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Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool 7968

No Life Club Posts: 1,894
Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« on: April 30, 2008, 04:21:11 AM »
It's 1986, a fairly rough year as it went. Space program disasters, nuclear fallout and highjackings splash through the pages of major periodicals and interrupt the nightly news. The Cold War is still in full-swing and ICBMs have become a daily topic of conversation the world over.

In a factory in Oregon a small idea becomes a small pocket tool. Designed by Leatherman Tool Group the Leatherman Mini-Tool, the first and only keychain tool with a full-size pliers, starts production. It's an interesting idea that does not become very successful. Short and fat it boasts only a half-dozen features and is more gimmick than utilitarian.





However, this tool may be responsible for more success than any other in the Leatherman line. Ostensibly designed to be able to be carried on the keychain this tool is the direct antecedent of the enourmously successful Leatherman Micra. Released fully ten years after the Mini-Tool the Micra created an enourmous boost in sales, it's small size and ease of use a huge draw to much of the general public. Still in production the Micra is one of the most commonly seen multitools and has a devoted following that dutifully recommend, give as gifts and modify the tool to their needs.





But let's jump back those ten years, and see the Mini-Tool some more. It's list of useful implements is a small one.

A skinny file with potential to be used as a flathead screwdriver.

A comically small clip point knife blade.

A can opener stamped into one handle extension with a bottle opener stamped into the other.

A fullsize plier head complete with wire cutters.

A ruler, both metric and standard.









If you were reading the packaging of the tool you would see that there are actually 10 listed functions, oddly enough this is the same number as the Micra. The tool as a whole does function well, it just doesn't do much. The folding extensions make it more comfortable than it's contemporary PST and it's small size does lend it to easier carry if you only require a small amount of implements.









But hold it in your hand, swing open the butterfly folding handles and just feel the tool. Small tools like this, able to be carried in the watch pocket, were much harder to find when it was released. One would hard pressed to find a small tool that has the strength of material and design of this tool. It feels heavy in the handle, those handle inserts add a lot of weight, they aren't skeletonized or made of aluminum. Just stamped steel full of strength that snaps open with authority. Suprising the mind, as far as the pliers are concerned this tool transforms from a mini to a full-size tool in just two small steps. With this transformation of size comes a transformation in capability. You don't have the cluth the small handles of the tool to use the pliers, you can relax into the full length and truly apply some leverage.





Use the file, see how the small size actually becomes more useful than the bulky length of the PST. It's slim and short but in certain worlds these are advantages, it can squeeze between gears, under manifolds and it is ground competently and cuts well. The clip point blade works just as well in it's own field. Short, but with a solid belly, it can be used quickly and discretly. It's never too much blade for the job, tripping up over itself and getting in the way, it just big enough to be useful.







Discontinued and all but forgotten by the industry that spawned it for the sake of newer, more useful tools the Mini still pops up from time to time. It's the tool that starts questions when it's used around others. People see it and take a few seconds to mentally compare it to their Micra before asking, "Hey, what kind is that?" and then they want to hold it, to try it out and see the odd extensions.
Sr. Member Posts: 413 I do Exist!!!!
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2008, 04:31:10 AM »
Nice writing Spoon, is always a pleasure to read your comments about the tools you get (Some time ago i had the oportunity to get one of the minis, but let it pass because i didn't know the history behind this little tool  :().

Carlos

(
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2008, 04:50:57 AM »
Well spoken and well illustrated again Spoon! Someday you're going to have to compile all of your photo essays into a single bound volume!  :multi:


Good point about the handle comfort. Thats the first thing I remember noticing about the Mini years ago when I first held one. (Only had a PST at the time to compare it to)

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
No Life Club Posts: 1,894
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2008, 09:33:07 AM »
 :)

I think it's so fascinating that this tool and the PST took Leatherman through the remainder of the 80s. At one point it was big news for the company but compared to it's modern contemporaries it borders on unimpressive. It does exhibit some neat traits that we all see later on. The thick washers that space the plier head and give the tool a uniform block look come back on the Kick as do the bent flatsprings that hold open the implements so well. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if the tool had been produced with a philips or combi-driver on it instead (like the original patent). If this were the case utility would be so much greater.
Chief of the Absolutely No Life Club! Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here... Posts: 42,959 Why haven't you got a Farmer yet!
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2008, 09:45:09 AM »
Excellent work as always Spooney :), I agree with Bob, you should write a book on the subject of Multi's.

Funny thing is though, the Mini is one of the few LM's I'd like to own :)

Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!
No Life Club Posts: 1,894
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2008, 10:59:18 AM »
We could do a box set: Before there was Leatherman and Pliers and Prose. Could be a summer blockbuster.

 :D

I'll keep an eye out for you micky. There had been two that have been lingering on classifieds boards for almost a month. I bought one and someone else got the other, seems like second hand market value on the boards is lower than eBay. I got mine for peanuts.
Chief of the Absolutely No Life Club! Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here... Posts: 42,959 Why haven't you got a Farmer yet!
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2008, 11:06:45 AM »
We could do a box set: Before there was Leatherman and Pliers and Prose. Could be a summer blockbuster.

 :D

I'll keep an eye out for you micky. There had been two that have been lingering on classifieds boards for almost a month. I bought one and someone else got the other, seems like second hand market value on the boards is lower than eBay. I got mine for peanuts.
Thanks mate, I might be able to talk someone into getting me one for my birthday :D

Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!
No Life Club Posts: 4,783 I miss Benner
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2008, 11:28:35 AM »
!!!MINI!!!

Let the Cult begin!!!

But seriously I actually do carry my minis and use them. I allways found them to be an interesting design and actually more usefull than people give them credid for. I really like them for small detail work, and wish I had more of them.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2008, 11:33:40 AM by hawkchucker »

S
No Life Club Posts: 4,783 I miss Benner
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2008, 11:35:15 AM »
Does it have the hard wire notch I could not really tell.

