Butterfly Knives: The Technology Behind the Name

Written by on December 25, 2012 in Technology - No comments | Print this page


Balisong_Butterfly_Knife_Some people call them Balisongs, others call them butterfly knives, or fan knifes. When made by a craftsman they are little works of art. They are basically a folding pocket knife, which contains two handles that counter-rotate around the blade, and enable the user to open the knife with one hand.

The two handles are on either side of the blade, like the wings of a butterfly. Some handles are so stunning in their design, that if you squint your eyes, you can almost imagine you are looking at an exotic butterfly.

Some owners have made it an art form when opening or closing these knives. They use a series of quick fluid movements to open or close these knives. It’s called “flipping” or “fanning.” It’s a real treat to watch.

What are the different types of construction?

There are basically two different types of contraction:

  1. Sandwich construction is made in layers. These layers are screwed or pinned together. The blade rests between layers when in the closed position
  2. Chanel construction means the handles are made from a solid piece of material, and the grove that is need to give the blade a resting place is created by milling, folding or casting. Chanel contraction is considered stronger than sandwich construction.

What materials are used in the manufacture of balisongs?

The early balisongs made in the Philippines were sometimes made of railroad tracks and car leaf springs. Newer balisongs are usually made of tool steel for the blades and stainless steel for the handles. Handles can also be made of synthetic materials.

Where did balisongs originate?

That’s a hard question to answer. The French claim they invented the butterfly knife. There is a French book titled “Le Perret” published in 1710 with a sketch of a butterfly knife. Many people believe the balisong was born in the Philippines in the early 1900s.

What are some examples of balisongs made today?

Two examples of current day balisongs are:

  1. The Benchmade 51 balisong: the blade length is 4.25” and made of D2 tool steel. The overall length is 9.35” and 5.10″ closed. The handles are made of black G10 material that is hand polished with a spring latch locking mechanism.
  2. The Benchmade 62 balisong: has a blade length of 4.25” and made of D2 tool steel. The overall length is 9.20” and 5.27” closed. The handles are made of skeletonized stainless steel with a T-latch locking mechanism.

Benchmade butterfly knives like other Benchmade knives represent the high-end of balisongs. Balisongs currently manufactured are very well made and operate extremely smoothly, giving flippers and fanners an easier job of wowing a crowd of onlookers.

This is a guest post.  Dustin Williams is an outdoor adventurer and knife collector. Butterfly knives are just one style of knife that he has in his collection and has used outdoors. Dustin recommends visiting an authorized Benchmade Balisong retailer like BladeOps, to learn more about their knives.


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