Let's talk Ti-Lock - A photo essay

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Jan 12, 2013
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Here are my thoughts and observations on the CRK Ti-Lock. I recently acquired an early production model born in April 2011, which has the original bead-blast slabs. I have carried this knife for a week and a bit and have formulated some opinions and noticed a few things about this great blade. The Ti-Lock is like the 'weird cousin' of the CRK line-up: no one quite knows what to make of it, or what to do with it, but it keeps hanging around, and it's 'family' so you can't disrespect it. Anyways......little did I know. I will start this long-winded post with a sincere apology to forum member Brownshoe: You have often promoted this knife on this forum. I always figured you were just stirring the pot. Now I understand where your are coming from!

Also, out of habit I will attribute all the wonders of the Ti-Lock to CRK, but we have to acknowledge that the concept for this knife was primarily by Grant and Gavin Hawk, so credit is due to them for all things mentioned here as well.

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This knife is a fantastic design that deserves more attention. Here are some reasons why:

Observation #1: The droopy blade!

I will start with an observation I have not seen mentioned before. It involves the overall shape of the knife, and the relationship between the handle and the angle of the blade. Much like the Spyderco Gayle Bradley, the Ti-Lock has a blade the droops down from the handle, which engages the material being cut "sooner" than a standard CRK blade. Why this is sometimes an advantage is best explained by Gayle himself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk0IxU-fuW4. I am not saying that these knives have much in common otherwise, but that feature they share.

Note how the handle and the belly touch the countertop on the Ti-Lock:

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Notice the same curve on the Gayle Bradley:

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Note the Small 21 is parallel to the counter:

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As is the large 21:

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The small insingo curves upwards:

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Some might argue this is just a function of the design and shape of the finger-guards on the Sebenzas. To demonstrate that there is truly a droop to the Ti-Lock blade I held each knife with my hand and knuckles parallel to the countertop. This is not a scientific demonstration, but I did my best to hold each knife firmly with my hand straight.

Note how the Ti-Lock blade drops toward the counter with my hand flat (knuckles parallel to counter). This effect is even more pronounced due to how your index finger sits in the main choil:

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Similar angle on the Gayle Bradley with the blade dropping down from the hand:

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With my knuckles parallel the 21s are basically parallel to the counter:

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The Insingo sweeps upwards slightly:

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Observation #2: Blade to handle ratio is awesome!

Next up is an observation made many times over, but worth pointing out again. The blade to handle ratio is great on the Ti-Lock. Firstly I will prove to you that the Ti-Lock and Small 21 have the same size handles. I always thought is was a little bigger than a small 21, but it is not. My measurements are not very accurate, but my calipers show the Ti-Lock to be slightly shorter in length when compared to the small 21 (both closed of course). Yeah, it's metric! :p

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Yet for a handle that is either exactly the same, or slightly smaller that a Small 21, you get a significant amount of extra blade with the Ti-Lock. Not a lot, but where it counts:

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You also get a lot of "reach" from the blade when you are back on the handle like this:

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But can choke-up as well due to the choil:

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Look at those nifty choils (the front choil also allows people with large hands to have a knife the size of a small 21, but with a larger handle:

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CRK gets this great ratio by doing things a little differently than say Spyderco. With a Spydey, you usually sacrifice some of your blade to create room for the choil. CRK put the majority of the coil in the handle and pushed the blade pivot as far forward as possible. Note the different in pivot position between the Ti-Lock and the Sebenza with relation to where the slab ends and the blade begins.

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Observation #3: The Lock

Ok, I don't know why this lock is ever considered "light duty". I am not going to break my knife to find out what it's failure point is, but I will offer some info that might help others gain confidence in the design.

Firstly, greatest strength in a folder is required with bearing down on the knife. In the case of a Sebenza, the blade presses against a stop pin. In the case of the Ti-Lock, it presses against two stop pins. The Titanium spring and brass "dumbbell" are not the only thing stopping the knife at the end of the opening cycle. At the very same time the "dumbbell" falls into the slot, the blade contacts a stop pin that is pressed into one of the slabs. This is a really neat feature and makes a great, wonderful sound. You would need to break both the stop pin and the dumbbell to cause this knife to fail when pressing down. These photos show the sequence:

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Note the squarish block on the heal of the blade hitting the stop pin:

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As far as strength to prevent the knife from closing when pulling it out of material, I don't see the possibility that the lock would fail. You usually would have your hand or finger covering the end of the lock, which keeps the brass dumbbell in its place, and the angle is all wrong for it to release. I feel this lock system is just as likely or unlikely to release as a frame-lock, back-lock, or liner lock, and those locks can be accidentally shifted by your hand. In general, I have no worries about the strength of this lock if using this knife for EDC tasks.

Observation #4: Operation

I have had no issue opening or closing this knife, and contrary to Solo's youtube review, I find it fun to play with. The two places the spring loads up give the knife a double-detent feel like a good quality traditional folder. It's cool. I know some struggle with the system, but maybe it is because I am a tradesman and have relatively strong hands. I do not use the nail nick (though it works fine enough), I press on the dumbbell with my thumb to open and lift the dumbbell with my thumb, while pressing with my index finger to close. The dumbbell is machined with a sharp groove or ridge to catch your thumb, so there is no issue with grip

Solo`s review shows how to open and close, and is very much worth a view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5usKvgPKpiY

You can see the ridge on the dumbbell in this photo. (BTW look at how beautiful this end of the knife is):

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Observation #6: Internals

My Ti-Lock is early run and has a bead-blast outer slab and a brushed inner slab. The Ti-lock was clearly not intended for disassembly. The fit and finish on the inside of my Ti-Lock is not 'Sebenza level'. It is perfect where is counts, in the pivot hole etc, but the inside of the slabs are not beautiful and I doubt they wanted you to look at them. The newer models may have corrected this. Anyways, this knife is difficult to take apart and put back together, so I do not recommend it unless you really want to.

