Leatherman Mini Tool
« on: June 02, 2011, 02:03:29 PM »
OK well, i had been holding off from posting this as i wanted to post some photos but i just have not had time to take any but heres the review anyway.
I had formed my own opinions on this before I read what anyone else has had to say about this tool.
I recently got myself a new LM Mini Tool, well 2 actually and words can not describe how impressed I am with it!!!!. The price of $29USD I thought was fairly good. My reason for getting one Is that I wanted a small set of decent beefy pliers that were better than a Squirt or Gerber clutch/Vise which I could pair up with a SAK or 2 and I didn’t want to carry a heavy full size set of pliers and have a lot of doubling up on tools, as I really prefer the SAK tools and prefer a good old fashioned SAK as I want to carry a traditional SAK and not a Swiss plier tool. I mainly just wanted this for the pliers really. There are not many other tools on it but I really don’t care, this is so perfect for me. I couldn’t find any other tools like this really. You either get smaller or same size pliers which are weaker or larger ones that are too heavy and bulky. EDIT I have discovered the SOG Crossgrip so I haven’t tried that yet
The quality and finish of this LM is amazing, I’m so impressed after being a little disappointed with my LM squirt PS4 which has very poor scissors and a loose plier pivot. The pliers pivot on the Mini is rock solid tight with no rocking or looseness. EDIT on the one I have been currently playing with the pivot seems to go loose and go tight again and I have put this down to temperature. There is no sideways rock or anything, just the pivot loosens up but does not wobble and then next time I go to use it, its back firm again. The plier jaw tips line up perfectly. The polished stainless finish is flawless. It feels awesome to handle as it’s very smooth. The fact that the handles have fold out extensions is a bonus really, I would have still been happy even if they were not on there. The knife blade, although small is really sharp and will be useful as a back up. I have found a way to use the blade to its full potential by using it with the pliers folded open and then you have a really nice grip and can use of the short blade. I know some people say it’s useless but I don’t think so. You don’t buy this LM for the knife. The ruler is also a great addition and I won’t have to carry a small ruler in my wallet. The file, bottle and can openers, I’m not sure but probably are not that crash hot but I’m sure they would do their job if you need them. I doubt I will use them but it’s nice to know they are there. I have tried the bottle opener and it did work but to be honest most bottles I come across you can just twist the caps off far quicker anyway and bottle openers are not needed much these days.
There is a key ring but I don’t think I would EDC it like that on a set of keys, but it would be nice for a lanyard. It comes with neat little nylon pouch which I’s just as amazing as the tool, It’s padded and small and fits real nice on my belt or in my pocket. This is no cheap nasty chinese made pouch either. I thought the pouch was constructed VERY well. They done a real good job of it that’s for sure, they could have so easily thrown in a poor quality nylon pouch but didn’t. Yeah it has Velcro I guess but it’s not a huge problem.
My only nit picks with the tool are that the pivots are those special screws. They have these flat knurled screw sort of things and you need a special tool to tighten them. So the screws that hold the handles to the plier head, can not be tightened by the user and mine are a tiny bit loose for my liking but I’m being very picky here, If the pivots work real loose over time I will look into making threaded pins and use torx screws which could fix that or maybe all I need to do is just swap to torx scews and can use the original pins? It would be a nice mod but I cant see my self needing to do that for a long time but I at least know that is a fix I could do. That’s my only real issue really. Cant really fault this tool in a major way that makes me un-happy otherwise.
The day after I got it, I noticed my palms were pretty sore and I worked out it was from the handles. Because the tools are inside opening, the handles sort of dig into your hands a bit. It’s not a major issue for me and I’m not really complaining about it but I know some people won’t like that. When you fold out the handle extensions, it makes it much better to handle though because they are smooth on the outside so it’s not so bad then.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but they did a top job on the pliers. So far I tried the hard wire cutter notch on some mild steel welding rod about 1mm thick and it cut that easy, although its not exactly ‘hard wire’. I’m not game enough to try coat hanger or regular fencing type wire yet. This tool is miles better than any chinese multi tool of this size. I have a few Gerber clutches and although not terrible, only one out of three was really good, the other two had pliers that didn’t have perfect aligning jaws and tight pivots. And the Gerber Clutch doesn’t have very strong pliers, they are quite thin and weak. I think you could use the LM Mini Tool with a fair degree of confidence it’s not going to break easily. The LM Mini Tool’s pliers are so much bigger and beefier and the tool is about the same size folded as the Gerber Clutch. A nice addition would have been if the handles were sprung and locked into place like the Squirts. If LM brought this out again and slightly updated it I think that would be a good improvement.
