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A knife is any cutting edge or blade, handheld or otherwise, with or without a handle. Knives were used at least two-and-a-half million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools.[1][2] Originally made of rock, flint, and obsidian; knives have evolved in construction as technology has with blades being made from bronze, copper, iron, steel, ceramics, and titanium. Every culture has a unique version of the knife. A knife may be either a fixed-blade or a folding version with blade patterns and styles as varied as their makers and countries of origin. Due to its role as mankind's first tool, certain cultures have attached spiritual and religious significance to the knife.

Contents

History


The earliest knives were shaped by knapping (percussive flaking) of rock, particularly harder rocks such as obsidian and flint. During the Paleolithic era Homo habilis probably made similar tools out of wood, bone, and similar perishable materials that have not survived.[2][3] As recent as five thousand years ago, as advances in metallurgy progressed, stone, wood, and bone blades were gradually succeeded by copper, bronze, iron, and eventually steel. The first metal (copper) knives were symmetrical double edged daggers, which copied the earlier flint daggers. In Europe the first single edged knives appeared during the middle bronze age. Modern knives may be made from many different materials such as alloy tool steels, carbon fiber, ceramics, and titanium.

Materials and construction

Today, knives come in many forms but can be generally categorized between two broad types: fixed blade knives and folding, or pocket, knives.


Modern knives consist of a blade (1) and handle (2). The blade edge can be plain or serrated or a combination of both. The handle, used to grip and manipulate the blade safely, may include the tang, a portion of the blade that extends into the handle. Knives are made with partial tangs (extending part way into the handle, known as a "Stick Tang") or full tangs (extending the full length of the handle, often visible on top and bottom). The handle can also include a bolster, which is a piece of material used to balance the knife, usually brass or other metal, at the front of the handle where it meets the blade. The blade consists of the point (3), the end of the knife used for piercing, the edge (4), the cutting surface of the knife extending from the point to the heel, the grind (5), the cross-section shape of the blade, the spine, (6), the top, thicker portion of the blade, the fuller (7), the groove added to lighten the blade, and the ricasso (8), the thick portion of the blade joining the blade and the handle. The guard (9) is a barrier between the blade and the handle which protects the hand from an opponent, or the blade of the knife itself. A choil, where the blade is unsharpened and possibly indented as it meets the handle, may be used to prevent scratches to the handle when sharpening or as a forward-finger grip. The end of the handle, or butt (10), may allow a lanyard (11), used to secure the knife to the wrist, or a portion of the tang to protrude as a striking surface for pounding or glass breaking.[4]

Blade

Knife blades can be manufactured from a variety of materials, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. Carbon steel, an alloy of iron and carbon, can be very sharp, hold its edge well, and remain easy to sharpen, but is vulnerable to rust and stains. Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, chromium, possibly nickel, and molybdenum, with only a small amount of carbon. It is not able to take quite as sharp an edge as carbon steel, but is highly resistant to corrosion. High carbon stainless steel is stainless steel with a higher amount of carbon, intended to incorporate the better attributes of carbon steel and stainless steel. High carbon stainless steel blades do not discolor or stain, and maintain a sharp edge. Laminate blades use multiple metals to create a layered sandwich, combining the attributes of both. For example, a harder, more brittle steel may be sandwiched between an outer layer of softer, tougher, stainless steel to reduce vulnerability to corrosion. In this case, however, the part most affected by corrosion, the edge, is still vulnerable. Pattern-welding is similar to laminate construction. Layers of different steel types are welded together, but then the stock is manipulated to create patterns in the steel. Titanium is metal that has a better strength-to-weight ratio, is more wear resistant, and more flexible than steel. Although less hard and unable to take as sharp an edge, carbides in the titanium alloy allow them to be heat-treated to a sufficient hardness. Ceramic blades are hard, brittle, and lightweight: they may maintain a sharp edge for years with no maintenance at all, but are as fragile as glass and will break if dropped on a hard surface. They are immune to common corrosion, and can only be sharpened on silicon carbide sandpaper and some grinding wheels. Plastic blades are not especially sharp and typically serrated. They are often disposable.[5]

