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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MichaelScott
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby MichaelScott » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:28 am

I think I have had every locking mechanism that Spyderco makes except for the ceramic ball bearing. Over the years I have shed all of my locking folders but one. It’s in a drawer somewhere.

I have cut myself with fixed blades, locking folders and slip joints. It has never been because of the knife design but because I got momentarily stupid. These days I have, use and enjoy traditional slip joints. Mostly I have Great Eastern Cutlery and one Case knife. If I use them properly, as I was taught many years ago, I have no worries that a blade will close and cut me, except if I don’t close it properly myself. But this is true whether a knife has a locking mechanism or not.

For me, and I stress that subjective perspective, I prefer traditional slip joints. Not so much because they are slip joints but because they are traditional in design and harken back to the days of my childhood memories of my first knives and most especially of my grandfather’s knives.

Each to his own, of course. In my view I think that for the vast majority of folding knife users, locking mechanisms are not necessary.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Woodpuppy » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:58 am

So are you using a Spyderco slipit? No more locking spydies?
:spyder: My other blade is a Kelly Perfect :spyder:

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby JonLeBlanc » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:04 am

I had to say "very" because I reckon that if a knife has a lock, it's gotta be essentially fail-proof under normal use conditions. That said, I haven't encountered any lock type used by Spyderco that doesn't fulfill that criterion, so it isn't something I generally worry about.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Bill1170 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 5:55 pm

Doc Dan wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:46 pm
Lock strength is very important logically otherwise why have a fixed blade? Liner locks have significant advantages and that they can be open back construction. That can be handy. However they are not very strong compared to other lock types. When I workEd heating and air-conditioning in new construction and when we had Our small ranch we discouraged people from using Linerlocks as I have seen them fail and people get cut severely many times. Of course it’s best not to trust any lock but sometimes you have to. If I’m going to have to put my faith in a lock it’s going to be one that’s strong.
Same here. A locking folder in my pocket is very handy on the jobsite. I only use back locks, compression locks, and CBBL’s for work knives because I trust them to remain locked. A fixed blade is inconvenient to carry, and subject to more draconian restrictions in my state than folding knives are.

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Doc Dan » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:27 pm

The goal of any good lock should be a higher and not lower standard. The goal should be to have a folding knife with a lock that would make it as strong as a fixed blade.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Notsurewhy » Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:31 am

Doc Dan wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:27 pm
The goal of any good lock should be a higher and not lower standard. The goal should be to have a folding knife with a lock that would make it as strong as a fixed blade.
I would argue that trying to make a folding knife as strong as a fixed blade makes as much sense as trying to make a Miata that can tow like a truck. You end up with a Miata that handles like a truck and still can't tow as well. Or a folder that's as heavy and awkward to carry as a fixed blade but still not as strong and will never have the ergonomic advantages of a gapless handle. Scout carry of a 3-4" fixed blade is probably no less comfortable than carrying half a pound of folder in your pocket for most people. Carry whatever makes you happy of course. I'll always be on the side of more variety and for people to advocate for what they want, I just don't think it's entirely rational (but that's okay ;) )

The argument goes out the window in areas with silly laws against fixed blade carry.

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Tapik » Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:42 am

Very important for a larger knives, I suppose. When you need to cut through something big, the last thing you want is a lock failure.

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Albatross » Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:04 am

Doc Dan wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:27 pm
The goal of any good lock should be a higher and not lower standard. The goal should be to have a folding knife with a lock that would make it as strong as a fixed blade.
When a folder is made to compete with fixed blades, the lock isn't the weak point, it's the pivot, stop pin(s), and blade. Plenty of makers can come up with, or already have a lock strong enough to fit the bill, but Cold Steel's testing has shown quite a few blades and pivots snap, before a lock failure.

This kind of use is probably beyond what most will need or ever attempt.

