Why is lock failure even a topic?

Comeuppance

Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary
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Jan 12, 2013
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It’s a fixation that affects many people, but why? There’s no rash of lost fingers, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone say the lock on their decent-quality knife failed while doing reasonable knife tasks.

It just seems like a bunch of people hitting the spines of their knives for no reason, as if they anticipate needing to swing their knife behind them blindly and need it to withstand an impact.

The only person I know who lost part of a digit to a knife was an acquaintance that drunkenly stabbed a junk-quality knife into a tree while holding it in a reverse grip.

That’s an extreme case of a non-knife task being done with what was already an accident waiting to happen. I don’t think your ZT is going to suddenly lop your fingers off while you cut open that amazon box.

I’ll admit, though, that my entire opinion on the matter is 100% anecdotal. I’m open to contrary opinions. Maybe you have a contextual use-case where inadvertent spine impacts are a real consideration?
 
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For most people there will never be a lock failure. I don't do things that could cause mine to fail, and if I do I'm very careful. Always treat it like it doesn't have a lock.

I don't spine whack, I don't stab things. If I have to stab something I do it slowly and carefully.

But lock failure is a topic because of the whole spine whack and hanging weights from knives. It's nice to know the lock won't fail, but I'm not hanging weights from mine to find out...
 
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I think it is a perception of folding knives that will always exist. There will just always be that fear of one folding on your fingers. That said, spine whacking is stupid and should void warranties.
 

evilgreg

Why so serious?
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Dec 25, 2012
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It’s a fixation that affects many people, but why? There’s no rash of lost fingers, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone say the lock on their decent-quality knife failed while doing reasonable knife tasks.

It just seems like a bunch of people hitting the spines of their knives for no reason, as if they anticipate needing to swing their knife behind them blindly and need it to withstand an impact.

The only person I know who lost part of a digit to a knife was an acquaintance that drunkenly stabbed a junk-quality knife into a tree while holding it in a reverse grip.

That’s an extreme case of a non-knife task being done with what was already an accident waiting to happen. I don’t think your ZT is going to suddenly lop your fingers off while you cut open that amazon box.

I’ll admit, though, that my entire opinion on the matter is 100% anecdotal. I’m open to contrary opinions. Maybe you have a contextual use-case where inadvertent spine impacts are a real consideration?

You're right, to be sure. I mean, generations gone by used slip joint knives and didn't have lock failure issues. I whittle, and if you talk to whittlers about carving on the go most of the old guys you run into still use slip joint knives today if they're carving with a pocket knife.

That said, the same is true for a lot of other non-issues we argue about incessantly here. If you take away silly topics (e.g. blade steels, omega springs, spine whacks, magic Richtig heat treatment, Lynn Thompson, batoning, etc.) you wouldn't have much left to argue about . . . ;)
 

danbot

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Oct 31, 2009
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The more you use knives (or tools in general), the more careful you become with them. I have found that slipping is a real danger with many different tools. When a wrench you're pulling on slips and you end up punching yourself in the face, you learn to use that tool more carefully, get a better tool for the job, or at least move your head to the side!
 

T.L.E. Sharp

Freedom for @Fullflat!!!
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Why is edge retention a topic? 0-60 time or top speed in street cars? Mechanical watch accuracy? Max lumen output on flashlights? Battery life on electronics?

Your grandfather's old timer cut stuff, a Nissan Versa gets from A to B, my doctor doesn't care if I'm a minute early or late, a disposable keychain light covers most of my light needs and there's a phone charger in every room of my home, in my car and at my workplace.

They're topics because people are interested in them. Spine whack tests don't generally interest me, but lock failures like @razor-edge-knives knives noted with the Spyderco Paysan do. If you're getting lock failure with just moderate spine pressure you're more likely to experience lock rock and vertical play which greatly diminishes perceived quality even if it doesn't completely disable the knife.
 
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Some people can't , or just won't carry a fixed blade , but still want that kind of strength in case of of some emergency , survival or self-defense requirement .

Others just want the the strongest and most reliable folder for "hard use" in their routine work .
 
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Feb 28, 2011
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Lots of folks used slipjoints with no locks. But I also know a lot of old guys with scars on their fingers and stories about the slipjoint that did it. ;)

I've had locks fail and bandaged up a friend that managed to get a liner lock to fail and cut himself pretty badly. I don't waste very much time worrying about lock failure, but I definitely understand why it's a topic.
 
