Best Things to Look For in a Multi-Tool

Best Things to Look For in a Multi-Tool

Posted by Clayton on Feb 17th 2015

You have finally decided you need a multi-tool, and you know you need one that will do the best job at the most affordable price, but where to start? How do you know what is the best multi-tool for you?

Multi-tools are some of the best … well, tools to have on hand no matter who you are. There will occasionally be times when you need to fix things on the go. Multi-tools are the perfect way to fix things in a bind.

A Brief History of the Multi-Tool (and Its Inspiration)

The truth is, hybrid tools are not a new concept. There do exist many different variations of gadgets that contain multiple tools in one, but it wasn’t until 1984 that inventor Tim Leatherman fashioned one of the first mass-produced, generic multi-tools: a functional pair of pliers that, when closed, produce a butterfly knife (also known as a balisong knife).

Over the years, Leatherman would add more tools, such as screwdrivers, extra knife blades, and more, streamlining the tool over time until it became the Pocket Survival Tool that we know and love today.

That, however, may not answer the questions burning in the back of your mind. What specifically should one look for in a good multi-tool? It depends, of course, on a number of factors: the sorts of tasks you anticipate most frequently using it for, and whether you are a beginner tool user or a seasoned professional. Here, we take a look at some of the most popular kinds of multi-tools, as well as the various perks and specialties they offer.

The Things to Look Out For in the Best Multi-Tools

  • Task Lights. General use multi-tools usually work quite well in small spaces -- after all, that is often much of the reason that we buy them in the first place. The best multi-tools will come with LED lights to make these tasks easier. Never work in the dark again when you have to fix things in a tight spot.
  • A Comfortable Grip. For the most part, you will be using both hands wrapped around the barrel when you are working with your multi-tool. Just like a sword in a fantasy action movie, you want the grip to feel right so that you feel totally comfortable when carrying out your tasks.

Generally speaking, a grip with a circumference of seven inches or less is better suited for smaller hands, while those greater than seven inches are better meant for larger hands.

  • Variable speeds. If you are leaning toward purchasing an oscillating multi-tool, consider looking for one with a variable A slower speed setting can significantly ease such tasks as sanding, while higher speeds work best for grinding, cutting, and hacking away at solid objects.

The highest quality hardware and tool supply stores should retain this feature on the vast majority of their multi-tools. Many models even harbor a “soft-start” motor that automatically accelerates the speed setting at a reasonable pace in order to keep it from swinging from side to side when the user first turns it on. This setting, then, significantly reduces the risk of injury.

  • Lower noise and vibration settings. While this is more of a luxury than a necessity, many users understandably want multi-tools that are not loud and obnoxious to use. The best multi-tools on the market will feature control settings that allow you to determine the nature of your tool’s vibrations.
  • Belt hooks (or some other attachment to make it more portable). At the end of the day, you are looking to purchase a multi-tool because of its versatility. What’s the point of buying a tool built for its flexibility if it is not portable? Consequently, keep a definite eye out for belt loops, key rings, chains, or other fasteners that will enable you to take your multi-tool with you whenever and wherever you need it.

Pocket clips are also parts to keep an eye out for, for they help you keep the contents of your pocket organized—and prevent your wallet and other items from falling out—even while carrying the tool around from place to place.

Final Thoughts

Ready to take the plunge with your new multi-tool? Following the above guidelines will help you land the one that is best suited for you and your needs. Comfort, convenience, stylishness, and utility—all are equally important in the hunt for the perfect multi-tool