After reading about the need for this type of folder due to regional laws, I can see the appeal for some.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Wartstein » Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:34 am

No lock type executed by Spyderco ever failed on me in keeping the blade locked open or even felt like that potentially could happen.
So for me it certainly is important that a lock is at least as strong as any Spyderco-lock I´ve tried so far is anyway, but if one is theoretically even stronger than the other does not matter to me. It´s for different reasons I prefer backlock and CBBL over other types of locks.

That being said: If there´d be a lock "strong" and sturdy enoughso that I could (rather lightly) baton a folder without disengaging the lock and without any risk of damaging the lock by doing so, that would be a big plus (don´t know if the CS triad lock is that lock, never tried).
There just are situations where I have to baton my folders (lightly, as said) in order to process smaller branches for fire starting (and I do so with the blade unlocked)
Last edited by Wartstein on Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Doc Dan » Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:04 am

Notsurewhy wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:31 am
Doc Dan wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:27 pm
The goal of any good lock should be a higher and not lower standard. The goal should be to have a folding knife with a lock that would make it as strong as a fixed blade.
I would argue that trying to make a folding knife as strong as a fixed blade makes as much sense as trying to make a Miata that can tow like a truck. You end up with a Miata that handles like a truck and still can't tow as well. Or a folder that's as heavy and awkward to carry as a fixed blade but still not as strong and will never have the ergonomic advantages of a gapless handle. Scout carry of a 3-4" fixed blade is probably no less comfortable than carrying half a pound of folder in your pocket for most people. Carry whatever makes you happy of course. I'll always be on the side of more variety and for people to advocate for what they want, I just don't think it's entirely rational (but that's okay ;) )

The argument goes out the window in areas with silly laws against fixed blade carry.
Not to be disrespectful in any way but I would like to point out the following.

This is an argument by false analogy so I cannot agree with your assessment. Knives are not remotely similar to automobiles.

There is no rational reason not to want as strong a lock as possible. Breaking a pivot properly hardened is beyond the force a human can exert and is not the same thing as lock strength, so again your comparison fails, I’m afraid.

Additionally, many fixed blades are lighter than comparable folders, plus folders do not need to be heavy to be strong, so the argument doesn’t work, either.

I don’t like heavy knives either so I would not advocate for that.

The whole idea behind a lock is to make a folder more like a fixed blade instead of a non locking knife and to make knives safer. It has always been like this and the hunt has been on since locks were invented. Even the antiquated liner lock was conceived fir this purpose.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby carrot » Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:03 am

I have had plenty of non-Spyderco liner locks fail. It's happened often enough, under surprisingly light duty circumstances, that I value lock reliability over all else when choosing a locking folder.

On the traditional side of things, the ring lock on Opinels is almost useless, so when I remove an avocado pit I have to work very carefully to keep the blade from folding into the handle.

The same reason we carry locking blades at all is the same reason Spyderco Slip-Its are not as popular as they should be: one side of the blade is sharp, and for safety reasons it's good if they don't shut unintentionally. There's no reason a lock shouldn't be made as strong as it can be in a given knife design.

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby rybu0305 » Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:16 am

Modern knife locks are all pretty reliable especially if the knife is being used for the purpose which is was designed. What is more important to me is function and consistency. That is one reason I prefer CBBL over other locks. The experience when opening a closing a CBBL is very consistent and can be done the same every time. Compare this to every compression lock I have owned. Some drop free some don't. If you do not use the same force on the lock bar each time you get inconsistent behavior. I am not trying to start a lock war just pointing out why function and consistency is more important to me than strength. I have never had a lock fail when using a knife for its intended purpose.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby anycal » Fri Jan 03, 2020 5:23 pm

I grew up with slipjoints; I was probably 8 when I got my first one. We spent a lot of time outdoors, so everyone had some kind of a knife. I didn't own a locking folder until I was 18?

I own and use all four of the common locks used in Spyderco knives - liner/frame, compression, CBB, and back/mid. Used them all in some sort of hard-ish scenario with no issue. For my purposes, and from my experience, the :spyder: lockup mechanism has never been a problem for me.

