Review: SpydeRench. Big! Pictures!

Oct 11, 1998
After having my SpydeRench for a while now, I would like to share my impressions here.
(Click on the thumb nails for the big picture)

If you are used to the usual excellent fit and finish of Spyderco’s knives, you are at first a little bit surprised when you hold the Rench for the first time in your hand. The finish is a dull “toolish” gray and the whole thing rattles.

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You don’t exactly how to hold it and the individual tools give the impression like they could come apart very easily. Being male, I of course refused to read the enclosed instruction sheet and went on exploring on my own. The first thing familiar besides the clip is a blade with it’s typical round hole for one hand opening. Well, this seems easy and I give it a try. Sure enough, a nice fully serrated 440C blade with some belly comes out of the “Transformer Tool”. Trying to close it, I had my first test. It didn’t work. But wait a minute, what’s that on the other side? Aaaaah, the blade is secured by a common back locking mechanism. For those among you who - like me - always wondered how this lock exactly works, can have a nice clear look at it on this tool. Where a usual folding knife has two handle scales, the SpydeRench blade is just sitting in ONE scale. This has a certain disadvantage, which I will explain later.

Further exploration of the Rench revealed that this toy comes apart. That’s one of the biggest advantages of this gadget. Finally a multi tool which satisfies the most profound need of all human males: to take things apart. Of course you can do this with all tools, but this one is unique in the way that you don’t need another object to fulfill your desire. You can take the tool itself apart! Not only that, with enough persistence you should be able to put it back together in its original or several modified forms!

When I continued my biopsy, I noticed that the SpydeRench is tighter than the first impression indicated. The rattling sound stems mainly from the little hex bits which are sitting loosely in their holders. I finally managed to dissect an arm (or is it a leg?) by holding the blade part and pulling on the jaws of the monkey wrench. Now you have two parts (that’s math: one minus one is two), one which looks like a folding knife with a missing handle scale another one which looks like a monkey wrench after the monkey has swallowed four screwdriver bids.

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Let’s take another look at the knife part. The ergonomics is good and from one side it almost looks like a regular folder with the Spyderco logo embossed in the handle.

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But turning it around you get the feeling like something is missing (see K). That is one of the scales. From a mechanical point of view not a bad thing. While it is possible for the blade to hit one of the wrench jaws when closing, it still sits tightly and secure enough for real work. The lock works precisely like in any other folder and I doubt the back spring can come out by itself. BUT you have to be VERY careful when closing the knife once it’s detached from the rest of the tool. Since the blade is not protected on one side of the handle, you have to make sure to keep your fingers out of the way when closing it. Otherwise it can go right into the tips of the right hand fingers.

Ok, after learning this the hard way (where the heck are the bandages?) we leave the blade alone and move to the jaws of the Spyder. Besides the monkey wrench there are the pliers build by the knife handle and the rest of the tool.

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They are adjustable in two positions and do a good job for holding even thicker nuts. The monkey wrench has the advantage that the jaws are always parallel and don’t damage the nuts you are working on. The pliers on the other hand allows you to better grab and hold onto things, especially if they are round.

Now let’s take a look at the screwdriver bits (see D). The most nifty one is the longer piece sitting removable in the spine of one of the wrench halves. It is about 2 ½ “ long and has a Phillips head on one and a regular screwdriver head on the other end. So far nothing exciting. But why does it have that strange shape in the middle and why does the surface feel that funny? That’s when the enclosed instruction sheet came in handy. As it turned out, the middle piece is actually a … diamond file with three different surfaces shapes. One is flat, the second one convex and the last one concave. The surfaces a very smooth and don’t remove much from the material you are working on, but it’s sufficient for a quick touch up of the blade, a fishing hook or your fingernails. An excellent idea!

Another unique idea was to use this bit as a lock for the wrench halves. The bit itself is pushed by a spring toward one of the jaws of the wrench and protrudes with the Phillips head just a little bit from it.

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The other part of the wrench has a tiny hole in its jaw into which this head snaps when both pieces are pushed together. A well thought out mechanism! You get the impression that nothing on this tool gets wasted. Each piece can fulfill several functions. The problem – as already mentioned by others – is that it’s difficult to place this bit properly back into the handle. There are three different ways to do it and guess which one usually comes last? Sure, the correct one. At least the spring which holds the bit in place doesn’t come out. What worries me a little bit about this “Phillips Head” lock is if you manage to damage the head (which is the smallest version of the three Phillips bits included and therefore quite delicate) you might have problems that the SpydeRench stays closed. So be careful what you use it for.

After removing the long double bit, the other four bits can be easily extracted from the body of one of the wrench halves. As a matter of fact it’s so easy, that they will fall out immediately if you are not careful enough. It’s a very good idea to play with your new tool over a surface where you can see and retrieve any accidentally dropped parts, because it most likely will happen to you as it happened to me. To bring those hex bits into action, you insert them into the tip of one of the wrench halves.

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In order to increase torque, you can set the other arm of the wrench at 90 degrees. This way it fits nicely in your hand and you get an excellent grip at the tool. But Spyderco though even one step further! You can actually overextend the leg of the wrench to 180 degrees.

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It will snap into a nifty lock and you’ll be able to reach places which you couldn’t with any other tool. The four screwdriver bits included sport two flat heads and two Phillips versions. They can be easily replaced if damaged or substituted for any other type of bit. This way you can modify what you are carrying and even include those Torx bits which no other tool offers.

