An integral frame is a solid piece of material, typically titanium, that is meticulously machined into a solid, one-piece handle for a folder.
An integral frame does not need to be held together by pins or screws. This makes the structure much stronger because it eliminates fail points. It also prevents any issue of screws coming out — which happens from time to time with folding knives — and virtually removes any flex that the handle might have. Along with the strength benefits, an integral frame can achieve clean lines and form without having to sacrifice looks to compensate for a sturdy construction.
This makes the structure much stronger because it eliminates fail points.
However, it’s time-consuming to create integral frames due to the milling, which also creates a lot of waste. When you look into the channel in the frame of the Spyderco Paysan, you will notice that nearly as much titanium was cut away as is left to form the handle.
Integral frames definitely have a cost factor to them, but they hold value commensurate with that cost — if your budget allows.
Check out our full review of the Spyderco Paysan in Knives Illustrated.