A folding pocket knife is like any other piece of gear that has a mechanical aspect; it needs to be kept in proper working order or it’s not going to be there when you really need it. It also needs to be kept sharp. If it’s not then even if you can get it to open it simply won’t perform the tasks it was designed to perform. Because of these and other issues it’s important that you perform regular maintenance on your pocket knife and in this article we’re going to cover some of the best methods for doing so.
The Basic Principles of Proper Knife Care
The particulars of an everyday carry or pocket knife’s maintenance aren’t complex, nor do they require a lot of your time. They just require that you take a few minutes to perform them on a fairly regular basis. That said, pocket knife maintenance typically involves:
- Keeping the Knife Dry – Most folding knife blades are made of stainless steel but there are a fair number of new blades (and a great number of older ones as well) that are made of carbon steel that is far more susceptible to corrosion and rust. Even your stainless blade will begin to show signs of age if it’s getting wet all the time. Always store your pocket knife in a dry and safe place and carry it in a way that it won’t get wet if it rains. If the knife does get wet make sure you dry it off thoroughly at the earliest opportunity. This will help you prolong the life of the knife substantially.
- Cleaning the Knife – Now that we know that even stainless steel blades are susceptible to oxidation should they be exposed to constant moisture the importance of keeping the knife not only dry but clean and well-oiled should be apparent. Folding knives are also susceptible to being undermined by debris collecting in the folding and locking mechanisms so cleaning your knife regularly is a must. When cleaning your blade use solvents such as acetone or paint thinner. But beware as these chemicals can damage some knife handles. Avoid using chlorine as it can actually accelerate the process of corrosion.
- Lubricating Your Knife – After every cleaning remember to lubricate all the moving parts of the knife, whether it’s a single blade or a complex multi-tool with many blades and other attachments. Pay particular attention to the pivot area of the folding knife. When you’ve finished lubricating the moving parts make sure you add a thin film of lubricant to the blade itself to help ward off oxidation and other forms of corrosion.
Keeping the Blade Sharp
The primary purpose of your knife is to cut things which it can only do well is it’s kept razor sharp. Make sure you sharpen the blade on a regular basis so that it always answers the call when you need it. Be sure to use a high quality sharpening stone to achieve the best edge for your blade.
- Sharpening Your Knife – Sharpening consists of 2 stages. During the first stage you grind the blade to remove metal and establish a new edge. Think of it like sharpening a pencil where you remove wood to expose fresh graphite. The second stage of sharpening your blade is called “honing”. Honing also removes metal but in much smaller quantities than grinding. Honing removes any imperfections left over from the grinding and makes the edge as clean and sharp as possible.
Don’t forget that how you store your knife will go a long way toward determining how much corrosion it attracts and how often you are going to need to clean it. For instance, if you store it in a dirty, damp basement you’ll need to clean it often. So don’t do that. Instead, store your folding knife in a cool, dry place. If you’re not going to use your folding knife for a while take it out of the sheath before storing it in that cool, dry place as the sheath can trap moisture.
Many people make the mistake of thinking their pocket knife is like a standard table knife: that you can just dump it in a drawer and it will pretty much take care of itself. It’s not and it won’t. A pocket knife is exposed to many more environmental hazards and used for a much wider variety of tasks. Therefore it requires a higher degree of maintenance. Take the above tips to heart and your folding knife will provide many years of dependable service.