How To Close A Pocket Knife Securely

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By Bryan Rucker •  8 min read

Closing a pocket knife may sound like a very easy and straightforward task, but unless it is done correctly—every time you use it—you can get seriously injured by the blade or locking mechanism. A pocket knife—or folding knife—should be closed in a particular way based on the type of knife.

Moreover, due to its shape—both the size of the handle and the blade—there is always a chance that the knife will move away from the handle as it is being closed and cause injury. To help you avoid this nasty fate, below we have provided a step-by-step guide for closing 4 different types of pocket knives in the most safe and efficient manner possible.

Closing a Pocket Knife: A Step-by-Step Guide

When using a pocket knife you will notice that it always has some type of locking mechanism—some way to keep it closed with the blade tucked safely away. Fortunately, with most pocket knife purchases the knife will come with some type of written guidelines or instructions on how to close that particular style of blade.

But what if it doesn’t? Do you know how to safely close and secure every type of pocket knife?

Pocket knives come in a variety of styles and are equipped with different locking mechanisms in order to keep the blade safely out of the way. The good news is this: regardless of the type of knife you have you can be sure it can be closed and stored safely so you can carry it in your pocket without worry.

To help you understand how to close your particular pocket knife, below we will go over the processes and instructions on how to close a variety of pocket knife types, giving you easy to follow directions for each type of knife.

Closing Pocket Knives that Have No Lock

When working with a pocket knife that has no specific locking mechanism (these knives are very rare these days), the first step is to hold the knife by the sides of the hilt. Take extra care that your fingers are not covering the slot into which the blade will be folded, as this can cause cuts and serious injury. Apply a firm grip when completing this step of the process, one in which the base of your palm and your thumb are on one side of the hilt and the pads of your fingers are on the other. Remember to always point the blade away from your body. This way, if your hand slips for some reason it will fall safely away from you rather into you, which could save you from potential accidents and injury.

The next step when dealing with non-locking pocket knives is to grip the back of the blade with your dominant hand, holding this dull side of the knife between your thumb and your first two fingers. To make this a bit easier, many knife manufacturers put a ridge along the top of the blade to help ensure a better grip.

Now that you have gripped the dull side of the blade, you will need to push the knife into the slot using a smooth and careful motion. Take extra precautions to ensure that the sharp side of the knife is secured completely into the slot.

Once the blade has been safely secured it will usually not be able to open on its own, but this type of knife does not provide the same safety and assurances of a locking knife. When working with non-locking pocket knives, always work with both hands until you are more comfortable using your knife. Once you get the hang of it, however, you should easily be able to handle this task with only one hand.

Closing Pocket Knives with Liner and Frame Locks

When working with a pocket knife that has a liner lock or frame lock, the first step in closing that knife is to locate the liner or frame behind the blade, typically beneath the hilt of the knife. Liner and frame locks work by manipulating a portion of the outer or inner lining behind the blade to fully secure the blade within.

When preparing to close the blade you should look for a small, serrated area that is directly behind the blade. Keep in mind that liner locks use a portion of the interior lining to keep the blade in place, while frame locks use a portion of the knife’s outer shell to do the same.

The next step is to push the liner or frame away from the blade using your thumb. Grasp the knife by the blade in such a way that the sharp side is facing upwards.

Move the locking mechanism slowly so it is no longer contacting the blade. At this point, the knife will release some of its tension. Always hold the knife upside down to avoid cuts to your thumb should the blade fall on its own.

Finally, move your thumb safely out of the way before you close the knife using your dominant hand. At the same time, you will want to hold the blade with your non-dominant hand as you move your thumb. Make sure the entire blade goes into the slot and is secured.

While liner and frame locks do a pretty good job at keeping the blade closed, they do not exactly “lock” the blade into place. For that reason, you must take extra care when opening and closing these types of knives.

Closing Pocket Knives with a Button Lock

Button lock knives, such as switch blade knives, have a slightly different method of closing. To secure these knives the first step is to grasp the knife on the top of the hilt with your dominant hand.

Make certain that the bottom half of your fingers never wrap around the hilt. Doing this could risk injury when closing the knife. Fortunately, button lock knives can be easily operated with one hand, but if you are a beginner that is new to pocket knives we recommend you use both hands initially until you get the hang of it.

Next, depress the button located on the hilt with your thumb. This button is usually located near the base of the blade.

Depending on the type and brand of your button lock pocket knife, this button may be located elsewhere, but for most knives you can find this button near the base of the blade. Press down on the button to undo the lock.

Should you have any difficulty depressing the button, you may want to inspect the locking mechanism for any buildup of dirt or debris. This can usually be cleaned out by a small wire or by spraying compressed air into the dirty mechanism.

Last but not least, as you hold the knife with your dominant hand, use the other hand to push the blade closed—into the slot. Once the button lock has been depressed, the blade will have less tension and can rapidly be moved into the awaiting slot.

Again, make sure your fingers are clear of the slot to avoid injury. Button lock knives such as these will lock into place once the blade is fully in the slot, and you should hear an audible “click” that tells you the blade is safely locked away.

Closing Pocket Knives with an Axis Lock

The last type of pocket knife we will talk about is the axis lock knife. With this style of pocket knife, the first step towards closing it requires that you pull the pin towards you with your thumb.

This pin is usually located on the side of the hilt. This pin is connected to a U-shaped tension wire known as an omega spring. When performing this step, always grasp the knife so it is parallel with the ground. Once you have done this you can safely pull back the pin to unlock the blade.

After pushing the pin (and while grasping the hilt of the knife with your dominant hand), use your non-dominant hand to push the blade towards the slot opening. You will need to keep the pin pulled back as you maneuver the blade into the closed position.

Keep your fingers clear of the slot and the bottom of the hilt to avoid injury, and always keep your fingers on the dull side of the blade when working with this type of knife.

Once the blade is safely secured into the slot, you are going to release the pin. By doing this, you will lock the blade firmly into place.

Once the blade is in the hilt, letting go of the pin reapplies the tension to the blade. This pin or axis lock will keep the knife safely closed—or open—until the pin is once again pulled back.

You will usually have to apply some effort to move the pin on these types of knives. This, however, is by design. Manufacturers of axis lock knives use a lot of tension to ensure the knife does not open accidentally when it is being carried in a person’s pocket.

Bryan Rucker

Brian Rucker has spent his entire life participating in essentially all things wildlife. His concern grew astronomically during the previous tensions between the United States and other nations. He also has grown a substantial interest in survival and sustainability due to the current shape of the world over the years. He believes that preparation triumphs all things.