With each lock type I can point to something which I like and dislike. And although I know which is my least favorite, I would have much harder time picking a favorite. It depends on the knife - size, shape, handle material.

I thought about it this way. If my knife (PM2) came in any of the locks, it would still be my favorite.

So yes, the lock strength and/or reliability is important to me. But since I don't have a reason to feel any of them are inferior, there are other factors just as important to me in choosing a knife.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Kels73 » Sat Jan 04, 2020 9:17 am

I'm concerned about lock reliability. I don't want the knife to close until I choose to close it.

The only common lock mechanism that gives me some concern is the liner lock. I will use a knife with a liner lock, but only if that model has a proven track record. I'm also wary of liner lock mechanisms that can easily be released by the fat of my finger during use. I had that happen once.

As for brute strength, I question how necessary it is. I can see it being a concern in certain applications like self-defense. But even then, how much is really needed?

I'm all for strong locks, provided they don't cause a dramatic increase in cost, weight, or complexity. But extreme lock strength isn't going to tip the scale in favor of one knife over another when I'm making my next purchase.

I don't need a lock to be as strong as it can be. I just need it to be strong enough.

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Wartstein » Sat Jan 04, 2020 9:53 am

Kels73 wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 9:17 am
I'm concerned about lock reliability. I don't want the knife to close until I choose to close it.

The only common lock mechanism that gives me some concern is the liner lock. I will use a knife with a liner lock, but only if that model has a proven track record. I'm also wary of liner lock mechanisms that can easily be released by the fat of my finger during use. I had that happen once.

As for brute strength, I question how necessary it is. I can see it being a concern in certain applications like self-defense. But even then, how much is really needed?

I'm all for strong locks, provided they don't cause a dramatic increase in cost, weight, or complexity. But extreme lock strength isn't going to tip the scale in favor of one knife over another when I'm making my next purchase.

I don't need a lock to be as strong as it can be. I just need it to be strong enough.

Really, the only application where "brute strength" or maybe rather sturdiness and holding up to that kind of impact over time is (rather light) batoning.

I am NOT one of those in my eyes rather questionable knife-users who always baton their blades whenever they can.

But just from practical experience: There is nothing better for producing very fine kindling (out of smaller branches or pieces of wood) for fire starting than batoning with a rather small blade (a hatchet for example is much unwieldier in that particular task).

So if I don´t have a fixed blade with me, it would just be a bit more convinient not having to unlock the blade for (light) batoning. But really that´s just a very minor issue.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Kels73 » Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:31 am

Wartstein wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 9:53 am
Kels73 wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 9:17 am
I'm concerned about lock reliability. I don't want the knife to close until I choose to close it.

The only common lock mechanism that gives me some concern is the liner lock. I will use a knife with a liner lock, but only if that model has a proven track record. I'm also wary of liner lock mechanisms that can easily be released by the fat of my finger during use. I had that happen once.

As for brute strength, I question how necessary it is. I can see it being a concern in certain applications like self-defense. But even then, how much is really needed?

I'm all for strong locks, provided they don't cause a dramatic increase in cost, weight, or complexity. But extreme lock strength isn't going to tip the scale in favor of one knife over another when I'm making my next purchase.

I don't need a lock to be as strong as it can be. I just need it to be strong enough.

Really, the only application where "brute strength" or maybe rather sturdiness and holding up to that kind of impact over time is (rather light) batoning.

I am NOT one of those in my eyes rather questionable knife-users who always baton their blades whenever they can.

But just from practical experience: There is nothing better for producing very fine kindling (out of smaller branches or pieces of wood) for fire starting than batoning with a rather small blade (a hatchet for example is much unwieldier in that particular task).

