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A better multitool

Discussion in 'Multi-tools & Multi-purpose Knives' started by Ten_Mile_Knives, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. Ten_Mile_Knives


    Feb 9, 2018
    Little bit of a rant coming. I've been pondering for the last year or so on why the multitool industry is so far behind the rest of the cutlery world. With so many modern materials and great designers, why has nothing really interesting come out that isn't a let down? So I want to discuss some features that I'd like to see enter the industry as standard options.

    To identify the main problems, I never liked carrying multitools for four main reasons: I never use most of the tools so they're dead weight, they generally have lower levels of fit and finish and fewer style options then most folding knives, they rarely have pocket clips, are slow to acess, and the materials used are not very high performing for the technology we have access to. Now I'm not saying that 440A, molded plastic, and rivets don't have their places in the knife world, but my pocket isn't one of them. I promise I'm not trying to sound high-speed-low-drag-tactical, I just see a major gap between what multitools are and what they could be.

    Istead of just complaining, I'm making myself my own multitool and I've been thinking a lot about what features I'd want to actually use a multitool. This is what I arrived at:

    • A unibody victorinox style construction
    • 3" main blade in a modern steel like M-390 with a liner lock
    • a decent pocket clip with standard screw arrangement for lots of aftermarket options
    • a Marlin spike or some other proding tool for inspecting and puncturing
    • a bottle opener
    • a chisel or some other scraping/prying tool
    • a small screw driver
    • under 6 Oz.
    • under 1/2" thick

    And lastly, here's the big one:
    • Easily interchangable tools for different jobs in one tool

    I'd love to here people's input on what their "dream" tools are. I don't plan on selling them I've just never seen a discussion on it.

    As my design and build progresses I'll post updates and pictures.
    COLD_WRENCH likes this.
  2. Enkrig


    Dec 17, 2015
    Whenever someone talks about multitools, two main types pop into my mind: (i) the victorinox type and (ii) the Leatherman/Gerber/Swisstool type. The big difference between the two seems to be whether it has full size pliers. Just curious, does that factor in into what you want?
  3. Ten_Mile_Knives


    Feb 9, 2018
    The SAK style, unibody is what I prefer. I find that I always break the pliers or they are not very well machined on Leatherman style MT's and I end up just going and finding real needle noses instead.
  4. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    The biggest factor is the tolerances. You get more than a couple blades, and you need overall tolerances that that are in the 0.0001ths of an inch, and costs are going to start going way up. There would be money in a robust quick-change blade system, but the ones on the market are beholden to hold the patents. Boker is kinda going that direction, but to be honest, I doubt they are going to push too hard on the steel, its not their market. If you are talking fully disassembling the tool to change tools, its going to be miserable dealing with backsprings. Not trying to rain on the parade, but I can easily see the tool being a couple hundered bucks, and I just don't know that there are many people willing to spend premium price on what is seen as a budget tool. Its like the Cold steel opinel knockoff. Sure it might be better, but why?
  5. pinnah


    Jul 28, 2011

    I will be interested to see what you come up with. But it's not something that immediately appeals to me.

    Couple of observations about my own habits, which I totally understand may be out of step with the larger group.

    - I never only carry a multi tool instead of a knife. I always carry one as a companion to a knife. I vastly prefer the ergos of a single blade knife and the collector in me gets bored with a given knife and I end up rotating among knives week to week. (I've been on a Buck 110 kick this year.) I look to my knife, not my multi tool, to scratch my "isn't this beautiful" itch.

    - I have 2 uses for a multi tool: EDC and working on my property. Neither are well covered by what you describe. For EDC, I find a Leatherman Micra in my off hand pocket to be ideal. I use all of the tools (except for the knife blade) on a regular basis. For working on my property, I find the tool set on most full sized multi tools to be honestly, just about perfect. I prefer ones with a saw, file and awl.

    - On many of my multi tools, I either cut off the blade entirely (Micras can get through TSA this way) or I've reground the knife blade to an awl. I keep one Wave with it's blade intact and use that blade for terrible dirty jobs. For that, I want a tough chip resistant steel that is easily repaired. 420HC is just fine for that actually.

    - IMO, the unexplored sub market for multi tools is smaller SAK sized companions to single blade EDC knives. I would find something just a scooch bigger than the Micra but not by much to be interesting. I would design it to be bladeless, I think. A pliers based Micra+ with scissors instead of a knife blade would be interesting.
    redsparrow likes this.

