Pocket Knife Care and Maintenance

Properly maintaining your knife not only prolongs the life of your knife—it also makes for a safer and more enjoyable cutting experience. We suggest following these five rules to keep your knife in prime working condition: 

1. Keep your knife sharp. 

A dull knife is an accident waiting to happen. A general rule is to touch up or hone your blade with a fine ceramic rod or fine-grit stone frequently before the edge gets too dull. Doing so will avoid having to spend more time with aggressive grit abrasive, and will keep your blade in good working order for longer. 

There are numerous methods for putting an edge on a bladed tool. From whetstones, benchtop power sharpeners, angled ceramic rods, diamond stones, leather strops and fixed-angle sharpeners—there’s no shortage of excellent tools on the market to meet your needs. Our friends at Work Sharp sharpeners have some of the best tools for a variety of needs. 

When sharpening, consider the purpose of the blade and the correct edge angle to get the best cutting performance for the job at hand. A low edge angle of 15° provides high sharpness and is suitable for kitchen knives, whereas a high edge angle of 25° is more suited for general purpose outdoor knives. Keep these guidelines in mind when choosing your angle: 

Outdoor Knives: 

  • Hunting knife for light use and detail cutting: 20°

  • Hunting knife for hard use and and cutting: 25°

  • Camp / survival knife for heavy use, typically fixed blades: 30°

Pocket Knives for EDC: 

  • Heave use: 25°

  • Light use: 20°

Kitchen Knives:

  • Western style: 20°

  • Eastern style: 15°

Additionally, choosing the correct abrasive grit will depend on how dull or damaged your blade edge is to begin with. The coarser the grit, the more material it will remove. To reprofile or shape an edge start with coarse grit materials, such as a 320-grit diamond stone and progressively use finer grit abrasives to sharpen, then hone the edge. For general sharpening, a 600-grit diamond stone will work, followed by using a fine ceramic to hone the edge. For a mirror polish, finish the process by using a leather strop with a polishing compound. 

2. Keep your knife clean. 

For moderate everyday cleaning, wipe down your blade with a dry or slightly moistened lint-free cloth or paper towel to remove debris. If there’s abrasive material on the blade such as sand or gritty dirt, gently run the blade under water prior to wiping to avoid scratching the blade. 

A mild cleaning agent such as dish soap can also be used to clean the blade to remove caked-on material. Be sure to immediately dry the knife. 

If you find your knife is difficult to open or close, you may need to clean inside the handle and around the blade pivot. While the knife is dry, use an old soft-bristle toothbrush to gently scrub away debris from wherever you can get to with the toothbrush. For hard to reach areas, use a dry q-tip, toothpick or a fine-tipped paint brush. A can of compressed air can also do the trick to dislodge stubborn lint and debris. 

For tough to remove spots such as tree sap and tape residue, use rubbing alcohol on a rag or cotton swab. Be sure to immediately rinse your knife after using rubbing alcohol and dry thoroughly. 

3. Keep your knife dry. 

A surefire way to get rust on your knife is to leave it wet after use, or store the knife in a damp environment. After washing or using your knife, simply wipe down the blade and let the knife dry completely before putting it away. This is especially important for fixed blades stored in leather sheaths—as leather tends to trap moisture and can cause rust to form the blade.  

4. Keep your knife well-oiled.

There are a number of excellent lubricants on the market to keep the pivot of your folding knife operating smoothly. Once your knife is dry, apply a small amount of oil to the pivot or any other moving parts of the knife. Applying a thin coat of oil to the blade can increase corrosion resistance as well. If you find petroleum-based wet lubricants, such as recommended 3-in-1 machine oils, attract lint and other debris, you can also consider using a dry teflon-based lubricant. If you use your knife for food, consider using a food-safe lubricant such as vegetable or mineral oil. 

5. Keep your knife in good working order. 

A bent pocket clip or missing screw doesn’t render your pocket knife useless. At CRKT, we offer replacement parts for most of our knives and sheaths. Visit our Replacement Parts page to request missing or damaged parts. 

Most simple adjustments—such as blade centering or replacing a handle scale—can be done using a Torx bit driver to make fine adjustments to pivot or handle screws. It's important to not over tighten screws. You run the risk of stripping the screw head or mis-aligning the threads.

For more serious issues where the knife won’t open or close properly, it’s best to contact our Customer Service department for assistance, who are experts with our products and more than happy to assist with any of your questions. It’s important to check the manufacturer’s warranty before modifying or fully disassembling your knife - as doing so may void the warranty

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or just need some suggestions on how to best maintain your knife and keep it in good working order for years to come, our Customer Service and Parts & Warranty team are here to help, M-F 7:00am - 4:00pm PST at 800-891-3100, or email us at [email protected].