Manual Stilettos

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Killgar
Posts: 107
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2021 6:52 am

Manual Stilettos

Post by Killgar »

There are pictures and a video at the end of this post.

I love stilettos, both auto and manual, and I thought I'd make a post about what I consider to be the best traditional-style manual stiletto. At least the best I've ever come across (I don't consider the Cold Steel Ti-Lite a "traditional" stiletto)

I'm referring to the Rite Edge stiletto. Thanks to Killbucket for turning me on to them years ago. They played a big part in my stiletto evolution and led me to rebuild my first switchblades.

The knife measures 10.75" long open, with a blade 4.75" long. The liners are stainless steel, the bolsters are SOLID stainless steel, and the bolsters are actually welded to the liners. This makes for a very robust and solid handle. The knife has an all-pin construction.

I would not describe the blade as "robust", it's a thin, full flat-grind. But it has a decent heat-treat, takes a shaving-sharp edge, and makes a decent light-duty cutting tool. It's also rather "springy", gripping the tip and the guard bolsters I can bend the blade back and forth 1/2" from center without it breaking or taking a permanent bend. So I imagine the blade would be resistant to breakage under some lateral stress.

The handles are wood, but smoothly finished. The back lock and lock spring are both stainless steel. Some of them had very small brass or bronze pivot washers.

Now for the negative- They tend to have some blade and lock play, but not sloppy. And thanks to the solid ss bolsters the pivot pin can be peened tighter without crushing or denting the bolsters. And none of them had blades centered between the liners, in fact they all rub.

The edges of the guards sometimes have sharp areas, but they are easy to smooth out with sand paper or small, fine files.

Oh, on the positive side, I paid a whopping $8 a piece for them from a US vendor (SMKW).

Now for some stuff to look at.

The first pic shows a variety. The top knife is a mostly original RE stiletto. The only thing I did to it is add the thumb stud. Adding a thumb stud to these knives allows them to be opened as fast as an auto by applying a quick burst of upward pressure on the thumb stud. There's a link below to a video I made to demonstrate this.

The second knife is a complete RE rebuild. It is designed for easy one-hand-open/one-hand-close thanks to the thumb stud and the thumb press lock release that I made and attached to the lock (notice it no longer has the hump back release). It also features all-screw construction, an adjustable pivot, and G10 handles.

The third knife is also a complete rebuild similar to the previous, but without the thumb press lock release, and micarta handles.

The bottom knife in that pic is what I call a "hybrid", a knife made from parts of different knives. The liners and bolsters are from a Rite Edge stiletto, and the blade, lock, and spring are from a Benchmark stiletto. I really liked the design of the blade, and I didn't want to disrupt the streamline look of it, so I didn't install a thumb stud, instead I fabricated a little internal stainless steel lever (you can see the external portion of the lever sticking up behind the upper guards, it sticks out and the end is bent at a 90 degree angle), pressing on the external end of the lever causes the internal end to push against the blade tang and push the blade out from the handle about an inch thereby making it faster and easier to grab with my other hand.

It also has coarse G10 handles, all-screw construction, and an adjustable pivot.

All of the bottom three knives have aftermarket .005 thick bronze phosphorus pivot washers. And the thumb studs on the upper three knives also act as blade-stops, so when the knife is closed, if the blade gets squeezed inward, the edge won't hit the back spring.

The second picture is of a switchblade I built using the liners and bolsters from a Rite Edge stiletto, and other aftermarket switchblade parts. It also features a thumb press lock release.

Then there is a link to a video I made flicking open the top two manual RE knives pictured below. Sorry for the crappy video quality. I'm into knives, not photography :D .


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The video, it's less than a minute long- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwLqLcVRpW0




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Tom19176
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Re: Manual Stilettos

Post by Tom19176 »

Nice work on all of them. I have a few of them some where. I also bought them form SMKW for $8. I am surprised they open that easily with just the thumb stud added ( second knife in video).
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john
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Re: Manual Stilettos

Post by john »

Awesome! Do you have photos of the internal workings. I’d like to see what’s going on under the top bolster.
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Killgar
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Re: Manual Stilettos

Post by Killgar »

Thanks guys, glad you like the post. :)

Tom- I originally bought around six (maybe seven?, they all ended up being disassembled except the one), and although they were all very similar, some of them I could actually wrist flick open, including the one pictured with the original wooden handles, and it doesn't require a lot of effort. This would be made even easier by drilling some holes in the handles for better grip, or replacing the scales with coarse G10. Some of the back springs are stronger than others which I'm sure plays a role. With the third one down I had to remove some metal from the spring to lighten the tension a bit because that one was a bit too strong for my liking.

Installing a thumb stud also requires grinding a relief cutout in at least the stud side handle and liner so that the blade will close all the way with the stud in place. I used a Dremel with a narrow chainsaw sharpening grinding bit, but someone could use a round/rat tail file and file the cutout across both sides of the knife.

Another step that was required was removing a little metal from the outer/rounded area of the stud-side guard in order to create enough clearance during opening.

I was pretty amazed at the level of quality that I received in these knives for a mere $8 (I would have paid several times that). Sure, they aren't HIGH QUALITY, but they're pretty decent as far as traditional manual stilettos. I really wish a company would take the basic design a step further and refine them into HIGH QUALITY knives, I don't think it would take much. And I would also like to see a company go a few steps further and make auto versions. Wishful thinking.



