Multi-tools Review

 

Want to carry an entire array of tools with you at all times, without needing
a tool box or tool belt to store them in? Multi-tools give you this ability.
This tool category features folding needle nose pliers, with an array of extra
tools, that are stored in its handles. Larger than a Swiss Army knife, but with
the same benefits, multi-tools give anyone the convenience of carrying an
assortment of tools with them, without weighing down their pockets. This review
is going to take a look at three different models of this tool genre.

 

Leatherman Wave

When someone mentions a Leatherman tool, the image of a Swiss Army knife that
has morphed into a toolbox comes to my mind. Tim Leatherman originated the tool
category that we’ve come to know today as the multi-purpose tool. One of the top
of the line Leatherman tools, is the Wave model.

Made of 100% stainless steel, the Wave packs a lot of tools into a small
package. Here’s what you get:

Needle nose Pliers
Regular Pliers
Wire Cutters
Hard-Wire Cutters
Clip-Point Knife
Serrated Knife
Diamond-Coated File
Wood Saw
Scissors
Extra Small Screwdriver
Small Screwdriver
Medium Screwdriver
Large Screwdriver
Phillips Screwdriver
Can / Bottle Opener
Wire Stripper
Lanyard Attachment

Length: 4 in. / 10 cm closed, 6.25 in. / 16 cm open
Weight: 8 ounces / 224 grams

When closed, the Wave is a compact tool that can fit in a pocket, tool box or
glove compartment. The included leather sheath protects the Wave from dirt and
scratches. Four tools are accessible when the Wave is closed. The Clip-Point
Knife, Serrated Knife, Diamond-Coated File, and Wood Saw can each open into a
locked position which allows you to use the tools safely. The lock is located at
the base of the blade and can be easily disengaged with the press of a finger.


The handles of the Wave fold open to reveal strong needle nose pliers and the
rest of the tools hidden inside the handles. Of the three multi-tool products reviewed here,
the Wave has the smoothest folding action of them all. The handles have rolled
edges which make them very comfortable to use while working.

At the base of each handle is a selection of screw driver tips, a pair of
scissors and a bottle opener. Like the folding action, accessing the screw
driver tips is easy and pretty much effortless. You don’t have to worry about
breaking a nail ;o) Each tool clicks into place when fully opened. The best and
most comfortable way to use
the individual tools, is to extend the tool,
and then fold the Wave back into the closed position.

The Wave can be ‘upgraded’ with a Tool Adapter kit which is sold separately. This kit comes with a
slide on 1/4" Hex Drive that has 3 locking positions. Included are 6 individual
bits and a compact plastic storage case that can clip to your belt. Very cool!


Like a quality tool should be, everything about the Wave feels rugged and
sturdy. The Wave even comes with a 25 year warranty! Wow! If you are in the
market for such a product, I don’t think you can go wrong with this one.

 

Price: $69.99 from
Multitoolsonline.com, Tool Adapter
available for $22.99. Check for
lowest prices here.

Pros:
Comfortable handles
Quality construction
Tool adapter kit
25yr warranty

Cons:
Not all tools are available without opening the Wave

 

Gerber MP800

Leatherman isn’t the only company in the multi-tool genre.
Gerber carries a wide range of tools
that they call Multi-Pliers. These tools actually have a few features that are
missing in the Leatherman tools.

The MP800 has a chunky military look and feel to it. It has more curves than typical Leatherman style tools, and a gold / bronze finish instead of polished steel. The
handles also have neoprene padding that is supposed to make them more
comfortable during use. The only thing is that the padding isn’t on the edges of
the handles, but on the front and back surfaces. Surfaces, that your hands don’t
really come into much contact with…

Unlike the Wave tool reviewed above, the MP800’s tools are all accessible
while the handles are folded closed. The tools available include:

Knife blade
Scissors
Interchangeable saw blade
Phillips® screwdriver
Small, medium, and large screwdrivers
Bottle opener
File

Length open: 6.625 inches, closed: 5.125 inches
Weight : 8.6 oz.

While the tools are relatively easy to access, they just don’t feel quite as
robust as the tools on the Wave. They also don’t lock into place with a
satisfying click like the Wave tools do. However, they do lock… To unlock
them, you have to use the pad of your thumb to pull down a spring loaded catch
which is located at the base of the extended tools.

