Locks, how many are there? Please help.

Oct 8, 1998
So there are a good number of locks out there, here is a partial list. any locks to add? Any comments on the rare ones?

traditional slip locks
rocker locks aka lockbacks
liner locks
integral locks aka mono, frame, sebenza
Rolling locks
Axis locks
Paul lock
Opinel locks aka twist or helix
button locks
GT button lock
plunge button locks like on BM automatics
boker top locks
Barry Wood scale release

Then there are the locks of custom makers:
Sawby lock
Osborne lock
toggle lock

Well, pony up and educate me.

Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at mdpoff@hotmail.com If I fail to check back with this thread and you want some info, email me.


I shouldn't even be talking about such heresies as folding knives, but IMHO the old-fashioned clasp lock is the best lock I've ever used. There's no way you can cause a white-knuckle failure; a tight grip can only help keep it locked, and it's easy to close one-handed. WTF ever happened to the clasp lock??? Bring it back!!!

-Cougar Allen :{)
I have observed three styles of clasp locks in navajas, however I do not know if they have any specific names.

They all share a similar backspring, a thick steel leafspring that is actualy external and is located on the back of the handle. They commonly run, from the base of blade, three quarters the length of the handle and it's full width. There are two "wings" on either side of the spring that wrap around the side of the handle and are riveted to it, typicaly in the uppermost half of their long handles, that serve as the fulcrum.

To disengage the lock, there are two main systems; the first is a ring attatched to the end of the backspring at the base of the blade, and the second is a lever-like mechanism with it's fulcrum at the base of the blade that you lift from the rear and pry the spring up with.

Of the three locking mechanisms, one is akin to a lockback, one similar to a ratchet, and the third, and what appears to be the strongest, is a modified version of the ratchet-style.

The lockback-like mechanism has the end of it's backspring bent at aproximately 90 degrees, and engages a slot in the tang of the blade.

The ratchet-like mechanism has gearteeth on it's rounded tang, angle to allow opening but not closing, and the last is squared off to act as a bladestop. The teeth stick up through a hole in the backspring.

The modified ratchet-like mechanism has only a few gearteeth, two or four are the most common, but rather than being on the rounded tang they actualy sit atop a rectangular protrusion from the tang. The teeth are engaged by the backspring as in the ratchet-like lock, but the squared off end of the tang protrusion butts up against the handle when fully opened, thus acting as a backstop.

The reason I feel this is the strongest mechanism of the three is because the bladestop does not rely on the backspring to keep the blade from over-opening. On the other two, pressure forcing the blade backward will put strain on the spring in such a way that it will cause it to flex, weakening and potentialy disengaging the lock. Because we're talking about a thick backspring, we're talking a lot of force, but on the modified-ratchet there is no pressure on the backspring to keep the blade from over-opening, and the teeth of the ratchet are angled in such a way that to any force applied trying to close the blade without disengaging the mechanism with only draw the spring tighter against the teeth.

NOTE:Both clasplocks and navajas are extremely old paterns. The earliest uncontested reference to navajas dates to 1490, in Alfonso Fernandez de Palencia's Universal Vocabulario en Latin y en Romance, and there are other posible mention of these style of knives going back to the 14th or even 13th century. There have been countless variations in the figure of both the navaja and it's lock, as well as in clasp locks in general, and all are executed with varying degrees of quality and ingenuity.

Another early lock that I have no name for whatsoever consist of merely a long section of the tang that fits into a groove in the back of the handle when open and is held in place by the presure of the palm againgst the handle. Another one that shrugs off white-knucke-tests, even if it does not make for as compact a folder as the modern locks do.

Many of these early locks are quite strong as they were often placed on large knives,navajas are not uncommonly three feet when open, the biggest on record was 4.5 feet. Yes, they used them when they were that big. My kinda people
. Also, many of these knives saw double-duty as weapons.

As weapons they were universaly disdained by nobility, who favored the sword and pistol, these knives were the mainstay of the working class and peasantry right up through the 19th century and continue to see use by rural Hispanics in many nations as well as amongst the Romani.
One of the more interesting locks is Pat Crawford's frame-type lock, don't know what he actually calls it. It's sort of an integral lockback. Like a lockback there's a tooth which catches in a blade notch, but the spring is actually integral to the frame. Like all integral-style locks, white-knuckling only sets the lock harder. A.G. Russell uses this lock on his One-handed folders.

The lock on the Uluchet, it's my design, could be added to your list. It doesn't have a name so let's call it the TurnerLock.

YES,it is sharp, just keep your fingers out of the way!

There are a lot of makers out there with several locks. Blade recently said that Walker actually has patents on a whole lotta locks (I think the article said 10-20). I think Sawby also has several locks. Ray Ennis has his t-lock.

I picked up a interesting little knife a few months ago only because I was intrigued by the lock. The knife is "Surgical Steel" made by Frost cutlery. It is an equal ended jack knife on what I would call a muskrat pattern. Two identical full length clip point blades, Brass liners metal bolsters (unknown) and jigged bone scales. The lock seems to function like a lock back to the extent that the tip of a long flat spring snaps into a notch on the shank of the blade. The interesting thing is the lock release. The locking spring is fixed to the right bolster (looking down on the open blade edge up.) Pressing down on the bolster with the right thumb lifts the spring out of the notch in the blade allowing it to close.

I have never seen anything like this before. Lock up is good and tight, about as good as it gets with a folder. After watching people trying to figure out how to unlock a liner lock, I think it would take a very long time to figure this one out if no one showed you how it works.
Actualy, that, and variations on the theme, weren't uncommon on folders in 19th century Europe.

You'll see those on the "Italian-style" switchblades and the folding stilletos, as opposed to the earlier fixed blade daggers.
I have a German knife dating from the '70s of unknown brand -- I think it had a trademark on the blade once but I polished it off long ago and don't remember it. It has a backlock between the liners like a conventional modern lockback, rather than an external spring like a navaja, but it's unlocked with a brass cam at the blade end of the locking bar like a navaja. Lockup is like any modern lockback except there's no danger of a white-knuckle release and it's very easy to close one-handed -- you work the cam with your thumb and then close it with your forefinger on the back of the blade -- it's easier to do without cutting yourself than a liner lock, too.

It has two more parts than a conventional lockback, the brass cam and the pin, but that surely can't add much to the expense of manufacture. I really think it's superior to a conventional lockback -- much easier to close one-handed as there's no need to turn it around in your hand first, and no possibility of white-knuckle failure. Why the heck aren't all lockbacks made that way??? It beats me ... I can't see any disadvantage at all. The cam on mine is brass and could be investment cast at minimal cost.

The ratchet mechanism Snickersnee described sounds even more reliable, and doesn't sound significantly more expensive to make.

BTW, just in case anybody recognizes this knife (I'd love to know who made it) the bolster is brass, too -- only one bolster like a Barlow -- and the scales are rosewood. It's a 4" folding hunter and it originally had a straight spine, full flat grind. Liners are steel. The tang is stamped Solingen on one side and Rostfrei on the other and edge-holding is very good for a stainless steel; it's definitely not 440A. I suspect it's 154CM. I don't remember what I paid for it but it was expensive, a high-end factory knife for the time.

Speaking of my sainthood, Cardinal Dog never got around to canonizing me and now since the holy war over the theology of implied warranties caused the CTT to schism into CTT (Dogites) and CTT (Cougarites or Stampers), I expect the only way I'll achieve sainthood will be if I canonize myself ... or maybe Cliff and I could canonize each other ... how about it, Cliff?

-Cougar Allen :{)

[This message has been edited by Cougar Allen (edited 07 August 1999).]