Review Spyderco Janisong (disassembly + more issues...)

Joined
Nov 20, 2007
Messages
29
I posted this short video on YouTube:


The video shows the very simple open/close move I do the most with this knife, shows it in dorky iPhone slow-motion too. The last part of the video shows the bounce issues this knife has. In the comments on YouTube I typed this wall of text below showing my thoughts about the Spyderco Janisong:

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More pics on Imgur:
The boring last part of the video shows the issues with bounce this knife has – meaning that at the last part of the open and close the handle/blade refuses to stop moving, it bounces around up and down, usually multiple times – the blade will even hit the inside handle and bounce back and forth as it's closing. I think it's because the inside handle simply isn't heavy enough to really slam home, and stay in the open or closed position without bouncing... this is a major shame because they even made circular lightening cuts to that inside handle... I'm guessing if those weren't there (like the original Blackhawk version of this knife) the knife would flip a LOT better and not bounce around nearly as much... Only fix I can see, to add some more weight to the handle (specifically the end of it), is something like tungsten spacers (which weigh ~twice as much as steel) to give it more momentum, but of course I don't know who does custom work like that (been looking though... some of the butterfly/balisong knife guys have to do work like this... PLEASE post if you know anybody who does work like this!)... but those spacers are so very small I doubt even that would help it.

The inside handle being so light also gives the knife issues with building up enough momentum to get moves right at times (which admittedly could be me at times too - I'm DEFINITELY not great at flipping, and this knife IS new to me). I just feel all the time that the flick I just gave would have made ANY one of my multiple butterfly knives swing way fast and solid... but doesn't do the same on this knife (or again, it's just me). Doesn't matter how much lube I use, how little lube, change lube types, if it's right after a cleaning all pristine, doesn't matter how tight or loose the blade pivot is either (or which side you tighten/loosen, etc).

The last issue is the inside handle rubs on the internal steel liners (underneath the G10) which is already starting to minutely mark up the steel (and this knife was bought brand new, recent manufacturer --yes, they're still making this knife overseas and it's in Spyderco's 2021 catalog even--, and the knife is only 2 days old for me so it's not like I've worn it down already). In theory tightening the pivot screw could help... but the knife is then too stiff to actually flip properly (even with a good lube like KPL on it).

I was also getting even more rub because the pocket clip screws were too long and the inside handle was hitting them (I swear I was even getting bounce/deflection off of these at times). I removed the screws and sanded them down early on, but that was still a big annoyance (and Taichung is supposed to be one of the most precise manufacturing facilities... my Spyderco South Fork was impeccable! ). Oh, the "deep carry" pocket clip has a HUGE flaw too - normal thickness Levi Jeans will NOT easily fit to the very end of the clip - it's too narrow. Should have been bent maybe 1mm further out and it would be perfect but you have to JAM it in with like both hands to get it to sit all the way down - WAY too tight (it's not just my exact knife either - a YT reviewer mentioned this too and his knife was years older than mine).

Anyway, I still think the knife is a very cool and novel design... I kinda love it just for it's weirdness/uniqueness, and how it gives me a new knife to fidget with lol (honestly though, anymore it's a love/hate relationship... I just can't get over these glaring flaws). I just think the design/manufacturing wasn't really thought out with all of these issues this early on in my ownership, and it's not like this is a new model - it's been out for quite a long time... plenty of time for refinement which is desperately needed. I'm also very worried that it's just going to get worse with time... and I'll have a $400+ paper weight, which since I'm in the USA is impossible to even get simple spare parts or service for it unless I go through the absolute nightmare of international shipping again and inconvenience my friend overseas a second time (which I refuse to do as he already did me a solid favor in the first place).

Some other considerations for anybody thinking of picking this knife up: this also has an extremely tiny blade for the HUGE handle size... NONE of the other videos I watched and pictures I saw really prepared me to how it is in real life... it's worse than any OTF I've ever owned (if you think those are bad - some don't mind it, others that can drive nuts). I measured with my digital calipers and it's 4.965/3.296” handle/blade, which is a 66.4% ratio... Also a VERY thick knife that you DEFINITELY notice in your pocket. This measurement isn't listed on ANY product page for this I've seen FYI (and oh, how I've searched for this spec...), and you can guess why, but handle thickness is 0.60"/15.2mm. Left-to right it's pretty thin though, which helps, but it certainly doesn't disappear in the pocket like I like my knives to, you WILL feel it's there (and my normal EDC's are fairly large knives: a G10 Microtech Socom Delta, or a ZT 0462... which disappear in my pocket and I forget about them).

To end, if you're thinking of getting one of these just know that it is cool, is fun, but it's literally just an extremely expensive fidget spinner with little to no real world uses I can think of (besides being funky and different... that's literally its claim to fame - and YES, that CAN be just enough to make some people happy with owning this knife... for others not so much), and I again have to stress how these DO have some HUGE (in my eyes) design and function flaws... Even if we step back and look at the most common thing we do with our knives (besides look at them with lust lol, and well, actually use them) is we open and close them, right? Making this function as easy as possible, as smooth as possible, as intuitive as possible so it's second nature and natural to the hand, is what a great deal of knife designers spend their time on (along with usable blade/handle shape and all that good stuff). This knife kinda (and I'm really struggling how to say this and not be incredibly harsh) throws all of that to the wind. Even with a regular butterfly knife – we let those get away with their more complicated opening action because they're SMOOTH, quick (once you've practiced enough), reliable, and solid. The Janisong can't be smooth with all this bounce. Can't be solidly opened or closed 110% of the time because that inside handle is so very light there's not much momentum behind it. Can't be solid with all these mechanical flaws it has (again, right out of the box).
 
