“Take good care of your things and they’ll last longer.”
This was a lesson that was drilled into my husband’s head as a child, as he came from a big family that didn’t have much money. This same lesson can be applied to knife care. If you take the time to care for your knife properly, you can extend the knife’s life, and who doesn’t want something that’s going to last for a long time?
There are some super easy things you can do to avoid shortening your knife’s life. They’re pretty basic practices, but it’s good to re-visit general knife care and maintenance every once in a while as a refresher.
Easy Knife Care Tips
1. Keep the blade clean and dry
Keeping the blade dry is especially important for knives with high carbon content and other blades that are more susceptible to corrosion, like blades with bead-blasted finishes, but it’s a good practice for all knives. Even stainless steel knives aren’t completely immune to rusting.
Now, this is probably a “duh!” factoid for most of you, but I’m going to say it anyway. If your blade gets something on it, you should wipe it off. I happen to know an individual who used his OTF to cut an apple in his lunch every day, and (you guessed it) he always failed to clean off the blade before retracting it. As you can imagine, this did not fare well for the blade. Eventually, the OTF wouldn’t fire at all.
Some oils work well to get sticky stuff off your blade, like these ones:
2. Oil it regularly
If your knife isn’t opening smoothly or if you’ve just used your knife to cut something that was moist, it’s a good idea to oil your blade and dry it. Also, if it’s been a long time since you oiled your knife, it’s a good idea to get on that. Now, what constitutes a “long time?” That’s definitely subjective, but we recommend oiling the pivot areas of the knife at least every 2 months.
Regularly oiling your knife can help prevent corrosion. ESEE knives are made of high carbon, and even though they don’t fold, it’s important to keep them well oiled. Their blades are typically powder coated, but the edge usually isn’t, so it will need special care and attention.
If you fail to oil your folding knife regularly, it could also develop grinding action, which can put a bit more stress on the action itself. This can lead to wear and tear, and then eventually the knife could break down. This doesn’t always happen, but it can.
Here are some oils we recommend:
3. Tighten the screws
Make sure keep your screws tight. If you don’t, it can create problems in your knife such as blade play and off centering. Also, losing screws if they fall out can lead to issues with the structural integrity of your knife. If you have a screw that just won’t stay tight (don’t let your expectations get too high though because screws will get loose over time—it’s just one of those things in life), try using a bit of medium strength thread locker. You can get some here at Blade HQ. For a good lube and oil, try using the Sentry Solutions Tuf-Cloth and Tuf-Glide. With those simple tools and some tender love and care, your favorite knife will live to serve you for years to come.
Here’s another great option:
4. Don’t use the knife for things it wasn’t intended for
You’ve seen people use their knives for things they weren’t intended for. It’s a painful thing to watch. If you paid ten bucks for a cheap beater knife, by all means, use that knife for whatever your heart desires. But, if you paid a decent amount for a knife that you’d like to last a long time, be mindful of what knife you’re holding. There are plenty of knives that can take abuse, but I wouldn’t recommend using an OTF or a knife with a thin tip for prying. That’s just asking for something to break.
It’s even good to be mindful of others who want to borrow your knife. If you have no idea what they’re using it for and they try to cut the mortar out of a brick or something (it’s happened), you might be a little disappointed when they give it back to you. But that’s just a hunch.
5. Store the knife properly
Sheaths aren’t inherently bad for your knives, but you shouldn’t store your knife in a leather sheath because they’re more likely to cause your knife to rust. Kydex sheaths are typically friendlier for storing knives.
In general, use common sense when storing your knife. If you’re camping in a humid environment or you know it’s likely to rain or snow, don’t leave your knife unsheathed and outside of your tent. Rust is real, and it happens.
Also, please don’t toss all your knives in a shoe box together.
(Sharpening is another thing to include in your regular knife maintenance, though it may or may not lengthen your knife’s life. It sure makes them more effective, though! Get your sharpeners at Blade HQ.)
These aren’t the only ways you can extend your knife’s life. What other knife care tactics have you used to keep your knife around longer? Have you seen your friends do anything with their knives that made you cringe?