My Multitool Review

I have collected several different Multi-tools over the years. I thought i would do a bit of a review / rundown of how they go, as there are a lot of different ones out there, and it can be hard to know what you want, and if the extra cost of a quality tool is actually worth it.

Leatherman Wave – Old Wave


Leatherman Wave

Leatherman Wave

This was the first “proper” multi-tool I owned. From memory, I bought it with the first pay check from my first full time job, as an Audio Visual Technician, and for me, is the yard stick to measure all other multi-tools. This is one of the original style Waves. The outside tools, the blades, Saw, and File, all lock into place with a liner lock style system. None of the inner tools, the screwdrivers and other bits lock into place, but I don’t generally find that a problem.

Leatherman Wave

Leatherman Wave

For the wave, I also have the matching Bit driver, that clips onto the Leatherman and takes standard hex bits. Not used so much these days, but back in the day, it was a valuable addition to my belt

Leatherman Skeletool

The Skeletool

The Skeletool

The Skeletool was a bit of an impulse Ebay buy. I actually bought 3 of the things on the US ebay, for about what it would cost for one of them locally. I sold the other two on the Australian eBay, hoping to get at least my money back. I ended up not making it all back, but that was OK, as I was keeping one, it cost me a whole lot less then going down to King of Knives and buying one would.

Skeletool with its blade out

Skeletool with its blade out

Anyway, onto the knife itself. I took it to work, as that is my main use/excuse for owning multi-tools. The carabiner was very handy in that it can clip onto my keys, and is compact enough to fit in my pocket with the keys. The downside was, which i have noticed on a lot of tools, is the needle nose tip is a lot less pointy then i would like. for a lot of uses, this doesn’t matter so much, but some jobs, such as straightening bent pins in VGA cables, need a fairly small needle nose to do.

One thinng to note about the skeletool, is the lack of aditional tools. It has a knife, pliers, and 2 leatherman interchangable bits, and thats it. you can buy additional bits from leatherman, but thats an additional cost. This is ok, the Skeletoool is designed to be minimalistic and compact, not massive and feature packed

Gerber Shortcut

Gerber Shortcut

Gerber Shortcut

The Shortcut is identical to the Gerber Clutch, except there is a pair of scissors instead of a pair of pliers. This was an accidental eBay purchase. I was supposed to be buying a Gerber Clutch, but bid & bought the wrong item. That’s OK though, after kicking around the office, i came to the conclusion it wasn’t much use there, so it has been relocated to the mini first aid kit i carry in my backpack. I figure the scissors make it more useful there then anywhere else.

Gerber Clutch

Gerber Clutch

Gerber Clutch

Gerber clutch beside the shortcut. They are identical, other then the pliers / scissors jaws

Gerber clutch beside the shortcut. They are identical, other then the pliers / scissors jaws

The newest addition to my family of tools, The clutch resides on my work keys. Much smaller then the Leatherman Skeletool, it takes even less space in my pocket. The Clutch is still in the testing phase, I think it will be around for a while, as it fills a nice niche.

The build quality of th Shortcut and the Clutch are what you would expect from a name brand tool. I’m more then happy with them

As you can see from the photo, there is a small keyring clip thing on the tool. I added this myself, cutting the clip off a un-used lanyard i had kicking around the house

CRKT Guppie

CRKT Guppie, showing the detachable hex tools and LED torch

CRKT Guppie, showing the detachable hex tools and LED torch

This one is the only one that doesn’t have a pair of pliers on it. Instead, it it made up of a carabiner, and a shifting spanner. I had less of a use in mind when i bought this one, It was more an impulse buy to expand my collection of multitools. Its an interesting concept, Shifting spanner one end, a carabiner, and a hex bit scredriver on the other end. Integrated into the magnetically clipped on bit holder is a little LED torch. This little fish certainly packs a few features, but I tend to miss the pliers too much, so this will likely never be more then a piece in my collection

No-name tools

The two cheap multitools. there is even a quality difference between these two.

The two cheap multitools. there is even a quality difference between these two.

I also have several no-name tools, of varying quality, most pre-date my Leatherman Wave. However, there is one that i bought recently, while in search for a tool that fits on my keys, but doesn’t take up space.

