Help me fix mah nife
March 11, 2011 6:14 PM   Subscribe

I have one of the Kershaw SpeedSafe knives designed by Ken Onion. A little while ago the knife stopped opening all the way when I pushed on the back of the blade. I've opened it up and now I need a little guidance. There's a bonus question on cleaning / inhibiting rust as well.

It's not all that dirty on the inside, so I'm not sure what's preventing it from fully opening to the locked position. There's some sort of grease where the mechanism is that's a little discolored but that's about it.

1. Does the oil on the inside of the knife need to be wiped down? If so, what should it be replaced with when it's put back together?

2. What else needs to be looked at / cleaned besides the opening mechanism?

Bonus Question

Is 'The Must for Rust' an appropriate product to use for cleaning some very small dots of rust present on both the blade and handle? As you might expect the knife is unpainted but I don't know if the handle is a different alloy from the blade or if that makes any difference.
posted by BigSky to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
A common thing dealers/sellers/shippers do with assisted open knives is to tighten down the pivot screw so it doesn't open "automatically" in order to avoid legal hassles. Loosening the screw a tiny bit (or just open/close a lot) will usually get the knife back into "automatic"/assisted. Some of these knives have two independent sides of the pivot where one side is screwed into the knife handles - it's possible for one can be too loose but the other side is too tight. Sounds like maybe one side got tightened down too much.

Don't use too much oil; a small drop of light mineral oil on the tip of a pin applied to the pivot should be enough. Capillary action will suck the oil in.

Rust spots? You must be living in a very humid region. The handle is most definitely a different material than the blade and ought to be more corrosion resistant than the (high carbon) blade. Is this your everyday carry or is this something you leave in a drawer. Body oils from everyday carry might be enough. Otherwise, wipe it down with a slightly oily cloth (light mineral oil).

Depending on the finish, you might not want to remove the rust with anything harsher than a plastic scrubby pad. There are "rust erasers" that are basically rubber erasers with a fine grit mixed with the rubber. If it's mirror-finished, emery cloth/grit will work.

Do you know the exact model?
posted by porpoise at 6:55 PM on March 11, 2011

Ok, looking at my assisted open, looking a the back of the knife blade down the left pivot is screwed into the right pivot which is screwed into the handle. There are holes for a hex wrench on both.

Loosen (turn counterclockwise when face up) the one on the right a little. If the assisted opens fully, great! If there's too much play (wiggle) on the blade, tighten the left one (clockwise). Or try the reverse.
posted by porpoise at 7:06 PM on March 11, 2011

I own multiple Kershaw knives. Over the years, the Speedsafe has ceased to work properly due to a drop or just over time. Every time (I think I'm on my 3rd knife in about 8 years) I ship it off to them and they rehab or replace the knife. It's really painless if you can be without the knife for 7-10 days.
posted by Phoenix42 at 9:43 PM on March 11, 2011

Best answer: On the inside of these knives, there is a small wireform spring that is responsible for the speedsafe action. It kind of just looks like a bent piece of wire. They do go bad occasionally, and in my experience, it starts by increasingly sluggish performance. You can call Kershaw Knives and either send it in or have them send a new spring, if you're up to doing the work yourself.

Clean the pivots well. Make sure you don't lose the thin washers. Often the washers on either side are a different size, so be careful not to mix them up. Use oil sparingly. The cavity where the spring resides may have some thin grease. A tiny bit of oil will also work. I've had some types of grease stiffen up with age, which could cause problems with the speedsafe mechanism, so I'd stay with the sparing use of oil, unless you have a grease that you know will work well. What kind of oil? A mineral oil based lube. Tons of brands out there, including plain old generic mineral oil.

the screws are Torx head, so it would be wise to use the proper tools. On some models, the main pivot screw isn't firmly anchored on one side, and won't accommodate a driver, so it might be difficult to tighten and/or remove.

The handles are usually a different steel than the blade. Many Kershaw knives have a satin bead-blasted finish. This seems to produce a finish that is unusually prone to specks of rust formation even though the steel is stainless. I'd try rubbing off the rust with a piece of canvas wetted with wd40. If you need more aggression, some Barkeeper's Friend scouring powder, rubbed with the fingertip over the rusty areas should do the trick. However, the stuff is abrasive, so scratching may occur.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:36 PM on March 11, 2011

Response by poster: Until very recently the knife and I were in Houston, which is about as humid as it gets in the U.S. I was rather surprised to see the rust spots appear a few months after purchase. It will be a daily carry, but at the time it was mostly laying on a table.

The model is a Leek 1660.

I bought a Torx screwdriver set yesterday and didn't encounter any problems taking the knife apart. The knife does have the satin bead-blasted finish on both the blade and handle.

My plan is to clean the pivot, add a drop or two of mineral oil and see if that makes a difference. If so, I'll clean off the rust and keep it, otherwise I'll contact Kershaw and see if they'll honor the warranty without the sales slip (Do they really expect their customers to have a receipt months and years after purchase?).

Is naval jelly too strong for the steels used in knife making?

Thank you all for your help.
posted by BigSky at 7:35 AM on March 12, 2011

Kershaw will likely honor the warranty even without the receipt. They sent me a couple spare springs just for the asking.

Naval jelly might work OK. Don't let it stay on too long, or it will etch the stainless.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:33 PM on March 12, 2011

Many knife manufacturers (e.g., Benchmade) are great about working on their knives, often with or without proof of purchase. Benchmade will overhaul and sharpen any of their knives for five bucks -- I've done it a couple of times, and same with Leatherman tools. Here's Kershaw's warranty page: They'll even call you before doing any work!

Note that an automatic knife can only be worked on by a dealer, so find one in your area and give them a call.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:36 AM on March 14, 2011

Just send it to Kershaw. They are located south of Portland, OR and have great warranty. Twice now I have walked in and asked to get my knife sharpened. The first time they said the blade was loose (I didnt notice) and replaced it no questions asked. Second time they sharpened it. So +1 for their warranty.
posted by NotSoSimple at 10:57 PM on March 14, 2011

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