Philosophy of locks

Discuss Spyderco's products and history.

How important is lock strength to YOU?

Somewhat important
46
59%
Not at all
5
6%
Very
21
27%
Wait, you guys use locking knives?!
6
8%
 
Total votes: 78

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Albatross
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Philosophy of locks

Postby Albatross » Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:45 am

The thread about liner lock failures got me thinking; how important is a strong lock?

I guess I'm confused about why lock strength is so important. Obviously you don't want a blade prematurely closing on you, but I use slip joints regularly, and have never had an issue. I use a SAK for wood carving and used it to make a shelter for my nephew and I to camp out in, by cutting large branches to length with nothing but the main blade. I've done the same with liner locks and never had an issue.

I've been wondering how much of this is due to advertising.

There are 2 scenarios I can think of that would test a lock, during regular use. The first is getting the blade stuck in a dense material and pulling up on the handle, while the blade remains in place. The second is pressing down on the blade itself, while holding the handle. Both put force on the lock and could cause a failure. Other than downward force, the only other type of failure I've seen is hitting the spine of the blade. How often do people do that with folders though and why? Aside from testing a lock or using a folder for bushcraft(again, why?) I don't see a reason to hit the spine of a folder.

With all the talk of lock failures, I'm wondering how anyone in the UK still has their digits. Or how my father and grandfather weren't reduced to fingerless abominations.

Joking aside, does it all come down to use, technique, or is it all just marketing?

What are your experiences with locks failing or not failing?
sal wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:01 pm

...But in general, I'm all about high performance, Ergos, safety. That's why I've been accused of "deigning in the dark"...

sal

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Ankerson
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Ankerson » Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:56 am

You don't cut things with the spine of the folder. :D

Have I ever had a folder close up on me?

Oh yeah, have when I was younger and using only slip joints it happened a few times.

My own fault though doing things I shouldn't have been doing. Like drilling when I should have been using a fixed blade.....
Last edited by Ankerson on Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:03 am, edited 3 times in total.

ABX2011
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby ABX2011 » Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:58 am

I don't see that much emphasis on lock strength amongst consumers. Lock reliablity, sure. Absolute strength, not really.
Sure, marketing plays a big role but knife preferences have always had strong roots in fantasy. "Survival knives" come to mind. Knife collecting can drive sales based simply upon the color of scale material.
Even steel type which has obvious practical application, is clealy underutilized. Just look at the number of super steel knives that are resold are NIB. And often the ones that are used extensively are done so as part of a testing program. Not many people need extreme edge holding.
So it's no surprise to me that knife buyers value lock strength and one company in particular caters to that desire.

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Enactive » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:02 am

For many of us, myself included, one of the biggest concerns regarding lock types is how well the lock keeps the knives closed.

This may be related to having grown up with slip joints and valuing the strong self-closing bias and unlikelihood of opening in-pocket.

I think the liner lock failure thread sprang from a misunderstanding of the complaint about them in the discussion of the Bradley liner locks in the Sal's bombshell thread.

"Lock strength" per se isn't so important to me, but I prefer backlocks because of the self close and unlikelihood of opening in pocket. I tolerate a few comp lock, frame lock and liner lock knives too. I prefer a very strong detent on detent-based locks.

I still buy and use slip joints and modern knives. Have yet to have one fold on me in use.

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kennethsime
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby kennethsime » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:07 am

I answered "somewhat important." It really depends on the knife.

Like you, I've used my slip-jointed Swiss Army Knife for tasks that are probably above it's pay grade, but knowing that it's a slip joint you can be sure to avoid common modes of failure.

I've had cheap liner locks in the past, and when the locks fail on me there wasn't any bias towards staying open left; the knife was essentially done. When the liner starts to fail such that the blade wobbles, I'm no longer comfortable using it; I'd rather use my slip joint!

I've never worried about my Spyderco back-locks or compression locks. I've also never worried about Benchmade axis locks, or Buck's back locks.