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Joined
Nov 21, 2020
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167
Sometimes you just can't help yourself; you want the weird and unusual thing. I've had to fight the irrational urge to spend 275 bucks on a Paragon Warlock gravity knife ever since I saw one, for no other reason than I think it looks cool.
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2007
Messages
29
Sometimes you just can't help yourself; you want the weird and unusual thing. I've had to fight the irrational urge to spend 275 bucks on a Paragon Warlock gravity knife ever since I saw one, for no other reason than I think it looks cool.
Yup, and this time I gave in to the urge lol. Still glad I did!
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2007
Messages
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Thought I would do a 2-week update. Don't know if anybody is even reading this, but hopefully, maybe, it'll help some other people (including myself - I'm TOTALLY open to advice on how to get this knife into better performing shape) since there's near zero in-depth reviews or disassembly or advice on how to better tune this funky cool (but still faulty) knife. Updated the same Imgur album posted above with all this as well (plus a couple other pics I won't bother posting).



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This picture and below in this album was taken 6/17/2021 - a mere 2 weeks after I received this brand-new/sealed knife. I think the factory messed-up on the order of the washers. I think the two 0.155" are supposed to surround the blade, with the larger 0.019" on the outside of the inside handle (since that area needs more clearance since the inside handle is rubbing on the liners).



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Need to look more but on the couple knife making websites I searched I couldn't find phosphor bronze washer with 0.4325" OD, and 0.22" ID (when I switch my digital caliper to fractions it says 7/16" and 7/32"). Was going to try some from ~0.01 to 0.025 thick and see if I could get it so the inside handle doesn't rub.



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Close-up showing the wear I found on the pivot of one of the inside handles --both have this type of damage fyi-- (again, this is only after 2 weeks...). I only had a 10x jewelers loupe, but you can go into the Imgur album, right click on the image and choose "Open Image in New Tab" to zoom-in. I'm honestly not a metallurgist, and don't know if this is normal or not, but it looks super rough to my untrained eyes (and my biggest fault with this knife is how it's not smooth...). This kinda shocked me since the knife is only 2 weeks old... (and it's not like I'm sitting around for 16 hours a day flipping this thing constantly or anything... but even if I was, I wouldn't expect this type of wear I don't think).

Wish I took a picture of the inside pivot of the blade itself - which didn't look like this, although it did look a little dirty almost – even after cleaning it (instead of the inside pivot area being shiny stainless steel like the blade's face is, it was a matte darker-gray color almost... don't know why it wasn't shiny).



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Close-up of the pivot. The pin is hollow, threaded, and has torx screws on either side. There's a flat side of the pin (pic in Imgur album if you want to see it), which is captured by the handle liners so the pivot pin doesn't rotate as you spin/open/close the knife.



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This was moving the two thicker 0.019 washers to the side that rubbed the most (with the hope that it would move it over enough so it wouldn't touch). STILL didn't help a thing so I moved it back after this.



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MODDING the knife: the edges of both the inside handle and the steel liners were both sharp 90º angles. You can still see how the liners in particular are pretty rough cut steel and not smooth. The inside handle was constantly hitting/dragging on the liners making the knife not nearly as smooth as it should be, and pretty dark clunky. This area here, where the angle of the coffin-style handle changes, was the part that the inside handle hit first...

So what I did to make the knife a little more smooth (since switching washers didn't help and the inside handle STILL drags/hits the liners) – was to start right before this trouble area and take some light sandpaper and rounded the corner edges, then polished it with a dremel cotton wheel and some compound so it's extremely smooth.



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...I did this all the way down to where the inside handle ends. Those sharp corners at the very end hit nearly all the time (as the further down the inside handle went, the greater the out-of-wack angle was, so it was hitting here the most), so I smoothed those corners as well (so even if centrifugal force makes that inside handle flex down like 1/32" or whatever, it has clearance of a sort and hits the rounded part instead of two 90º angles hitting each other with a clank).

They still hit/drag now but it's a little bit smoother (still hate hearing the metal sliding on metal... just not a smooth sound or feeling as you're flipping the knife).



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Another design flaw: see that gap there between the top G10 handle and the steel liner right below it? That's evidentially a design choice and done on purpose... (sometimes a gap on the other side too, sometimes a smaller gap on both at the same time...)



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I'll explain why that gap is there: see that red line that's about ~60% of the length of the handle? For that entire area there is NOTHING holding the G10 scales onto the knife except the blade pivot. Since you can't tighten the pivot all the way or the knife seizes up, it seems like there will ALWAYS be a GAP between the G10 scales and the steel liners like I show in the picture above.

There's no other way to put this, except to say this is another glaring design flaw. My mind is a bit blown that nobody at Spyderco noticed this issue, and/or didn't decide to fix the problem... because the problem is so simple to fix it's not even funny... I say this because there's already 2x threaded holes there (4 total, 2 on each side of the pivot) for the pocket clip to mount to if you wanted to carry it that way. They're currently not countersunk so the screws wouldn't fit flush like the 4x other screws per side of the handle, and it would be a tight fit how the clip is currently designed, but they could have pretty easily figured this out and put another 2x screws there to hold the G10 flush to the handle and this problem would absolutely disappear. As-is, there's that annoying gap... in a $260 MSRP knife...
 
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