Pocket Knife Maintenance: Keeping It Mint

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Keeping a pocket knife in mint condition requires a lot of work. Just like keeping a pocket knife blade sharp requires effort, you have to exert the same amount of thought, particularity, work, and attention to detail to keep your knife in mint condition for as long as possible. All pocket knives need the right kind of care if you want them to reach their full potential, in terms of performance, aesthetics, condition, and collectability.

Pocket Knife Lubrication Is Critical

No matter how high-quality the steel is in your knife blade, the metal can corrode given enough time. That’s why older pocket knives look so darkened and worn down. It’s one of the reasons, at least. Knives from the 19th and 18th century look drab, even if they weren’t used on a regular basis, because time has worn them down. Keep that in mind when you need to start taking care of your first pocket knife. It’s smart to oil the springs and joints of a pocket knife with a single drop, or maybe a few drops, of oil. That will make it easier to open and close, and it will help prevent rust from forming, and it will also lessen the wear. My personal preference for knife lubrication is Break-Free CLP-4. It keeps my folders operation smooth and quick.

It’s also a good idea to wipe the blade whenever you can with a cloth that’s oil-moistened to stop rust from forming. This step is especially important if you live near the ocean or in a very damp and humid climate. If your blade ever does get wet, make sure it is 100% dry (the whole knife, not just the blade) before putting it away in storage. If your knife gets into contact with any salt water, or any chemical that you’re not certain about, you should run it under some tap water and start rinsing it immediately, and then apply a coat of oil.

Knife Maintenance Tips and Guidelines

Break-Free CLP-4 for Pocket Knife Lubrication

Now that we’ve gone over a primer on how your pocket knife can get worn down, and some basic steps to avert that, we’ll go into more detail about how you can protect and preserve your pocket knife for a long time to come.

Don’t ever leave knives in their sheaths. The leather will start to collect moisture, and it could lead to pitting on the blade.

Make sure that you periodically check the locking notches on lockbacks on a regular basis to confirm that are operating correctly with optimal performance. Make sure that you keep all grit or sand out of the knife. Make sure the mechanisms are clean too. Don’t ever think that a folding knife will be in that position permanently.

Don’t ever use the pocket knife as a screwdriver, chisel, can opener (unless it has a specific can opener attachment, of course), or the like. It wasn’t designed for that. Don’t ever use the back end of the knife like a hammer unless needed in an emergency situation. This practice could damage the pin, handles, or springs of a pocket knife

Handles created out of wood can sometimes be rubbed with oil or furniture polish. Brass handles can be polished with brass polish.

Ok, now, let’s delve into some more details. This lesson is not over just yet. Knife care is something you need to know about thoroughly before you ever buy a pocket knife. You don’t want your investment to go to waste, do you?

One of the worst enemies for knives out there is rust. Don’t ever think that just because the manufacturer uses stainless steel, that your knife is protected from rust. Stainless steel can, and does, rust, under the right conditions. If you live in an aquatic environment, then pay very careful attention. There’s a lot more moisture in the air in coastal regions, and there’s even a little salt in there, so make sure that the blade has a little coating of oil on it too. The oil will stop that salt-tainted air from coming into contact with your knife blade. Any kind of lubricant will work. You can get a lubricant like this at a local hardware store, but stay away from oils with odors, like WD-40.

You should also keep your knife dry, and this means the whole knife, and not only the blade. Make certain that you also keep your knife completely clean, especially the locking device, pivot, and any other moving parts. Make sure that the knife stays well-oiled to. Keep the pivot points, as well as the blade, extremely well-oiled. Make sure that the knife stays sharp. Knife-sharpening is also about keeping the knife in good condition. A sharp blade is much safer to have than a dull blade. Don’t ever try to repair the knife yourself either, unless you are highly experienced knife enthusiast (in which case you probably don’t even need this article). This will void the warranty, and it could create an unsafe knife if you don’t have the proper tools or expertise.

Remember that stainless steel blades only minimize the effects of oxidation and liquids. Those elements will still weather your knife. Furthermore, some knives don’t even use stainless steel. Some knives use carbon steel, which is a lot more susceptible to damage, without serious lubrication.
Pocket Knife Cleaning Cloth

Keep It Clean

Cleaning your knife is also important. Even blades that have corrosion-resistant stainless steel can start to get some exposure to oxidation, and show some damage, after awhile. It’s important to keep folding knives clear of debris too, especially lock-blade knives and the locking devices on them (I recommend Tuf-Cloths for this application).

As an alternative knife cleaner, you can try some other chemical solvents like paint thinner, alcohol, MEK, nail polish remover, and Acetone to clean the knife blade. However, use some caution because these chemicals can damage the knife handles. Stay away from really strong detergents that have Chlorine in them as well. It can catalyze the corrosion of the steel blade.

Don’t immerse your blades in liquids like water and solvents for long periods of time. This might have a bad effect on the metal parts, but also the wooden handles and porous materials too. Prior to using your knife with any food items, wipe it clean with a little bit of alcohol, rinse them clean, and wash them with a little soapy water. It’s important to lubricate and re-clean the knife once the job is done.

Hopefully this article will have provided you some useful information about caring for and maintaining your pocket knives. Everything will degrade given enough time, but with a little thought, preparation, and application of these tips your knives will stay in mint condition longer and probably outlast you.