Pivot material for folders

IanF

Well-Known Member
Guys I’m looking for some feedback on suitability of various materials for folder pivots. I have been using 416 hardened stainless pivots from USA knifemaker and am happy with their performance (although I really have nothing to compare to). I have had my eye on other pivots from Ti connector which I have heard great things about and they offer both Ti and hardened 416 stainless. Additionally I’d like to have a crack at making some of my own pivots now that I have bought a metal lathe.

So my question is what materials are considered appropriate for folders? I am only early in my folder career and have made friction folders, liner locks and framelocks so far. The framelock was a flipper, the others have been front openers (they open smoothly but not so much a flipping action. I have been using 3/16 size.

I quite like the idea of titanium and then anodising becomes an option. If I go stainless with my own manufacture and want them hard I will need to send out to HT. Locally (remember I’m in Australia) we can get various grades of stainless in bar stock including 440C which I thought would be an option if I turn my own. I am pretty comfortable with pros and cons of various blade steels but pivots are where I need some help. Would a knife made with a Ti pivot be at a disadvantage to one made with hardened stainless pivot? My knives are general use edc - not tactical overbuilt style and I am not trying to make something indestructible but want good operation and wear and tear over the years.

Thanks in advance
Ian
 

Brett Schaller

Well-Known Member
Unless I'm very much mistaken (always a possibility) only the screws are titanium on the ti pivots from ti connector - the pivot barrel itself is steel.
Ti galls with steel, and so wouldn't make a good pivot material.
 

Brett Schaller

Well-Known Member
I just double checked, and the Ti pivot sets are indeed 416 stainless for the pivot barrel; only the screws are titanium.
 

IanF

Well-Known Member
Thank you Brett - that makes a lot more sense!

Would there be a discernible difference between using 440C and 416 stainless in terms of machining and performance after hardening?
 

Brett Schaller

Well-Known Member
I suspect 416 would be easier to machine, which is probably why it's used by pivot manufacturers. As far as performance, I doubt there would be much, if any, difference. Remember, traditional slip joint folders were made for many years with brass or nickel silver pivot pins, and you don't see many that have appreciable wear on them.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Thank you Brett - that makes a lot more sense!

Would there be a discernible difference between using 440C and 416 stainless in terms of machining and performance after hardening?
416 hardens to 48HRC at best. 440ss anything will probably harden to at least high 50's. You should, in theory, see better wear resistance from the 440 material. The question is how much wear do you really see on a folder pivot? I see buffing/polishing on wear surfaces but never actual measurable wear.
Cost would be higher if these were made with 440ss as round stock in appropriate sizes would be difficult to source. Machining differences between 416 and higher carbon 440 also make a (slight) difference. Moot points if you are just doing it as a lathe lesson. I think it would be a great practice exercise.

If you are making your own pivots and it's about "can you do it?", I'd still go with 416ss myself.

I haven't gotten around to it myself yet but if I was going to look at making pivot stuff on the lathe, I would look at pivot head collars. All the cool kids are using those.
 
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