Steel blades are commonly shaped by forging or stock removal. Forged blades are made by heating a single piece of steel, then shaping the metal while hot using a hammer or press. Stock removal blades are shaped by grinding and removing metal. With both methods, after shaping, the steel must be heat treated. This involves heating the steel above its critical point, then quenching the blade to harden it. After hardening, the blade is tempered to remove stresses and make the blade tougher. Mass manufactured kitchen cutlery uses both the forging and stock removal processes. Forging tends to be reserved for manufacturers' more expensive product lines, and can often be distinguished from stock removal product lines by the presence of an integral bolster, though integral bolsters can be crafted through either shaping method.

Knives are sharpened in various ways. Flat ground blades have a profile that tapers from the thick spine to the sharp edge in a straight or convex line. Seen in cross section, the blade would form a long, thin triangle, or where the taper does not extend to the back of the blade, a long thin rectangle with one peaked side. Hollow ground blades have concave, beveled edges. The resulting blade has a thinner edge, so it may have better cutting ability for shallow cuts, but it is lighter and less durable than flat ground blades and will tend to bind in deep cuts.[citation needed] Serrated blade knives have a wavy, scalloped or saw-like blade. Serrated blades are more well suited for tasks that require aggressive 'sawing' motions, whereas plain edge blades are better suited for tasks that require push-through cuts (e.g., shaving, chopping).

Fixed blade features

A fixed blade knife does not fold or slide, and is typically stronger due to the tang, the extension of the blade into the handle, and lack of moving parts.

Folding blade features

A folding knife connects the blade to the handle through a pivot, allowing the blade to fold into the handle. To prevent injury to the knife user through the blade accidentally closing on the user's hand, folding knives typically have a locking mechanism. Different locking mechanisms are favored by various individuals for reasons such as perceived strength (lock safety), legality, and ease of use. Popular locking mechanisms include:

  • Slip joint – Found most commonly on traditional pocket knives, the opened blade does not lock, but is held in place by a spring device that allows the blade to fold if a certain amount of pressure is applied.
  • Lockback – Also known as the spine lock, the lockback includes a pivoted latch connected to a spring, and can be disengaged only by pressing the latch down to release the blade.[5]
  • Liner Lock – Invented by Michael Walker, uses a leaf spring-type liner within the groove of the handle that snaps into position under the blade when it is deployed. The lock is released by pushing the liner to the side, to allow the blade to return to its groove set into the handle.
  • Frame Lock – Also known as the integral lock or monolock, this locking mechanism was invented by custom knifemaker Chris Reeve for the Sebenza as an update to the liner lock. The frame lock works in a manner similar to the liner lock but uses a partial cutout of the actual knife handle, rather than a separate liner inside the handle to hold the blade in place.
  • Button Lock
  • Axis Lock – A locking mechanism exclusively licensed to the Benchmade Knife Company.
  • PickLock – A round post on the back base of the blade locks into a hole in a spring tab in the handle. To close, manually lift (pick) the spring tab (lock) off the blade post with your fingers, or in "Italian Style Stilettos" swivel the bolster (hand guard) clockwise to lift the spring tab off the blade post.

Another prominent feature on many folding knives is the opening mechanism. Traditional pocket knives and Swiss Army Knives commonly employ the nail nick, while modern folding knives more often use a stud, hole, disk, or flipper located on the blade, all which have the benefit of allowing the user to open the knife with one hand.

Automatic or switchblade knives open using the stored energy from a spring that is released when the user presses a button or lever or other actuator built into the handle of the knife. Automatic knives are popular amongst law enforcement and military users for their ease of rapid deployment and their ability to be opened using only one hand.[citation needed] Automatic knives are severely restricted by law in most American states.[6]

Increasingly common are assisted opening knives which use springs to propel the blade once the user has moved it past a certain angle. These differ from automatic or switchblade knives in that the blade is not released by means of a button or catch on the handle; rather, the blade itself is the actuator. Most assisted openers use flippers as their opening mechanism. Assisted opening knives can be as fast or faster than automatic knives to deploy.

