion. Removing the bar diables the spring assist functionality, while the knife still functions as a normal, manually opened pocket knife.

A chemical compound that consists of at least one oxygen atom in addition to at least one other element.
Is the result of elements being oxidized by oxygen in the air. Most metal surfaces consist of oxides and hydroxides when in the presence of air.
An example of this is Titanium Oxide (TiO2) (a.k.a. "Titanium Dioxide" or "Titania")

Pakka Wood
Pakkawood is an outstanding material of exceptional quality and long-lasting beauty. Utilizing advanced processes, carefully selected foreign and domestic hardwood veneers are impregnated with phenolic thermosetting resins. Under intense heat and pressure, multiple layers of these treated hardwoods are fused into a solid, homogeneous block of material that is:

•Strong and durable
•Dimensionally stable
•Weather and moisture resistant

Palissandro Wood
See "Cocobolo Wood"

An durable acrylic material resembling Mother-of-Pearl.
A popular scale material used on many Italian-made knives.
Available in a wide variety of colors.

Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD)
A type of vacuum deposition.
A general term used to describe any method used to deposit a thin film onto a surface by the condensation of a vaporized form of the film material.
This is a purely physical process, rather than one involving a chemical reaction at the surface to be coated, as in Chemical Vapor Veposition (CVD).

Pick Lock
A locking mechanism that consists of a round post (located on the back of the blade) that, upon blade deployment, locks into a hole in a spring tab (on the spine of the handle).
In order to disengage the lock, the spring tab must be manually lifted (a.k.a. "picked") off the blade post by the user's fingers, which releases the blade. Most current Italian-made and "Italian-style" stilettos employ the use of a swiveling bolster that pushes the spring tab off of the blade post.

Pinky Shelf
An angled protrusion at the end of the knife handle, where the pinky sits.
This portion of the handle provides a leveraging spot for additional control and coordination over the knife while in the hand.

Plain Edge
A sharpened knife blade with no serrations, or teeth.

Pocket Clip
A clip used to keep a knife at the top of the pocket, providing easy access.

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

The knob or expansion found at the of end a sword or knife.

Powder Coating
The process of applying a dry powder to a metal and then placing it in an oven, where the powder particles melt and fuse together to form a hard, abrasin-resistant coating that is much tougher than common paint.
It is available in just about any color imaginable, though the color is added during the powder's manufacturing process.
First used in Australia around 1967.

Precipitation Hardening
Also known as "Age Hardening" or "Dispersion Hardening"
A heat treatment technique that is used to strengthen malleable materials.

The area of the guard that extends past the section surrounding the tang
The most protective part of the guard.

The back side of a knife.
With the point of the knife to the right and the edge down, you are looking at the "Reverse" (back) side of the knife.
The opposite of "Obverse"

Reverse "S" Blade
A blade shape resembling a backward "S", with the point curving downward.
The deep belly curves in the same direction as the point.

The flat section of the blade that lies between the guard and the start of the bevel.
This is where you will most often find the tang stamp.

Refers to any of a number of richly hued timbers belonging to the genus Dalbergia.
Usually a brownish color with darker veining, but can be found in many different hues.
Strong and heavy, taking an excellent polish.
Also used for flooring, furniture, turnery, musical instruments, billiard cues, and chess sets.

A product of corrosion, consisting of hydrated oxides of iron, and happening only to ferrous alloys.

Safe Handle
Of the two pivoting handles on a Balisong / Butterfly Knife, the "Safe Handle" is the one that rotates around to close on the unsharpened edge, or Back, of the blade.
The other is called the "Bite Handle".

Safety Lock
A blade lock, usually located on the spine of the handle. It offers added security and assurance that the knife will not open while either in or clipped onto the pocket.

Satin Finish
A no-glare, non-reflective finish, like a "Bead Blasted" or "Brushed" finish
The opposite of a "Mirror" finish.

Satine Wood
See "Bloodwood"

Pieces that are attached to a full tang in order to form a handle, or the pieces on the sides of a folding knife.

Serrated Edge
A set of "teeth" or notches on the cutting edge and/or the back edge of a blade that aid in cutting.

Sheepfoot Blade
A blade with a round, blunt tip that has no point.

Side Opening Knives
A knife with a blade that swings around a pivot and deploys from the side, rather than deploying straight out the front of the handle (like a Front Opening knife.

Single Action
A Front Opening Automatic Knife that opens automatically, but requires manual retraction, due to compression of the spring. Because of this, stronger springs can be used.
Single Action Out the Fronts generally open stronger and faster than Double Action OTF's. This usually allows for a tighter lock-up.

Single-Edged Blade
A blade with only one sharpened edge.

Slip Joint
A locking mechanism that uses a back spring that wedges itself into a notch on the back of the blade's tang. In actuality, it's not really a lock.
The locking mechanism usually found on traditional pocket knives.

