Tactical Handyman: Cable Tie Knife Opener

The Tactical Handyman is a big fan of one of Ernest Emerson’s best contributions to the world of tactical knives (that is really saying something, considering he invented the tactical knife) – the Emerson Opener. The Emerson Opener, also known as the “Wave” opener, is a basically a hooked protrusion on the spine of a folding knife’s blade that allows the user to catch the blade on their pocket to open it as the knife is being removed from the pocket. It is a very handy way of opening your knife quickly with just one hand. Every knife should have one!

If your knife doesn’t have an Emerson Opener but it does have a thumb hole, I have good news. You can simply add a cable tie to the hole, trim the left over cable, and viola! You have a dirt cheap “Wave” opener.

Cable Tie Knife Opener


Your new cable tie knife opener is easy to use. You can practice pressing it into the fabric of your pocket as you withdraw the knife. It should open the blade with little to no extra effort. The blade will basically deploy automatically with some practice.

If you need to remove your knife without deploying the blade, index the knife in your hand and twist it so the cable tie doesn’t catch your pocket as you remove it. This can actually take more practice than learning to deploy the blade.

There are many different sizes of cable ties available. I prefer smaller ones but larger ties make it easy to open the blade. A knife with a very curved spine will often require a larger cable tie to work well. It is very inexpensive to experiment with different sizes.

This isn’t a Tactical Handyman original. People have been doing this for years. Give it a try!

EDC Classics: The Delica4 (top) and Endura4 with Emerson Opener

A real Emerson Opener can be seen on this Spyderco Delica and Endura.

The Emerson Opener catches the pocket...

The Emerson Opener catches the pocket…

And deploys the blade as the knife is drawn from the pocket.

And deploys the blade as the knife is drawn from the pocket.

One Response to Tactical Handyman: Cable Tie Knife Opener

  1. Jim May 24, 2013 at 06:45 #

    Nice write up, As reference though Robert Terzuola Started making “tactical knives” before, mr emerson. Emerson Made the tactical knife Popular though.

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