Super Cheap Auto branded multitool. Resonably good build quality for an $8 tool

Super Cheap Auto branded multitool. Resonably good build quality for an $8 tool

Many of the no-name tools are of pretty poor build quality, and most likely pretty poor material quality. The best quality one was probably the small tool I bought at Supercheap Auto recently. As mentioned before, I was searching for a small tool to add to my keys

Close up of the SCA tool. you can see the modification I have made to the jaws to make them thinner

Close up of the SCA tool. you can see the modification I have made to the jaws to make them thinner

this is by far the worst quality tool in my collection. poor fitting, and i'm pretty sure the blade and fold out tools are actally crome plated, instead of staneless steel. THATS how bad it is

this is by far the worst quality tool in my collection. poor fitting, and i'm pretty sure the blade and fold out tools are actally crome plated, instead of staneless steel. THATS how bad it is

The cheap tools have seen virtually no use over the years I’ve had them. I’ll usually go for my leatherman Wave first, as Its usually nearest, apart from the gerber clutch, which is on my work keys.

Conclusion

So, now you have seen most of my multitools. I have some good quality ones, some poor quality ones, and some inbetween. In a recomendation to someone looking at buying a multitool, I’ll almost always recommend a good quality name brand, be it Leatherman, or others such as SOG, Gerber, CRKT, spyderco etc… If you go to the cheap end, you’ll get a tool, but the quality won’t be there. Having said that, it appears that some cheap tools are getting better. the Supercheap Auto tool was exceptional for a cost of less then $10

There are some odd ball tools out there, like the CRKT Guppie seen here. They may do the job you’re after, you’ll have to make that call. as mentioned before, the guppie was more a gimick, one for the collection, as opposed to a tool that gets everyday use

have I found my perfect tool? well, the Wave is probably as good as any, Its my favorite, and I don’t know if I could ever bring myself to replace it. Having said that, i won’t stop expanding my collection. There are a few tools on my wish list, but that is a post for another day.

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6 thoughts on “My Multitool Review

  1. The Wave has been my mainstay for many years now. I’ve had a few and lost a few.
    The Wave in it’s original state seems to be a better tool all around than the new Wave.
    I don’t like the lack of small straight blades and the steel reversible screwdriver tip of the new Wave. In addition, the new Wave seems a bit more bulky in your hands than the old Wave.

    Several years ago I broke the needlenose pliers on my old Wave and sent it back to Leatherman. They didn’t repair it but sent me a new Wave instead. I wasn’t particularly happy with the upgrade. I managed to buy three old Waves at an Ebay auction and those are what I have been using since. The new Wave sits in my dresser drawer.

    I’ve never owned a gerber of any sort.
    I have considered buying a Leatherman Squirt E4 since it has a nice pair of wire strippers.

  2. My son has received an old Leatherman Wave as a gift; how old exactly is that? And is it normal that the tools are very hard to extract, even though no visible signs of rust or wear?

    If he would want to sell it, what would be a fair price?

    Thanks

    • I bought the first leatherman pictured above in 2004. they kept making it for a while after that, and i’m not sure when it was introduced
      if its like the one pictured, Its likely to be at least 3 or 4 years old I imagine. maybe older or younger, it is hard to know exactly. I believe the first wave was introduced in 1998, so it *could* be as old as 11 years old.

      The tools can get gummed up with dirt and muck, so if they are hard to extract, get a can of penetrating oil such as WD-40, and give it a good spray, opening and closing the tools a few times to help the oil get inside the pivots.
      give the joints the occasional spray while opening and closing, as most of the spray tends to run off.
      WD-40 and the likes tend to be pretty messy, so I reccomend doing this outside
      If this doesn’t work straight away, you can try putting the tool in a container, spraying as much WD-40 in there as possible, and let it sit for a while, then try again

      re-sale wise, I’m not sure what it would be worth, It would depend on its condition, and how you sold it. selling it on ebay, I would imagine you wouldn’t get a lot for it, there are too many other ones. I sold a couple of skeletools a while back, brand new, and only got about $60 (au)for them, which was a little dissapointing, but I covered what I paid for them (and got to keep one).
      I would say a good condition one *should* be worth about $50 – $60(au) or so, but it really depends, and where you can find a buyer.

      I hope that helps you out.
      Cheers,
      Matt

    • If you are curious as to the age of your Wave (or any of the large Leathermans (Leathermen?)), there should be a date code on the inside of each of the handles. It’s four digits – first two are the month, the second two are the year.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Hi Matt

    Thank you very much for your reply, that was really helpful. His Wave looks exactly like the one in the picture above, with the same lettering.

    Greetz from Tel Aviv!
    Sandra

  4. I have a Sheffield with locking pliers made in China but of fair quality. It is exactly like your Kershaw.

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