Out The Front (OTF) knives, often referred to as OTF automatic knives, are great fun with their little mechanism to fire and retract the blade that it becomes so addictive you just can’t stop playing with it!
I bet more than a few of us have been told by the lady to stop it, that the constant clicking is driving her round the proverbial bend! But perhaps you can remind her of her despair when she’s clicking her ballpoint pen a thousand times a second.
In order to keep the clicking war alive, your OTF must be in the best possible condition. Before we go any further though, do check to find out whether taking your OTF apart might void the warranty.
Disassemble your OTF.
To begin maintenance, you need to disassemble your OTF automatic knife first. Fire the blade and leave it out. Undo the screws that hold it together and separate the parts, this is usually the slider and the spring.
I’ve attached a video below to show you how to disassemble then reassemble an OTF. Of course, there are many different OTF knives which might require different screwdriver bits and may or may not resemble the knife shown in this video.
Now hopefully you’re more familiar with your OTF’s engineering, let’s look at the cleaning process.
Lubricate your blade.
There are several lubricants to clean your blade, some people use gun oil, some use canola oil, WD-40 is the recommended choice for OTF cleaning, just make sure you’ve got a rag on hand to avoid a greasy mess!
Spray the knife blade or pour a little oil onto the said rag or some kitchen towel which works just as well and wipe up and down the blade removing any excess. If the blade has any rust on it, use a cotton swab dipped in a rust remover on the affected area.
For the casing, it’s advised a lint-free cloth is used so not to swap out the old muck and lint if it’s been in a pocket with new lint left behind from the cloth. Clean out the inside of the case and wipe over the individual parts with a lightly lubricated cloth before reassembling your knife. Always wipe down the blade after use on any material that is not completely dry.
If you plan to use OTF automatic knives for food preparation, be sure to use a food grade lubricant!
Protect your stainless steel knife.
“While the name implies that it will not stain or rust, there are still times when rust may form if the outer layer of chromium oxide is scratched. With active cleaning and polishing, you can get rid of rust and prevent any from forming in the future”
If in the unfortunate case your knife has become stuck or stiff over time, through lack of use or perhaps you forgot to clean it, there is a little trick using paper to get it open again. Take a piece of A4 paper and fold it over three times. Once from bottom to top, then right to left and lastly from bottom to top again. Slide the fold into the channel under the blade and lift up!
Sharpen your blade.
A very common question about sharpening the blade is “how often?” This obviously depends on the amount of abuse it receives.
One way of determining the sharpness is to test it on a piece of paper. If it tears the paper or leaves a very rough cut, it's time for a sharpen.
Use any sharpening system you wish but remember, good quality knives, whether they are the best folding knives, out the front or your favorite kitchen knife, they deserve a quality sharpener!
The more care and attention you give your knives, the longer they will stay sharp, the longer the mechanism will go without failing. Obvious I know but how many of us actually look after our possessions the way we should?