Why Toolless Disassembly Should Be The Future of Knife Design

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Dan57, Nov 16, 2020.

  1. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker

    Feb 28, 2011
    Sounds more like a solution in search of a problem to me. I used to disassemble my knives regularly, largely because the enthusiast community convinced me that I should for...reasons? Eventually I realized that was silly and stopped. I can count on one hand the number of times I've needed to disassemble a knife, and I could still count them if I lost 4 fingers on that same hand. There's nothing wrong with disassembling your knives and tinkering with them, but the truth is that 99.95% of the time you're doing it it's because you want to, not because you need to.
  2. Lesknife

    Lesknife Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Mar 31, 2018
    Fixed blade knives don’t need tools to disassemble. Otherwise get scissors.
    000Robert and jbmonkey like this.
  3. killgar


    Sep 24, 2002
    It seems to me that the more mechanically complicated you make a knife, with mechanisms that will allow tool-less disassembly, that you will be increasing the need to take it apart. The more mechanically complicated a knife is, the more nooks and crannies there are going to be to collect crud, promote corrosion, and possibly affect the function of the knife.

    Sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy- make a knife that can be taken apart without tools for cleaning, and as a result, the knife has to be taken apart more frequently for cleaning.

    But don't get me wrong, I have nothing against such knives. Plenty of room in the knife world for all sorts of variety and innovation. Where would knives be today if not for people willing to try new things.
    jbmonkey, Smaug and MarkN86 like this.
  4. Smaug

    Smaug Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    False. For example, the mating surfaces in the pivot arrangement are airtight. Brake cleaner is quite caustic and will melt certain types of plastics, will remove finish from wood, etc.

    From the mechanism of a new knife breaking in. For example, a locking bar rubbing against the back of the blade. When the knife is new, these surfaces are surface ground, but not polished. As the action breaks in, they polish each other and the steel dust winds up in the oil. That's just one example, but there's also pocket lint and other things.[/Quote][/QUOTE]
    Sharp & Fiery likes this.
  5. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    I've carried and used knives from the hot summer sands of Saudi Arabia to the bitter winter Alaskan tundra and never felt the need to take them apart. Again, this was before the age of fidget knives and "drop shutty" actions so my choices were not overly sensitive. WD40 and hot water handled most cleaning tasks. I still have thirty year old Buck 425's that have been around the world and they are still running fine. My wife has one on her side table as I type this for GP's and crafting.

    If it was wet or fish or game, I would always try to have a fixed blade.

    Like others, I am absolutely not against taking knives down if you want to, and I reckon the construction on some knives these days may make it more important, but by no means do I think it should be the future direction of design.
    MayHemAndHaw, jlauffer, DMG and 3 others like this.
  6. DMG

    DMG Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 30, 2005

    Yep, you have to be careful with brake clean. I have no problem cleaning pivots with compressed air. If oil can seep in 150 psi air can as well.

    Could you show me an example of damage caused by this metal dust you speak of?
  7. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 21, 2006
    I'm another one that doesn't take my knives apart other than fixed blade grips when blood or other corrosive stuff gets under the grips. It's just not needed.
    jbmonkey likes this.
  8. cbrstar


    Sep 7, 2015
    I've bought a few used knives from the pawnshop over the years. And the gunk and grime that you find inside can be a bit gross.
    But the one that stands out to me is a ZT 350 I bought. I got it cheap because it felt like the spring was worn out/broken and barely opened. Well it was completely gunked up and rusted inside! It was like the past owner left it in a mud puddle over night. Simply cleaning it and a bit of rust remover made it open perfectly like new.

    Pinned knives are not immune. I've come across plenty of older ones where it's worn out or was improperly used and now there's side to side blade play. Or takes massive amounts of force and super strong finger nails to open.

    But I guess that's why a lot of manufacturers use teflon washers. It keeps the knife opening smoother longer without oil etc.
  9. MarkN86


    Sep 3, 2012

    If they are air tight as you say how is dirt or grit getting in there to need cleaned out?