Around 10 years ago, a certain knife company made a real big to-do about the strength of the locking mechanisms in their folding knives. I never found this to be an attractive selling point, but then again I didn't much care for the rest of the knife (ergonomics, fit & finish, performance, design, marketing strategy, company ethics) in the first place. I did notice the knives were a big it among the YouTube community, and especially the Tacticool crowd.

I think innovation is great, and lock strength sure is one place to innovate. But is it my chief concern? Nope.
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Ankerson
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Ankerson » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:14 am

kennethsime wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:07 am
I answered "somewhat important." It really depends on the knife.

Like you, I've used my slip-jointed Swiss Army Knife for tasks that are probably above it's pay grade, but knowing that it's a slip joint you can be sure to avoid common modes of failure.

I've had cheap liner locks in the past, and when the locks fail on me there wasn't any bias towards staying open left; the knife was essentially done. When the liner starts to fail such that the blade wobbles, I'm no longer comfortable using it; I'd rather use my slip joint!

I've never worried about my Spyderco back-locks or compression locks. I've also never worried about Benchmade axis locks, or Buck's back locks.

Around 10 years ago, a certain knife company made a real big to-do about the strength of the locking mechanisms in their folding knives. I never found this to be an attractive selling point, but then again I didn't much care for the rest of the knife (ergonomics, fit & finish, performance, design, marketing strategy, company ethics) in the first place. I did notice the knives were a big it among the YouTube community, and especially the Tacticool crowd.

I think innovation is great, and lock strength sure is one place to innovate. But is it my chief concern? Nope.

Cold Steel has always focused on performance and lock strength from the beginning.

I still have some OLD Cold Steel knives that I have had since the 80's.

I like a lot of their older designs better than some of the newer ones, but that's just my opinion. That's when their knives were much plainer simpler designs. Their old Voyagers were fantastic knives.
Last edited by Ankerson on Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:29 am, edited 2 times in total.

ABX2011
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby ABX2011 » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:17 am

You could argue that slip joints shouldn't be made anymore because they are inferior to locking knives. Except due to legality.
How about a recent trend in folding knives - using bearings? Titanium framelock flipper on bearings. You need that! Add another to the collection.
Knife desires aren't based on what's practical.
Last edited by ABX2011 on Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Albatross » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:18 am

Enactive wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:02 am
For many of us, myself included, one of the biggest concerns regarding lock types is how well the lock keeps the knives closed.

This may be related to having grown up with slip joints and valuing the strong self-closing bias and unlikelihood of opening in-pocket.

I think the liner lock failure thread sprang from a misunderstanding of the complaint about them in the discussion of the Bradley liner locks in the Sal's bombshell thread.

"Lock strength" per se isn't so important to me, but I prefer backlocks because of the self close and unlikelihood of opening in pocket. I tolerate a few comp lock, frame lock and liner lock knives too. I prefer a very strong detent on detent-based locks.

I still buy and use slip joints and modern knives. Have yet to have one fold on me in use.
What you're describing is detent. Back locks don't have a detent, but the lockbar acts as one, using spring tension to keep the blade in the closed position.
sal wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:01 pm

...But in general, I'm all about high performance, Ergos, safety. That's why I've been accused of "deigning in the dark"...

sal

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Enactive » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:26 am

Albatross wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:18 am
Enactive wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:02 am
For many of us, myself included, one of the biggest concerns regarding lock types is how well the lock keeps the knives closed.

This may be related to having grown up with slip joints and valuing the strong self-closing bias and unlikelihood of opening in-pocket.

I think the liner lock failure thread sprang from a misunderstanding of the complaint about them in the discussion of the Bradley liner locks in the Sal's bombshell thread.

"Lock strength" per se isn't so important to me, but I prefer backlocks because of the self close and unlikelihood of opening in pocket. I tolerate a few comp lock, frame lock and liner lock knives too. I prefer a very strong detent on detent-based locks.

I still buy and use slip joints and modern knives. Have yet to have one fold on me in use.
What you're describing is detent. Back locks don't have a detent, but the lockbar acts as one, using spring tension to keep the blade in the closed position.
Why are you trying to correct me? You should read what i wrote more carefully before responding. I know what a detent and detent ball are and that backlocks do not have them. Nowhere did i say otherwise.