So if I don´t have a fixed blade with me, it would just be a bit more convinient not having to unlock the blade for (light) batoning. But really that´s just a very minor issue.
I agree with your comments on batoning. I'm inclined to add self-defense to the list too. A powerful, adrenaline-fueled stab in reverse grip that inadvertently strikes heavy bone or metal can put tremendous stress on a lock. I don't carry folding knives as dedicated self-defense weapons, so I don't have this concern. However some do, so I feel it's worth mentioning.

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Tucson Tom » Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:01 am

I have often thought that all this fuss about lock strength is misplaced. After all, slip joint knives are popular in some circles and used to be all there was in the world I lived in when I was younger. Slip joint knives are not known for incredible lock strength, but have been and still are the go-to for many people.

It comes down to how you handle the knife really. What are you doing that requires fantastic lock strength? Most of this is armchair quarterbacking.

The problem, insofar as there is a problem, is that once you have a locking knife, people may start doing things with it that maybe they shouldn't, though I am hard pressed to imagine just what. Drilling or trying to stab the knife through tough material? It seems to me that you could baton with a slip joint, though I have yet to do any batoning, and even being an avid backpacker I don't see much or any in my future.

Mind you, I don't carry slip joints myself. I am not sure I even own one, and I am glad to have locking knves. I don't think that anything I do with a knife makes my safety depend on lock strength. I am sure there are "hard use" people out there who will tell me about what they do every day that demands a strong lock (maybe they should be using a fixed blade?).

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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby Wartstein » Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:30 am

Tucson Tom wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:01 am
I have often thought that all this fuss about lock strength is misplaced. After all, slip joint knives are popular in some circles and used to be all there was in the world I lived in when I was younger. Slip joint knives are not known for incredible lock strength, but have been and still are the go-to for many people.

It comes down to how you handle the knife really. What are you doing that requires fantastic lock strength? Most of this is armchair quarterbacking.

The problem, insofar as there is a problem, is that once you have a locking knife, people may start doing things with it that maybe they shouldn't, though I am hard pressed to imagine just what. Drilling or trying to stab the knife through tough material? It seems to me that you could baton with a slip joint, though I have yet to do any batoning, and even being an avid backpacker I don't see much or any in my future.

Mind you, I don't carry slip joints myself. I am not sure I even own one, and I am glad to have locking knves. I don't think that anything I do with a knife makes my safety depend on lock strength. I am sure there are "hard use" people out there who will tell me about what they do every day that demands a strong lock (maybe they should be using a fixed blade?).
Tom, just courious and with all respect: You never saw any advantage in batoning in order to produce material for firestarting or making firewood generally?

Maybe it´s cause you presumably live in a dry climate.
But where I live, there are rather wet and humid coniditions quite often (both from rain and snow) and in order to get good kindling for fire starting one has to get to the still dry core of branches and smaller pieces of wood that are soaken wet on the outside. And really, batoning a blade is the best way to do so (a LOT better and more controlled than using a hatchet, when it is about splitting just very small stuff). Sure a fixed blade is the way to go, but if I happen to only carry a folder, I´ll take that one (and unlock the blade before batoning)

And even splitting just some a bit larger pieces of wood in order to get materail for a quicker heat development when the fire is already burning, is easier to do by batoning a in that case larger fixed blade than to take a hatchet imho.

A hatchet is great for splitting really larger and multible pieces of wood / logs imho.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby MichaelScott » Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:06 am

Woodpuppy wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:58 am
So are you using a Spyderco slipit? No more locking spydies?
I have a Chaparral FRN. My few others are Great Eastern Cutlery or Case (and the jury is still out on the Case), and my old SAK Tinker I bought from the ship’s store in 1962, and my Buck 112 which I got sometime in the 1979s.
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Re: Philosophy of locks

Postby MichaelScott » Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:15 am

Also, I have to agree with Doc Dan, I am sure that the reason folder locks were developed initially was to provide increased safety for those who needed it, or felt that they did. Lock design should strive to be reliable — always working as designed — fail-safe even under the “stupid user” rule, and impossible to disengage without a user’s purposeful intent to do so.

Possible? Probably not but characteristics to be striven for.
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