The MP800 opens smoothly to reveal needle nose pliers. In the open position, the
outside edges of the handles are rounded and more solid, making them very comfortable to use.
Somewhat more comfortable than the Wave in my opinion. Also, the pliers have a spring
that allows them to spring open when you are not applying pressure to them. This
makes using the pliers very easy. I love this feature. It is a feature missing
on the Wave.


The jaws of the pliers have replaceable tungsten/cobalt carbide wire cutter
inserts. Tungsten/cobalt is much harder than any stainless steel. These inserts
can be rotated to a new edge with a Torx® head wrench (included), when one edge becomes
worn.

To protect the tool, a ballistic nylon belt case is also included.

The Gerber MP800 is well made, and sufficiently rugged. Although it doesn’t
have as many built-in tools as the Wave or the Swisstool X (reviewed below), the
spring loaded pliers and comfortable handles have really won me over. This might
be the set that I keep for myself.

 

Price: $89.99 from
Multitoolsonline.com. Check for
lowest prices here.

Pros:
Comfortable spring loaded handles
Replaceable wire cutter inserts
Tools accessible while device is folded closed

Cons:

Not as many built-in tools

 

Victorinox SwissTool X

The folks who invented popular Swiss Army multi-bladed pocket knife, have
their own line of multi-tools. The SwissTool X from
Victorinox is made of 100% polished
stainless steel. It’s the longest and heaviest of the tools reviewed here. It
also has the most blades and screw driver tips.

The tips included are:

Pliers
Screwdriver (2mm)
Screwdriver (3mm)
Wire cutter (for wire up to a hardness of 40 hrc)
Screwdriver (5mm)
Bottle opener
Screwdriver (7.5 mm)
Large blade
Scissors
Metal file
Metal saw
Wood saw
Reamer/punch
Phillips screwdriver
Chisel/scraper
Strong crate opener
Wire bender
Wire stripper
Wire scraper
Wire crimper
Can opener
Ruler (9 inches)
Ruler (230mm)
Hard wire cutter
Lanyard hole

Length: 4.5 inches closed, 6.75 inches open
Weight: 280 gram, 9.9oz

What I like best about the SwissTool X is its ‘click factor’. Every blade
opens with a click and also closes with a click. Even when you fold the handles
into their closed position, they click into place. It really gives this
multi-tool a quality feeling. To close the blades/tips, you have to slide down a
spring loaded pad at the base of the handle.


All of the SwissTool X’s built-in tools look and feel very sturdy. I believe
they are the sturdiest of the multi-tools reviewed here. The only thing missing
from this particular product is the spring loaded pliers. I don’t know what it
is about this feature that makes it so important to me, but I wish the SwissTool
X also had this.

In use, the weight of this tool is evident. Although the edges of the handles
are rounded, prolonged use without gloves, made my hand a bit sore. Guys
probably won’t even notice though…

To protect the SwissTool X, a nice ballistic nylon belt case is included.

The SwissTool X is a tool that anyone would appreciate. It’s built to work
and last for a long time.

 

Price: $54.99 from
Multitoolsonline.com. Check for
lowest prices here.

Pros:
All built-in tools accessible while in the closes position
Most built-in blades and screwdriver tips

Cons:
Feels stiff to open

 

Summary

These are all great tools. If you want the most expandable and compact tool,
go with the Leatherman Wave and the Tool Adapter kit. If you want the most
comfortable pliers, go with the Gerber. Lastly, if you want the most built-in
blades and screwdrivers, go with the SwissTool X.

 

Product Information

Price:54.99
Manufacturer:Multitoolsonline.com
Pros:
  • All built-in tools accessible while in the closes position
  • Most built-in blades and screwdriver tips
Cons:
  • Feels stiff to open
  •  
  • Summary
  • These are all great tools. If you want the most expandable and compact tool,
  • go with the Leatherman Wave and the Tool Adapter kit. If you want the most
  • comfortable pliers, go with the Gerber. Lastly, if you want the most built-in
  • blades and screwdrivers, go with the SwissTool X.
Posted in: Gear

{ 28 comments… add one }

  • Julie December 16, 2003, 11:32 pm

    Post your comments here on the Multi-tools review.

    http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/multi-tools-review.html

    Just click the POST REPLY button on this page.