Sliding blade features

A sliding knife is a knife which can be opened by sliding the knife blade out the front of the handle. One method of opening is where the blade exits out the front of the handle point-first and then is locked into place (an example of the this is the gravity knife). Another form is a O-T-F (out-the-front) switchblade, which only requires the push of a button or spring to cause the blade to slide out of the handle, and lock into place. To retract the blade back into the handle, a release lever or button, usually the same control as to open, is pressed. A very common form of sliding knife is the sliding utility knife (commonly known as a stanley knife or boxcutter).

Handle

The handles of knives can be made from a number of different materials, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. Handles are produced in a wide variety of shapes and styles. Handles are often textured to enhance grip.

  • Wood handles provide good grip and are warm in the hand, but are more difficult to care for. They do not resist water well, and will crack or warp with prolonged exposure to water. Modern stabilized and laminated woods have largely overcome these problems. Many beautiful and exotic hardwoods are employed in the manufacture of custom and some production knives. In some countries it is now forbidden for commercial butchers' knives to have wood handles, for sanitary reasons.[citation needed]
  • Plastic handles are more easily cared for than wooden handles, but can be slippery and become brittle over time.
  • Rubber handles such as Kraton or Respirine-C are generally preferred over plastic due to their durable and cushioning nature.
  • Micarta is a popular handle material on user knives due to its toughness and stability. Micarta is impervious to water, is grippy when wet, and is an excellent insulator. Micarta has come to refer to any fibrous material cast in resin. There are many varieties of micarta available. One very popular version is a fibreglass impregnated resin called G-10.
  • Leather handles are seen on some hunting and military knives, notably the KA-BAR. Leather handles are typically produced by stacking leather washers, or less commonly, as a sleeve surrounding another handle material.
  • Skeleton handles refers to the practice of using the tang itself as the handle, usually with sections of material removed to reduce weight. Skeleton handled knives are often wrapped with parachute cord or other wrapping materials to enhance grip.
  • Stainless steel handles are durable and sanitary, but can be slippery. To counter this, premium knife makers make handles with ridges, bumps, or indentations to provide extra grip.

More exotic materials usually only seen on art or ceremonial knives include: Stone, bone, mammoth tooth, mammoth ivory, oosic (walrus penis bone), walrus tusk, antler (often called stag in a knife context), sheep horn, buffalo horn, teeth, etc. Many materials have been employed in knife handles.

Types of knives

Knives as weapons

As a weapon, the knife is universally adopted as an essential tool. For example:

  • Bayonet: A knife-shaped close-quarters fighting weapon designed to attach to the muzzle of a rifle or similar weapon
  • Combat knife: Any knife intended to be used mainly for fighting
  • Throwing knife: A knife designed and weighted for throwing
  • Trench knife: Purpose-made or improvised knives, intended for close-quarter fighting, particularly in trench warfare characterised by a d-shaped integral hand guard.
  • Shiv: A crudely made homemade knife out of everyday materials, especially prevalent in prisons among inmates. An alternate name in some prisons is Shank.

Knives as utensils

]] A primary aspect of the knife as a tool includes dining, used either in food preparation or as cutlery. Examples of this include:

Knives as tools

As a utility tool the knife can take many forms, including:[5]]]

  • Bowie knife: Commonly, any large sheath knife, or a specific style of large knife popularized by Jim Bowie.
  • Butterfly knife: A folding knife also known as a balisong, with two handles counter-rotating around the tang such that, when closed, the blade is concealed within the handles.
  • Diver's knife: A knife adapted for use in diving and water sports and a necessary part of standard diving dress.
  • Electrician's knife: An insulated knife used to cut electrical wire.
  • Hunting knife: A knife used to dress large game.
  • Linoleum Knife: is a small knife that has a short, stiff blade with a curved point and a handle and is used to cut linoleum or other sheet materials.
  • Machete: A large heavy knife used to cut through thick vegetation such as sugar cane or jungle undergrowth; it also may be used as an offensive weapon.
  • Multitool: Often with a knife as its most elemental feature, these tools may also include a variety of other tools. Made famous by the Swiss Army Knife.
  • Pocket knife: Also known as a multi-tool or jackknife, a knife which may contain several folding blades, as well as other tools.
  • Palette knife: A knife, or frosting spatula, lacking a cutting edge, used by artists for tasks such as mixing and applying paint and in cooking for spreading icing.
  • Scalpel: A medical knife, used to perform surgery.
  • Straight razor: A reusable knife blade used for shaving hair.
  • Survival knife: A sturdy knife, sometimes with a hollow handle filled with survival equipment.
  • Switchblade: A knife with a folding blade that springs out of the grip when a button or lever on the grip is pressed.
  • Utility knife: A short knife with a replaceable triangular blade, used for cutting sheet materials including cardboard boxes.
  • Wood carving knife: Knives used for wood carving, often with short, thin replaceable blades for better control.
  • X-Acto knife: A scalpel-like knife with a long handle and a replaceable pointed blade, used for precise, clean cutting in arts and crafts.