    I agree with not using harsh cleaners, they are just not necessary. Alcohol is good because it is mild and evaporates quickly. Most manufacturers recommend flushing with hot soapy water, blowing it out with compressed air, and then oiling lightly.

    All that is needed is a very small amount of oil, too much oil can accelerate wear by attracting dirt and grinding it around in the pivot. Sometimes overly enthusiastic knife owners put way too much oil in a pivot and that causes dust collection issues, which then makes it to where it has to be partially disassembled or a small pick has to be used to get the hard packed oil and dirt out. I've made that mistake before myself.
    DMG likes this.
  10. midnight flyer

    midnight flyer Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Great posts, @not2sharp . I would suggest that I use my knives more on a daily basis than most here. On site, they open heavy cardboard packing, cut dirty fiberglass strapping, trim moldings, trim boards, scrape, pry, wedge, cut off poly tips of adhesive and caulk cartridges, sharpen my carpentry pencils, cut an occasional shingle, occasionally trim sheet rock, the point is used to scribe/strike a line (holding the knife backwards and dragging the point) onto sheet metal for cutting or bending, and on and on. They get dropped by accident, fall off roofs when I slip, ride around in my dirty tool bags, and occasionally wind up getting messed up by accident. And there's nothing like getting glue on the knife that takes lacquer thinner to get off, or having it fall into a bucket of paint, getting tar all over it (the worst as it attracts sand/dirt/sawdust) or just dropping it on concrete.

    Been in the trades for 50 years, never have I taken a knife apart. When I started, you couldn't take apart a traditional pattern easily, so we didn't. When they did get covered with adhesive/tar/butyl caulk, etc., I would soak the knife in gas overnight. Brush off the crap in the morning, dig out the crap in the handle with a toothpick, wipe it off, put 3in1 on the pivots and a bit on the blade and it was good.

    I have knives that I have used for decades on a dirty, gritty, nasty job site that have been soaked in my super salty sweat (and rusted in my pocket, including some "stainless") and they have never been disassembled. I have a CASE copperlock from '76 that has two of the scale pins worn off, the crest is almost smooth, and the beautiful ruby colored scales are muddy chocolate brown from sweaty dirty hands using it as a work knife. Never been taken apart, but had a few hard cleanings in it lifetime.

    Nor have any of my larger Cold Steel knives, my Browning Hunter (from '76 as well... I was on a buying tear... 2 knives in one year!) or my ZTs or the poor old RAT 1 that has received the short end of the stick for duty too many times to count.

    For me, it isn't a case of *sniff with my nose in the air* of not wanting to learn how to turn a screw, or *snort of disgust for the common folk* they don't maintain their knives to our standards. (WE are the standard for the entire knife community here, aren't we?)

    As a contractor, I maintain my equipment as needed because the tools and their use is how I make my living. That includes my job site cutlery from the lowly utility knife to my personal favorite of the day. Although my standard of keeping the blade/handle/pivot oiled and cleaned without disassembly doesn't meet the standards of some, since it has worked for me in actual use conditions for a half century. I think I will go with what works. Seems a few here agree...

    Last edited: Nov 17, 2020
    Pomsbz, 000Robert and afishhunter like this.
  11. gamma_nyc

    gamma_nyc Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 1, 2007
    I think it would be cool, and analogous to firearm design, if knives could be field stripped without tools. That said, even an Allen wrench take down (a la Chris Reeve) would be nice if it were more common place in the knife industry.

    my pet peeve is having to spend $80 on a custom takedown tool... says all the wrong things about a brand imo.
    tiguy7 likes this.
  12. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    I'll agree with the lube (3 in One oil or "food grade" Mineral Oil) and a means of sharpening. I use a double sided diamond plate and a dry /no polishing compound added leather strop, or the bottom of an empty ceramic coffee mug.
    (If you use the bottom of a not empty ceramic coffee mug, it may make your lap uncomfortably warm, and make a big mess. Just ask my youngest brother :D ...)
    None of my knives have Torx screws/bolts, (nor are they designed to be disassembled) so I don't need a Torx bit set. Since they don't come apart, I've no need for Loctite ... at least not for my knives ...

