What are the notches on the back of a knife for?

All of us have basic knowledge about knives. We aren’t sure if any of you noticed a notch on a knife. What is the purpose of these notches? If we want to understand what are the notches on the back of a knife for, first, we need to learn a lot about knives.

We use many types of knives for different purposes. Hunters use some knives for hunting, the army uses combat knives, and there are pocket knives for campers and kitchen knives for daily work. The Knife is the most ancient tool in human civilization.

Why do you have a knife?

Knives serve different kinds of purposes. At present days, knives are often used in cutlery or food preparation. We use a knife in our daily life also to cut fish, meat, vegetables, etc. Butchers use a meat cutting knife, and knives are beneficial for combat and survival also. There are various types of combat knives. Soldiers around the world train themselves to fight with a knife. Knives are an essential tool to survive in the jungle or harsh environment as well.

Anatomy of a knife

anatomy of a knife

Typically, a knife consists of two essential parts.

  • The blade
  • The handle

The shape of a blade depends on how we will use it. Usually, a knife has a total of 9 different parts. They are –

  • The point
  • The tip
  • The blade
  • The cutting edge
  • The spine
  • The heel
  • The tang
  • A bolster
  • The handle

Now, some knives, especially combat knives, have another additional part called the notch. But first, we are going to discuss the anatomy of a knife.

The point

The point is the furthest part of a knife from its handle. For piercing an object it comes in handy.

The tip

The second part is the tip which is the first third portion of a knife. Slicing objects is its field of expertise. 

The blade

It is the primary part of a knife. Different types of blades have different sizes, shapes, and sharpness. Its primary purpose is slicing also.

The cutting edge

The cutting edge is the sharpest area of a knife. It is used for chopping and slicing an object. This part needs to be sharpened regularly. They are also known as the grind. There are a few types of grind. Such as-

  • Hollow grind: This type of edge is very sharp. It is ideal for a clean cut. This type of edge is famous for the chef’s knife.
  • Flat grind: They are less sharp but tougher than hollow grind. Flat grind blades are used for chopping. It is the ideal knife to cut frozen meat.
  • Serrated: This edge is ideal for cutting through tough objects.

The Spine

It is the blunt portion of a blade. We can see it on the top of a knife. This blunt side separates a knife from a dagger. There are two sharp edges on a dagger. The spine provides stability for the blade.

The heel

The heel is the most durable part of the blade. It is also the widest part. The heel is very close to the handle.

The tang

The tang is an extended and thin part of the blade. It enters into the handle. There are three types of tangs-

  • Full tang:  It is the same length as the handle. It enters and fills the entire handle. These knives are the most durable.
  • Partial tang: It extends into only a portion of the handle. They are not so durable. Usually, partial tang knives are used as kitchen knives.
  • Rat-trail tang: Cheap knives have this type of tang, and these are pretty fragile. It draws out into the handle in a small amount.

A bolster

It is a thick metal piece that stays between the blade and the handle to connect and support them.

The handle

It is a vital part of a knife. You can hold a knife comfortably with the help of the handle. Usually, it is made of plastic, wood, or metal.

What is a notch?

Most knives have a part between the grind and the tang. Its primary purpose is to notify the border of the edge. You should stop sharpening your knife before reaching the notch. The notch is also known as the sharpening choil. This part helps to sharpen without causing any damage to the heel.

Famous types of notch

Notches can be of many types. It always depends on the kind of knife. Let’s discuss some types of notch now.

Spanish notch: Bowie knives set is a famous combat knife. James Black developed these knives for favorite fighter Jim Bowie. Some bowie knives have a particular type of notch on top of the handle. This notch is called a Spanish notch.

Kukri notch: Kukri is a world-famous combat knife. Legendary Gurkha fighters use this blade for combat. These blades have a notch that symbolizes the hoofprint of a cow. In Hindu belief, the cow is the symbol of fertility. This notch reminds the Gurkha people not to slaughter animals needlessly.

Note that these combat knives are illegal in most states of the U.S.A. But Mississippi knife laws don’t put a restriction on owning these knives. 

What Is The Reason For Having A Notch In A Butter Knife?

We can see a notch on a butter knife always. It has mainly two purposes-

  • First, it notifies us about the edge.
  • It also does not let butter touch the handle.

Also, this notch keeps the knife on the butter plate. Despite all these facts, the truth is this notch mainly serves as a decoration. Another point is that this notch makes the butter knife slightly different from the diner’s knife on the table.

What Are The Uses Of The Notch On The Back Of The Blade?

Most notches are only for decoration. But, it is also an indicator. It notifies about the end of the edge of the blade. While sharpening the blade, we can avoid damaging the handle or the tang by noticing the notch.

However, notches serve a completely different purpose on a combat knife. It is used to block an opponent’s knife. It is said that skilled soldiers can break their opponent’s blade by using the notch.

Knife with finger holes

Some particular types of knives have finger holes on the handle. Typically meat cutting knives or meat cleavers have a hole on the tip to hand it on the wall. These holes also reduce friction while cutting meats. Some pocket knives also have finger holes. It helps to open the knife quickly. Often people get confused between a finger hole and a notch. But they are not the same thing.


Most knife users often wonder about notches. They are mainly for decoration. But the truth is they work as an indicator as well. Now we understand what are the notches on the back of a knife for. While sharpening our knife, we must stop before reaching near the notch. Also, we need to clean the knife after each use. Knife cleaning is essential to use for a long time.

Related Post:-

Leave a Comment