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Old July 14th 03, 12:59 AM
Henry E Schaffer
Posts: n/a
Default Leatherman Tool

In article ,
Steve Knight wrote:
On Sun, 06 Jul 2003 08:15:07 -0400, Tom Watson


not just leatherman but all of them use only SS

My SOG Power Plier has several blades which appear to be hardened
steel not stainless - they look like somewhat black carbon steel.

and I don't think it is the
right material for everything. not the screwdrivers or files or cutters on the
pliers. I think they could be improved by using the right steels.

The apparently-carbon steel blades are the Phillips, the square drive
and the file.

Some years ago I did a review of several of these wonderful gadgets -
here's a copy:
Leatherman Super Tool(tm) SOG Power-Plier Gerber Multi-Plier
Leatherman Tool Group, Inc. SOG Specialty Knives, Inc. Fiskars Inc.
12106 N.E. Ainsworth Cir. PO Box 1024 Gerber Legendary
P.O. Box 20595 Edmonds, WA 98020 Blades Division
Portland, OR 97220-0595 14200 SW 72nd Ave.
503 253 7826 Portland, OR 97281

Here are three of the best known and newest entries into the
competitive fold-out toolbox (multi-tool) arena. Leatherman is
responsible for getting this competition going in the past few years by
bringing out a high quality and very popular tool. Other companies and
models followed, and as a result this area has flourished. There is a
large variety of sizes, designs and prices, and we all benefit.

I've been carrying various types of these things on my belt for a
couple of years, and find that it is very useful to have one of them
handy. (For people who haven't seen or used one of these, they are
built around a pair of fold-up or take-down compact pliers, in which
the handles are hollow and various blades fold out in a
pocket-knife-like manner. The blades usually include assorted knife
blades, screwdrivers, can/bottle opener, etc.)

As the competition has heated up there have been a number of new
designs and clever additional features. I should note up front that all
these designs are a study of "tradeoffs" - the results are never as good
in each function as is a specialized tool which performs only that
function. But you aren't likely to have the specialized tool with you,
and you can carry one of these with you. I do this, and seldom go more
than a couple of days without "needing" to use it. Before I carried it
I seldom realized that I had these needs because I just either found a
different method or just left a problem unsolved. But having a pair of
pliers, wirecutters, screwdrivers (slot and Phillips), etc. around all
of the time is a very handy thing for people who like to fix and/or
investigate things. This got me interested into the different tools
available, and I started out:

My first fold-out toolbox was an imported knock-off of the earlier
Leatherman. I found it useful enough that I decided to step-up to a
better quality item and got the Gerber Multi-Plier. This is a neat design,
with a plier head which slides out of the handles - which makes it more
quickly available than is the Leatherman, (and perhaps it is stronger -
but I'm not sure.) The Leatherman is a needlenose pliers, the Gerber
and SOG are bluntnose pliers - in my experience they are equally useful
overall, but sometimes you wish you had the other one. The Leatherman
needs to have the tapered pliers nose to fit into the space in the
handles. The design of the Gerber has your hands pushing on the closed
sides of the handles and therefore they don't bite into your hands.
However, even though the Super Tool does have the open sides touching
your hands, the folded up blades fill up the hollow space next to the
handle edges which mostly keeps them from biting into your hands.
Pretty much the same result with different designs. While the earlier
SOG had the closed-sides out, the Power Plier has the hollow space out,
but has the blades inset just a bit - enough to make the sides bite into
your hands. This is an example of a 'small' design item which can make
a substantial difference in use.

Design isn't everything. I am very unhappy with the implementation of
the Gerber - the screwdriver blades weren't ground square, they were
left rather rounded at the tips so that they tended to jump out of
screw slots, and the Phillips screwdriver also had rounded edges. Also
the shape of the bottle opener is such that it is very difficult to
remove a bottle cap with it - one has to nibble around the cap edges
and finally work it off. (These problems are why I ordered the Super
Tool.) Also the plier tips don't meet perfectly and the wire cutters
on the pliers don't meet properly and so don't cut cleanly. The rulers
are a 3" ruler on the side of each handle. I think that the many of
the design ideas are good - but the implementation/worksmanship is
lacking. A letter to them last September has not been answered.
This tool also has had more reported problems with rusting than the

By contrast the Super Tool is extremely well finished - with attention
paid to each blade and also to the pliers. E.g., the screwdrivers are
square with sharp corners on each blade, and the wire cutter on the
pliers are sharp and meet closely so that wire is cut, instead of
mangled. This Leatherman is the best finished of these tools that I've
ever seen.