Knives as a traditional or religious implement

  • Athame: A typically black-handled and double-edged ritual knife used in Wicca and other derivative forms of Neopagan witchcraft. (see also Boline.
  • Kirpan: A ceremonial knife that all baptised Sikhs must wear as one of the five visible symbols of the Sikh faith (Kakars)
  • Kilaya: A dagger used in Tibetan Buddhism
  • Kris: A dagger used in Indo-Malay cultures, often by royalty and sometimes in religious rituals.
  • Kukri: A Nepalese knife used as both tool and weapon
  • Puukko: A traditional Finnish or Scandinavian style woodcraft belt-knife used as a tool rather than a weapon
  • Seax: A Germanic single-edged knife, used primarily as a tool, but may also have been a weapon
  • Sgian Dubh: A small dagger traditionally worn with highland dress (kilt)

Rituals and superstitions

The knife plays a significant role in some cultures through ritual and superstition, as the knife was an essential tool for survival since early man.[2] Knife symbols can be found in various cultures to symbolize all stages of life; for example, a knife placed under the bed while giving birth is said to ease the pain, or, stuck into the headboard of a cradle, to protect the baby.[7][8]; knives were included in some Anglo-Saxon burial rites, so the dead would not be defenseless in the next world.[9][10][11] The knife plays an important role in some initiation rites, and many cultures perform rituals with a variety of knives, including the ceremonial sacrifices of animals.[12] Samurai warriors, as part of bushido, could perform ritual suicide, or seppuku, with a tantō, a common Japanese knife.[13] An athame, a ceremonial black-handled knife, is used in Wicca and derived forms of neopagan witchcraft.[14][15]

In Greece a black-handled knife placed under the pillow is used to keep away nightmares.[16] As early as 1646 reference is made to a superstition of laying a knife across another piece of cutlery being a sign of witchcraft.[17] A common belief is that if a knife is given as a gift, the relationship of the giver and recipient will be severed. Something such as a small coin or dove is exchanged for the gift, rendering "payment."[8]

Legislation

Knives are typically restricted by law, although restrictions vary greatly by country or state and type of knife. For example, some laws restrict carrying an unconcealed knife in public while other laws can restrict even private ownership of certain knives, such as switchblades.