That backlocks are not detent-based for keeping the blade closed is precisely why i mostly prefer them. I still think "lock strength" is not all that important for me.

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby James Y » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:29 am

This is only my opinion...

I’ve never seen the value of spine whacking a knife. For one thing, whether you realize it or not, by doing that, you are messing up the knife’s tolerances bit by bit. So, depending on how much and how vigorously it’s been whacked, it’s already been compromised to some degree. It’s like driving a car into a wall at 20 to 30 MPH to see how the car holds up in a crash, and if the airbag deploys.

Like others, I’ve used SAKs and traditional slipjoints since the 1970s; and later, for nearly a 20-year period in my life, the only knife(s) I carried were slipjoints, and I never once even came close to having one accidentally close on me. This is because, with slipjoints, I was taught safe knife handling and was mindful during use, even when they were used a lot. I HAVE accidentally cut myself, but not because of a lock failure, or because a slipjoint accidentally slipped closed on me.

Now, as far as locks go, I want reliability. Not because I plan to test my knife, like in those Russian YouTube videos, but because if I buy a knife, I want its features to work properly without any flaws when new out of the box. I don’t want blade play in the locked position, because that means I got a flawed product. But for the most part, I treat my knives as slipjoints during use, and think of the lock as a backup safety feature. Plus, various lock styles fascinate me.

Jim

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Albatross » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:32 am

Enactive wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:26 am
Albatross wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:18 am
Enactive wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:02 am
For many of us, myself included, one of the biggest concerns regarding lock types is how well the lock keeps the knives closed.

This may be related to having grown up with slip joints and valuing the strong self-closing bias and unlikelihood of opening in-pocket.

I think the liner lock failure thread sprang from a misunderstanding of the complaint about them in the discussion of the Bradley liner locks in the Sal's bombshell thread.

"Lock strength" per se isn't so important to me, but I prefer backlocks because of the self close and unlikelihood of opening in pocket. I tolerate a few comp lock, frame lock and liner lock knives too. I prefer a very strong detent on detent-based locks.

I still buy and use slip joints and modern knives. Have yet to have one fold on me in use.
What you're describing is detent. Back locks don't have a detent, but the lockbar acts as one, using spring tension to keep the blade in the closed position.
Why are you trying to correct me? You should read what i wrote more carefully before responding. I know what a detent and detent ball are and that backlocks do not have them. Nowhere did i say otherwise.

That backlocks are not detent-based for keeping the blade closed is precisely why i mostly prefer them. I still think "lock strength" is not all that important for me.
I did read your post and didn't intend to be offensive. The line in bold needed some clarification, if for nothing else than less knowledgeable readers, who will see that and mistake lock strength for detent strength.
sal wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:01 pm

...But in general, I'm all about high performance, Ergos, safety. That's why I've been accused of "deigning in the dark"...

sal

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Enactive » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:53 am

Albatross wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:32 am
Enactive wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:26 am
Albatross wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:18 am
Enactive wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:02 am
For many of us, myself included, one of the biggest concerns regarding lock types is how well the lock keeps the knives closed.

This may be related to having grown up with slip joints and valuing the strong self-closing bias and unlikelihood of opening in-pocket.

I think the liner lock failure thread sprang from a misunderstanding of the complaint about them in the discussion of the Bradley liner locks in the Sal's bombshell thread.

"Lock strength" per se isn't so important to me, but I prefer backlocks because of the self close and unlikelihood of opening in pocket. I tolerate a few comp lock, frame lock and liner lock knives too. I prefer a very strong detent on detent-based locks.

I still buy and use slip joints and modern knives. Have yet to have one fold on me in use.
What you're describing is detent. Back locks don't have a detent, but the lockbar acts as one, using spring tension to keep the blade in the closed position.
Why are you trying to correct me? You should read what i wrote more carefully before responding. I know what a detent and detent ball are and that backlocks do not have them. Nowhere did i say otherwise.