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The worse cut I got lately was a fixed blade LOL, kydex sheath, not broken in. One finger wasn’t in the right spot.
Boker Breacher, your sexy but I don’t like your sheath
 
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Lets face it there's a lot of people who buy a knife with SD in mind. And they are worried of it closing in a fight.
Back in the 90's before knife laws changed in my Country. I heard that excuse all the time by guys carrying a fixed blade.

I don't personally collect knives for SD. I feel like the lock up is one of the best signs of quality. And I find the different designs interesting.
 

ScooterG

You mean Ireland? Yeah, it’s mine.
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A few weeks ago I was cutting up an old t-shirt for shop rags with a liner lock, made a twisting motion while cutting and caused the lock to slip. Closed on my finger and had to bandage up. Lock failure, user error or design flaw? (A slip joint wouldn't have done this)
 

Bigfattyt

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I have been cut several times, by different brands. Brother had to have surgery, and hand in a cast for a severed tendon from a liner lock failure. Buck Cross lock. (I took my cross lock and ground off the point and edge, and let my boys play with it when then were toddlers.

I've had the buck cross lock fail several times and cut me. Also had a CRKT m16 liner fail and cut me.

I've had a few more where the lock slipped and the knife folded, but I was not cut.

I've also had slip joints fold while piercing ( not stabbing, or curring willy nilly either).

It happens occasionally. I think I just posted this in another thread a few minutes ago. I could go and cut and paste that longer answer.

It never happens.....until it does.

I've had grit wear a lock face prematurely and ruin a lock. I've also seen many examples of Frame locks go south and fail with the slightest thump pressure.

Frame locks don't do well with abuse either.

I have, and still carry several liner locks from Kershaw, and Spyderco.


I have back locks and Triad locks and Ultra locks, and plunge and ram locks. I have twist locks and others.

I don't get super excited, but occasionally I will check a lock with light pressure and see if it moves at all (with my fingers out of the way). I have retired about 6 or so knives that the lock will disengage on easily).


I've been cut many many many times, by all manner of knives. Fixed blades, folders, axes, swords. Sharpening, throwing, playing and using.

My last set of stitches was a slip joint SAK. Equal ended, opened it to cut something, closed it without looking..... did not look, before pushing the blade on my finger to close two handed. I was multi tasking and talking to some one else at the same time. I had set the knife down, and picked it back up. Tried to close the knife the wrong direction. It was a equal end, so felt the same in both directions. Though, if I had been paying attention I would have felt which way to close.


I still carry slipjoints and locking knives and fixed blades. All have their uses.
 
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Sep 23, 2005
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It's a feeling said in the Nordic countries that if you need a guard (or a lock) then you shouldn't be using a knife.
My EDC is a SAK Tinker. I also sometimes carry an inexpensive linerlock with a pocket clip as a convenience when I don't feel like pulling out my Tinker. But I don't treat the linerlock and different than a slip joint. In over 65 years of knife collecting and using I've only been cut once and it was my fault, not the knife.
Rich
 
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Ironically, the worst cut I ever had was from a Kershaw Freefall while trying to close it. I failed in fighting the speedsafe and my finger slipped and it flew back open. With nowhere to go, my finger naturally went up against the blade edge and blood everywhere.
 
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A few weeks ago I was cutting up an old t-shirt for shop rags with a liner lock, made a twisting motion while cutting and caused the lock to slip. Closed on my finger and had to bandage up. Lock failure, user error or design flaw? (A slip joint wouldn't have done this)
That's very similar to what happened to my buddy. It's also why I'm very, very cautious with liner and frame locks.
 
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I think it is a perception of folding knives that will always exist. There will just always be that fear of one folding on your fingers. That said, spine whacking is stupid and should void warranties.
Considering I dominantly carry slip joints, SAKs mostly and all the time, this lock thing is kind of foreign to me. I won't stab my folding knife into anything, not even playing around. Just use your knife as if it has no lock and you're good. If you want to stab stuff, use a fixed blade.
 
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I just wanted to add like other people said proper knife usage is number 1.

I caught myself doing something dumb last winter. For some reason I wanted to chip a small hole in some ice. I was using quite a bit of force when it occurred to me that I had the knife backwards! Because the handle was more comphy in the reverse grip. I was basically giving it little spine wacks.
 
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