    1
  • TheDreamer December 17, 2003, 1:45 am

    I bought a Leatherman Wave once….actually, its sitting on my desk right here.

    And, that’s where it’ll stay…I find it too big and heavy to replace my pocket knife…..

    I used to use various Swiss Army Knives….my favourite was the Tinker, which I lost while sitting down at a meeting one night….so I bought a Super Tinker….the Tinker turned up, so I have it somewhere.

    Then I was getting an echocardiogram…and the SuperTinker kept falling out of my pocket….

    I briefly switched a folder….got into pocket lock blades that could be opened by one hand. Only because they were hard to get when I was living in Canada….on the account they were technically illegal (meaning you couldn’t walk into any store and buy one, though if you knew the right people….and I did meet this girl that knew quite a bit about it…..and it was hard to import….)

    But, I’m back to carrying a multitool again. Currently it’s a Leatherman Juice S2.

    Oh at some point I also had the Leatherman Mini-Tool…before the Wave, don’t know where that disappeared to.

    Though might be time to find a different blade again…..was using the knife during Thanksgiving…and the blade ‘moved’…and almost took off a finger. Of course, the Wave does have a locking blade…which was a factor in why I bought it.

    Though I had a Swiss Army with a locking blade…but found it too big for carrying around in my pocket…. I think it was the Adventurer.

    The Dreamer

    2
  • BluesFan December 17, 2003, 4:23 am

    I still love my Swiss Army CyberTool 34 (http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/swissarmy-cybertool-review.html)

    3
  • eichin December 17, 2003, 4:39 am

    I’ve had a Wave for several years (since they first came out); the rounded edge on the grips makes a huge difference in comparison to the older leatherman tools, combined with the blade locks it was a Must Upgrade. Needs a little wd40 to clean out the joints every once in a while.

    The leatherman vise-grip tool is kind of useless, though. Bulky, won’t fit in the belt pouch unless you screw it all the way back down…

    4
  • slortar December 17, 2003, 9:08 am

    Originally posted by BluesFan
    I still love my Swiss Army CyberTool 34 (http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/swissarmy-cybertool-review.html)

    Right on, BluesFan! I’ve had both a leatherman and a cybertool, and as a geek who has to work on HP/Compaq equipment, I could not do without the Torx bits.

    Julie, any chance you could do a review on the new cybertools? Mine’s getting a bit beat upon and I’m wondering if I should spring for a new one. Does anyone know if there’s another product like them?

    5
  • Julie December 17, 2003, 12:39 pm

    slortar:

    I’ll see what I can do about a review of the new Cybertools. Do you happen to know what is new and different in comparison to the review I did last year?

    6
  • BluesFan December 17, 2003, 5:42 pm

    Actually as far as I can tell, they haven’t changed the CyberTool. The “34” model was the one reviewed, however, there is a “29” with a few less gadgets and “41” model with a few more gadgets. I like my “34” because I find I have no need for the saws and files of the “41” but couldn’t do without the scissors and pliers of that the “29” lacks. The online retailer I purchased mine from does name engraving and had what I thought were good deals. At the time of purchase, I also got the Cordura belt pouch and it fits the knife perfectly.

    7
  • slortar December 17, 2003, 8:12 pm

    Julie and bluesfan,

    I must sheepishly admit I forgot your review of the 34 (which I actually have, too) from back in the day. I do clearly remember being acutely jealous of the Mobius goodies, so I must be getting old?

    I think you might both be right that there is nothing new and I have not noticed the 41 before. I did notice on ThinkGeek that they are selling a “SwissChamp XLT” which must be the Ford Excursion of cybertools — I’d love to know if you guys think it’s worth the c-note they are charging!

    8
  • BluesFan December 17, 2003, 8:25 pm

    Best I can tell, it would seem to add (to the CyberTool 41)

    Pharmaceutical spatula
    Fishscaler with hook disgorger and ruler (cm & inches)
    Pruning blade
    Electrician’s blade with wire scraper
    Magnifying Glass
    Phillips screwdriver

    HTH

    9
  • Julie December 17, 2003, 9:52 pm

    Hmmmm “Pharmaceutical spatula”? Is this for the meth lab geek or what? :rolleyes:

    10
  • BluesFan December 17, 2003, 10:04 pm

    Well here are some uses toat kind of go together…sort of…

    Pharmaceutical spatula (measure fish drug to dope fish)

    Fishscaler with hook disgorger and ruler (catch and measure fish)

    Pruning blade (Prune fish?)

