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#90780 - 04/09/07 09:11 PM Ease of use on multi-tools
Naseem Offline

Registered: 03/15/07
Posts: 31
Loc: Guyana, South America
Hi there

I'm planning on spending the considerable amount of money to purchase a multi-tool. I'm trying to conduct some research (mostly on the net) about price, features, size, etc. and cannot find some critical (according to me) information concernind these tools. I was playing around with an old Swiss Army Knife when I realised that it was extremely frustrating to open (access) and close the tools. Some were reaching the finger-nail-breaking limit!

I am considering getting one of the following:
1. Swisstool Spirit
2. Leatherman New Wave
3. Leatherman Juice (one with a saw)

Here's what I'm hoping you could help me with - which one of these is the easiest to open? I'm not talking "sissy" easy, I just want to keep my finger nails intact.

"Things to know: a trade and how to swim"

#90781 - 04/09/07 09:33 PM Re: Ease of use on multi-tools [Re: Naseem]
UTAlumnus Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/08/03
Posts: 955
Loc: East Tennessee near Bristol
All the tools on the Spirit are opened with nail nicks. On the one I've got can all be opened with a single hand. Haven't owned a Leatherman or a knock-off since the days of the original when the tools were on the gripping side with the pliers open.

If you get the Spirit, get the ratcheting plus model. It will use any 1/4" hex drive bit unlike the newer Leatherman models.

Edited by UTAlumnus (04/09/07 09:35 PM)

#90782 - 04/09/07 09:36 PM Re: Ease of use on multi-tools [Re: Naseem]
terry13111 Offline

Registered: 06/09/06
Posts: 44
The Leatherman New Wave has two outside blades that can be opened very easily one handed.

#90785 - 04/09/07 10:00 PM Re: Ease of use on multi-tools [Re: terry13111]
ducktapeguy Offline

Registered: 03/28/06
Posts: 358
I have both leathermans that you mention, and I'm about to get the new swisstool spirit this week, so I'll let you know how it is. From what I've read on other reviews, the spirit will be similar to your swissarmy knives, they detent open and closed, but I don't have any personal experience with it.

But my experience with the Leathermans is that there's no problem getting the tools out. The wave has holes in the blade for one handed opening, the other tools are pretty easy also. Actually they're too easy and tend to fall out on their own, which is one of the reasons I don't like to use it. However, there could be some inconsistencies during manufacturing, so YMMV. One of the reasons I dislike leathermans is because they use non-adjustable fasteners holding the tools together, so you have no control on the tension, and there's a lot of variability from part to part. Unlike the SOG's which are easily adjustable with a hex head to the desired feel.

How old is your swiss army knife? If there is a lot of crud or rust in the mechanism it might cause some issues, but on a well maintained and clean knife I've never had a problem. The spring design is usually very consistent. Only on my really old knives did I have a problem, and a little oil usually helped a lot.

#90793 - 04/10/07 01:02 AM Re: Ease of use on multi-tools [Re: ducktapeguy]
Paul810 Offline

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 1428
Loc: NJ, USA
I have all three of the tools you mentioned, so I can offer some insight.

First, the Leatherman Juice is a great pocket carry tool due to its size, but it is definitely not as strong as the Wave/Spirit and the handles are pinned so they can't be adjusted. They also don't have any locking tools, which can be dangerous, and none of the implements are designed to be opened one handed.

The Spirit is extremely well made, but again it can't be adjusted and the tools can't be opened one handed. They also are a little tough to open, but not too bad. On my old Swiss tool (non spirit) the lock was extremely difficult to work, which was something I never liked. I also didn't like that it only comes with a non-pointed half serrated blade.

The new wave has blades that open one handed and the one I picked up recently has user adjustable pivots (with a six-pin security torx bit). It also has easier to use with two liner locks and (basically) lock-back style locks on the other implements. The Wave also has an available pocket clip and bit adapter (to use regular bits). The Spirit is very nice, but I really think the new Wave beats it.

