Thursday, October 07, 2010

Itty Bitty Hardware Rant

Many of you who drop by here know from knives, but bear with me while I explain to those who don't a little bit about tactical folders. For the rant to make any sense, they need to know.


Tactical folders are pocket knives, kind of like Grampa used to carry. (Grampa's was probably a friction folder, just so you know. Took two hands and a stout thumbnail to open the blade.)

Unlike Grampa's knife, tactical folders generally have a way to open the blade faster. This can be a thumb stud or a cut-out on the blade itself; sometimes just a sharp flick of the wrist is enough, though these are frowned upon in most places. Ix-nay ooh-tay on inertia, gravity, switchblade, and butterfly knives, though "spring-assist" is mostly okay. There is generally a method for keeping the blade in place once it is opened thus, a liner, frame, or spring lock, which has to be manually released to close the knife again. 

So. Easy to open on purpose; hard to close accidentally. 

Still with me? Look at the picture if you are confused. That's four views of the same knife.

Most tactical folders come with a pocket or belt clip, a metal spring something like on a ballpoint pen, attached to one side of the handle, by which it can be carried in a pocket, but thus made more readily accessible to hand.

These clips may be such that the knife is carried pivot-post (hinge) up, or down. And on some knives, the clips are reversible, so one has a choice. My preference is for hinge down, though it seems that most commercial knives of this type come with the clip hinge-up.

Which means if I want to carry the thing the way I want, I have to reverse the pocket clip.

This is done by removing a pair, sometimes three, tiny screws that hold the clip in place, switching the clip to the other end, and re-attaching it, using a second set of threaded holes provided there. Click on the picture, look inside the little red oval.

The little screws -- not much larger than those that hold your eyeglasses together -- can come with crosspoint slots, allen heads, or the star-screw head, usually six-point. I suppose they can come with regular screwdriver slots, though I don't recall seeing any of those lately. 

Some years ago, realizing that if I wanted to fiddle with such things I needed a proper set of tools, I made sure I had a variety of Phillips, Allens, and Star-head drivers. So I'm good, right?


Some of the makers of these knives apparently have hired great apes to tighten the itty bitty hardware. More than once, I have -- using the proper tool, mind you, managed to strip the screw head because the little fucker was apparently tightened by King Kong, who, just to be nasty, added a dab of super-glue when he was done, and Up Yours, Tarzan!

Even working with great care, using a penetrating oil, like Liquid Wrench, and praying to assorted gods, I've still munged up the screw heads.

Which leaves one in the pissed-off position of:  Now how do I get the job done?

One can attempt to make a new slot. One can grind the screw head off and sand down the remaining body. Or drill it out. All of which ruin the screw. If one happens to have spares, that's good, but it is a pain in the butt and I'm wondering how can we get the knife companies to stop over-torquing these suckers?

Somebody who knows? Call somebody, wouldja? 


Mike Byers said...

The screws might not be over torqued, but the screw material might be too soft for easy re-use of the screws. The manufacturer probably figures that these screws are used only once. You might try heating the screws before trying to remove them; a soldering iron with a small tip should do the job.

Stan said...

I remember the first time that I wanted to change the "pocket clip" I wound up completely ruining the knife because the "clip" screws had thin plastic washers inside the handle to align the blade.

It was not an expensive loss, just a "BudK" product. So it was a good lesson. But I really don't care for a pocket clip on most of my "tactical folders."

The one I use most often has a rather unique opening apparatus: on the base of the closed blade is a "counter balance" which I "pull," similar to a trigger, and I can flick the blade open. When open, the same piece locks into place as a small hilt. The drawback is that I have to open it, left-handed, so that I can quickly/securely hold it my right-hand in either the reverse or saber grip. Otherwise I'm "flipping it" into position... and I just don't like that as a tactical maneuver!

Make it a very good day, Folki!

dprice95 said...

Having done this with one of my Spydercos, I feel your pain. I had a good experience sending it back to them, they took care of the problem and sent the knife back to me.

Of course, this doesn't solve why its happening, just fixes the problem this time...

Scott said...

EDC's a Cold Steel XL tanto Voyager, plain edge. 5" blade, legal in Texas, is long and heavy enough to make flick openings easy and reliable. When I was a kid and we all carried 3" Buck knives we'd just pinch the blade between thumb and forefinger and flick the handle.

Pocket clip's too much of a PITA to mess with; I don't *really* care what orientation the knife is in when I pop it. If anything, I've gotten so accustomed to reverse grip openings they're easier for me now than conventional.

Steve Perry said...

Yep, the clip is personal preference. For me, it's useful because I tend to carry coins in that pocket and they will sometimes get jammed into a knife in such a way that it won't open without clearing them.

However the knife comes out, that's the grip I'm gonna use, no twirling to change it, I'm not that confident I could do that under big pressure and maintain control.

The kerambit folder I have comes out ring-first and in reverse grip, and I can snap it open with my wrist, but while it's okay to shoot your wife's boyfriend on the steps of the state capitol in Texas, Oregon and Washington aren't so laissez-faire. Illegal to carry hidden knives that are wrist-flickers. Plus the kerambit isn't really a very good tool for most reasons I carry a knife.

Steve Perry said...

"When I was a kid and we all carried 3" Buck knives we'd just pinch the blade between thumb and forefinger and flick the handle."

Well, I claim no expertise in this arena, but even ifyou manage to hold onto it without tossing the knife halfway to the bus stop, doesn't that leave you holding the sharp and pointed end in your hand? With the handle aimed in the other direction?

Doesn't seem real useful to me without some, um, adjustment ...