    Electrician’s blade with wire scraper (Cut fishing line and scrape it)

    Magnifying Glass (closely examine fish)

    Phillips screwdriver (screw fish?)

    :-)

    11
  • slortar December 17, 2003, 11:34 pm

    Hmmm. I have to agree – that pharmaceutical spatula guarantees that not only will it be confiscated if I try and board a plane, but that I will probably be in for an uncomfortable time!

    I think I might be able to make legitimate use of a wire scraper, if it wasn’t completely perfunctory! A truly functional phillips bit would also be nice. OTOH, just wearing it would nicely counterbalance the bat-erang on the other side of one’s belt …

    12
  • questionfear December 17, 2003, 11:36 pm

    While its not as large or as complex as the knives in the review, i have to recommend the leatherman micra, a tiny leatherman perfect for a keyring.
    I find it indespensible in my day to day work (I run a cafe) in doing minor repairs, breaking down boxes, etc.
    its a fantastic tool, and very inexpensive for what it does.
    -carly

    13
  • Julie December 18, 2003, 2:05 am

    questionfear:

    Are the tiny Leatherman’s made as nicely as the full size ones? I like the looks of the Juice models…

    14
  • dmierkin December 18, 2003, 3:07 am

    The most important and usefull feature of Leatherman Wave is that is the only tool you can open a blade with ONE hand !

    Usually you realize that you need to cut when you already holding the object in your hand ! So having only other hand to operate is not enough when you need both hands to open a blade.

    15
  • Craig December 18, 2003, 1:20 pm

    Enjoyed your review.

    I have both the Leatherman Wave and the Victorinox SwissTool R/S. I like them both and have difficulty deciding which to carry.

    My recommendation, when someone asks, would be to choose the Wave if you DO NOT need locking screwdrivers and/or you would use this took to work with computers.

    I would recommend the SwissTool for those who NEED locking screwdrivers and/or those who would use this tool for “heavier” tasks such as plumbing.

    I have read complaints that the Wave’s tools will bend or snap under too much pressure, but are perfect for computer parts. I have also read of plumbers who swear by the SwissTool because they can really crank down on the implements without fear of bending or snapping them.

    I have never had any problems with my multitools. Just keep in mind they do not replace one’s toolbox, but rather supplement it.

    Right now I want the SwissTool X. I am also looking forward to the smaller, three-quarter-sized version of the SwissTool supposedly in development.

    — Craig

    16
  • chipster December 18, 2003, 10:01 pm

    I have a few Multi-Tools…

    I have just about every major model. If someone wants a review of one, LMK.

    17
  • Julie December 18, 2003, 10:17 pm

    chipster:

    WOW!!!! I’m very impressed! So, do you actually use them? ;)

    18
  • chipster December 19, 2003, 1:06 am

    Originally posted by Julie
    [B]chipster:

    WOW!!!! I’m very impressed! So, do you actually use them? ;) [/B]

    Nahh….I like to set them up for display as depicted and let them scream at me to make good use out of them :D
    Hehehe…

    In all seriousness, I actually use every one of them. I choose a different one every day – similar to the task of choosing a what shirt to wear each day (don’t ask what my wife thinks of me).

    I actually did a review of the Leatherman Wave 3 years ago found here.

    Some of those tools are a tad too hefty for my 3 different Scott-E-Vests, so a lot of the time, I opt for my more “rugged” solution found here…although not as professional-looking at the office :rolleyes:

    -Chipster

    19
  • 10101001011 December 20, 2003, 9:41 pm

    Just purchased the Gerber MP700 TE Limited Edition and am thus far VERY satisfied. I mostly used mine for outdoor-sy type stuff.

    Locking Blades
    Carbine cutter
    Screw-drivers galore – yup, I’m happy ;)

    20
  • Andy Leviss December 21, 2003, 9:55 am

    Originally posted by dmierkin
    The most important and usefull feature of Leatherman Wave is that is the only tool you can open a blade with ONE hand !

    Not so much. The Gerber Legend reviewed in this same review not only has a one-hand knife and scissors, but uses thumb studs instead of blade cutouts; between that and the adjustable tool tension, it’s much easier and more comfortable than the Wave to use with one hand.