Spear Point Blade
A blade shape that has an equal amount of curve on the back side and the cutting edge. The two curves meet at the point.
The back side is either sharpened like the cutting edge, making a "double-edge", or it will have a "false edge".
Designed for piercing and general-purpose cutting.

Spine (of the blade)
The thickest part of a blade.
On a single-edged, flat ground blade, the spine is at the back of the blade.
On double-edged blades, the spine goes right down the middle of the blade.

Spine (of the handle)
The back of the handle, opposite of where the blade closes into.

Spring Assisted Knives
The type of knife characterized by the fact that the blade is deployed by the use of an index-open "flipper" or a thumb-stud on the blade, instead of having to pull it out using your fingers, like an average pocket knife. Once the blade has reached a 30-40 degree angle, an internal spring or torsion bar finishes the opening process.
Almost exclusively made as side-openers (similiar to side opening automatic knives), Spring Assisted knives are now being made as front-openers (similiar to front opening, or "out the front" automatic knives), as well. Most notable are Smith & Wesson's H.R.T. Extreme Ops out the front spring assisted knives and Schrade's Extreme Survival out the front spring assisted knives.

Spring Latch
On a Balisong / Butterfly knife, a spring loaded Latch that is opened by squeezing the handles together.

Spring Steel
Any tool steel that remains flexible when properly heat treated.

Stag Horn
Derived from naturally shed deer antlers.
When exposed to an open flame, stag takes on a slightly burnt look.

Stainless Steel
Steel that contains at least 10% Chromium (Cr), and sometimes containing other elements, making it resistant to corrosion.
The Chromium Oxide (CrO) creates a barrier, providing protection from oxygen and moisture, therefore preventing rust formation.
Developed for commercial use by Englishman, Harry Brearley.

Standard Blade
A blade shape that has an equal amount of curve on the back side and the cutting edge.
Similiar in shape to a "Spear Point" blade, the difference is that a Standard blade usually has a flat grind, so the back side has neither a sharpened nor false edge.
Designed for general-purpose cutting and slicing.

An alloy that is mostly Iron (Fe), with a Carbon (C) content between 0.2% and 2.14%.
Carbon is the most cost-effective alloying material for Iron, but various other alloying elements are used.
Different alloying elements, and the amounts used, control different qualities, such as hardness, ductility, and tensile strength.

A dagger with a slim blade intended for stabbing.

A bevel on the back edge of the blade that can either be sharpened or left unsharpened.
When unsharpened, it is generally referred to as a False Edge.
It reduces the cross sectional area of the point without sacrificing too much thickness, resulting in a finer pointed Tip, thereby improving thrusting insertion / piercing.

Switchblade Knives
See "Automatic Knives".

A martensitic powder-made stainless steel with excellent wear and corrosion resistance, specifically made for knives.
Developed by Dick Barber of Crucible Materials Corporation in a collaboration with knifemaker Chris Reeve.
It has a Rockwell Hardness (HRC) of 58-62.
1.45% Carbon (C), 14.0% Chromium (Cr), 4.0% Vanadium (V), 2.0% Molybedenum (Mo).

Tahitian Jadewood (#11)
A green colored DymondWood.

The portion of the blade where it connects to the handle.

Tang Stamp
An imprint indicating anything from style number, collector's number, or the manufacturer's name that is normally located on the ricasso.

Tanto Blade
A blade style where the point is in line with the spine of the blade, making for a strong, thick point.
There are quite a few variations of tanto blade, such as whether the front edge meets the bottom edge at either an obtuse angle or a curve.

A heat treatment technique for metals and alloys that:
- Improves toughness and ductility
- Reduces cracking
- Improves machinability
- Increases impact resistance

A deformable polymer, like ABS or Zytel, that, when heated, melts into a liquid and hardens as it cools.
"Thermoplastic" polymers can be remelted and remolded even after they have been formed and cooled, unlike "Thermosetting" polymers.

A polymer, like Bakelite or vulcanized rubber, that can not be remelted and remolded once it has been formed and cooled, unlike "Thermoplastic" polymers.

Thumb Stud
An attachment to the blade (i.e. a knob or disc) near the handle of a folding knife that enables one-handed opening.

Timberland (#46)
A DymondWood Layup combination of:
- Heritage Walnut (#2)
- Charcoal Silverstone (#5)
- Bahama Cherrywood (#9)
- Tahitian Jadewood (#11)

See "Point"

Refers to the direction that the point, or tip, of a knife's blade is pointing, as when closed and clipped in a pocket, positioned by it's pocket clip.
When the tip is pointing down.

Refers to the direction that the point, or tip, of a knife's blade is pointing, as when closed and clipped in a pocket, positioned by it's pocket clip.
When the tip is pointing up.

Titanium (Ti)
A light-weight non-ferrous metal with high tensile strength that is and resistant to corrosion.
Is as strong as steel, but 45% lighter and won’t rust because it contains no Carbon (C).
Is twice as strong as aluminum, but only 60% heavier.
Often used for knife liners or handle material.