The PowerPlier is intermediate in this respect, but closer to the Super
Tool. The wire cutter is as well finished as the Super Tool, but the
general attention to detailed polishing and finishing is less, and
really shows up in nearly impossible to read markings on the ruler.

Each of the designs have clever features (as well as drawbacks.) The
Super Tool seems, to me, to be at the top in this accounting. The
blades all lock open when fully opened. This is very neat, and makes
the use of the sharp blades somewhat safer. To close a locked-open
blade, you have to raise another blade to the 90 degree point, and then
you can close both. The base of the pliers has a small ground out area
which can be used for electrical crimping (could this ever be useful?
:-), and the back of the tool has inch and centimeter rules on each
handle. These rulers are aligned so that opening the handles so they
are in line puts the two handle rules in line and gives a total of a
9inch/22cm rules.

The PowerPlier's most apparent feature is the gearing of the pliers,
which gives an approx. 2X mechanical advantage in gripping down on the
pliers. So far this hasn't been an advantage to me since my problem has
been to avoid harming fold-out pliers when using them since they are
less sturdy than real pliers. The blades on the PowerPliers are thinner
than those in the competitors discussed here, and so they've been able
to pack in more, although perhaps slightly weaker, blades. The
MultiPliers have the fewest blades, mostly because of IMHO poor design
choices. Also the design leaves a bit less room for the fold-out
blades - and so they are somewhat smaller than those in the other
brands. This shows up in the "large" blades, the knife and the file.
The PowerPlier and the Multiplier have bolt-like pivots for the foldout
blades, while the Super Tool is riveted. The bolt pivots means that
tension can be adjusted, and blades changed or replaced. SOG makes a
point of this and sells replacement and optional blades. This is a
benefit, but I've never needed to take advantage of it. Both the
Multiplier and PowerPlier have a spring-extension on the handle to help
hold open-blades in the open position. This works, to a limited
extent, but isn't nearly as positive as the Super Tool's lock. However
closing the handles when using the blades will keep them from closing
far enough to do any harm. The PowerPlier blade design allows your finger
to get bitten between the blade back and this spring portion - and you can
get a small blood-blister that way (I know! :-)

The PowerPlier has inch and centimeter ruler markings on the back of
both handles - but these are essentially unusable. First of all, they
are poorly defined and aren't very visible on the backs of the
unpolished handles. Next, the handles have perforations in them -
probably a carry-over from the previous model by SOG where the pliers
folded out from the side, and the perforations gave traction on the
backs of the handles - but here they obscure the ruler markings.
Lastly, there are two separate 3"/9cm rulers - one on each handle, which
is very limiting (unlike the SuperTool in which the two handles together
produce a double length ruler) and they don't start at "zero" but rather
at about 1/8", and so every measurement will be this much off.

Blades (may vary, but this is what I have)

Super Tool - 10 blades

clip point knife blade 3"; awl/punch 1 1/4", fairly blunt; small,
medium and large slot screwdrivers; metal/wood file, 3" x 1/2", single
cut on one side, double cut on the other, one edge cut, the other
smooth/safe (the surface condition of the metal makes it appear to have
been hardened); drop point serrated knife blade 3", with serrations
similar to Spyderco but shallower; can/bottle opener; Phillips
screwdriver; wood/bone saw, 2" with double row of sharp teeth.

MultiPlier - 7 blades (8?)

drop point knife blade 2 1/2" shorter and smaller than the main blade in
the other models reviewed; sheepsfoot scalloped knife blade; sharp
awl-punch-blade 2"; large and medium slot screwdrivers - poor quality,
see above - with a small slot screwdriver on the tip of the bottle
opener; Phillips screwdriver - poor, and quite wide so it takes up more
space than needed; can/bottle opener - which isn't usable, see above.
That's it, although one space is used up by a fold-out lanyard ring (which
seems of little use), and there is one spacer which 'wastes' a space.