Further reading

References

  1. ^ "No. 1 The Knife - Forbes.com". http://www.forbes.com/personaltech/2005/08/31/technology-tools-knife_cx_de_0831knife.html?boxes=custom. Retrieved on 2007-05-07. 
  2. ^ a b c "Early Human Evolution: Early Human Culture". http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo/homo_3.htm. Retrieved on 2007-05-07. 
  3. ^ "World's Oldest Stone Tools". http://www.archaeology.org/9703/newsbriefs/tools.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-07. 
  4. ^ "Knife Anatomy, Parts, Names". http://www.jayfisher.com/knife_anatomy,_parts,_names.htm. Retrieved on 2007-05-07. 
  5. ^ a b c "Greatest Tool #10: The Knife - lifehack.org". http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/greatest-tool-10-the-knife.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-07. 
  6. ^ State Knife Laws
  7. ^ "Bad Luck and Superstition 5". http://www.unexplainable.net/artman/publish/article_3408.shtml. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  8. ^ a b "HouseholdFolklore". http://www.askyewolfe.com/HouseholdFolklore.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  9. ^ ""The Knife Lore of the Anglo-Saxons" - Knife Articles : Custom Knives - Knife". http://www.knifeart.com/thekbyedkon.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-09. 
  10. ^ "The Heroic Age: The Anglo-British Cemetery at Bamburgh". http://www.mun.ca/mst/heroicage/issues/4/Bamburgh.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-09. 
  11. ^ "Bronze age grave goods from Bedd Branwen burial site, Anglesey :: Gathering the Jewels". http://www.tlysau.org.uk/en/item1/14435. Retrieved on 2007-05-09. 
  12. ^ "Ritual knife". http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/changing/journey/objects/089knife.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  13. ^ "Howstuffworks "How Samurai Work"". http://science.howstuffworks.com/samurai6.htm. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  14. ^ "Hellenic Magical Ritual". http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/HMT/. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  15. ^ "The Clavicle of Solomon, revealed by Ptolomy the Grecian. (Sloane 3847)". http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/sl3847.htm. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  16. ^ "The Magic of the Horseshoe: The Magic Of The Horse-shoe: VI. Iron As A Protective Charm". http://www.sacred-texts.com/etc/mhs/mhs09.htm. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  17. ^ "Knife laid across - A Dictionary of Superstitions - HighBeam Research". http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1O72-KNIFElaidacross.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 

See also

External links


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

a few kitchen knives: chef's knife, bread knife, steak knife, and paring knife

Contents

English

Pronunciation

Etymology

From Middle English knif, from Old English cnīf [1]

Noun

Singular
knife

Plural
knives

knife (plural knives)

  1. A utensil or a tool designed for cutting, consisting of a flat piece of hard material, usually steel or other metal (the blade), usually sharpened on one edge, attached to a handle. The blade may be pointed for piercing.
  2. A weapon designed with the aforementioned specifications intended for slashing and/or stabbing and too short to be called a sword. A dagger.
  3. Any blade-like part in a tool or a machine designed for cutting, such as the knives for a chipper.

Derived terms

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See also

Verb

Infinitive
to knife

Third person singular
knifes

Simple past
knifed

Past participle
knifed

Present participle
knifing

to knife (third-person singular simple present knifes, present participle knifing, simple past and past participle knifed)

  1. (transitive) To cut with a knife.
  2. (transitive) To use a knife to injure or kill by stabbing, slashing, or otherwise using the sharp edge of the knife as a weapon.
  3. (intransitive) To cut through as if with a knife.
  4. (transitive) To betray, especially in the context of a political slate.
  5. (transitive) To positively ignore, especially in order to denigrate. cf cut

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

References

  • Notes:
  1. ^ From Merriam-Webster's Dictionary's entry on "knife": http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/knife

Simple English

File:Paring
A small kitchen knife.

A knife is a metal tool with a sharpened metal blade that is used to cut all sorts of things. The plural form of "knife" is "knives".

Contents

Types of knives

  • Cooking or kitchen knives: also known as the chavs knife Several types of knives are used in cooking. Kitchen knives are sharp knives with wood or plastic handles used for chopping food and meat that is going to be cooked.
  • Table knives: These knives are used to cut up food for eating. Some table knives are sharper than others, but none are as sharp as kitchen knives. Steak knives are sharper because they need to cut steak. Fish knives and butter knives are also used at the table and have rounded blades that are not sharp.
  • Hunting knives are used for skinning animals.
  • Fishing knives are used for cutting open fish.
  • Construction knives and utility knives are used for cutting vinyl flooring, insulation, plastic sheathing, and carpet.

Picking the right type of knife

There are many kinds of knives depending what to be cut. With the right knife, the cuts you want to make will happen faster and easier. With the wrong kind of knife, it will take more work to do the same amount of cuts. When a knife is too small to cut something, a saw, axe, or power tool may be needed.

Illegal types of knives

Carrying knives is illegal in many countries, especially if the blade is longer than several inches. Another type of knife which is illegal in many places is the "switchblade", a knife that has a button which when pressed activates a spring to open the knife.

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