I personally carry a Leatherman Charge (with the upgraded 154cm blade) and I love it.

#90795 - 04/10/07 01:18 AM Re: Ease of use on multi-tools [Re: ducktapeguy]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 1943
Loc: NE Illinois
I just gave my son a LM Wave (the new version) as a gift for earning his First Class rank in Boy Scouts. Here is my take on its fingernail friendliness (FF):

As mentioned, the two main blades open on the outside (no folding required) via thumb holes. One of these blades is plain-edged and the other is fully serrated. One cool feature is that the outside edge of the serrated blade is slightly notched so you can tell which side is the serrated blade just by feel. These are both very FF.

The saw and file are also on the outside. They open using fingernail pulls that are at the very ends of the blades. This gives them maximum leverage which also makes them very FF. If, for some reason, my fingernail was cut extremely short or missing, I find I can just barely catch the fingernail pulls with the fleshy part of my finger and not use the nail, but it isn't very comfortable.

Now, opening the handles gives access to the can opener and large screwdriver socket on one side. The can opener uses a classic fingernail groove, which is pretty smooth. The large socket uses a fingernail tab that is not nearly as smooth. I find is fairly easy to get it just a bit of the way out and then pinch it with fingers to pull it out the rest of the way.

If you go to Leatherman.com, go to the Wave, and then place the cursor over bullet III, you can get a pretty good look at the classic fingernail groove on the can opener and the little fingernail tab just opposite of the can opener's "hook".

The other side has the flat screwdriver blade, the mini socket, and the scissors. All three use the fingernail tab and they all behave pretty much like the large socket on the other side. I find it easiest to pull them out just a bit with my fingernail and then pinch the blade between fingers to pull it out all the way.

#90801 - 04/10/07 03:07 AM Re: Ease of use on multi-tools [Re: Naseem]
KevinB Offline

Registered: 08/17/06
Posts: 91
I have a Juice S2. It is NOT easy to open. I like it - great size and weight, good tool selection, but the screwdrivers open from the inside. They don't have nail nicks, they have little doohickies that stick out from the edge of the tool. And they can be nail breakers. I've seen posts on other forums that suggest I'm not the only one with this problem. With enough use and some lubrication they get easier.

The knife blade opens from the outside with a standard nail nick, pretty easily. The can/bottle opener also opens from the outside, with a stud. The scissors are on the outside, too, and open with a nail nick, but the opener must be open to open/close the scissors, which I find downright odd.

If you don't like a SAK you're not going to like a Juice.

Kevin B.

Edited by KevinB (04/10/07 03:25 AM)

#90815 - 04/10/07 07:54 AM Re: Ease of use on multi-tools [Re: KevinB]
lazermonkey Offline

Registered: 12/27/04
Posts: 318
Loc: Monterey CA
I only have the New (and old) Wave and it is very finger nail friendly. With a little practice I was able to open and close all the implements one handed. The New wave is great because all the tools lock in place and the outer blades are easy to deploy. The quality is also top notch.
Hmmm... I think it is time for a bigger hammer.

#90817 - 04/10/07 09:53 AM Re: Ease of use on multi-tools [Re: Naseem]
zedd Offline

Registered: 04/07/07
Posts: 9
new wave hands down

#90818 - 04/10/07 12:49 PM Re: Ease of use on multi-tools [Re: zedd]
Naseem Offline

Registered: 03/15/07
Posts: 31
Loc: Guyana, South America
Guilty - the old SAK did have some crud on it and maybe this is what contributed in part to it being difficult to open the tools.

From what I've gathered reading your responses, the New Wave is the easiest opening tool, but the SAK Spirit should be fairly easy to open if regularly cleaned and lubricated (actually this could apply to almost anything).

I've read elsewhere that the SAK Spirit is the more sturdy (ok ok - hold your horses) but this might just be as a result of improper care and use of the Leatherman tools. I don't plan to abuse any tools unless my life depends on it.

Any comments on the relative strength of the SAK Spirit and New Wave?
"Things to know: a trade and how to swim"

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