In search of a multi-tool

Requirements

I have a few hobbies where a multi tool could be useful, requirements summarised in the table below:

OccupationRequired ToolReason
SailingPliersshackles
Knifesafety - cutting sheets / trapeze harness / other emergencies
ProductionPlierslighting bolts, VGA thumb screws etc
Allen Key (Hex Wrench) assembling items eg plasma stands and projection screens
Knifecable ties, tape, carpet (in marquees)
CyclingAllen Keyaxels, brakes, seat post
Plierspulling brake/gear cables
Phillips screwdrivergear range, brake spring adjustment

So my requirements for a multi-tool are:

  1. Blade – must be legal for carrying in the uk, sharp enough for cutting 10mm sheets and cable ties
  2. Pliers – must be sturdy enough for attacking attaching a lighting fixture to a g-clamp
  3. Allen Keys – must have allen keys or a bit driver with allen key bits available
  4. Phillips Screwdriver – must have a phillips or a bit driver.

The legal requirements are specifically that the blade must not lock when opened, and must be less than 3 inches long. Quote from gov.uk:

It is illegal to:

  • sell a knife of any kind (including cutlery and kitchen knives) to anyone under 18
  • carry a knife in public without good reason – unless it’s a knife with a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less, eg a Swiss Army knife
  • carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife (the list of banned knives is below)
  • use any knife in a threatening way (even a legal knife, such as a Swiss Army knife)

Lock knives (knives with blades that can be locked when unfolded) are not folding knives, and are illegal to carry in public without good reason.

victorinox cybertool 34For sailing I could justify a locking knife as a “good reason”, it would be a safety feature for myself and crew, and I wouldn’t be in a public place when using it. However I would like to carry this tool in other situations, so it must be legal without qualification. For example when I am doing production in the middle of london  I may need a screwdriver and a small blade for cable ties, that does not provide enough justification for carrying a locking blade.

Victorinox

Starting point – I currently have a victorinox cybertool 34, this does not fulfil the requirements as no allen keys are available for its 4mm bit driver, and the pliers are too small/weak for my use cases. Victorinox do produce the swistool, which is based around pliers, but as far as I can tell, all variations have locking blades.

Leatherman

charge-tti-ad-clsdSadly the non-locking legal requirements knocks out most of of the leatherman range. Including the leatherman charge which would have been my first choice. It includes all the required tools, even including a hook knife/strap cutter, which would have been useful as a safety knife for dinghy sailing.

19-skeletool-cxThe wave, surge, supertool, mutt etc are all knocked out. The skeletool gets a special mention for having all the required tools and only the required tools. The Skeletool also only has one locking blade so it may be possible to modify it to remove the lock – this wouldn’t be feasible on tools with many blades. The following youtube video shows that this modification is possible, however I would like to find a tool I don’t have to modify if possible!

The juice s2juice-s2-granite also gets a mention for having non locking blades, however it doesn’t have a bit driver. Leatherman’s removable bit driver claims compatibility with the original juice series, and I’ve yet to find out if it is compatible with the current s2. I’m not keen on the design of the removable bit driver anyway, its a push fit adapter that sits on top of a phillips screw driver. The driver is a standard 1/4 inch socket, which will only loosely hold the flat leatherman bits. Normally I would approve of a standard socket, but the leatherman flat bits look much better for fitting in a pocket. So the problem is that when working with the removable driver its likely that either the driver or the bit will fall off.

Gerber

gerber_balance_2Gerber produce various plier style tools, most of which are also excluded by the non-locking requirement. The balance has non locking tools, pliers and a bit driver, but its a proprietary  3/16″ socket, and I haven’t found any other bits for that, so it fails on the allen key requirement.

SOG

sog_b63-n_2Sog win some points for having a very well organised website that allowed for fast research, unfortunately they don’t have any tools without locking blades that also have a bit driver. However the powerlock EOD 2.0 v-cutter looks good, as it has a 1/4″ driver and a hook knife, sadly it has locking blades, also I’m not keen on those tool covers that have to be opened before accessing the tools.

 

Accessories

pocket_wrenchThe pocket wrench II looks like it would make a great companion for a multi tool based on pliers, mostly for holding the other end of a bolt.

The search continues

I haven’t actually found a legal multi tool that meets my requirements. I do have a couple avenues to explore:

  1. modifying the leatherman skeletool
  2. modifying a SOG, as they claim to be designed for user disassembly.

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