PowerPlier - 12 blades

drop point knife blade 3", front smooth, rear scalloped; small blade
1 1/2"; awl 1 1/2"; small, medium and large slot screwdrivers;
metal/wood file, 2 3/4" tapered from 1/2" to slightly over 1/4", single
cut on one side, double cut on the other, one edge cut, the other
smooth/safe (the blade appears to have been hardened); can/bottle
opener; Phillips screwdriver; wood/bone saw 1 3/4" with double row of
sharp teeth; chisel, 1/4" x 1"; square drive screwdriver - too large to
fit in a #1 square/Robertson drive screw, and a bit small for, but usable
with, a #2 screw.

The PowerPlier has the most blades, but in usability it isn't much, if
any, better than the Super Tool. The MultiPlier is clearly in last place.

All three seem to be constructed of all stainless steel and the metal
seems to be of good quality, although I've used them extensively, I've
not subjected them to any great stress. They all come with black nylon
belt sheathes, with the SOG being the flimsiest - and there may be a
choice of the type sheath material (see catalogs for the exact
choices.) The SuperTool has a 25 year guarantee, the PowerPlier and
MultiPlier guarantees are for the life of the original purchaser. The
"retail" prices have come down recently - and vary between about $72 and
$80 but I've never seen any sold for that price. Approx. 75% of list is
common, and 50% is about the best (including semi-wholesale) that I've seen.

To me the Leatherman Super Tool ends up at the top. It is a delight to
touch and look at. It seems to be the best of the breed. However the
SOG Power Plier isn't far behind, and someone else's tradeoffs might be
different than mine so that it would be preferable. However I'm not sure
how anyone would find the Gerber MultiPlier to be worth using - its nice
design features are far outweighed by the poor quality of implementation.
--henry schaffer

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Old July 14th 03, 08:57 AM
Don Mackie
Posts: n/a
Default Leatherman Tool

In article , Luigi Zanasi

But you missed the one basic failing of all those multitools, which
forces me to carry a Swiss Army knife: None of them has a corkscrew!

And the best thing about the corkscrew is that it is home for the tiny
screwdriver for tightening spectacle hinges.
My sister (who lives in some pretty remote places) lists three
essentials. The Swiss Army knife (with tiny screwdriver), a short wave
radio and Tabasco (to make anything edible).

"Any PC built after 1985 has the storage capacity to house an evil spirit,"
Reverend Jim Peasboro
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Old July 14th 03, 06:18 PM
Ed G
Posts: n/a
Default Leatherman Tool

I carry the original SOG tool, the one where the pliers fold out from the
side. I've been carrying it on my duty-belt for 5 years now and never know
when I'll need it next. Sure, it has some drawbacks, like the little handle
used to open it broke off so I have to tap it on the side to open it, and
the blades don't hold an edge like my Cold Steel pocket knife- although I
don't expect them to. Work issued everyone with a knock-off el-cheapo
multitool a while back and I just threw it in my locker and kept carrying
the SOG since I know it's well-made. Personally, I'm sure they're all good
in their own right. Just my humble opinion.


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Old July 15th 03, 05:21 PM
Gary Dean
Posts: n/a
Default Leatherman Tool

Great review - Thanks. I carry my leatherman with me at all times and use
it many times every day and have done so for two and a half years. I work
as a handyman and there have been many occasions when I have been called to
sum up a job and rather than walk all the way back to my car or workshop for
my tools, have fixed the problem there and then with my Leatherman. It has
paid for itself over and over again in time and shoe leather. My only
regret is that the modeI I have does not have the scissors. But as it still
operates as good as day I bought it and cannot really justify the expense of
buying a new one just to get the scissors - or can I? Great bit of kit -
wouldn't be without it. One last thing, don't forget to treat it to a drop
of oil now and again. I didn't and the pliers seized up on me. WD40 and
3inOne soon sorted it out though.


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Old August 22nd 03, 06:34 PM
Markus Ellermeier
Posts: n/a
Default Leatherman Tool

On Thu, 07 Aug 2003 02:20:00 +0200, Markus Ellermeier

Oops, that should read "Juice", not "Wave". Sorry.
The Leatherman Wave model finally got one. I waited just for that
before I purchased such a tool ;-))

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Old August 23rd 03, 03:51 AM
Posts: n/a
Default Leatherman Tool

I had to look that one up, the "Juice" is new to me.

