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Troubleshooting your pivot: A good trick to know regarding "smoothness".

Discussion in 'Chris Reeve Knives' started by kidcongo, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. kidcongo

    kidcongo Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    Ok fellas and gals,

    I have been carrying a CRK in my pocket, (mainly Sebenzas) on most days of my life, for just over three years. Give or take a few weeks with other things taking their place, that's about 1000 days of carry. In that time I have learned a few things about smoothness:

    1 - 95% of the time the issue with your CRK feeling "gritty" will be contamination of the detent track (the tiny groove worn on the edge of the side of the blade heal by the detent ball), not the pivot. The reason why overhauling the pivot and re-greasing, or polishing the washers, etc, seems to fix the problem is that you likely end up cleaning the detent track without necessarily making that your primary intention.

    2 - The biggest culprit for "grittyness" is not actually grit, but usually residue of some kind, especially dried fruit juice, but also other stuff contaminating the detent track. This causes the small ceramic detent ball in the 21, and the larger ceramic detent/lock ball on the Sebenza 25, to grab and skip it's way along the track rather than sliding along, causing the gritty feeling.

    3 - The reason Chris Reeve knives can be so very smooth, is that CRK uses Ceramic detent balls, and if the groove is free of residue, the co-efficient of friction is very low between the ceramic and the steel of the blade. The typical steel-on-steel of more generic type knives is more likely to have stiction as steel grips steel under pressure (think railway locomotive wheels). In another famously smooth knife, the Spyderco PM2, the knife can be very smooth even with a steel detent ball. This is because when you unlock the PM2, you are holding the detent ball right off of the blade via the workings of the Spyderco compression lock system. With a CRK framelock, once you release the lock, the ball drags along the blade all the way to the lock divot. With this being the case, CRK went for a ceramic ball on their framelocks, and the rest is history as they say. A very smooth solution, but it is not without it's problems.

    So......of course "your mileage may vary", but in my opinion these points hold true in most cases. To prove this, and as a very handy troubleshooting tool, I developed the "CHOPSTICK METHOD".

    It is simple. If you want to determine if a "gritty" Sebenza pivot is due to lack of grease or issues with the pivot, or if it's contamination of the detent track, you need to lift the lockbar slightly clear of the blade, so the detent ball is just above the blade. At this point the blade will be free to rotate. I use a thin tapered Choptsick. I lift the lockbar slightly by hand, and then wedge the chopsitck in place to hold the detent ball just above the track. In most cases, you will find the blade is now swinging completely smooth and free, and the issue with the gritty pivot has something to do with gunk on the detent. To resolve this you can either wash the knife assembled (this is what I do) or take it apart, if you must, while paying specific attention to cleaning the detent track. For me, washing under the sink with mild pump handsoap seems to work fine. Others have had problems with this, so your gotta do what works for you. Some soaps may also leave a reside....who knows. Also you may be able to clean the detent track my another means, say with WD40 and a Q-Tip or something. The main point of the CHOPSTICK METHOD is to alert you to where the problem is. Not solve it.:D

    After learning this technique, I found almost all of my issues were from letting fruit juice dry on the detent. When I use my knife to cut up fruit (most days), I try to give it a quick rinse in plain water before any juice dries on the track. This has kept my knives smooth at almost all times.

    You can use a cheap wood chopstick, or an expensive Ming Dynasty jade chopstick, or a purple plastic one as shown here. Just make sure it is one of the thin tapered type of chopsticks, or whittle it down a bit if it is too thick to easily go between the slabs. Remember: you do not want to force anything in there, and bend the lockbar, or change it's tension. You just want to lift the lockbar ever so slightly off the blade. Once that detent ball is lifted up, you will be absolutely amazed how free swinging the average sebenza is.



    If nothing else, you now have decent reason to order Chinese take out! ;)
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
    Ed G, Mo2, DRLyman and 1 other person like this.
  2. Anarchy84

    Anarchy84 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 3, 2016
    Great post, Cody! Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoy taking down a Sebenza for a fresh clean & lube, as it gives me an opportunity to further appreciate the quality that goes into these knives, but the chopstick is a nice touch. Definitely a great troubleshooting step if you're worried about your washers / grease job.
  3. kidcongo

    kidcongo Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    I admit I still take down my knives completely from time to time for the same reasons as it is enjoyable, and nice to admire the inner workings. However, I rarely find it "necessary" to do so.
  4. einsteinjon

    einsteinjon Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2008
    Thanks Cody! I love your posts!
  5. Anarchy84

    Anarchy84 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 3, 2016
    More a sickness than a necessity, no doubt. :)
  6. colubrid

    colubrid Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 26, 2005
    What about throwing your sebenza in the dishwasher?

    Anyone do this?.......any wear on the blade edge or titanium?
  7. kidcongo

    kidcongo Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    Tried this many times.......highly recommended for all of your knives Collybrid. They come out smooth as silk and razor sharp. Take my word for it. (2017 Edit: I am joking here!)
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
    Ed G likes this.
  8. colubrid

    colubrid Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 26, 2005
    Thanks! I am going to do that tonight. I will let you know what I think. I have a new plain 21 I will throw in the dishwasher and see how it looks and how it effects function and smoothness. Might be the best method for me because I am lazy.
  9. 353

    353 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 20, 2015
    Thanks Cody, I'm sure this post will stop a lot of unnecessary take downs of CRK's.

