Are they scales, or are they handles?

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Mumbleypeg
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Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by Mumbleypeg »

The topic of whether the correct term for "grips" on a knife is "handles" or "scales" came up on another thread. Realizing there are varying opinions on the subject I thought it might be helpful to provide some insight. Actually, both terms are correct depending on what type of knife is being discussed. And that's the original of the confusion. ::shrug::

To clarify, the information I'm about to provide is not my opinion. It comes from Harold L. Peterson, author of American Knives, among many books he authored on the subject of knives and firearms. If you're not familiar with him I encourage you to do a google search on the man. Here's what he has to say on the subject.

First a couple of diagrams from the book to provide definitions:
Fixed blade knife terminology
Fixed blade knife terminology
Pocket knife terminology
Pocket knife terminology
Note the differences in what are called "scales" and "handles" on fixed blades versus pocket knives.

Now let's see what Peterson has to say about this:
image.jpeg
Hope this is helpful. (Pictures should enlarge by clicking on them).

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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by jlw257 »

Thanks Ken, that a question I've always wonder about. Never got used to calling handles scales

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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by kootenay joe »

Peterson is using these words as he learned them which likely means as they were used by the 'knifers' he knew and by those living in the same geographic region. (e.g. Pacific Northwest, New England States, Deep South, etc.) This is especially so for pre internet days.
Bernard Levine has tried to bring some standardization to knife nomenclature by reading old cutlery texts, etc. to find the original usage by cutlers, mainly in Sheffield. Because there is such regional variation going back to original intended meaning seems logical to me.
He refers to the liners as "scales" and the outer piece attached to the scale as "handle".
I choose to use these words in this way.
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by wiseguy »

Thanks for posting the diagram reference, I`ve called them "handle covers" far as I can remember but grips would be my 2nd choice, if someone referred to them as scales I`d know what they meant.
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by Tsar Bomba »

kootenay joe wrote:He refers to the liners as "scales" and the outer piece attached to the scale as "handle".
I choose to use these words in this way.
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by KnifeSlinger#81 »

+1 for handles :mrgreen:
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by kootenay joe »

Thanks, but experience tells me that many knifers like how they have been using knife terminology so an 'across the board' agreement is unlikely.
That said, i think here in AAPK we should strive to use knife terms correctly as it is a reference site for many of the more casual knife people. If we cannot get it right then there is no hope there will ever be standardization.
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by orvet »

From the Combined Index and Glossary of LG4 page 507:
LG4 Handle Scales.jpg
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by Mumbleypeg »

::dang:: I should have known better. My expert can whip your expert! :lol:

Peterson says regarding pocket knives "the word scales is used for the metal linings...........and the outer covering which is held by the hand is just called the covering or the handle." I think that's what we're all saying, and then comes Dale's input from BRL4. ::shrug:

Where Peterson and Levine both seem to agree is that the "flat pieces" affixed on a fixed blade are "scales".

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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by kootenay joe »

Dale, i am going on a discussion in the BF BRL forum in which Bernard talked about trying to track down original meanings, etc. In it he said that "scale" is different from "handle" and that they should not be interchangeable words.
Maybe he changed his opinion after LG4 was written ??
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by orvet »

Not at all Ken!
The entire purpose is communication of ideas and concepts. Bernard Levine is probably one of the most recognized and respected active cutlery writers in the world today and no one can deny his influence on this and other Internet forums.

Roland, maybe he did change his mind, I don’t know. I’m just going by what he wrote in his book.

Call them whatever you want to call them. ::shrug::
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by Mumbleypeg »

I agree Dale, BRL4 is typically my "bible" for all things cutlery. I sometimes find Peterson easier to comprehend, but his book is a much smaller, less comprehensive work than BRL4.

Peterson preceded Levine, and most other American cutlery authors. In fact the book I cited (the complete title is American Knives, The First History and Collectors Guide) was published in 1958. It's well written and illustrated and the appendix contains a wealth of info regarding American makers. Peterson authored numerous books on cutlery and firearms and in his time was one of the foremost experts in his field. He served many years as Head Curator for the U.S. National Parks Service. Prior to that he was curator of Edged Weapons at the West Point Museum. He is deceased.

I'm fortunate to have a copy of both books. I believe both are out of print.

Ken
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by stagman »

Hey...what ever Dale is callin em.....Done... ::nod::

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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by kootenay joe »

If i have read this thread correctly, no one here wants to call knife handles, "scales" ? We all seem to prefer "handles" or "covers", unless i mis-read something, which does happen at times.
I have seen "grips" but mostly from people in Britain.
Is "grips" correct for handgun handles ?
kj
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by edge213 »

Yes
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by btrwtr »

scales
Attachments
scales.jpg
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by jerryd6818 »

I'm not a champion of ambiguity in the use of the English language (although there's plenty of room for it). I believe in using the proper term the situation calls for. An understanding of the language is what avoids misunderstandings BUT (bet'cha didn't see that coming) you will NEVER get a consensus of opinion out of this group. Ever!! That's been proved over and over, time and time again. So, call 'em covers, handles, scales or slabs, whatever YOUR expert taught you to call 'em. I'm pretty sure that all but the rawest recruit on AAPK will be able to figure out what you mean.

Edit: Funny Wayne. :lol:
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by kootenay joe »

Wow ! I have a few figural knives in the shape of a fish(with scales), but nothing as realistic as Wayne's fishy knife.
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by peanut740 »

I will call them what comes to mind at that time.I REALLY don't care.There is another prickly website that such things are more important.
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by jerryd6818 »

You go Roger. ::tu::
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by bighomer »

I'm with Roger. ::ds:: ::tu::
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by glennbad »

I call them covers, but I also called them scales or handles for years, so I can evolve. I don't correct anyone that calls them this or that, cause I think we all know what is meant. And, for every book calling them scales, there's another one calling them covers or something else.

Now I'm all confused... ::facepalm::
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by gsmith7158 »

If a knife has liners and covers then it has scales and handles. If a knife has only covers then it has handles that are scales. If a knife has only liners then the knife scales need to be rehandled. Very simple! ::shrug::
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by tongueriver »

gsmith7158 wrote:If a knife has liners and covers then it has scales and handles. If a knife has only covers then it has handles that are scales. If a knife has only liners then the knife scales need to be rehandled. Very simple! ::shrug::
Bingo!
And here is something else to chew on: In the Schrade CutCo catalogs, the metal pieces that bound the end of the pocket knife from which blades originated were called bolsters. On the other end of the knife, if there were no blades, the metal pieces were called caps.
I see in Peterson's drawing of a bowie knife that the entirety of the metal piece between the handle and the blade is called the guard, but the projecting parts thereof are called quillons.
Now if we want to run this out a ways, we could talk about the devices that commonly house knives. My personal preference for nomenclature says sheaths for knives, holsters for handguns, and scabbards for carry on horsekind. I see the word case used often on ebay, usually from folk that don't know a pocket knife from a sweet potato. I don't like that very ambiguous word for knife carrying device. Tag; you're it!
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Re: Are they scales, or are they handles?

Post by Paladin »

tongueriver wrote:
gsmith7158 wrote:......,,,,,,,, I see the word case used often on ebay, usually from folk that don't know a pocket knife from a sweet potato. I don't like that very ambiguous word for knife carrying device. Tag; you're it!
I am convinced that the reason for calling a sheath a 'case' is for search advantage. To me it is a deceptive device and I try to avoid those sellers.

Ray
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