Adventures withg a Dremel and a mini-AFCK

Dec 2, 1999
After having read some threads on Dremelling in the archive
( and AFCKs in general, I decided to try out a couple of the suggested mods and see if I could make myself a better knife. Not that there was much wrong with it in the first place, but since when has that stopped us. ;-) The mods I made were oriented at making the knife smoother in opening and generally easier in the hand. Caution - the following 'instructions' will void your warranty. No question about it. It didn't bother me very much because (a) I live in Australia and ordered the knife from the US. My chances of making a warranty claim on the local distributor are slim to vanishing, and I couldn't be sodded sending it back to the US and (b) I'd far rather be on intimate terms with how something works and how to repair it than treat it as some sort of 'black box' that only the manufacturer can fix. It's a knife for god's sake, not a nuclear missile.

I realise that the following text is very much oriented at the beginner - a class of user I count myself among. Corrections and observations from more experienced Dremellers are welcome, but don't jump on my arse just because I'm describing in detail what seems screamingly obvious to you.

Pulling it apart:

First, dismantle and clean the knife. You need small Torx bits for this - the Benchmade website tells you the sizes you need in the FAQ section. Bits from 6-10 should probably be in every knife-modifiers kit. Buy the best ones you can find - a poorly machined bit will root your fasteners very quickly. Pulling it apart was piss easy - no surprises
here. Nothing springs out and flies across the room. Having something to put all the bits and pieces into is handy - there are some small but important screws and washers in there.

Smoothing the mechanism:

Firstly, I polished the pivot area of the blade to a mirror shine. Fortunately I have access to a bench vise. I clamped the blade (wrapped in cloth so as not to mar the finish) in a woodworkers G-cramp and then held the clamp in the vise. This allowed me to work on the blade horizontally. Polished it using the felt buffing pads and two compounds - a mucky grey and a fine white. Can't tell you what they were, coz I have no idea. Suffice to say they worked.

Next, polish the pivot pin itself. This is probably the most important single modification you can make to an AFCK - it
smooths out the mechanism considerably. Holding the pin while you polish it is tricky - there's not much to clamp. If you have a long bolt with the same thread, screw it down on that and polish away. In any event try and keep the threads clean of polishing compound.

Next, polish the pivot hole in the blade. You can use a cone-shaped buff for this, particularly with a fine compound, but for the initial polich, I used a short piece of 6mm climbing accessory cord, coated it in some mucky grey compound, threaded it through the hole and then 'sawed' in all directions. Some fine white on the Dremel, and the hole itself had a mirror shine. I then polished the liner around the pivot area. I suspect this is not strictly necessary, as the whole assembly rides on two nylon spacers anyway - there's no blade to liner contact at the pivot itself. But what the hell - can't hurt to do it.

THOSE serrations on the liner-lock:

Chuck a grinding stone - I used a small grey one, and grind those suckers off. It might help to clamp the left and right liners together for this - you can use the non-locking side as a guide to how much to grind. Easily done. Finish it up with the emery impregnated rubber wheel (henceforth called the 'grey eraser'). A beautiful smooth countoured liner is the aim. If you grind the locking half back to exactly match the non-locking half, you've got a pretty sweet unit IMHO. Since I'm not doing agressive torquing with this knife, I didn't feel the need to grind down below the level of the scales, but YMMV. I generally unlock the knife with a thumbnail against the forward part of the liner. Grinding the serrations off has not diminished this ability whatsoever. The knife looks a lot more elegant with them gone as well.

The clip:

With the serrations gone, you really notice how the clip digs into your hand in a 'forward' grip. I partially assembled
the knife, screwing the clip back onto the liner with the scale in place, and used a scriber to scratch a profile on the *inside* of the clip. Angle the point of the scriber downwards, with the scriber resting on the scale/liner and you'll get a nice arc that mirrors the finger cut-out, but is set a few millimeters further in, to mimic the orientation of your hand when gripping. Clamp, grind and finish with the grey eraser.
Note: I have to concur with one of the 'Dremelling' threads in the archive - the grey eraser is a brilliant tool. It smooths out grind lines and really blends the grind in with the surrounding metal. Using the eraser, I smoothed out the clip until it felt good against my hand - no digging in even when gripping tight.