    I've had grittiness and got rid of it by rinsing in luke warm water, but I never stopped and think what was going on.. Now I know!
  10. Ironbut

    Ironbut Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 1, 2016
    That sounds like an excellent way to clean one, but after a cycle in the dishwasher, don't you then have to disassemble it & re-lube the pivot/washers anyway? I don't know. I'm just asking.
  11. kidcongo

    kidcongo Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    All kidding about dishwashers aside, it might seem crazy, or even lazy, to some to be washing your CRK under the tap with hand soap like I often do. However, I am not a knife fondler or OCD collector. and my knives see a huge amount of use on some days. If I were to take down my Sebenza every time it got munged up, I'd be doing it three times a week. The CRK grease is largely waterproof (it's a product called Christolube that was developed for the threads on dive cylinders), and if you just use a mild handsoap the knife comes clean without any issues. S35VN has remarkable corrosion resistance, titanium doesn't corrode, and both the Micarta and wood inlays are totally bulletproof. Washing your CRK in the sink is no problem as long as the soap and water pressure is not so aggressive as to completely flush the grease out of your pivot. Anyways.......there is no harm in trying. It's not going to damage anything, and you may find you have less cause to unnecessarily take down your Sebenza. Just saying. You don't have to take my word for it.
  12. colubrid

    colubrid Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 26, 2005
    Okay I put the Sebenza into the dishwasher last night and I would not recommend it because the lockbar moved over 20%. I may have been because of the intense heat of the dishwasher and LEAVING THE KNIFE IN THE OPEN position. should have washed with the knife closed and not open! I think th heat and putting the knive into the dishwasher in the open position is what cause the tolerances to change. Probably the heat would not have effect with the Sebenza in the closed position.

    The knife came out real gritty and it took two thumbs to close the lockbar. I then sprayed it with WD-40 and the knife is smooth as silk. But the lockbar remains over 20% more. This knife was only at 50% with thousands of opening and closings and never moved until last night. I realize that 70% is more the norm for Sebenzas but never had this one over so far until the dishwasher trial.. I am guess the intense heat and leaving the knife in the open "locked" position may have cause some expansion-(?) and wore in the lock further(?) I opened a few times with both thumbs before applying WD-40 and then the lock unstuck and is smooth. But is still at 70% even though the knife feels like it is on grease and just relubed with only the WD-40 on it. Kinda amazed me actually.

    I am going to take the knife apart and apply grease to everything and see if that changes the lockbar position. I will post back later with result.

    On a side note, I have done the dishwasher thing before on other knives like Spydercos. Which it really works well with as it actually makes them tighter, more smooth and removing an side to side play.Again probably from the heat from the dishwasher.

    I really like the whole dishwasher thing and not don't like knives with bearings or internal plastic washer ect. A knife should be all metal parts and easy to dissemble and clean.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
  13. colubrid

    colubrid Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 26, 2005
    Took the knife apart and re greased it (even though it did not need it) and the lockbar is back at 50%.

    Interesting that the CRK white grease was still heavily present in the perforated washers and the heat and full cycle of the dishwasher did not remove it. So I guess rinsing would not effect it at all since the full cycle at high heat from a dishwasher did not remove it.

    Anyway, it was a learning experience for me. I would recommend washing in the dishwasher with the knife closed rather than in the open locked position though.
  14. kidcongo

    kidcongo Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    It's classic to post a third time when no one finds your first or second posts funny. Self awareness is key in life.
  15. colubrid

    colubrid Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 26, 2005
    Please point out where you think I was kidding or making jokes!
  16. Thomason

    Thomason Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2002
    I am going to remember the "CHOPSTICK METHOD". I have washed the gunk out of slip joint pocket knives with dish soap and running water. I always made sure they were throughly dried and re-oiled. No problems.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
  17. Larsje100


    Jan 28, 2014
    What I do is put some grease on the detent ball. That helps alot too. You can do this when it's assembled. Just use the mentioned "chopstick method" and put some grease on a toothpick or something and put that on the detent ball. That's how I do it on all of my knives.

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A3003 using Tapatalk
  18. Driften

    Driften Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 21, 2010
    I suspect he thought you were telling a joke about putting your knife in the dishwasher. He was joking about doing it when you asked. It is never good to put quality knives in the dishwasher. The heat can take the temper out of the edge. Maybe not past the actual edge but leave you having to resharpen to get to harder steel. Washing in the sink is no issue for most knives.
  19. kidcongo

    kidcongo Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    If the dishwasher comments were sincere, and I misinterpreted them as sarcasm, or some attempt to flame me, then I apologize. I never have heard of this, nor can I possibly begin to imagine it, but I learn something new everyday.

    So if you're really putting your knives in the dishwasher, I'd love to see some pictures of what that does to them, and if anyone else is also doing this, please let me know the reasoning. Sounds crazy to me as dishwashers use abrasive, not soap, to clean stuff.

    I'll go back to my Chow Mein now.
  20. 91bravo

    91bravo Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 2008
    I'll take an allen wrench and dab some grease on the tang of the blade, right in the spot where it contacts the lockbar. When you go to open the blade, it covers the detent ball in grease, decreasing the friction between the detent ball and the blade. A few openings and you'll notice the difference in smoothness!

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