Folding Knife: Everything You Need to Know

We talk about folding knives a lot. That’s because the folding pocket knife remains one of the greatest inventions ever devised. Since the Iron Age, this trusty implement has remained by man’s side, helping him with everything from preparing food to making camp to self-defense.


But what exactly is a folding knife? Here’s a quick introduction to the various types of folding knives out there, as well as how to clean your holding knife.


Types of Folding Pocket Knives


There is a wide variety of folding pocket knives available on the market, each with its own unique features and characteristics. Some popular types of folding knives include:


Peasant Knife


A simple, affordable folding knife that originated in Europe during the Middle Ages. It features a friction-based mechanism to hold the blade in place and a long handle with a tang extending from the blade for easy opening and closing. Often used for everyday tasks like cutting food, rope, and wood.


Slip-joint Knife


Slip-joint folding knives feature a spring-based mechanism that allows the blade to open and close smoothly. The blade is held in place by the tension of the spring when it's opened. This knife is versatile, compact, and typically used for everyday tasks like opening packages and cutting small items.


Barlow Knife


This small folding pocket knife of English design dates back to the late 17th century. It features a teardrop-shaped handle, two blades (a larger primary blade and a smaller secondary blade), and a sturdy bolster for added strength. Commonly used for a variety of tasks, including whittling, cutting, and carving.


Camper Knife


A versatile, multi-functional folding knife designed for outdoor enthusiasts. It often includes various tools like a blade, can opener, bottle opener, screwdriver, and more, making it an ideal tool for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities.


Canoe Knife

Double-ended, symmetrical folding knife resembling the shape of a canoe. It typically features two blades (a spear point and a pen blade) on opposite ends of the handle. This compact knife is well-suited for everyday carry and general utility tasks.


Congress Knife


A traditional folding knife with a convex-shaped handle and multiple blades that fold into the handle. It usually features four blades, including a sheepsfoot, spear point, coping, and pen blade. These knives tend to meet in the middle of the handle - coming together, which is where the “congress” part of the name comes from.


Pen Knife


A small, slim folding knife originally designed for sharpening quill pens. It typically features one or two blades, and its compact size makes it an ideal choice for everyday carry, opening letters, and other light tasks.


Tanto Knife


Of Japanese origin, Tanto knives are strong, with angular blades designed optimized for piercing and cutting. The tanto features a chisel-ground point and a straight or slightly curved edge. Originally a part of the Samurai's arsenal, the tanto knife is now popular in tactical and self-defense applications.


Folding Knife Maintenance

It’s not enough to know what kind of folding knife you want - you also need to know how to maintain it. Proper knife maintenance is crucial to ensure your folding knife stays in top condition.


Here are some simple steps to follow:

1. Clean your folding knife regularly by wiping down the blade and handle with a soft cloth or sponge.

2. Lubricate the pivot area to ensure smooth opening and closing of the knife.

3. Sharpen your folding knife blade as needed to maintain its cutting performance.

4. Store your folding knife in a dry, cool place to prevent rust and damage.



A good folding knife is an indispensable tool. With countless designs, materials, and features available, there's a perfect folding pocket knife for every person and purpose. By considering factors such as folding knife anatomy, type of knife, blade material, and intended purpose, you can find the ideal folding knife to suit your needs. And with proper care and maintenance, your folding knife will serve you well for years to come.


To learn more about folding knives, check out these articles:

Folding knife lock types

Pocket knife essentials