    In my day job, I’m an audio technician on a nationally touring musical (The Full Monty), and multi-tools are practically a way of life for those of us in theatre. I originally owned a Buck, which had it’s great features, but was far from perfect. Then I moved to a Wave, which I loved at the time and thought I’d never live without.

    The first time I saw an ad for the Legend, I laughed–it’s too big, and so unnecessary. Then I tried one at a sporting goods store and I was sold. It feels much more substantial and solid, and the outside access to ALL the tools (except the pliers, of course), is a killer feature on its own, even without the new cutting blades, saw attachment, etc.

    Being part of the Fiskars family, the scissors on the Gerber are much more solid and durable than those on the Wave, although the latter are more comfortable to use (since they have a right angle on the push lever, rather than just a straight edge). And the spring that I thought was so silly has really grown on me.

    I still have my Wave in my toolbox as a spare, along with my Legend. The only time it’s come out since I bought the Legend was two days ago, when I was re-organizing the box. I took it out and played with it a bit, and compared to the Gerber, it just felt like a toy. I still keep it around for emergencies and in case anybody else I’m working with needs to borrow one for a short while, but it’s definitely been retired from active duty.

    Best,
    Andy

    21
  • Matt December 23, 2003, 3:36 am

    I have the Gerber 800 and love it !!! I have used it since if first came out 3 years ago and was called the Geber gator! I am a firefighter by trade and we use multi purpose tools everyday. I stared out with leatherman 5 years ago and they make a great tool but in my opinion gerber has taken the lead. The auto spring handle is a must ! The replaceable carbid wire cutters are great and use them alot enough to have them replaced. I love the replaceable jig its a great idea. I like the feel of the rubber grips on the side of the gerber tool better then the wave.
    I use the gerber alot so much so that I have used it beyond what it is intended for . Fold the tool out and extend the file and you have a temporary door stopper. Take out the screw driver and fold the handle back leave one side open and you have a longer screw driver for added torque. I have wore out the number two screw driver, had to replace the jig and carbid blades and resharpen the regular blades alot.
    I have replaced my Geber 800 under warranty 3 times now. I broke the cutters inside twice now and wore out the screw drivers beyond using . I have the tool into Gerber right now for the forth time. The handle was loose on one side and the rubber on the grips where coming off. I don’t know if its a defect or what so its in for service. There service has been top notch. You send in the unit and I got a new tool including case back every time. They don’t mess with fixing them they just send you back a new one. I am lost with out my Gerber and can’t wait to get it back!!!!!
    I have looked at other tools but nothing has come close to the 800 yet. Believe me I am not Company loyal so if somthing better suits my needs I will jump to it.

    22
  • Matt December 26, 2003, 10:19 pm

    Just got a package back on chirstmas eve. It was a new Gerber 800 . Awesome service!!! I wish Palm would do that when I have problems.:)

    23
  • fishnetb June 22, 2005, 2:03 pm

    I have been buying multipurpose tools for years. Started with a Leatherman micra and continued through the New Wave. I love them, especially for camping. I also starting buying Victorinox brand. They even have a USB key as part of the knife. I don’t know if I am allowed to mention web sites but I found one that carrys a lot of different brands at good prices, http://www.multipurposetoolsngadgets.com if you are interested.

    24
  • Julie June 22, 2005, 2:26 pm

    fishnetb:

    Of course you can mention other sites ;) I hate it when some webmasters frown on that stuff. It’s like they are afraid people will go away and never come back. Phooey on that. Great site by the way…

    25
  • fishnetb June 22, 2005, 3:23 pm

    Julie thanks for your feed back. Great forum.

    26
  • Matt June 23, 2005, 1:27 am

    On my 4th Gerber 800 tool. I have just sent it in and they give me a new one. Great service!!

    27
  • Andy Leviss June 25, 2005, 7:50 am

    Might I ask why you’re on your fourth? I’m on my third, myself, both times I managed to get it exchanged OTC at a Sports Authority retail shop. Both times were due to the tip of a screwdriver blade breaking off.

    Construction-wise, I much prefer the Leatherman tools, I just wish they’d do something with all the tools on the outside like the 800; that’s gotten me spoiled!

    I’ve heard some nightmare stories from other stagehands trying to get Gerber to cover breakage under warranty.

    28

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