How To Fix a Pocket Knife That Won't Close

How To Fix a Pocket Knife That Won't Close

Professionals and amateurs alike use pocket knives as a vital equipment. They can cut through various materials, including metal wire, nylon rope, and even seat belt cutters in cars. A pocket rescue knife is typically equipped with two key features. While the glass breaker can be used to crack a car's side window, the seat belt cutter contains a pocket clip that can be used to cut the seatbelt safely. It can also be used as a bottle opener as an alternative.

Ever find yourself in a situation where you can't close your pocket survival knife? You're not alone. This is one of the most common issues people have with their knives, and it's an easy fix if you know what to do. We'll walk you through how to rescue your pocket knife so that it won't refuse to close again!

Assess the Knife and Try to Identify Why It Won’t Close

We must first identify the problem causing your pocket knife not to open and close properly before we can begin to resolve it.

There's no guaranteed way to figure out what's wrong with your knife, so take a careful look at it and notice wherein the arc or opening/closing it looks to catch or won't go any farther. Back and forth with the folding blades until you find the problematic area. Use caution when using your knife because you don't want to aggravate the situation further.

Examine the pivot joint of the knife once you've figured out where the blade seems to stop moving any farther when you try to close it. The pivot joint of a pocket knife, for those unaware, is the hinge that joins the blade to the handle and allows the knife to fold.

If the pivot joint of your best survival pocket knife appears to be in good working order, examine the blade pocket where the blade folds into the handle. There may be a buildup of material or junk in the pocket that's preventing your knife from folding properly.

If you haven't found anything that could be causing the problem after properly inspecting the knife, including the blade pocket and pivot joint, it may be time to disassemble the knife and thoroughly clean it. Disassembling a knife is a delicate procedure that should be done slowly and carefully.

If you opt to disassemble your pocket knife to locate the problem, make sure to mark the pieces and keep them organized and safe so you can rebuild the knife properly. In addition, you might want to record yourself disassembling the knife in case you need to refer to it later to figure out how to put it back together.

How to Fix Some of the Common Problems that Prevent Knives from Closing

The most crucial step is to identify the problem preventing your pocket knife from closing, but after you've done that, it's time to fix it.

Knives, like other instruments, can fail for a variety of reasons, making it practically difficult for me to describe all of the viable techniques for repairing each knife in every case. However, the following are some of the most typical issues that prevent blades from closing properly, which will benefit the vast majority of knife owners.

A Piece of Debris is Stopping the Blade from Closing

This is by far the most prevalent issue that prevents pocket knives from shutting properly, and it's also one of the simplest to resolve.

A piece of trash, material accumulation, or anything else in the blade pocket where the blade folds into the handle will prevent the knife from fully shutting. Peering down into the blade pocket will usually reveal the substance blocking the blade, or you may find it if you disassemble the knife.

Another knife blade or a piece of wire usually works best for removing the blocked piece of material from the blade pocket. Anything thin enough to reach into the blade pocket without snapping will suffice.

The Pivot Joint is Rusty and Preventing the Blade from Closing

Rust can form on the pivot joint of your knife if it has been left in a wet environment for a long period or if it has built up over time.

Rust forms on a knife for various reasons, depending on its composition, the environment to which it is exposed, and several other factors. Check out my essay on the subject to learn more about why rust accumulates on your best survival knife.

If you've determined that this is a problem, you have two options for resolving it. The first option is to eliminate the rust without removing the knife or entirely disassemble it to clean it.

Taking your knife apart to clean it and remove the rust can make it cleaner and prevent rust from forming again sooner, but the manner you pick is entirely up to you. If you try to remove the rust without disassembling your knife and it doesn't work, you might want to consider disassembling your knife to get to the bottom of the problem.

Removing rust from your knife pivot joint may appear to be a time-consuming and challenging process, but it isn't that difficult once you know what you're doing. Check out this post for a detailed explanation of how to remove rust from your knife.

A Broken Pivot Joint that is Causing the Blade Not to Close Properly

A pocket knife's pivot joint can wear out and break at any time. Unfortunately, it happens rather frequently, whether due to knife abuse or simply normal wear and tear. If you discover that this is your issue, don't be too hard on yourself; instead, evaluate your options.

You have three broad options when your knife blade is not closing properly due to a broken pivot joint. Throw the knife away or donate it; check whether your knife's guarantee covers the damage, or try to repair the broken portion.

Fixing the pivot joint is considerably above most people's abilities, so unless you're a knife smith or have prior experience with this type of repair, this is probably not a choice. However, if your knife is very valuable or emotional, you may be able to find a knife smith who can repair the pivot joint for you.

If you want to replace your broken knife with a new one, throwing it away (if it's in really bad form) or donating it (if it's still useable and lovely) is a fine alternative. If the knife having difficulties shutting is on the cheaper side of things and not particularly nice and pricey, this is usually the best option.

Check to see if the damage is covered under your knife warranty before attempting to repair it on your own or discarding your knife. Although not all knives have guarantees, many big brands have some policy or warranty in place. You can read about some of the greatest knife warranties and policies in my article here.

Other Issues that Could Be Preventing the Blade from Closing

There is a slew of difficulties that can prohibit a knife from shutting properly. The best and only method to figure out what's wrong with you to fix it is to pay close attention to it and try to pinpoint the issue.

