A few months ago, I won an auction on ebay that was for 4 Leatherman MTs. The pictures weren't great, so I couldn't really tell what condition the tools were in, but I won the lot for a relatively low bid, so it was a pretty good gamble. One of the 4 was a Wave, which I planned on using for mod fodder, but when I actually got my hands on it to do an inspection, I was speechless...
Apologies for the blurred image in the third picture, but you can see what I'm talking about here -- this poor Wave had been trashed
The large flat driver was broken off, and the insides of the handles were absolutely covered in dirt/gunk/who knows what (but luckily not too much rust):
And don't even get me started on the blades... I have no idea how the previous owner managed to mangle them this badly.
I have used butter knives with sharper edges. (Blades are shown next to a new Wave for comparison)
I thought about just taking a few salvageable parts (at the time, I was thinking maybe the scissors, small bit driver, can opener, and the saw) and just scrapping the rest, but I felt like this poor Wave deserved another chance. So began the restoration project...
It started by completely disassembling the tool and doing some scrubbing in a hot, soapy bath... so much scrubbing. Every time I thought I had gotten all the dirt and grime out, I found some more tucked in another corner.
After that, the handles got another bath in the dishwasher, and everything else went into an oil bath in the garage, where the handles would later join them. I let them soak in the oil for a couple months, until this past weekend when I found some time to continue the project.
I started out by spending some time polishing the handles, which I think turned out nicely. (In the following pictures, the handle that I polished first is on top, and the second handle, which had not been polished yet, is on the bottom for comparison.) Plus, it finally gave me an excuse to try out the polishing compound that came with my Dremel.
The wire cutters had obviously been used to cut something that was too thick/hard, and had sustained some damage that was causing the pliers to stick. A few minutes with the diamond file, and they were back to smooth operation. (especially after sitting in the oil bath for so long!)
Clearly, some of the parts would need to be completely replaced (like the blades). I decided that in order to consider it a true "restoration", I wanted to keep the original handles and pliers -- the heart of any plier-based MT.
With that in mind, I ended up putting this Wave back together with a tool load similar to the original Wave using some Rebar parts.
The scissors and can opener are the originals from this Wave; the Phillips driver and two flat drivers are from a Rebar. I discovered that the small flat driver from the Rebar is thinner than the small bit driver that would normally be on that side, so I had to add a couple spare washers/spacers to get a good fit. (If you look closely at the pic below, the extra washers are in between the scissors and the large flat driver on the right side.) Look how much cleaner the insides are!
For the external tools, the blades obviously needed to be replaced, but I managed to salvage the saw and the file. (Yes, that really is the same file seen in the "before" pics.)
And since I was replacing the blades anyway, I decided to give this guy a blade steel upgrade.
So for those keeping track at home, the handles, plier head, saw, file, scissors, can opener, and all pivots/screws are the originals that I started with for this project. The drivers and blades were replacements. I ended up scrapping the large bit driver as it was no longer holding the bits securely, but I held onto the small bit driver for future mods.
All in all, I'm very happy with how this restoration project turned out.
As you can see in the last couple pics, the handles don't quite close all the way because of the Rebar parts in there, so I'd like to do some reshaping of those drivers with the Dremel to get a better fit and finish on the tool. But for now, at least this Wave has been returned to some semblance of its former glory, and saved from being recycled as scrap metal.