Technical: Chris Reeve Knives Large Inkosi – Strip Down and Washer Replacement

Although the Large Inkosi was only recently launched at Blade Show 2016, in their mission for continual improvement, Chris Reeve Knives have slightly updated the washer design for this knife.

If you want to swap your own washer or give the Large Inkosi a deep clean, this is how to do it.

 photo 15 InkosiWasher Step grease new washer P1230243.jpg

Step-by-step Strip Down and Washer change:

Here we are, ready to go. Working on a suitable surface we have all the things we need laid out – Large Inkosi, new washers, Allen keys for pivot and spacer blots, pivot grease and thread-lock.
 photo 01 InkosiWasher job P1230164.jpg

Before going on, something I did spot was that in their approach of using the best quality parts, CRK supply WIHA branded Allen keys – just thought you should know.
 photo 02 InkosiWasher tools P1230169.jpg

Using the pair of larger Allen keys, fit them into each side of the pivot bolt and start to loosen. Depending on how much thread-lock has been used this might be a bit stiff to start with.
 photo 03 InkosiWasher Step pivot P1230177.jpg

One side of the pivot bolt will start to come out. This side will come out completely, leaving the pivot bolt tube in place. The Allen key from the remaining side of the pivot bolt can come all the way through.
 photo 04 InkosiWasher Step pivot P1230184.jpg

The only other bolt that needs to be removed is from one side of the handle spacer. The blade stop pin is only bolted on one side and will slide out.
 photo 05 InkosiWasher Step spacer bolt P1230192.jpg

With two bolts removed, the Large Inkosi can be taken apart.
 photo 06 InkosiWasher Step spacer bolt out P1230196.jpg

Start to work the pivot bolt tube out. You might open the blade and use the Allen key to help this slide out. Tolerances are so good, the fit is snug without being too stiff. Don’t leave the blade in the locked open position as the lock pressure will make it difficult to remove the pivot tube.
 photo 07 InkosiWasher Step pivot bolt P1230198.jpg

With the pivot bolt mostly out, the blade can be removed and put to one side. (I have skipped over an attempt I made to separate the handles with the blade and blade pivot still in place. With the pressure of the lock-bar and the extra resistance due to the blade pivot, this was not possible. It is much easier to take out the blade pivot and remove the blade.)
 photo 08 InkosiWasher Step blade out P1230202.jpg

Having taken the blade and blade pivot out, the handles can now be gently worked apart. I found that popping the spacer out and gently working back and forth at the pivot end I was able to get the blade stop pin to start sliding out. You can really appreciate the fit of the pieces that make up this knife.
 photo 09 InkosiWasher Step handle separation P1230207.jpg

Looking a little closer at the stop pin sliding out.
 photo 10 InkosiWasher Step handle stop pin P1230210.jpg

And there we are, the knife is apart. Two bolts and a little wiggle!
 photo 11 InkosiWasher Step handle apart P1230213.jpg

All the parts that make up the Large Inkosi laid out.
 photo 12 InkosiWasher Step all parts P1230217.jpg

Old and new washers next to each other. Here the old washer is still in place. The difference can be seen with smaller holes towards the front to prevent dirt/grit ingress when the blade is folded.
 photo 13 InkosiWasher Step new washer P1230234.jpg

With the old washer removed, apply some grease to the handle (not too much) which will keep the washer in place, and provide the blade lubrication once trapped in the washer holes.
 photo 15 InkosiWasher Step grease new washer P1230243.jpg

The washer in position and held in place by the grease. Make sure it does not cover the stop-pin hole.
 photo 16 InkosiWasher Step new washer P1230247.jpg

Do the same for the other side.
 photo 17 InkosiWasher Step grease new washer P1230251.jpg

With the stop-pin already in place, the washer sits against this.
 photo 18 InkosiWasher Step new washer P1230254.jpg

In preparation for reassembly, the blade pivot tube has been inserted into the side it was originally fitted to (the solid handle side).
 photo 19 InkosiWasher Step both new plus pivot P1230258.jpg