Inside the knife are two Teflon washers fitted with a full compliment of ceramic ball bearings that look like this:

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These fit perfectly flush, in cut-outs in the slabs, like this

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And the pivot hole has the classic CRK 'grease grooves' of course:

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And the pivot screw is similar to the 25 and new Umnumzaan:

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Observation #7: Lanyard's friend

On this knife, the lanyard will fold right back into your pocket, much easier than the 21, due to its position on the single stand-off:

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It also has the milled-out 'lanyard pocket', like the Sebenza 25:

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Observation #8: That blade is beautiful

Well, I am lucky to get the old CRK stonewash on this blade. This is not a feature per se, but I just gotta share how gorgeous the stonewash is on this blade. I wish they were all still this way. Who needs Damascus with sparkle like this:

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Observation #9: It's a medium!

I think ths picture says it all. With the blade-to-handle ratio what it is, it magically transforms from a knife the same size as a small 21, into a 'medium' CRK. Obviously a very different knife, but cool to see where it fits size-wize:

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Observation #10: Food Prep

Obviously not ideal, but I don't find the lock mechanism traps that much junk. Quick rinse under the tap and you are good.

Cutting oranges (while holding a camera)

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Results in this:

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If you cut cheese the smart way:

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If you cut cheese the dumb way:

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Well,

I think that about sums up my first impressions. I may post more as I continue to carry this knife and encourage anyone to add to this thread, comment, or criticize. It`s all good!

If you want some dissenting thoughts, the only things I would change about this knife for a 'Ti-Lock 2.0' ¸would be to eliminate the 'ventilation holes' on the slabs, and I would like the option for a silver lock spring. Also a lock spring that was flush with the top of the blade when the knife was open would be cool, as I see no need for the nail nick, or the gap between the blade and spring. But these things are minor, and more a question of style than function.

I encourage anyone thinking about this blade to give it a chance. I love it. It's an awesome EDC blade.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 21, 2001
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Thanks for the info, it helps me understand the Tri Lock design and function.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2005
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Thanks for sharing. It's a knife that I believe I need to at least try some time.
 
Joined
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Great pictures, and explanation... I've only really seen "stock" photos, and was always a little perplexed by the knife. After seeing your great pictures of the lock, it now makes sense.
It is actually a cool knife...
 

Burke

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Great post and pictures. Really a nice review from a gadget and edc perspective.
 
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Great review Kidcongo!! I have owned 2 Ti Locks for about a year now & I love them both! Your comments are dead on & I couldn't have expressed them better myself.

The only other 'oddity' of this knife that people bring up, is the clip, designed by the Hawks (kind of like their signature feature). I, for one, love the clip & find it very secure. How do you like it?
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
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Great review and pictures to make your points visual.

Now I might just need to purchase one...
 
Joined
Jan 12, 2013
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Thanks everyone for the compliments. As always, I am glad I can make a contribution to the community. :)

This knife is not for everyone, and I am not going to try to convince everyone to rush out and buy one, but if you like the look of it and can afford it, there is no other reason I can see not to get one. They are a little busy looking, but have a "gadget appeal", and are fully functional, and CRK quality for sure. The new 2015 model with the gear pattern (inside time) is gonna be a steam-punk's dream I think.

rneiman3: I didn't review the pocket clip....forgot that detail. I like it. It works just fine and it becomes natural after a short time to squeeze the clip when you clip the knife to your jeans. The looks of the clip are again subject to personal taste, but the clip is totally functional, and surprisingly comfortable in hand.
 
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VolGrad

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Oct 25, 2010
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I find these interesting and wouldn't mind checking one out. Any idea when the 2015 model will be available?
 

Ajack60

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As always, a great personal perspective and review on yet another CRK product. Love the pics, naturally. Couple of questions though, does the Ti Lock have a time stamp on the handle like the sebenza's? I noticed that the hardware looks polished, do you know if any were released with a kinda matte/blasted look that blends with the slabs? Having it apart, will the lock slip out of the blade groove, say for cleaning purposes?
 

bhyde

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Couple of observations for you Cody;

First- As always, your pics and attention to detail..Great job..you could be a technical writer

2) Never thought I would enjoy a piece about "cutting the cheese" The right way and the wrong way..You are adept my friend :)
3) I don' think that I have ever wanted the Ti-Lock more than I do now. Are you on the CRK payroll? :D
 

mqqn

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Nov 12, 2009
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Thanks for a wonderful read.

Very nice pictures and great observations about the knife.

I just this past weekend was able to handle a Ti-Lock for the first time - it is a very fine piece of cutting art.

best

mqqn
 
Joined
May 4, 2002
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Great write! Love the pictures.

You're right, it's not for everyone. I sold mine for only one reason, I just couldn't get comfortable with unlocking it, it wasn't a natural movement, as the 21 is. I've got these old hands and they don't work very well.

Oh well, room for a Carbon Fiber Insingo now.:D
 
Joined
Aug 16, 2011
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Great write up...I love the Ti-Lock just haven't been able to pick one up yet.
 

jkwithawave

.....
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Excellent review! I've had my eye on the ti lock for awhile now. It seems like the perfect size knife for my tastes.
 
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