Kershaw-Onion update

Oct 3, 1998
When a factory introduces an innovative folder, Murphy's Law is strictly enforced. With lots of skill, luck, and prayer, they may have the things that will go wrong go wrong with prototypes circulated among insiders. Or the glitch can crop up in the early production, out among the public. And if the buyer or the dealer involved is on the Knife Knut circuit on the Internet, the word will circulate *fast*.

Last week I mentioned in a couple of places that a Kershaw Mini Task's lock had let go and bitten my customer's finger, and wondered if anybody else had run into that problem. Friday, I retrieved the offending knife, and my customer was still happy enough with the design to take a slightly newer production Mini Task in trade for it. On Monday, or maybe it was Tuesday, I got a call from Ken Onion, long distance from Hawaii, who had me tell him at length everything I liked and disliked about that specimen and the Mini and Random Tasks, so he would be prepared when he visits the Kershaw factory next week to help them get it right.

Among other things, he says that current production has the lockup adjusted so that the liner lock engages the tang in the middle, and not barely on the near edge. Also, he says they've found that the "niftiness" factor with these knives means that they get cycled a lot more often than normal liner locks, whether or not there is any cutting to be done.

One suggestion I left with him is that they should use Torx screws that fit an easily obtainable driver for assembly, and for the pivot screw (presently a metric hex screw that is just asking owners of fractional hex keys to "round" it!), since some folks will want to remove the clip, and since the pivot screw is likely to want attention from time to time with that snappy mechanism.

Ken also said to watch for some new variations soon, including a more conventional drop-point blade, and a left-handed version.

On the Mini Task, he says that, among other things, it's intended to appeal to women more than conventional pocket knives, with the opening system intended to accomodate long fingernails.

On the "Is it a politically incorrect auto?" question, he said that Kershaw has paid a bunch of lawyers for a large pile of reasons why it isn't that can be dumped on any prosecutor's desk if necessary. Part of the logic is that in a conventional folder with a backspring, the spring holds it closed in the closed position, but helps it open after the blade travels part way and over a "hump." The torsion bar gizmo in the new Kershaws merely enhances this effect.

Meanwhile, we get to remind ourselves that not every industry has the standard of first-class honoring of warranties that we have among first-class knife companies. The offending Mini Task is on its way back for repair or replacement, and the offended finger is fine now.



I've found Ken to be a great guy, and sincerely concerned with the quality of what he produces. Mention a problem to him, and you can hear that he cares in his voice, and will take actions to make things right.

That said, let me say that moving the liner more towards the center of the blade is not always a solution to auto-unlocking of liner locks. Auto-unlocking *could* be because the liner isn't gripping the blade enough, but more often than not something else is at fault, like the angle on the back of the tang being too severe.

I have personal experience with this. My custom speed-safe unlocked pretty easily by spine pressure. I sent it back to Ken, who fixed it by shortening the leaf slightly, so that it engaged the blade more towards the middle of the tang. Know what? Now it takes more spine pressure to auto-unlock, because the lock has to scrape past more blade. But auto-unlock it does, it just takes a bit more palm pressure now. And it still fails even a moderate spine-impact test miserably. My strong suspicion is that the problem is the tang angle, or the angle at which the leaf hits it, or both.

Most assuredly, moving the liner over is not always the fix for auto-unlocking.

And people wonder why I hate liner locks.

Yes, Joe, why DO you hate liner locks?

I traded my Mini-Task for a CRKT S-2, and I was really glad, because the S-2 is a lot more knife.

But now, I am doubly glad, because I will get the drop point pattern and be very glad, good blade shape and great mechanism...

BTW, my lock was perfect...

Marion David Poff fka Eye, one can msg me at

Patiently waiting for the Spyderco SpydeRench, Lum Chinese Chopper Folder, Rolling Lock, Benchmade M2 Axis, M2 Axis AFCK, M2 Pinnacle and the REKAT Escalator and Pat Crawford Design.

"The victorious Warrior wins first and then goes to war, while the defeated Warrior goes to war and then seeks to win" Sun-Tzu

My reply to James's post in rec.knives also got some attention. Kershaw's manager of sales and marketing and replied to me by email about my concerns about their service. I was much less concerned with the fact that I’d been without my knife for nearly a month than I was with the fact the blade could be unlocked by merely holding the knife with a firm grip. Today, finally, I get a brown mailer sent uninsured US mail. It contained my knife exactly as I had returned it only with the addition of some white plastic washers. The pivot was so tight that I could barely open the blade, let alone flick it open with my thumb. It took exactly 4.5 turns of an allen wrench to loosen the pivot enough to where I could open the blade with my thumb. Lockup was nearly nonexistent, and blade play was totally unacceptable. Holy cow! Am I crazy for thinking this is unacceptable for a knife that retails for $175??

**End of fiery indignation**

Instead of blowing another $5 on postage and sending it back again, I headed strait for the shop where I got it and was given a full refund. Joy! A happy ending.

I’m now a true convert to Talmadgeism. No more bloody linerlocks for me!