    I don't understand the "draw" of being able to disassemble a folding knife for cleaning. Why? What's the purpose? I've used folding knifes to clean fish, and field dress, and peel critters. Depending on the size of the critter, I've used the same folding knife to butcher them.
    Rinsing with warm or less than boiling "hot" water gets them "clean".

    You want "sterilized"? Guess what? There ain't no such thing. Anything and everything exposed to the atmosphere for even a fraction of a second, is unsterile/ "contaminated". There are lots of viruses and bacteria in the air, not to mention mold/mushroom/toadstool spores and who knows what plant pollen, in addition to the dust. (some of the "dust particles" is actually itty bitty meteorites, according to "scientists")
    Want proof there is always dust in the air? Look at the back of your TV and the tops of the not built-in fridge, cabinets, and grandfather and/or wall clock(s).
    "Sterile" is a myth. Which is "O.K.", since the immune system usually prevents illness caused by atmospheric contaminates*. :D

    *excludes man made contaminates such as Covid-19, and other BIO weapons.
    The jury is still "out" on those ancient old bacteria and viruses recently discovered in the Permafrost and glaciers, that have been frozen (yet thriving) in the ice, since before the Neanderthal went extinct.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2020
    DMG likes this.
  13. E.D.C.

    E.D.C. Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 7, 2016
    People that take their knives apart like Nick Shabazz work in offices and don't really use their knives.
    MarkN86 and afishhunter like this.
  14. jlauffer

    jlauffer Tempt not the Blade Platinum Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    E.D.C. and Eli Chaps like this.
  15. DocJD


    Jan 29, 2016
    Properly designed and built , with reasonable use and maintenance , a modern folder should never need full disassembly , IMO .

    If you are really needing to regularly disassemble , think about using a fixed blade .

    But accidents and abuse happen , so I do want the option for DIY repairs .

    So please no special tools needed , glue or junky fasteners .
  16. skyhorse

    skyhorse Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 30, 2010
    Seek professional help immediately , there’s medication for these issues nowadays. ;)
    Lesknife likes this.
  17. Bigfattyt


    Jun 23, 2007
    I'm not a disassemble for routine maintenance kind-of guy.

    I have disassembled knives to fix issues.

    I find the tiny screws used to assemble knives delicate, prone to stripping, and to have a limited shelf life if continually taken appart.

    I don't disassemble unless necessary.

    I do oil, clean out with soap and hot water, and blow out with an air compressor and re-oil. Ive had knoves for 25+ years that I've never needed occasion to take appart.
  18. gazz98

    gazz98 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    I've been known to disassemble my knives now and then to check for rust (for those that sit for long periods of time), clean out gunk, and lube the pivot. I don't find it a hassle or inconvenience at all.

    Torx bits are used in electronics, auto, and industry. It's not like I bought a torx set just to maintain a knife.

    As for lube, I tend to use Hoppes 9 or Rem oil, lube I use on my firearms too. Again, no special purchase just for knife maintenance.

    My sharpening stones also keep my kitchen knives, chisels, and other tools sharp. The stones I bought should last my lifetime.
  19. sabre cat

    sabre cat Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 4, 2014
    I would say the biggest problem that I have with folders is pocket lent. No real need to completely tear everything down for that.

    Lately I’ve been known to reach for pretty much only two knives.
    A Benchmade Griptilian and a SAK. One I will not take down in the field and the other I cannot tear down at all. Disassembly in the field is not that important to me.

    I have looked at one of CRKT’s offerings and I liked the knife but was turned off by the fancy disassembly feature. I can’t remember what model. I know was not the one that everybody has made such a fuss over. Sure, it seems like a neat idea but, is it really that useful?

    For the most part the idea of tool free disassembly of a folder is a solution to a nonexistent problem.
    Just a gimmick to sell more products.

    Just my opinion.
  20. The_Knife_Man


    May 30, 2014
    I'd be down with a backspacer that doubles a a breakdown tool.
    sabre cat likes this.

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