John- Sorry, I don't have any "internal" pics, but the workings are typical old-school back lock technology- a leaf spring at the bottom of the knife, and a lock that pivots on a pin through the handle. And I'm not quite sure what you mean by "under the bolster". The bolsters are solid and welded to the liners, so there really isn't anything inside or under them.

I'd offer to take one apart and take some pics, but they really are a PITA to disassemble and reassemble due to the design and strength of the springs, even with an all-screw construction, so I'd rather not. But I'm happy to answer any questions I can.



A few more details on taking these knives apart and reassembling them for anyone contemplating doing so-

The biggest difficulty in the initial disassembly are the two bottom bolster/spring pins. In the stock knife you only see one pin, but there are two, one is simply ground down and blended into the bolster. The problem is that the spring tension is so strong when the knife is closed that the unhardened ss pins get deformed. I also experienced this with the screws I initially used, then I switch to really hard carbon steel screws instead of stainless.

So knocking out the bottom pins can be difficult. I had to do those pins last, and for the very last one I was twisting the various parts around and around to loosen them up.

If you take one apart, forget about reusing the original pins. And I strongly suggest using a hardened carbon steel pin or screw for the very bottom bolster hole (more on that coming up). The bottom ends of old drill bits make great hardened pins, you can't peen them, but when the pin is under the kind of constant pressure that the bottom pin is under, it doesn't need to be peened to stay in place.

Trying to get these knives back together is a little tricky, again because of the spring. It took me awhile to understand how they even get these knives together in the first place, after all I doubt they're using high-end production equipment, but I think I figured it out.

The back of the spring at the rear butt-end of the handle extends out just a little bit past the liners and bolsters, I originally thought this was a lack of refinement, but no. To reassemble these knives, assemble all the rest of the knife and install all the pins except the very bottom one, then gently squeeze the butt end of the knife in a vice pressing the lock extension in between the liners/bolsters, that will force the spring in and make all of the very bottom pin holes line up so you can insert a pin or screw or threaded post.

On the first one I rebuilt I made the mistake of grinding the spring extension down flush with the liners and bolsters to produce a more refined looking knife, I did this before I learned the trick of reassembly. Don't make the same mistake.

Sadly, it looks like these knives are discontinued. I went looking for them after I made my original post and I didn't find many. I remember this also happened a few years back, and I thought they were gone for good, but then they came back and were available all over the place again. So maybe they'll come back again.
Tom19176
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Re: Manual Stilettos

Post by Tom19176 »

Thanks for the added info ! I have find mine..lol
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jerryk25
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Re: Manual Stilettos

Post by jerryk25 »

I drew the locktab extension . . .very cool. . .I could see doing this on a production knife.
I'm guessing this is what he wondered about "under the bolster. . .meaning unlocking the open knife.
I didn't know details, . . .so I exaggerated some things for clarity.

I did not draw.
The manual folder with the tab on the spine side . . .where it helps "kick open" the knife
I'm not sure where the tab enters the knife body. . which side of the liner.
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Killgar
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Re: Manual Stilettos

Post by Killgar »

jerryk25 wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 10:08 pm I drew the locktab extension . . .very cool. . .I could see doing this on a production knife.
I'm guessing this is what he wondered about "under the bolster. . .meaning unlocking the open knife.
I didn't know details, . . .so I exaggerated some things for clarity.

I did not draw.
The manual folder with the tab on the spine side . . .where it helps "kick open" the knife
I'm not sure where the tab enters the knife body. . which side of the liner.
You got the thumb press right on. The "head" of the lock however is oval with a flat top. The press is attached with 0-80 screws and nuts. This required some CAREFUL drilling through the lock head with a 1/16" carbide drill bit.

As for the "hybrid" stiletto with the bayo blade and thumb/blade "press" lever, the cutout for the lever looks like this (pic below). The upper extension is then bent 90 degrees to one side to form the thumb press, and the other bottom extension is bent 90 degrees in the same direction to form the tab that pushes the blade out.

I had to add washers to the pivot and make a shim for the spring to level everything out with the thumb press lever.

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jerryk25
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Re: Manual Stilettos

Post by jerryk25 »

Sexy. . .Very Sexy. . .
I am totally into gravity knives. . . (see my avatar)

That little tab looks so clean and "Factory". . .
Killgar
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Re: Manual Stilettos

Post by Killgar »

jerryk25 wrote: Tue Aug 02, 2022 8:30 pm Sexy. . .Very Sexy. . .
I am totally into gravity knives. . . (see my avatar)

That little tab looks so clean and "Factory". . .
Thanks Jerry. :)

To add, in reference to the knife with the thumb press lock release, it was originally a humpback lock release like the other three knives pictured, but after I attached the thumb press I ground off the hump since it was no longer necessary.

As for the "hybrid", taking it out of my "box O knives" for those pics I took today of the lever sort of rekindled my affection for it. I've been "playing" with it throughout the day :D .

It's been several years since I put it together. I don't know what came over me regarding that lever. Just a burst of creativity I guess.
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