Having a knife pocket may be a lifesaver. You quickly cut your way out of any situation that needs a sharp edge. From opening boxes to skinning an animal in the woods, a pocket knife suffices. Besides, it comes with some pride in having one on you.
Pocketknives feature different folding and locking mechanisms. And knowing how to close them properly keeps you and your knife safe. While it’s a no-brainer to some knife enthusiasts, modern knife lock mechanisms may be tricky to handle.
If you are new to pocket knives or need a heads-up on fancy modern locks, this guide is about to help you out. Let’s look at how to close a pocketknife safely.
How to Close a Pocket Knife
Generally, pocket knives feature folding mechanisms that use either a lock or a friction-dependent system.
For lock systems, the locking and releasing mechanism vary, and so does the ease of operation. Typically, closing a pocket knife lock involves locating and pressing the release pin and then pushing the blade back into the handle. You may need to hold the release mechanism until the blade closes completely, such as in compression locks.
For friction-dependent mechanisms like the slip joint, you only need to apply downward pressure on the blade’s spine to close it. In both tools, it’s good to keep your fingers safely away from the blade’s way while closing to avoid cuts. Below is the process of closing pocket knives with specific lock types.
1. Slip Joint
The slip joint mechanism is very popular with pocket knives intended for light-duty works. Technically because it’s not a lock, and the blade quickly closes while downward pressure is applied. A tension bar within the handle holds the blade in place.
To close a slip joint knife, apply the necessary pressure on the blade’s spine while holding the handle on the backside. This kind of knife needs care while using, as the blade can close at any time. However, these knives have beautiful shapes worth keeping in a collection. Case knives are popular slip joint knives.
2. Frame Lock
Frame locks are among the most straightforward locks to operate. As the name suggests, a lock on the handle slides outwards when the blade opens fully. When the lock engages, the blade stays in place for use.
Frame lock knives are fit for heavy-duty works as the lock firmly keeps the blade in place. To close a frame lock knife, use your thumb to press the lock inwards, then apply some pressure on the back of the blade. Once the blade gets past the lock mechanism, push it into the handle. Remember to ensure no finger is on the blade’s way to avoid accidents. Frame lock knives are unsafe for children.
Read also: The 4 Different Types of Pocket Knives
3. Liner Lock
Liner locks have a stainless steel or titanium spring bar within the handle. When the blade fully deploys, the spring bar locks the hinge of the knife. The knife is safe to use once the spring bar notches against the blade.
To close the knife, use your thumb to shift the liner lock aside and then push the blade into the handle. Again, put your fingers in a safe position. These locks wear with time and may need frequent repair or replacement.
The Lockback is similar to the frame lock, only that the locking mechanism location is at the back of the handle. Lockback is more sturdy and safe but more challenging to operate than a frame lock. They are less common, with their popularity mainly being on American-made pocket knives.
The Lockback has a metal spine that slides into a notch on the blade’s back to lock it in place. A pressure spring holds the spine in place strongly such that the blade handles heavy-duty works easily. To close the knife, press the finger cut out located on the handle’s top. Be careful while operating the lock with one hand as the knife can easily fall. Pressing the finger cut out firmly retracts the spine, allowing the blade to close effortlessly.
Operating this lock requires practice, and you should use two hands while starting. An excellent example of a back lock knife is the Buck 110.
You may read also: Best Steel for Knives [Common Knife Steel Types]
5. Axis Lock
The Axis-lock is a patented invention of the Benchmade Knives Company that uses omega springs and a solid bar. The bar spans the handle width. The springs push it into a cut-out shelf on top of the tang when opened. The pressured omega springs keep the bar in place to ensure the blade holds to heavy cutting.
When you’re ready to close the knife, pull the pin towards you with your thumb. The pulling folds back the springs to release pressure on the metal bar, which lets the blade go. Continuously pull the pin as you push the blade back into the handle while you keep your fingers out of the way.
Once the blade is safe in the hilt, release the pin. The omega springs regain tension to secure the closed blade. Technically, you have to pull the pin while opening and closing your knife. A famous knife featuring the axis lock is the Benchmade Griptilian.
6. Ball Bearing Lock
This lock uses a similar mechanism as the Axis locks. However, it features a ball bearing instead of a horizontal metal bar. The ball bearings fall in the cut-out to lock the blade. This lock type requires regular greasing to keep the ball bearing running smoothly.
To close the knife, thumb-push the ball bearing until it moves out of the cut-out. Slight pressure on the blade’s spine moves it back into the hilt. Release the ball bearing to lock the blade in place.
7. Compression Lock
The compression lock has a similar mechanism to a liner lock. Although there is a slight difference in the locking and unlocking process. The liner’s location in a compression lock is on the handle’s spine rather than on the blade cavity. And, there is an added stop pin to better the lock’s strength.
Opening the blade pops the liner to rest on the cut-out shelf located on the top of the tang. The lock rests on the handle’s spine, holding the blade firmly in place than in standard liner locks. It’s also safer to operate, as the closing mechanism is away from the blade’s path.
While closing, depress the lock and shift it towards the frame edge. The blade collapses and closes past the safety. Pocket knives with compression locks are safe for beginners. A popular one is the Spyderco Paramilitary 2.
The Best Lock for You
While shopping for a pocket knife, the best lock for you depends on how you intended to use it, your experience, and the comfort of handling the knife. For instance, liner lock knives are best for hunting, while the compression lock is best for beginners. Slip joint knives require tons of experience to use on heavy-duty works.
A pocketknife is a handy tool but can also be very dangerous if mishandled. While most knives feature common lock mechanisms, the manufacturer may tweak a design to fit a specific knife. Thus, always take some time to learn the particular features of a new blade.
Closing and opening a pocketknife requires practice, and there is no shame in using both hands while starting. Eventually, you’ll be able to quickly open and close your knife without the possibility of hurting yourself and others.