Putting it back together:

Wash everything. Hot water, detergent and a little elbow grease. You want all metal filings and smears of grinding compound *out* of the knife before you put it back together. Dry the parts off and re-assemble. It's easiest to lay the locking liner and scale down first and stack the parts back onto that (it contains the pivot pin). The smallest of the two washers goes on this side - but that's bleeding obvious coz the large one fouls the lock. I used White Lightening to *lightly* coat the pin, the outside of the washers and the 'swept' portion of the blade. Pop the top liner/scale on and tighten it down. Take care with the small Torx screws - you don't want to overtighten and strip them. The screw that holds the stop-pin needs special attention - too tight and the knife is woefully stiff. Too loose and it'll unscrew. Use a dob of loctite and adjust it till there's no play at the pivot, but the pivot isn't binding. The pivot bolt was last, and again, a dob of loctite and away you go.

The results:
Fantastic. Once I'd realised the stop-pin screw was binding things up and I slackened it off, the blade was butter-smooth. Cleaning gunk out of the pivot area allows the ball-detent to engage with authority (another easy mod would be to deepen the detent hole to increase this further if you were so inclined). There's not so much as a whisper as the blade pivots, lock-up and lock release is tight and smooth. The knife handles better - I can hold it with a firm, controlled grip without the discomfort of the locking liner and the clip cutting into my fingers. It looks better, having a slightly cleaner profile with the smoothed out lock. The clip looks a little crappy, but given that my clip is scratched to buggery from repeated scrapes on rock, I'm not too fussed. (I'm a climber and often carry the AFCK with me for slicing up rope, slings etc). All in all, an evening well spent. Aside from the delight of customising something to your own preferences, there is a noticable improvement in the quality and performance of the knife.

Tim it's really nice to read a thread that uses "piss" as both an adverb and an adjective; anything that uses the words "arse", "sod" and "bugger" I'm not making fun or you or being scarcastic! I've got British blood and Aussie friends, it feels like home

"Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n"
John Milton
There are only two types of people; those who understand this, and those who think they do.
I noticed many people (yourself included) grind off the serrations on the liner-lock. Doesn't it more it very difficult to release the lock if you have gloves on?
I just got a mini-afck (right-handed), but I'm a lefty. I was planning on Dremmeling the clip as you have done. Do you think a large rat-tail file would work just as well?

Congrats on your knifesmithing adventure,
Mitch writes:
I noticed many people (yourself included) grind off the serrations on the liner-lock. Doesn't it more it very difficult to release the lock if you have gloves on?

I just got a mini-afck (right-handed), but I'm a lefty. I was planning on Dremmeling the clip as you have done. Do you think a large rat-tail file would work just as well?


Tim replies:
Regarding the locking liner mods, I imagine it would hinder unlocking the knife with gloves on. I ususally unlock the liner by sliding my thumbnail up to the front of the finger cut-out and pushing down on the lock. Grinding the serrations off does nothing to hinder this method. If you unlock the knife by pushing the ball of your thumb across the whole of the serrated lock, then I suspect you're up **** creek with this method. There just wouldn't be enough to push on. Given that the temperature has been 100F+ here all week, the though of just how I was going to unlock the knife wearing gloves didn't honestly cross my mind. ;-)

Regarding the clip, I imagine a file would work a treat. I wouldn't recommend doing it with the clip still on the knife - clamp it firmly before you start. I'm particularly fond of chainsaw files - circular fine cut files. Very nice for curving grinds. If you do have access to a Dremel, I would recommend you finish up with the 'grey eraser'. If you leave any kind of burr on the clip, it'll rip up whatever you clip the knife to. Smooth contours will be appreciated by both your hand and your pants.

Hope this helps,
Nice description of your modifications, Tim. I was wondering, when reassemblung, were you able to adjust the side to side position of the blade in relationship to the scales? Mine bumps the liner on one side and it is something I'd like to fix. I have already dremeled my clip some time ago, to make it ambidexterous, so I guess I've already voided the warranty.TIA

A dedicated ELU
Buck Collectors Club Member
Knifeknut(just ask my wife)

I'm just curious- - how exactly does it feel to be "sodded" ?

Seriously, that was a great post. I love to see other people tackling projects with their Dremel. I once used mine (with the reinforced cutoff wheels) to cut out some windows in the walls of a steel storage building.