Just to ensure we have grease on all surfaces, apply a little to the blade tang before sliding it over the pivot tube.
 photo 20 InkosiWasher Step grease blade P1230262.jpg

The blade has been put onto the pivot tube in the open position, but will not be reassembled like this. With some sort of tool (here some plastic nose tweezers) keep the washer from turning round while you rotate the blade to half open.
 photo 21 InkosiWasher Step blade rotate washer P1230264.jpg

Check the washer is still in the correct position and apply a little grease to the blade tang. NOTE: the blade has been positioned at half-open to ensure the lock-bar presses onto the side of the blade and does not try to lock the blade or slip into the detent, either of which would make it harder to reassemble.
 photo 22 InkosiWasher Step blade grease P1230270.jpg

Carefully lining up the blade pivot tube, blade stop pin and spacer, push the handles back together. This does not require much force once you are lined up. Start gently to ensure you don’t catch any edges, and beware of the open blade.
 photo 23 InkosiWasher Step fit together squeeze P1230272.jpg

Start with the spacer bolt which will keep the knife together while you adjust the pivot.
 photo 24 InkosiWasher Step spacer bolt P1230276.jpg

Although not absolutely necessary, CRK recommend using thread-lock, so that is what I’m doing.
 photo 25 InkosiWasher Step pivot thread lock P1230282.jpg

Apply a small amount to one side of the thread. (I should have applied it a bit lower down the thread, but this worked fine for me.)
 photo 26 InkosiWasher Step pivot thread lock on P1230283.jpg

Start to tighten the pivot. This process is important to take a little time over. What you are looking for is the point at which there is no side to side play in the blade at all, but where the blade still rotates smoothly. You should be able to open it with the thumb stud easily – if not, you have gone too tight. Personally I went to the point of being too tight, then loosening it slightly. Doing this ensures settling of the washers, blade tang and grease so your final adjustments will be effective. Final adjustments were made with the Allen key’s end moving only 1/4-1/2″ each time (5-10 degrees) and testing the blade movement. The thread-lock will cure over time and should not affect this adjustment process.
 photo 27 InkosiWasher Step pivot tighten P1230288.jpg

All ready to go, fitted out with its new washers. The old ones can be kept as spares should you ever need them.
 photo 28 InkosiWasher Step finished old washers P1230292.jpg

A few more details:

While I had the knife apart, I took the opportunity to take a closer look at some parts.

Here we have a clear view of the blade and its tang.
 photo 30 Inkosi details Blade P1230222.jpg

A couple of interesting details on blade tang. There is a groove cut into the lock surface for the ceramic ball to fit into. This means that the contact surface is much larger than a ball touching a flat surface.
Also look closely inside the pivot hole, and you can see that a series of grooves have been included to hold grease and reduce turning friction.
 photo 31 Inkosi details Blade lock groove P1230228.jpg

Between the pivot hole and thumb stud is the blade retention detent hole (to keep it closed).
 photo 31 Inkosi details Blade tang P1230225.jpg

Only with the knife taken apart is it possible to see the detail of the ceramic ball used in the lock.
 photo 32 Inkosi details lock ball P1230233.jpg


Taking a folding knife apart is a job you might rather leave to a knife maker, especially when it is a high quality knife like the Large Inkosi. As long as you take it slowly, have a little mechanical sympathy, and give yourself room to work, there is no reason you shouldn’t do this job yourself. CRK have made the job of DIY cleaning and maintenance very simple.

Though I’m doing this to swap out the washer, it would be the same process for a deep clean and re-grease operation, so the article can serve as a reference for taking the Large Inkosi apart.

This new washer design will be fitted to all new Large Inkosi knives, but if you have an early one with the old washer and would like the new version of the washer, CRK will happily send you the new washers. If you are of the opinion “It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it”, then you don’t need to.

You can tell which version you have by looking into the front of the handle with the knife blade closed. If you can see the holes in the washer, it will be the older version; if you can’t see any holes then you already have the new one.


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