Sunday, May 31, 2009

STR's "He Man" Folder in ATS34

This one is equippped with an ATS34 blade with a blead blasted finish. I chose a flame orange G10 overscale with texture to aid grip in wet or cold conditions and set it up with some nice stainless steel stand offs for an open design. Pivot is 3/16" and rides on phosphorus bronze washers.

Overal length is 7 and 7/16"
Weight 3.3 ounces
Blade is 3.125" and folder is 4 5/16 closed. Titanium slabs are .095 thick each and look at that lock close. The lock is made with no lock cut at all. This is my 'He Man' model and ironically although I made it to sell at first its been adopted and one of my most used folders as of since the week it was made. This is one strong folder. I call it a man's folder with a 'man's lock.' I do that because my wife can't close it very easily but it is workable. I have no trouble with it at all and find its quite smooth.

Due to the nature of my work I get a lot of contacts from knife owners and perhaps you've noticed on my forum or here on my blog that a lot of my work involves production folders. One of the most frequently complained about areas for frame locks that comes up from time to time on this type of folder is the whimpy lock cuts that many folders have built into them for relief cuts to spring the locks.

These cuts can be milled or ground into the lock to make bending the lock to spring it for proper tension easier to do. Of course while it does this it also helps to reduce the lateral pressure on the blade action but the lock cut also makes manipulation of the lock easier by taking a thicker slab down to liner lock thickness or I should say liner lock thinness. This of course means the lock will feel more like a thin liner lock to the user in how it behaves and how easy it is to operate. Perhaps in production folders when you are trying to please the masses this is necessary and I can sure see that as the case but with a custom order it is possible to get it built the way you like it. To those that feel these lock cuts are too thin this is the ticket. It seems that to many knife nuts these lock cuts are seen as the, "weak link in the chain." Of course I'm referring to that old saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and these very thinned down areas of the otherwise massive and impressive lock slabs are seen as that weak point in the system by more than just a few folks apparently, and of course this is based on my contacts and the questions I get asked about lock cuts.

As a result of some of those contacts via email or private messages on forums from users this knife was a bit of an experiment to see just how thick I could make the slabs I used for my frame lock but still get away with bending the lock with no need for a relief cut. This was a hard lock to bend at a solid .095 thickness but I managed with some heat and gave it a gentle coax to set it where I needed it. Then I let it cool down and bead blasted the heat coloring off the slab. The result is a fine user that surprised me at how well it actually works. I have pulled off .080 lock slabs and sprung the locks with no need for a lock cut. I've seen that done by production manufacturers also. So, I knew that .080 was not a problem. Later I also did some .090 and that worked too.

This time I bumped it up even more and I believe I'm about at the limit of what you can hope for with a solid slab at this thickness of .095. The length of the long cut for the lock can be played with some here to try to make the manipulation easier by using the law of leverage to your advantage. The idea of course being that a longer bar will be easier to bend than a shorter one. That held true here for this folder and by making my long cut just a bump longer than I normally would in this size folder it allowed me to get away with this solid lock slab.

As you can see in the pictures, although the lock is stout it does not off center the blade when closed and its also not really affecting the pivot action but maybe a very tiny bit. I believe this would only be a problem for someone with a habit of opening and closing their folder all day long as opposed to the type that only pulls it out when he needs it. About the only area it may really affect is that it would make it very hard to hyper extend the lock out the wrong way should one decide to take the pocket clip off and carry it in the pocket instead of on the pocket. Hyper extension to cause a lock of this type to lose spring is when you push to release the lock and then push the lock too far out the opposite way of the spring tension. This has occurred with thin lock cut models that have locks that stick to the blade contact very hard. Usually the pocket clip is set up on most open frame type locks so that it blocks overtravel to some extent but some prefer to carry without a pocket clip or every now and then a clip is made and mounted in a position not really allowing it to perform this double duty. When a lock binds terribly to the blade the extra pressure needed to force the lock to release so the user can close the blade is what I think is the culprit behind how the lock can lose spring tension and the owner/user of the knife resets the memory of the spring set. Its just a guess on my part but on the few models I've had mailed to me that the locks lost spring mysteriously on, the one thing they had in common was the locks stuck terribly binding to the blade contact. On at least one the owner decided to carry his small frame lock without the pocket clip which did happen to partially block the lock travel some.

This folder would be difficult for that to happen with and I say that because I base it on how hard it was to even bend the thing in the first place to put that spring tension in the lock! I can only imagine it would be just as hard to now accidentally take the spring out and in fact I'm sure to take the spring out of this one would have to be purposely done to make that happen making accidental spring loss to the lock a near impossibility. Although its more difficult to manipulate this lock by a little bit than one with some thin lock cuts milled into the lock its certainly not hard to do for me compared to many other folders I own. For what its worth my CQC12 with a very thin lock cut on it is harder to close than this one is because the lock sticks on my 12 terribly and has since I bought it new. Well, thats enough about that. I appreciate you taking time to read here and put up with my ramblings. This space gives me a good place to think out loud and share my views as I learn and grow in this practice of knife making.

Anyway, thanks for looking.


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