That backlocks are not detent-based for keeping the blade closed is precisely why i mostly prefer them. I still think "lock strength" is not all that important for me.
I did read your post and didn't intend to be offensive. The line in bold needed some clarification, if for nothing else than less knowledgeable readers, who will see that and mistake lock strength for detent strength.
OK.

I like big backsprings and I can not lie...

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby kennethsime » Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:02 pm

Ankerson wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:14 am
Cold Steel has always focused on performance and lock strength from the beginning.

I still have some OLD Cold Steel knives that I have had since the 80's.

I like a lot of their older designs better than some of the newer ones, but that's just my opinion. That's when their knives were much plainer simpler designs. Their old Voyagers were fantastic knives.
I'll agree, the older knives with the simpler designs were better, especially some of the fixed-blade designs offered in San Mai. I also like the value in their swords, because those are just cool for what they are. But the folders just never really struck me.
C90GRE Stretch 2 ZDP-189 British Racing Green
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C12BK2W Matriarch 2 VG-10 Emerson Open
C81G2 Para Military 2 S30V
C81GPRGR2 Para Military 2 K390 Ranger Green
C223GPRGR Para 3 K390 Ranger Green
C90FPIV2 Stretch 2 Straight Spine, VG-10 Rit Dye'd Dark Apple Green
C223GP Para 3 S30V Green Canvas Micarta

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Albatross
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Albatross » Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:04 pm

Enactive wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:53 am
Albatross wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:32 am
Enactive wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:26 am
Albatross wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:18 am


What you're describing is detent. Back locks don't have a detent, but the lockbar acts as one, using spring tension to keep the blade in the closed position.
Why are you trying to correct me? You should read what i wrote more carefully before responding. I know what a detent and detent ball are and that backlocks do not have them. Nowhere did i say otherwise.

That backlocks are not detent-based for keeping the blade closed is precisely why i mostly prefer them. I still think "lock strength" is not all that important for me.
I did read your post and didn't intend to be offensive. The line in bold needed some clarification, if for nothing else than less knowledgeable readers, who will see that and mistake lock strength for detent strength.
OK.

I like big backsprings and I can not lie...
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sal wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:01 pm

...But in general, I'm all about high performance, Ergos, safety. That's why I've been accused of "deigning in the dark"...

sal

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Enactive » Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:15 pm

LOLZ!

Happy New Year!

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Joey » Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:37 pm

I would probably be less picky, but I had a cheap Gerber liner lock “fail” onto my pinky about 5 years ago, and I’ve been wary ever since. Lock strength is somewhat important to me!
Happy New Years!

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby curlyhairedboy » Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:04 pm

I'd say lock strength is very important to me. You can do a lot of cuts with a slipjoint and good technique. Where a strong lock saves you are the edge cases where you have limited access/range of motion. Sometimes you don't have the freedom to use the best technique. In those instances I like knowing I have a reliable lock keeping my fingers safe.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby navin johnson » Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:11 pm

I choose back locks anymore do to blade security as I carry IWB or bottom of pocket often. Comp., liner, and CBBL have all opened on me at the wrong time except when carried in jeans or neck sheath. Wouldn't consider a flipper ever.

I choose folders that provide hand protection so lock strength is not high on my priority list. Debris or not riding the blade till full lock are far more likely to cause failure in a quality folder.

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby James Y » Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:12 pm

To me, lock reliability and safety in use (both while in the locked position and during the unlocking/closing phase) are more important than its brute strength.

Jim

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby tbdoc4kids » Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:15 pm

Lock reliability and lock strength mean different things to me. I am not going to hammer a folder into a tree and use it as a step, nor am I going to stab a folder into a rock. However, if I am in an awkward position I want my folder to not shut onto my fingers when I am cutting something or trying to penetrate some material. Lock strength doesn’t need to be tremendous, but the lock does need to keep the knife open.

Weak detents are frustrating and unsafe, as well as making small flippers almost useless. The flip side (😜) is the detent that is so strong I can’t get the knife open. My recent Ikuchi was a bear and is only now getting tolerable.

Happy New Year!


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