I started with the original PST, then got the Mini-Tool, and now I wear the
Wave on my belt at work daily. The Juice looks to be a good pocket knife.
I work in a prototype shop and have used my Leatherman on an amazing array
of hardware, including helicopters. This is definitely a lifesaver! I like
that the blades are accessible without opening the knife with the Wave

I made the mistake of buying the Gerber type PST. The metal was porous and
quickly began to rust in our salty environment. My boss broke the pliers on
his Gerber. Mine pinched the *&% out my hand. Very poor quality and
design. I gave it away. My oldest Leatherman is more than 10 years old.
Still as shiny as the day I got it. No hint of rust, never had any part of
it fail.

Excellent brand! Good luck with your new toy.

"Markus Ellermeier" wrote in message
On Thu, 07 Aug 2003 02:20:00 +0200, Markus Ellermeier

Oops, that should read "Juice", not "Wave". Sorry.
The Leatherman Wave model finally got one. I waited just for that
before I purchased such a tool ;-))

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Old August 24th 03, 01:35 AM
Posts: n/a
Default Leatherman Tool

Robert wrote:

I made the mistake of buying the Gerber type PST. The metal was porous

Me too. The metal is fine, but this thing is basically a set of pliers I
wear on my belt. (and I do use them all the time, admitedly...) The
locking mechanism for the gadgets isn't robust enough to handle any torque
at all, and it quickly deforms. There's no way to fix it without drillling
out the gigantic rivet and cobbling together some kind of replacement for
it, and then the stupid thing bends again the first good time you try to
turn a Phillips screw with it.

I got it replaced the first time, because I really like the way the pliers
are made, compared to the Leathermans I looked at at the time, which had
straight handles, but it just isn't up to the task.

I'm going to buy a Leatherman one day soon. Maybe it will actually perform.

Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
Confirmed post number: 17308 Approximate word count: 519240

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Old August 24th 03, 03:31 AM
Fred McClellan
Posts: n/a
Default Leatherman Tool

On Sat, 23 Aug 2003 20:35:57 -0400, Silvan

Robert wrote:

I made the mistake of buying the Gerber type PST. The metal was porous

Me too. The metal is fine, but this thing is basically a set of pliers I
wear on my belt.


I carried a Gerber for several years and thought it was good stuff.
Then they started dorking around with the basic design, and finally
eliminated one of the tools I used most - the awl-shaped blade which
had a serious cutting edge - used it to ream capillary tubes on
refrigeration systems.

I got a Leatherman a couple of years ago for Christmas, and haven't
carried a Gerber since.

_MUCH_ better quality, major difference in the strength, etc. I use
the stainless version, so I expect the cutting edges to go off more
quickly than a carbon blade - they don't. Must be 18-8 or so in the
mix. Been using this one for over a year and just now had to put an
edge on the two knife blades.

Fred McClellan
the dash plumber at mindspring dot com

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Old August 25th 03, 03:03 AM
Bob Haar
Posts: n/a
Default Leatherman Tool

On 2003/8/22 10:51 PM, "Robert" wrote:

I made the mistake of buying the Gerber type PST.

Your experience is opposite to mine. I have received a couple of different
Leatherman tools as gifts and they quickly went into my drawer for stuff
that I don't use but am not ready to dispose of. Then I bought a Gerber 400
and have used it just about daily for several years.

The metal was porous and
quickly began to rust in our salty environment.

I don't live near salt water but we have plenty of humidity. The brushed
stainless on my Gerber shows no signs of corrosion or stain.

My boss broke the pliers on
his Gerber. Mine pinched the *&% out my hand. Very poor quality and

For my use, the design of the Gerber is much better. It fits my hands, has
the tools that I use most. The pliers work much better than the Leatherman
tools that I tried. I have never pinched my hand.

I gave it away.

I would have traded a nearly new Leatherman for a spare Gerber. Too bad we
didn't cross paths then.

Still as shiny as the day I got it. No hint of rust, never had any part of
it fail.

I would say the same for my Gerber.

I really like the design of the pliers. The narrow nose and the wire cutters
work make it as useful as a set of regular pliers and it is always on my
hip. The one-handed operation of the pliers makes this very convenient. But
I don't expect them to replace a wrench for gripping nuts and bolts. I
wouldn't use full size pliers for that either.

The scissors are the second most used part, followed closely by the Phillips
screwdriver. Both are much better designed than similar parts of the
Leatherman. I really appreciate the locking mechanism on all the blades.

The only aspect of the Gerber's design that I don't care for is the knife
blade. None of the multitools that I have seen have a decent blade. But I
carry a SpiderCo lock blade for any serious cutting and reserve the Gerber's
blade for the occasional delicate.

different strokes ....

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