We are going to give you several ideas and solutions to help you keep your knife in tip-top shape. Having a well-maintained knife will save you from a headache and losing some money. You’ll be surprised at what all needs to go into a well-kept knife.
When you first get a pocket knife, this is the best time to start developing good habits of keeping a knife in good working order. Daily/weekly habits will make all the difference in the long run. Those habits include cleaning the blade after each use (or at least daily), a regular cleaning of the inside of the knife, the occasional sharpening of the blade, keeping the knife dry, and keeping the knife well oiled. No need to worry, we will go into how to do each of these. There is even an acronym to help remember all of these tasks: that acronym is D.O.C.S. which stands for the following:
This will help you to remember what you need to care for your knife.
To start off, let’s talk about keeping your knife dry. It is crucial to always remember that all steel, including stainless steel, can rust. The precious metal that is put into these knives need to be free of water at all times or else the can and will rust. If your knife comes with a sheath, do not store it inside it. The leather and other materials collect moisture on the blade. This built up water can lead to a rusty blade. Even after washing a blade off, make sure the knife is entirely dry. Otherwise, rust will build up. One sign of rust is a discoloration of the metal. Discolored metal has a blue/grey/black color, is a sign of oxidation, which precedes rust.
Next is oiling up your knife. For all of you that have those fancy flipping knives, whether they be fully auto, spring assisted, a flipper, or even a folder, the moving parts need to be lubricated. This will optimize the performance of the knife. Fixed bladed knives don’t get off the hook so easily. All knives need to have their blades oiled. A thin film of lubricant to the entire surface of the blade will help prevent surface oxidation and corrosion from moisture (if you live by the coast where there’s lots of salty air, try dabbing a little motor oil on a rag and rub it onto the blade). Finally, wipe the lubricant off with a towel.
After using your knife, it is a good practice to clean and dry your entire knife (not just the blade). Before I get to cleaning, one of the first things I do is blow on the knife with compressed air. This will remove a lot of the debris and other gunk off the knife. Afterwards, there’re a couple of routes to go. The first route is to wash your knife in warm water with simple dish soap while using the soft side of a sponge. This will get most acids off the blade. You can then use a toothpick to get any gunk out of the locking and firing mechanisms. Be sure to dry it by using either a towel or let it air dry. Don’t let dirt or anything else dry up on the blade. The second route is to use chemical solvents such as acetone, nail polish remover, or alcohol to clean your blade (as a hack to take care of tree sap, use hand sanitizer to get rid of it). Be extremely careful with these solvents. Some of these may damage knife handles and blades. Avoid harsh detergents and solutions that contain chlorine which can accelerate corrosion of the blade steel.
Besides blades, handles get dirty too. To clean, try using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser by gently brushing the handle. Then wipe down with a towel afterwards.
Never let a blade get dull, always sharpen it. One way to prevent a dull knife is by using it properly. Do not use the cutting blade as a can opener, chisel, a pry bar, screwdriver, or for any heavy work for which your knife was not designed. A sharp blade is safer than a dull one. If you are timid in sharpening your blade, it is worth it to have someone else sharpen it for you.
Lastly, do not attempt any self-repairs. This may void any warranty that the individual knife companies may offer. If your knife needs repair, then you can either:
- check with your dealer
- talk with the manufacturer or the company you bought the knife from for more information regarding repairs.
Many companies offer cleaning and sharpening for a small fee, or even for free. So, just remember D.O.C.S. and your knife will last you a lifetime. Comment below for any other suggestions on caring for a knife.