So although this has a lack of tools, it’s a perfect set of strong, compact and light weight pliers to pair with a decent SAK for me. I would say if you want, expect or like more tools and features then don’t buy this as you will be very disappointed. If you want a strong set of heavy duty light weight pliers that would go well with a SAK without doubling up on many tools and don’t want a full size tool, then buy this for sure, you won’t be disappointed that’s for sure.
I’m extremely happy and would easily buy another one in fact that’s what I just did I bought another 5 of them as I was so impressed. It’s sad they are no longer made.
It gets a 9.5 out of 10 score from me. If it had screws to adjust the tightness of the handle to plier head pivots I would have given it a 10. After owning one for a few weeks now all I can say is that for me this has got to be one of the best multi tools ever made and I am totally obsessed with it. If anyone else thinks they might like one, get one for sure.
I hope if anyone else gets one that they get one that’s as good as mine and I didn’t just get a one off really good one.
EDIT the others I got were just as good as my first one. I would easily recommend this tool.
If I could change this tool the only thing I would do is make the pivot screws user adjustable with Torx.
If LM were to re-introduce and update the mini tool here are some improvements I would be happy to see in addition to the adjustable pivot screws. These are just ideas and may not all work on the same tool but it would be nice if these mods were possible. I think the bottom line is, if we want more tools in the mini its going to have to be made a bit bigger. You cant have a really small size and lots of tools. My idea is to add a couple more tools but not too many so that it A) makes the tool a lot bigger and B) gives you a lot of doubling up if your carrying another tool.
Here are some ideas.
- Currently it measures 67mm long. I would be happy to see to see the length increased to 70 or 75mm to allow longer tools inside eg the knife blade.
- I would keep the inside opening tools as its better for the handle extensions locking as when you use the pliers the force on the handles is in the direction of locking.
- Round off the handle edges like they do on the ST300, or possibly use thicker metal – this is going to make the tool bigger overall though so I think I would rather live with the sharper edges.
- Have the handles lock open on the plier pivots better like the squirt and Juice. Hopefully without complicating the design too much??? Not sure its going to be possible, would require backsprings and a whole new design I think.
- Possibly use the same tool/handle extension locking system that the ST300 does with the press button on the outside. This may add more bulk.
- Currently the handle depth is around 13mm. Increase this to about 15mm which will increase folded width of the tool to about 30mm This extra depth will allow the handle extensions to be wider which will then allow for a 8mm and 6mm hex cut out to be cut into the handle extensions on opposite side of the bottle/can openers. This is a great addition I think as there is blank space on that side of the handle that could be used. The only thing is that the handles extensions are a stamped ‘soft’ grade of stainless. I would try and look at making the handle material thicker, at least on the side with hex cut outs or have the handle extensions machined from billet material. I definitely think there is a possibility of extra tools in the handle extensions if they are made a little wider and something is done to improve the material or a stronger material is used.
- Put a crimper or another cutter on the back side of the plier pivot like on the ST300.
- Increase the handles width about 4mm to allow a separate file with a larger file patch and then have a dedicated flat blade screw driver on the other side of the handle extension
- Then there will some more room on the other handle extension, opposite the blade for a proper 3D Phillips screw driver around 3-4mm wide or bigger if you want to make the handles wider maybe one the size of the inline Phillips of the 91mm SAK’s. Another option instead of the Phillips is a bit driver but this would probably increase width again.
- On the side of the flat blade screwdriver or on a handle extension cut a little wire stripping notch like in the Vic combo tool, maybe even different sizes for different size wire. This is a mod anyone could do to a current mini.
- On an edge of the flat screwdriver have a sharpened cutting/scraping edge
- Another option would be to swap the file for a serrated blade or mini saw.
Well that’s some of the things I would like to see. It could be such an awesome tool I think and it makes my mouth water. I envision a tool when folded that its not all that much bigger than the original but smaller lengthwise than the Juice and with better pliers than the Juice. I would almost consider making one my self if there was bits available from other models to use and I had good equipment to do it.