It's a straightforward challenge to come up with the best remedy once you've identified the problem.

If I didn't mention it earlier, the internet is an excellent source to look up how to fix your knife's problem. Some knives are also more prone to particular faults, so do your homework before purchasing one.

Grinding down the kick of some slip joint knives that are having difficulties shutting can often help them close properly. Just make sure to go slowly and carefully to avoid damaging your wallet.

Loosen up a Stiff knife

Do you curse and break your fingernails every time you try to open your knife? Now is the moment to sharpen that stiff knife, keep your fingernails clean, and guarantee that no one else hears you.

Examine your knife with care. Tightness or stiffness in a knife can come from various sources, each of which must be addressed differently. Rust or age, goop trapped on the knife, friction, and tight hinges are common culprits. Each of these is covered in detail in the ways below, with a suggested remedy for you to attempt.


  • Check the color of the blade and the hinges. Is the blade or the hinge a little orange? Or possibly a tinge of powdered whiteness? This could be due to the knife's metal oxidizing to the point where the blades stick to the casing. If the knife is entirely made of metal, soak it in mineral oil. Then, in a day or two, buff it clean. After you've done this, make sure to maintain the knife greased.
  • Your job will be more difficult if the knife has non-metal parts. In this situation, the metal pieces require a thorough soak without contaminating the non-metal parts with the rust removal solvent. You can achieve this by taping off the area, using small brushes or "Q-tips," and so on.
  • Buff the rust and rub the oil into the hinge numerous times over a week (s). To protect your fingers from the blade(s), wrap them in a heavy towel or put on gloves.


  • Check to see if the knife's blades have any substance on them. Is it clingy? Is the knife stuck in something that won't come off easily?
  • Remove the "goop." The type of "goop" will determine how successful this is. If you're unsure, start with the mildest cleaner available and work your way up to the strongest. Water, ammonia, light mineral oil, and store-bought "tape remover" or "goop remover" products should be used in this order (rinsing and drying thoroughly in between).
  • After you've finished cleaning the knife, make sure it's well oiled. This will avoid oxidation in the future.


  • Using the methods indicated above, thoroughly clean the knife. When the hinge(s) were pressed or riveted in at the manufacture, the blades were sometimes pressed or riveted in too tightly, causing the knife to "stick." As follows, loosen it up.
  • Thoroughly oil the knife hinges.
  • Use sturdy gloves or a hefty towel to protect your hands.
  • Apply a few drops of mineral oil on the hinge area.
  • Repeatedly opening and closing the blade will cause enough wear on the hinge to loosen it.

Loosening the hinges

  • Look for a screw at the base of the blade of the knife. It could be hidden beneath the clip. To access the screw, you may need to remove the clip, depending on the knife.
  • To unscrew the screw that holds the blade in place, use a little screwdriver. Make careful you don't overtighten the screw, or the blade will fall out.
  • If necessary, replace the clip. Make sure the blade is moving smoothly.

How To Maintain a Pocket knife

Pocket knives, like high-quality leather boots and cast-iron skillets, are built to last. Even a $15 folder bought at a hardware shop can become a multi-generational hand-me-down if it's properly cared for. On the other hand, if you neglect a blade for too long, it could rust and possibly fail when you need it most.

Fortunately, caring for and maintaining a pocket knife is straightforward. James Brand's Ryan Coulter best encapsulates the methodology: "Keep it sharp, keep it clean, keep it lubed, keep it tight." Here's how to complete all four tasks. Here are some ways how to maintain a pocket knife.

Keep It Sharp

Knives can be sharpened using a variety of procedures and instruments. However, you don't have to be particularly scientific to attain a sharp blade edge. The usual idea is to start with the coarsest surface, such as a diamond plate, and work your way down to finer surfaces, such as a ceramic rod, on most knife sharpeners (or a leather strop to finish). If the DIY method seems too daunting, professional sharpening services aren't hard to come by — some, like Knife Aid, even offer mail-in services.

Keep It Clean

Folding knives gather minute pieces of crud on the blade and in the pivot from use and storage in a pocket or elsewhere. This can make the knife difficult to open, close, or lock properly, making it a potentially deadly implement. The ideal approach to maintain a knife clean is to wipe it down after each use, but frequent cleanings will suffice for the less conscientious.

Note: If you disassemble your survival folding knife, the manufacturer's guarantee may be voided.

Get rid of the dirt. Begin by cleaning out any visible dirt or debris from the knife's nooks and crannies, giving special care to the pivot and handle. Toothpicks are very useful for this.

The knife should be washed. Wash the knife well with warm water and mild dish soap. You can soak your knife, but you must wait for it to dry completely before lubricating and restoring it. Once moist, gather residual bits and clean the dirt away with a toothpick, Q-tip, and toothbrush.

Dry the knife with a towel. Then, using a rag or, better still, compressed air, dry the knife (like the kind used to clean keyboards). Before lubing and storing it, let it air dry entirely.


Overall, you're probably furious if you can't figure out how to fix a pocket knife that won't close. You don't have to be, though. You can try to solve it yourself in several ways, and if you are unable to do so, it is acceptable to seek expert assistance. We understand that even the best rescue knives might break down from time to time, but to avoid this from happening, we recommend that you maintain your knife properly. If you're looking for the best budget survival knife, we have it here at ApeSurvival!

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