How To Clean a Swiss Army Knife

Swiss Army knives are one of the most common pocket tools in the world. From boy scouts to fishermen to hikers, the Swiss Army knife is a tool that has stood the test of time. While the legacy of the Swiss Army knife is one that will live on, it takes proper care and maintenance to keep the tool in tip-top shape.

What is a Swiss Army knife?

A Swiss Army knife is not just a pocket knife, but considered by many to be a status symbol. The Swiss Army knife was invented by Karl Elsener in 1884, when he was commissioned by the Swiss Army to develop a tool that was compact, sturdy and reliable. The invention led to a device that has survived through many wars and soldiers. Today the handy multi-tool is a common item, and it is thanks to the design of the Swiss Army knife.

Swiss Army knives are manufactured from the highest quality steel and match the requirements intended by Karl Elsener. Tempering and annealing the steel in preparation for the final polishing process achieves the necessary hardness and corrosion resistance. Regular cleaning and oiling is necessary for pocket knives to function correctly.

Over time, Swiss Army knives can stiffen from debris and dirt collected on the hinges. Some chemicals and foods, when left on the tool for too long, can damage the steel. You must clean your knife after use to keep it working correctly.

Only a few things are needed to clean and take care of a Swiss Army knife properly. They are a clean cloth, warm water in a basin, lubricating oil, and a knife sharpener.

How to Clean a Swiss Army knife

When cleaning a Swiss Army knife, you first want to open and close the blades several times in warm water until they move smoothly again. Once dry, a small drop of oil should be placed between the blades and the tool casing or spring, as well as any other friction points. Never clean a Swiss Army knife in a dishwasher.

When selecting a lubricant for a Swiss Army knife, factors such as the safety of foodstuffs should be taken into account. Some oils intended for pocket knives do not provide adequate lubrication or may even prevent the blade from working correctly and cause malfunction.

Should a Swiss Army knife be sharpened?

There are two options. The knife can be taken to a bladesmith, who may charge to sharpen the blade, which will ensure a sharp and usable edge. With that option, the ability to learn to sharpen a knife as a skill is lost. Option two is to learn to sharpen a blade as outlined below.

If the Swiss Army knife has a straight blade, it must be sharpened using a whetstone at an angle of fifteen to twenty degrees, which will result in a cutting angle of thirty to forty degrees. If sharpening on a grinding wheel, avoiding excessive temperatures is necessary to prevent damage.

If the knife has a serrated blade, it should be honed with a sharpening stone. The proper motion to sharpen the serrated edge is by pulling, not pushing the blade, across the flat side of the serrated edge at an angle of fifteen to twenty degrees.

Once the Swiss Army knife is cleaned and lubricated it can go back into a pocket, bag, drawer, or wherever the Swiss Army knife is stored for use in the future. Just a little bit of periodic maintenance will make a big difference for a tool that has stood the test of time.

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