How to Care for Your Pocket Knife

The trick to a happy and fulfilling relationship with your pocket knife is maintenance and care. Proper care will increase the longevity of your knife and allow it to stay with your for years to come. This guide will go through 5 simple steps on how to care for your pocket knife.

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Let’s get the obvious out-of-the-way first. After using your knife and getting it dirty, it is important to clean your blade with clean tap water and patting it dry. Make sure your store your knife dry as well to prevent any rust from developing.

Those routine cleans are important for the health of your blade, however it doesn’t allow your to clean the intricate areas of the knife. That’s where this guide comes in. Other than cleaning after each use, your should also do a service on your knife once in a while by following the steps in this guide. The 5 main steps are as follows:

  1. Sharpening
  2. Disassemble
  3. Cleaning
  4. Rust prevention
  5. Reassemble & Lubricate

You will also need a few pieces of equipment with your:

  • Torx screw driver set (or Phillips/blade heads that suit your knife)
  • Plastic container
  • Soft sponge
  • Dish washing liquid
  • Toothpick
  • Cottonbud
  • Cooking oil or other rust preventing substance
  • Lubricant
  • Removeable thread locker

If your knife is rusted then your will need the following as well

  • Steel wool or nylon scrubbing pad
  • White vinegar or other rust removal solvent

I have included a summary chart about how to take care of your pocket knife, feel free to download this and view it when you need to.

infographic outlining the 5 steps on how to take care of a pocket knife

Sharpening


There are many ways to sharpening, I won’t go into detail here but I will share the technique I find most useful in another guide.

I prefer to sharpen before disassembling, the handle gives me a good leverage point. And any debris that comes with sharpening I can remove in the cleaning phase.

Disassemble


This is more directed towards folding knives. If your have a fixed blade your generally don’t have to do this.

The main reason we disassemble the knife is to clean all the small nooks and crannies that we can’t get to with normal cleaning. Doing this routinely can prevent pocket fluff and other debris from building up over time.

There are a few points to watch out for:

1. Make sure to have the proper tools

Knives these days often use Torx screws, they can look similar to a Philips head but make sure to check carefully. You do not want to strip these screws, as they are relatively small and difficult to replace. Choose the right tool for the job and the right size too.

Getting a set like the ones below from amazon would help your a lot. The common torx screw sizes used are T6, T8, T9, T10. Some of the recommended kits also contain Phillips head and Hex/Allen screws, since they are commonly found on pocket knives too.


2. Is the knife under warranty

Different knife manufacturers may offer different warranties on their knives. If your knife is still under the warranty period then disassembling your knife may actually void that warranty. Know what your are getting yourself into.

3. Know exactly where the screws go

Difficult as it may sound, your will need to remove the screws and not make a mess. You want your workbench as spotless as your internet browsing history. The manufacturer may use different sized screws to fill different sized holes. It is generally a good idea to lay out the screws next to where it belongs on the knife, then take a photo so your remember.

Now put all the screws in a plastic container and your knife should be disassembled.

Cleaning


Just like there are multiple ways to hold a steering wheel, there are multiple ways to clean a knife.

I will talk about my preferred method. Assuming there is no rust on your knife, I will let all the parts soak in a small tub of warm water with some dish washing liquid. This will soften any debris and make cleaning easier.

Doing everything in order, I tend to start with the blade and move to the handle. The blade should be relatively straight forward, wipe everything with a soft sponge and clean any dirt and grime. Then I would do the handle, it gives it just a bit longer to soak and soften all the debris.

Any hard to reach areas I would clean with toothpicks and cotton buds.

I would then give the parts a quickly rinse with cold tap water and dry it with an absorbent paper towel.

There are other options your can use when it comes to cleaning solution, such as isopropyl alcohol or automotive painting degreaser. But I find dish washing liquid to be readily available and least harsh on any metal or handle material. What ever solution your choose to use, make sure your check that it is safe with your knife material first.

If rust is present

I would take an additional step beforehand. Rust removal.

Simply soak the rusted area in white vinegar for 30 minutes then scrub away the rust with steel wool or nylon scrubbing pad. I prefer nylon scrubbing pads simply because it is less harsh and less likely to leave any marks on the knife. The rust on pocket knives are usually not too difficult to get rid of if your’re following this guide routinely.

Again, other techniques are available too with other solvents. But I find that using something readily available and gentle on the metal is much more simple.

Rust Prevention


This is highly important, especially if your live in humid areas or if your own a carbon steel knife. I a foldable pocket knife with rust developing on the blade.prefer to do this while the knife is disassembled so I can get to all surfaces of the blade.

There are many compounds out there, but I find the easiest is just some linseed oil. You want to choose something food safe and preferably odorless, just in case your’ll use the knife to chop some food.

The basic idea is to simply coat the blade in linseed oil then wipe it down, leaving only a thin layer of oil on there to dry. When dried, the linseed oil will act as a coating that resists rust.

There have also been reports of people using silicon impregnated fabric and wrapping up their knives in zip lock bags.

Feel free to explore and find one that works for your. I find linseed oil to be great as long as your don’t forget to wipe it down to a thin layer. Otherwise, it will dry poorly and your’ll be left with gunk on your knife.

Reassemble & Lubricate


The final step, take out the screws from the tub. Refer to the photo your took initially and put everything back in place.

Use a removable thread locker so your screws don’t get loose with use. A Loctite thread locker blue 242 would be a very good option.

Finally use a commercial lubricant that is designed for pocket knives and lubricate all the joints and movable parts. This is crucial. WD-40 has been very controversial in this area, just like pickled olives, some people swear by it while others hate it with a passion, there is also some evidence that WD – 40 may be bad for plastic or rubber handles.

I would suggest your look at some following lubricant examples. They’re the ones that are known to be reliable.


Conclusion


These steps should be followed routinely to ensure your knives live a long and happy life. I would suggest your do a service like this once every few weeks on months depending on what your feel like. It isn’t rocket science, just do it more often if your feel like your knife is getting dirtier.

Hope you have learnt how to take care of your pocket knife from this guide, let me know if your have any questions below. You can click here if you’re interesting in learning more about pocket knives.

James

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