Titanium Aluminum Nitride (TiAlN)
A 3 micrometer (0.000118”) Physical Vapor Veposition (PVD) coating that was developed from Titanium Nitride (TiN).
This coating works by forming a thin surface layer of Alumina (Al2O3), or Aluminum Oxide ceramic, that is hard, low in friction and oxidation resistant. As this layer wears, it is constantly rebuilt from the Aluminum (Al) in the coating.
Offers the most oxidation resistance, is abrasion and erosion resistant, and holds sharp edges.
Is harder than TiN, harder than carbide, and 3 times as hard as chrome (off the Rockwell Hardness scale).
TiAlN-coated knives can last 3-10 times longer than uncoated knives.
Is dark gray in color.

Titanium Carbo-Nitride (TiCN)
A 3 micrometer (0.000118”) Physical Vapor Veposition (PVD) coating that was developed from Titanium Nitride (TiN).
Is erosion resistant, provides better abrasive wear resistance than TiN, and holds sharp edges.
Is harder than TiN, harder than carbide, and 3 times as hard as chrome (off the Rockwell Hardness scale).
TiCN-coated knives can last 2-3 times longer than TiN-coated knives and 3-10 times longer than uncoated ones.
Will not blister, flake or chip.
Is gray or mauve in color.

Titanium Nitride (TiN)
An extremely hard ceramic material, often applied as a thin Physical Vapor Veposition (PVD) coating on titanium alloy, steel, carbide, and aluminium components in order to harden and protect cutting and sliding surfaces, it was the first general purpose coating developed for metal cutting tool applications.
It's Rockwell Hardness is estimated as ~85 (~2500 Vickers Hardness or 24.5 gigapascal).
TiN-coated knives can last 2-10 times longer than uncoated knives.
Is dark gold in color.

Titanium Oxide (TiO2) (a.k.a. "Titanium Dioxide" or "Titania")
The naturally occurring oxide of Titanium.
Colors are produced by heating the metal in the air, or by electrically anodizing it in an electrolyte to bond oxygen to the surface of the metal.
Creates a thin (0.5 micron), yet durable and scratch resistant film.

Tool Steel
Refers to a number of different carbon steels and alloy steels that are excellently suited to be made into tools, due to their hardness, resistance to abrasion, ability to hold a cutting edge, and resistance to deformation at high temperatures.
Is generally used in a heat treated state.
Has a Carbon (C) content between 0.7% and 1.4%.

Trailing Point Blade
Also known as an "Upswept" Blade.
A blade style where the point is higher than the spine.
They usually have a bigger belly, which is better for slicing, due to the point being up and out of the way.


Vanadium (V)
An alloying element that increases the hardness of steel and reduces the effects of metal fatigue.

Japanese steel comparable to 154-CM and ATS-34 that provides superior edge retention.
0.95 - 1.05% Carbon (C), 0.5% Manganese (Mn), 14.5 - 15.5% Chromium (Cr), 0.10 - 0.30% Vanadium (V), 0.90 - 1.20% Molybedenum (Mo)

Weehawk Blade
Benchmade's version of the "Bayonet blade".

Wharncliffe Blade
A blade style where the point is dropped to a straight cutting edge.



An virtually unbreakable thermoplastic material, developed by Du Pont, that resists impact and abrasions.
Knife companies usually add additional, more aggressive surface texture to augment it's naturally slight texture.

An American high carbon, premium grade stainless steel, similiar to the vacuum melted Japanese ATS-34.
Used in high-end production knives.
It has a Rockwell Hardness (HRC) of 58-62.
1.05% Carbon (C), 0.5% Manganese (Mn), 14.0% Chromium (Cr), 0.4 - 0.55% Molybedenum (Mo)



A stainless spring steel mostly used in production knives.
0.15 - 0.6% Carbon (C), 1.0% Manganese (Mn), 12-14% Chromium (Cr).

A high chromium stainless steel with a terrific balance of good hardness and corrosion resistance, popular with custom knifemakers.
First used by Gil Hibben around 1966.
It has a Rockwell Hardness (HRC) of 58-60.
0.95 - 1.20% Carbon (C), 0.40% Manganese (Mn), 17.0% Chromium (Cr), 0.50% Vanadium (V), 0.50% Molybedenum (Mo)


6061-T6 Aircraft Aluminum Alloy
A pre-tempered grade of Aluminum Alloy that provides excellent corrosion resistance.
Identified by:
- A four-digit number that identifies the alloying elements (6061)
- A dash (-)
- A letter identifying the type of heat treatment used (T, which specifies thermal heat treatment)
- A one- to four-digit number identifying the specific temper (6)
Commonly used to make knife handles and pommels.
0.4% - 0.8% Silicon (Si), 0.7% Iron (Fe), 0.15%-0.40% Copper (Cu), 0.15% Manganese (Mn), 0.8% - 1.2% Magnesium (Mg), 0.04% - 0.35% Chromium (Cr), 0.25% Zinc (Zn), 0.15% Titanium (Ti), remainder Aluminum (Al)




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