It has been the bane of Spyderco users for a long time – disassembly of a Spyderco knife would void their warranty. They were not alone in this policy. Other companies, including Benchmade I believe, have the same prohibition. This is now going the way of the Dodo, as Spyderco has listened to the overwhelming number of complaints in various Internet forums. They are also doing away with red Loctite, in their US models, another frequent gripe of those active in the online community.
In recent months, there has been a lot of discussion concerning Spyderco’s use of red “high-strength” Loctite® on the screws of our knives. Unfortunately, this has also resulted in some misunderstandings with regard to our choice of this threadlocking product and our warranty policies. This official statement is intended to clarify the issue and announce several important changes to our policies and practices.
First of all, please know that we do, in fact, listen to our customers. We always have, and we always will. Our staff has closely followed your comments on this topic and our Management and Warranty Repair teams have discussed and researched this issue very thoroughly.
Spyderco’s use of high-strength Loctite on our US-made products actually dates back more than a decade. We chose this threadlocking compound after extensive in-house testing and an in-depth review of the knives that were returned to us for warranty repair. That research showed that the use of medium-strength Loctite resulted in more frequent loss of individual screws from knives and a higher percentage of knives being returned for issues related to screw tension.
High-strength Loctite was also chosen because it allowed us to achieve a much higher degree of consistency in the manufacturing process. Loctite’s strength is measured at two levels: Its “break” strength is its initial resistance to torque after it cures, while its “prevail” strength is its resistance to torque after the initial bond has been broken. Since medium-strength Loctite offers a much lower “prevail’ strength than the high-strength formula, we chose the latter. This choice was critically important because of the special two-step process we use in our US factory to adjust our blade pivots. After the initial assembly and adjustment of each knife, the Loctite is allowed to cure overnight before the knife is rechecked and readjusted to ensure optimal blade tension. A higher “prevail’ strength also allows screws to retain their tension much better if they are adjusted by end users.
High-strength Loctite was also our preferred choice because we use stainless steel assembly screws in our knives instead of the oxide-coated carbon steel screws used by many of our competitors. Although the oxide coating works better with medium-strength Loctite, the screws themselves are vulnerable to corrosion. High-strength Loctite provides vastly superior threadlocking performance on our stainless steel screws.
For the vast majority of our customers, our decision to use high-strength Loctite had no real impact, since they do not disassemble their knives. However, as aftermarket parts for our knives (replacement scales, backspacers, etc.) became increasingly popular, more and more people had the desire to disassemble their Spyderco knives. Most used proper tools and technique and were successful; however, a number of them did experience challenges and frustration. Our Warranty Repair technicians frequently resolved these problems by having the owner return the knife to us and loosening the screws at the customer’s specific request. However, as this topic escalated and became of greater concern to our customers, we knew we needed a better solution.
To address this issue properly, Spyderco has done an extensive review of our Warranty Repair records, as well as in-depth research on the aftermarket parts industry. We have also read and reread our customers’ forum and social media posts on all aspects of the “red Loctite” issue. After careful consideration, we have decided to change our internal practices effective immediately to use medium-strength Loctite in the assembly of all our US-made knives. We hope that this change will make our knives easier for our customers to maintain and customize.
Please note that our factories in Taiwan, Japan, Italy, and China use different, locally sourced threadlocking compounds on the knives they manufacture. We are currently researching those compounds and other available choices to achieve consistent threadlocking standards across our entire product line.
Concurrent with our change to medium-strength Loctite, we are also amending our warranty policy, which has unfortunately been misunderstood as it applies to this topic and the disassembly of our knives in general. Currently, our policy states “Spyderco’s warranty does not cover damage caused by abuse, misuse, loss, improper handling, alterations, accident, neglect, disassembly, or improper sharpening.” Please note that it specifies “…damage caused by…disassembly.” This aspect of our warranty has been widely misinterpreted to infer that disassembly of a Spyderco knife automatically voids its warranty. This is not the case.
Spyderco stands behind the original materials and workmanship of our products. If a customer disassembles one of our knives and reassembles properly so its adjustment and operation are consistent with original factory specifications, the knife’s warranty remains in effect. If, however, a knife is disassembled and reassembled improperly, the proper operation of the knife and its component parts could easily be compromised. That would void the knife’s warranty.
Similarly, any alterations to a Spyderco knife or replacement of parts with non-Spyderco components could adversely affect the proper functioning of the knife and void the warranty. As always, we will try to give every Spyderco customer the benefit of the doubt when considering warranty claims; however, the determination as to whether a knife was “properly” reassembled is at our sole discretion and will be made on a case-by-case basis. If a knife has been customized through the addition of non-mechanical parts (such as aftermarket scales), Spyderco may still choose to warrant the materials and workmanship of the original Spyderco components of the knife, provided the alteration and reassembly did not compromise their proper function.
We are currently in the process of refining the official wording of our warranty to make it clearer and address changes in the industry like aftermarket accessories. Our complete warranty policy, as expressed on our web site, will always remain the official reference for the most up-to-date terms of our warranty coverage.
Finally, if you currently own a Spyderco knife with screw-together construction that you would like to disassemble and are having difficulty removing the screws, please see the how-to tips listed below for the method our Warranty Repair technicians use to remove Loctite-secured screws. You can also return your knife to us with a return-shipping fee of $5.00 and we will loosen the screws for you. We will not, however, completely disassemble knives for our customers.
We hope this announcement addresses all our customers’ concerns on this topic and that you’re pleased with our decision. Spyderco works very hard at listening to our customers. Listening is easy; making the right choices to implement smart changes takes more time. Thank you for your patience with our efforts to do things right.
Kudos to Spyderco for making this change, but even more importantly, kudos for listening to their end users – who are among the knife world’s most passionate.
(h/t Spyderco OFFICIAL Discussion Group on Facebook)