    BITEME Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 14, 2007
    Now a SAK with easily interchangeable tools then I think you would be on to something,I agree about multi-tools also but I think the very first leatherman almost fit the bill as far as portability/ease of use,etc also 420hc for a MT blade isn't that bad considering what I have seen a ton of guys use their blades for
    Smaug likes this.
  7. Roamad


    Feb 1, 2016
    Good discussion and I largely agree with the OP.

    Closest thing I've found to a MT that works for me, in an EDC role, is this Leatherman Skeletool CX that I modded by cutting off the carabiner clip/bottle opener:


    Yesterday I used it to cut away some old wire fencing partially buried in a rock wall.

    Why I like it:
    -- Much more pocket friendly without the carabiner, and lighter
    -- 154CM main blade
    -- Bit of carbon fiber in the handle to cut weight
    -- pocket clip
    -- one hand opening main blade
    -- Well built. Nothing's broke on it yet.
    -- Not much bigger or heavier than a 4-layer Swiss Army Knife in the pocket.

    What I wish it had:
    -- Wood saw
    -- Awl
    -- Spring-action pliers
  8. Steely_Gunz

    Steely_Gunz Got the Khukuri fevah Moderator

    May 9, 2002
    Like others have said, my multi-tool is my go-to first line beater/make-do. I can appreciate a more premium tool with nicer knife steel, but I don't have much use for one.

    I'm a knife collector and user as well as a contractor by trade. So it is entirely probable that I have a $300 ZT clipped to my pocket that gets used for cutting because I appreciate the well made construction and the performance of the premium steel as well as the ergonomics. However, the first time I need to pry or poke or do any abusive activity, I pull out a Rebar/ST300 and let the $50 400-series stainless take the wear and tear.

    I can also appreciate wanting a slimmer tool with customizable components. However, as a contractor, my personal needs fall more along the lines of mo' is betta. I like having a full tool chest.

    Still, I'm very interested in your build and look forward to the project:)
    Smaug likes this.
  9. Ten_Mile_Knives


    Feb 9, 2018
    Okay, I've been really enjoying working about this project, and after some critical thinking these are the conclusions I've reached for now:

    I: Quick-change tools are unrealistic with on caveat; I don't think it's unreasonable for the average knife user who already regularly disassembles their folding knives for cleaning to unscrew a pivot and pull of scales to replace tools. So instead of chasing tenths for some changing mechanism, I'm going to go with simply stacking tools, liners, and washers on standard bushing-spaced pivots. Most "traditional" multi-blade folders already use this construction but with rivets, I'll be using torx screws.

    II: Maintaining the aesthetics and ergonomics of modern tactical folders is really important to me. Spyderco came out with something very close to what I want, but I can't stand the looks: https://www.bladehq.com/item--Spyderco-ClipiTool-Standard-Multi--78700

    III: In order to get the ball rolling I have to sacrifice some of my wants such as: a liner lock which I swapped for a Triad Lock, my weight constraint (can't afford Titanium right now), and probably my thickness restriction.

    So here's what I've got:


    The blade is 3" out of Elmax, which I have coming from AKS right now, and the tools will be 440-C. I went based the design on the Enzo Birk 75 folder because it is a simple, ergonomic, and good looking knife. And obviously I got the triad lock from Coldsteel, simply because it allowed me to let all of the pins go through the entire tool rather that through just the tool section or knife section alone.

    Once I can dedicate more time to really nailing down the design for actual production I will post more. Until then I would love any criticism or help!

    and again, I do not plan on selling this as is, so nobody jump on me for copywrite infringement.
  10. A.L.


    Jun 27, 2007
    Most of the multitool market audience are people who don't care or don't know about premium materials and why they cost. Average joe or worker wants a working tool that doesn't cost too much but still works fairly good.
  11. pinnah


    Jul 28, 2011

    You might want to google up "Buck X-Tract". Series of knife/tools not entirely different from what you're considering.
  12. Smaug

    Smaug Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    They're was a Schrade or something maybe 20 years ago that was a basic lock back knife, but the 3 or so implements hooked into a rivet instead of the rivet having to go through.

    I kind of like the Boker MT. It looks a lot like a SAK, but with a bit of difference in the tools and a proper steel blade.
  13. mushka


    Jun 27, 2018
    I've got an older leatherman supertool that has filled more needs than it has probably needed too. It's just a small toolbox that has come in handy many times. From cutting, to tightening things , to wiring a starter back on a jeep in the wilds when the bolt fell out. Saved us a 26 mile walk out of a sand wash back to a paved road. I've a gerber tool also that never gets used, it was a gift.

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