The last thing to mention is that the tool has the typical Spyderco clip. While a pouch is not available and you can’t carry the tool on your belt, it’s still possible to clip it in the usual manner to your pocket. One thing you have to make sure is that the clip is tight. The one on my tool needed some adjustment and I doubt that it is in general strong enough to keep the heavy tool really secure in place.

Overall I’m quite pleased with this tool. It truly stands on its own and is not another version of the common fold over pliers Leatherman style. While the toy factor is extremely high, everything is made to real world specifications. The 440C blade steel is probably the best one found in any tool and the screwdriver bits are not some sort of soft stainless steel, but like those used in sturdy non-pocket tools. I also found the ergonomics surprisingly good. Not only can the blade be opened with one hand (and leather gloves!), it’s possible to press the arms of the wrenches fairly hard without pain, since they are nicely rounded. The biggest advantage is the take apart idea. This way you can modify the tool and transform it the way it suits your application best.

The weakest point is that the most delicate Phillips head is used to keep the tool itself closed. I would have wished for something sturdier and longer lasting. And bringing the screwdriver bits into action and then putting everything back together while wearing gloves should be a task every brain surgeon would be proud of.

So if you’re at all into pocket tools, I strongly suggest you take a close look at the SpydeRench. It definitely has that “must have” aura around it.

I pretend to work,
they pretend to pay.
Damnit, just when I decided that I didn't need any more knives...
Just kidding Ralf, that was a great review. Sounds like a great tool too. Too bad I can't afford one, I'm still trying to catch up from buying an Edge-Pro. Oh well, enjoy your knife man.
Ralf, it looks like in some situations using the pliers and wrench that you will be pressing down on the spine of the knife blade, how comfortable is that? Glad to see a decent blade steel finally, would rather have a plain edge though. Is that an option?

This is certainly one of the most complicated multi-tools on the market and one of the first things I wondered about is how sturdy it is. When I first got my Supertool I dropped it from about 4 feet onto concrete when it was open and closed to see how it would hold up. It came out ok. Has Sal ever commented about this aspect of the Spyderwrench?


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 02-17-2000).]
Nice review Ralf, I also bought one 2 weeks ago and my complaint is the same as yours. Plus I also do not know if the parts, other than the blade, will rust easily..

Ralf, thanks for the review and pics, I saved every pic. Just how practical is the SpydeRench? How much does it weigh?
When you use the pliers, you'll press more on the end of the arm (where the tip of the closed knife is). As you can see from the pictures G and J this is a fairly thick piece of metal with nicely rounded edges. This end goes in the palm of your hand and feels much more comfortable than all the Leathermen I have.

Regarding toughness. The only weak point is - as mentioned - the lock and maybe the axle for the knife/plier. The main parts of the Rench are cast steel and seem much stronger than the folded sheet metal of other pocket tools. Pictures E and F show how wide the Rench is and how solid the parts are.

The Rench fills a different niche than the fold-over-type tools. It is less suitable for everyday chores but MUCH better for any applications where some kind of machines are involved. The screwdriver bits are excellent and the monkey wrench is a good tool for working on nuts. My Rench goes in the saddle bag of my mountain bike as I think it's the perfect on the road tool for it.
I haven't weighed the Rench but I think it's less than a SuperTool.

[This message has been edited by Ralf (edited 02-22-2000).]
Ralf, where did you get your SpydeRench? How much? I've been trying to get it, can't find it anywhere. Thank You.

I bought a new piece of exercise apparatus a couple of weeks ago, and set about putting it together with my Wave and my Spyderench. Lots of screws, nuts, and bolts. The Wave was immediately out of the picture, because the needle nose is just not practical for hex heads.

The Spyderence performed beautifully, and I only required an actual screwdriver when I had a fairly tight screw that was deep beneath some other parts. I didn't have enough reach to get to it, even using the extended bit. It's a problem I expect I'd have had with pretty much any multi.

Me likes Spyderench!

AKTI Member #A000832

"That which does not kill me just postpones the inevitable."
Thanks Brian for the reply, but where did you get it?!?!!?!?!?! Ralf?!?!
Oh, If I may ask Brian, what did you get? A BowFlex? SoloFlex? The BUNS'O Matic? The thingie Suzanne Summer endorses? Personally I think getting in shape has to do with 90% discipline and 10% equipment.

[This message has been edited by KAJNIN (edited 02-23-2000).]
Got my Spyderench by joining the Spyderco Collector's Club. Go to the Spyderco Forum for a couple of discussions on the club. If you still have any questions, please feel free to drop me a note.

The piece I bought is a ladder climber. One of those pieces that just plain hurts! The climber blows running, walking, and stair climbers away for aerobic exercise. Endorphins kick in after about 4.5 min, and sweat is ROLLING after 7. I'm holding right now at 15, I'll ultimately go to 20. It's the second ladder climber I've owned, we used the first one so much that the weld on one of the foot pedals finally failed.

The discipline comes a lot easier when the workout is challenging, and can be accomplished without spending a lot of time. Agreed that discipline is 90% of the battle, but the right piece of equipment and some variety can make discipline easier to maintain.

AKTI Member #A000832

"That which does not kill me just postpones the inevitable."
Sweet review. I think Sal should hire you to do their SpydeRench owner's manual.

Oh wait, I forgot, we don't read those things anyway.

Semper Fi