Folding knives can be a really great investment for many people – portable, highly functional, and they can last a very long time – given the right conditions that is.
Being a responsible knife owner doesn’t mean not using the knife very often in the hopes of extending its life – but rather knowing how to properly care for it when not in use. We are aware of the fact that we need to clean and maintain our edged blades if they are to continue functioning well and keep their sharpness and sheen – but really now, in all honesty, how many of us take the time to do so?
In the case of kitchen knives, regular cleaning is no problem since we basically wash them after each and every use, but for our other blades like folding knives, cleaning is not as constant as it should be. After all, folding knives are basically not used in everyday circumstances, except for opening boxes and cutting straws and ropes. Most of the times, after use, folding knives are just snapped closed again and forgotten until we need them again – and this is never a good practice.
The Dangers of an Unmaintained Folding Knife
Folding knives are designed differently from your common everyday knife – they have a hollow handle for the knife slot and a locking mechanism that allows it snap and keep it open. These, when not taken-cared of, can lead to serious injuries and the early demise of your folding knives.
Since folding knives are usually kept in our pockets or carry bags, they are prone to gathering lint and dirt, as well as grime from our soiled hands and working environment. All these things combined can greatly affect your folding knives aesthetics and functions. Even if your custom folding knife comes with a leather sheath, it is still prone to accumulating dirt and debris – not to mention, sheathing your uncleaned folding knife will also make the sheath dirty.
Cleaning Your Folding Knives
Despite the extraordinary conditions folding knives are subjected to, they do not really need any special treatment – in fact, most cleaning and maintenance tips that apply to all knives also applies to folding knives – except for some exceptions.
Like other knives, you can use warm water and soap to clean the blade and the handle. This will help to remove the oil and grime that stuck to the knife better than cold water alone. It will be helpful to use a brush to help clean the dirt in the nooks and crannies of the folding knife, especially so if the handle has grooves on them.
However, be sure to thoroughly and completely dry your folding knife after this by wiping it with a clean, dry cloth. You may want to leave it open for a while as well in order to let the excess moisture evaporate.
Note: Unless you’re an expert, never dismantle your folding knives. True, it will be easier to clean and dry them this way, but then they can be really difficult to put back together and incorrectly assembly can render your folding knife useless. Not to mention, it will void your warranty. Some custom folding knives may or may not come with a warranty, but they are extremely beautiful and personalized, and if you want to keep it that way, never think of dismantling them for whatever reason.
Lubricating Your Folding Knives
After cleaning, you’ll have to do some more extra things to ensure that your folding knife stays in tip top shape liking oiling it.
There are different types of oiling solutions or lubricants that you can use, and if you can, try to find one that is specially made for knives. If you have a carbon steel folding knife, oiling is necessary because it is prone to developing rust faster than stainless steel – yes, even stainless steel do rust, but we’ll save that for another post.
Apply a thin film of oil onto the blade itself with a cloth, and make sure that every inch of it is covered. After the blade, be sure to oil the locking mechanism and the spring (if it has one) as well. Take note that some folding knives come with a slip joint rather than a locking mechanism as explained in our previous post “What Is the Folding Knife?” This will ensure that they don’t get jammed when you open them. In this case, you’ll need an oil cap that has a long and thin nozzle so you can get into those tight places that attaches the blade to the handle.
If your folding knife handle is made of wood, you may also want to apply a wood polish to keep them shiny, but make sure to wipe them thoroughly so they won’t become slippery.
In addition, you need to keep your folding knives sharp as well. A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one simply because you’ll need to exert more force than necessary in using it, and in some instances, that can lead to accidents. You can read more about how to properly sharpen your knives from our post “How to Sharpen a Knife (And Not Screw It Up)” for some tips.
Taking Care of Your Folding Knives
For the creative genius inside us, a folding knife can be used in a multitude of ways – like prying a drawer (or something) open, removing a screw, or even as a hammer.
Creative? Yes. Practical? Yes. Safe? No.
Knives are made for cutting and slicing – and despite what others say, you should totally avoid using them otherwise.
For one, never trust a folding knife to stay locked and opened especially in instances where you need to exert pressure on it (like in the case of opening a can of sardines where you point the tip of the blade on the can’s lid and hammering the butt of the handle with your palms.)
Considering age and extreme usage (and lack of proper care and maintenance) the locking mechanism of a folding knife can loosen and give way – and what follows is a rather unappealing thought.
Thus, only use your custom folding knife the way it is meant to be, and avoid using them for any other purpose unless extremely necessary.
As a responsible knife owner, you should take the time and effort necessary to clean and maintain your folding knives, especially if you have a beautifully made custom knife – you wouldn’t want to let your money go to waste now, would you? Cleaning and maintenance also allows you to inspect and check your folding knife for any signs of problems (e.g corrosion) and be able to arrest it early on. Take care of your folding knife, and you can bet that it will take care of you in return.