The Locks

Modern Knife Industry are Built Upon Innovation, and there are a wide variety of locking mechanisms created by different makers and manufacturers, each with their own ingenuities and unique prospectives. In this page, let’s take a closer look at some of these creative inventions:


The Compression Lock

The Compression Lock is a system developed by the knife industry leaders Louis S. Glesser, and his colleague Peter H. Jhones, and Vince Ford at Spyderco. Per Spyderco, this mechanism utilizes a leaf-like spring from a steel liner to wedge between the blade and the stop pin. This high functional system excels at one-handed and secure operation. Since the patent has expired (see US6553672B2), different makers and manufacturers have also utilized this mechanism.

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The Smock

When talking about the Compression Lock and its variants, we definitely need to talk about the Smock. One can say Kevin is like a knife wizard, and he has elevated the ease-of-use perspective of the Compression Lock with his amazing engineering brilliances. By putting a button actuator on his SK23, his collab Spyderco Smock has become one of the most sought-after knives. Especially, we want to express our deep appreciate Kevin’s ingenuity and kindness for providing a detailed history of his work, inspiration, and support in our line of work. Thank you, Kevin! (For more amazing story about Kevin and his work, see:

The AXIS Lock

The AXIS Lock is the O.G. of all crossbar lock. Created by great knifemaker Bill McHenry and Jason Williams (see US5737841A), the AXIS Lock is renowned for its ambidextrousness, accessibility, user friendliness, and strength. By using a set of Omega shaped springs, a cylindrical bar is pushed under tension against a cutout in the blade. When Bill and Jason met with the late Great knife legend Les De Asis and his team of engineers in 1997, they instantly clicked and created the all-time classic BM 710. After two decades, the Axis Lock patent has expired, and crossbar lock are being used by different makers and brands.

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The Back Lock

The Back Lock knife or Lock Back knife is one of the earliest locking mechanisms. Per knife historian and writer Gerard, this lock can be found on 15th century Spanish knife Navaja *1. Basically, a spring tension bar was positioned in-between the handles and the protruding end of the tension bar jams in the blade. In the 1960s, Buck Knives has refined and popularized this lock with its Buck 110 model *2. 


The Button Plunge Lock

The exact history of the Button/Plunge Lock is elusive and difficult to pinpoint due to its long history. Basically, the lock plunge is propelled by a spring which moves in and out of the rotation motion of the blade. The lock plunge and the spring is fixed in designated positions on the handle. This lock is super simple and intuitive to use.

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The Trek Lock

The Trek Lock can be viewed as a turbo charged fidget version of the aforementioned button lock. Invented by our colleague Yue, this patented lock utilized a guiding/detent track, a cone shaped and dome sphere shaft, and an internal stop point to control the motion of the blade. This lock is super fidgeting, as it perfectly combines multi-deployment options (i.e. thumb-hole, thumb-stud, front flipper, normal flipper) with its intuitive lock and unlock mechanism.

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The Vanchor Lock

The Vanchor lock is another creation by Yue. The design is propelled by his desire for lock strength and ultimate fidgetablity. Powered by a thick steel plate and a 4mm steel block, as well as a magnetic connector that attracts & pushes the pivot button, this lock uses its square steel block and its non-parallelogram trapezoid shaped extension end to form a strong lock under the tension of the steel plate and the downward pressure of the stop pin. Combined with all kinds of opening mechanism, the V-anchor lock offers both secured usage and ultra fidgetablity.

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The Frame Lock

Created by the prodigious knife maker and entrepreneur Chris Reeve, the frame Lock is often be viewed as the (mostly) titanium variation of the Walker liner-lock. First featured on his 1991 Sebenza, the frame lock combines elegance, simplicity, strength all into one package *3. This lock can be found on many modern high end folding knives.

The Liner Lock

No knife lock list can be completed without talking about the liner lock. The early version of the lock was created in the early 20th century (see US825093A), by the true pioneering knife maker William Franklin Watson. The liner lock uses a spring bar (liner) to stop the rotation motion of the blade. The liner lock was further refined, popularized, revitalized with the Legendary knife maker Michael Walker. Truly, words can’t describe the ingenuity, dedication, and contribution that Mr. Walker has provided to the knife industry and our community. His inventions have touched, inspired, and shaped, enlightened almost all aspects of modern knife making *4.

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Reference & Notes
1.Pacella, Gerard (2002). 100 Legendary Knives. Krause Publications. p. 101. ISBN 0-87349-417-2.
2.Ables, Tom (1991). The Story of Buck Knives a Century of Knifemaking. Buck Knives. p. 120. ASIN B000M155X4.
3.Dick, Steven (1993-09-01). "The Chris Reeve Sebenza Folding Hunter". National Knife Magazine: 16–18.
4.Darom, David (2003). Art and Design in Modern: Custom Folding Knives. Saviolo Publisher. p. 48. ISBN 978-965-07-1174-0.