EverydayCommentary: An Epidemic Is Afflicting Knives

Over the years I have been a big proponent of avoiding “out of the box” evaluations of knives. While, of course, I prefer my knives sharp and tight out of the box, I came at this knife thing from woodworking where chisels and planes are shipped “pretty sharp” with an expectation that the end user would finish the job. So if knife needs a bit of stropping once it gets to its home, I am not bothered. I am also not super concerned if a knife needs a screw or two tightened. But this past year, things got really bad on this front. Dozens of knives I have handled for reviews and otherwise have had not just a bit of wiggle but outright sloppy pivots. I used more Loc Tite (Blue 242 if your curious) 2023 than all 14 years combined.

When I got the Hinderer Compact Dauntless, I, like a lot of other people in that first batch, had to use some Loc Tite. No big deal—open up the knife, dab a bit on the pivot, and then cinch it down until it is just right. After that it has remained as stationary as a statue for years now. But the knives coming across the review desk now, they come sloppy and stay sloppy. Its hard to evaluate this because I am not sure, absent something like the outcry for the Compact Dauntless, if this is just my review sample or if it is ALL of the knives being made.

It is also different than it used to be. The old school Benchmade Axis lock knives, pre-Bugout, always had a bit of slop in them. It was just how they made the lock. But the locked up fine, wiggled a little, and open and closed fine. It also didn’t get worse over time. What I am seeing now is not only getting worse over time, its to the point where some of the knives just fail eventually. I have had a few knives that simply stopped locking up. That’s a real problem.

It is ironic that all of this is happening now when machining has never been better. Entry level knives from China are coming in with PERFECT lock up—like the CRJB Pyrite—so when knives over $100 from good companies come in with loose pivots there is a problem. It means that this is not a capability issue but a attention issue. And for that, as a reviewer, I have absolutely no mercy. If you don’t care enough to make a wobble free knife when you can, I can’t possibly care about issuing a low review score.

Interesting observation. I can’t say I have perused the breadth of knife pivots that Anthony has in the past year, but his observation about how sharp tools come from the factory rings true. I would never expect a plane or chisel to be at peak performance when first unboxed. Putting a final tune up should not be unexpected.

Read the whole thing at EverydayCommentary