I got the shabbiest of the multi-tools that came today cleaned up. It came out much better than I had expected. In fact it came out much better than my hands did. I didn’t think to use gloves and “GooGone” basically will eat your skin while it cleans what you’re working on.
This one is branded “Allied” on the plier hub and is pretty much a clone of the old, original Leatherman multi tool. While lacking a spring to help them reopen in use, the pliers jaws on this one are quite tight, and well made. Just like the original. The wire cutter at the base of the jaws cuts right through steel coathanger wire wire with ease and very cleanly. Some of the tools are differently shaped, especially the can opener… it has kind of a Jimmy Durante nose on it, and doesn’t look like it would cut very well… and I don’t remember the fish-scaler/ruler as being on the original Leatherman tool, but the knife blade itself is a nice shape and took a very sharp edge with only a few strops on the diamond stone. (Of course, it remains to be seen how well it will hold that edge. This may turn out to be really cheapo steel reprocessed from your daddy’s 1978 Chrysler). I didn’t want to drown this post with photographs of each and every blade and tool, but the unit has the usual selection of phillips and flathead screwdrivers, can opener, awl, etc and the backside of the fish scaler is a very capable file. When open, each piece locks firmly in place with no wiggle at all.
Like the original Leatherman tool, this one is old-school. The blades and other tools are all in the same interior pockets with the pliers jaws. The tool has to be butterflied open to access anything… two-handed. This also means that when used as pliers, all of those exposed edges cut into your fingers as they curl around the handles. This was my only real complaint with the original Leatherman tool when I purchased it back in the 1980s. I was doing maintenance at a motel and restaurant complex, and the newly arrived multitool was the perfect solution to my constant need for some kind of small tool to replace a washer, tighten the screws on a door handle and all the other chores I was always having to go running back to the shop to pick up the correct tool. It did save me a lot of running around, but the open channels of the handle would always cut in pretty deeply if you needed a tight grip.
More current models of almost all the high-end multi-tools now have all the blades accessible on the exterior of the unit. When it’s opened up to use the pliers, those are all rotated to the inside, and your fingers curl around something that feels more like an actual handle. I much prefer the new solution, however, for this one, I will simply take a file to the interior edges of the blade pockets, round them off a bit and smooth them down with a couple of grades of steel wool.
I really was very pleased at how this cleaned up. At first glance it was marginal at best, and I had pretty much consigned it as one of the “Pieces-O-Crap”. It was covered in what appeared to be concrete scale and it took a lot of work to get all that off. The result already seems to be worth it. For my two dollar cost, and minimal elbow grease, I am left with a tool that seems almost as good as the $50 Leatherman. Especially when you consider that that $50 was in 1980s money. So, this one has definitely turned into a keeper, and pretty satisfactorily satisfies the 50/90 criteria.
[in the upper photograph you can see that it is missing one of the rubber grip inserts… at some point, if I get really worked up with nothing to do, I have some old ivory piano keys and it wouldn’t take too much to fill that recess with a piece of ivory and do some scrimshaw on it]