S
No Life Club Posts: 1,894
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2008, 11:52:28 AM »
 :-X

Kind of an important picture I forgot to take of the pliers.



Hawkchucker, why does the Mini perform so much better than say, a P4?
Global Tuffy Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 28,078 Just Awesome! And a Slayer of Polar Bear!
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2008, 12:12:29 PM »
Wow  :o  I never realised just how small it was.  :)  A Mini has been on the list for a while now and it does look a fun tool to own.

I'm back!!
Chief of the Absolutely No Life Club! Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here... Posts: 42,959 Why haven't you got a Farmer yet!
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2008, 01:26:46 PM »
Wow  :o  I never realised just how small it was.  :)  A Mini has been on the list for a while now and it does look a fun tool to own.
Well I'm off the hook then, I'll wait till Ben buy's his so I can see if I like them :)

Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!
Global Tuffy Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 28,078 Just Awesome! And a Slayer of Polar Bear!
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2008, 01:27:52 PM »
Wow  :o  I never realised just how small it was.  :)  A Mini has been on the list for a while now and it does look a fun tool to own.
Well I'm off the hook then, I'll wait till Ben buy's his so I can see if I like them :)

It will probably be a while yet I'm afraid.  :D

I'm back!!
Chief of the Absolutely No Life Club! Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here... Posts: 42,959 Why haven't you got a Farmer yet!
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2008, 01:30:12 PM »
Wow  :o  I never realised just how small it was.  :)  A Mini has been on the list for a while now and it does look a fun tool to own.
Well I'm off the hook then, I'll wait till Ben buy's his so I can see if I like them :)

It will probably be a while yet I'm afraid.  :D
I'm skint too, so i can wait :D

Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!
No Life Club Posts: 4,121 "Survival must be earned"-Klingon Proverb
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2008, 01:34:35 PM »
I lost my mini-tool long ago.  Don't know where it went >:(

"Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall;
 Some run from breaks of ice, and answer none:
 And some condemned for a fault alone." -William Shakespeare, King Lear (1608), Act IV, scene 6, line 169
No Life Club Posts: 2,332
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2008, 01:41:09 PM »
Spoon, you're good! LM should hire people like you. :climber:
No Life Club Posts: 4,783 I miss Benner
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2008, 10:38:44 PM »
[quote
Hawkchucker, why does the Mini perform so much better than say, a P4?
[/quote]

Spoony I would say just take the 2 of them and attempt to cut the simple coat hanger. Secondly the drivers on the P4 really are cute, and that is all. The File on the mini is actually better and more aggresive, and the can opener and bottle openers do work well.

i think the P4 is a great little keychain tool, however the Mini in my opinion(for what it matters) just gives better leverage in the pliers and teh blade is alittle more stout. Even though very small.

S
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2008, 03:21:47 AM »
Multitools are a study in trade-offs.
On the Mini, the emphasis was placed on having a compact package when folded, yet a full sized plier with full handles when unfolded. This was achieved most definitely. But the downside was a bare minimum of blades and other functions.

The functionality of the plier was maximized at the expense of everything else. Its that simple. :-\

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
No Life Club Posts: 4,783 I miss Benner
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2008, 11:19:32 AM »
However it did work, and is a sound Idea. I just wish that they had decided to attempt an overhaul of the tool and get more bang for the impliments. I actually believe that the tool is worth the effort in trying this.

Maybe Tim should not really close the books on the mini. He should leave it allways on his desk just to tinker oround with.

S
Turd Bucket No Life Club Posts: 2,633
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2008, 01:52:42 AM »
I like the idea of the tool. nice write up.
No Life Club Posts: 1,957 Marsh-wiggle
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2008, 02:11:29 AM »
I really want to get one of the tools someday, just because they're so darn cool. :D I agree it's a trade-off to get full size pliers. I just wish they had put a phillips on there instead of a knife, and then it could be a great tag-along with a dedicated folder.
Turd Bucket No Life Club Posts: 2,633
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2008, 03:20:57 AM »
neither extreme, good idea.
No Life Club Posts: 1,894
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2008, 05:10:05 AM »
HC, good to hear your input. I don't cut much wire so I hadn't given much thought to the importance of cutters and handle length in that regard on a smaller tool like this that is easy to carry. I agree about the knife blade and the other implements, they look kind of funny but they do work, as I've been finding out.

I bet if the knife blade were thinner there could be an additional implement squeezed in there that would fold into the handle extension, same with the file.
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 13,375 Sing, Michael, sing. On the route of the 19 Bus!
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #23 on: May 03, 2008, 12:15:20 AM »
My first post - so be gentle  :-[

Spoonrobot - I really liked your essay there - cracking job!

My opinion of the Mini Tool is a bit mixed really. Whilst the tool is unique, in that you get a substantial pair of pliers in such a small casing, I find that it doesn't have enough tools on it to make it worth carrying. Compared to the Micra or Squirt, it simply is too limited. If I'm at home and want pliers - well I've got lots of better options! If you want more substantial pliers than on the Squirt P4, then the Juice isn't that much bigger or more difficult to fit in your pocket.

That said, it's uniqueness makes it a great thing to own, and it's significance in paving the way for the Micra make it interesting. A must-have for a collector I reckon.

Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #24 on: May 03, 2008, 05:17:35 AM »
Question: Has anyone ever successfully opened a can with the Mini-Tool can opener? ???

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Global Moderator Just Bananas Posts: 61,270
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #25 on: May 03, 2008, 06:11:22 PM »
HC, good to hear your input. I don't cut much wire so I hadn't given much thought to the importance of cutters and handle length in that regard on a smaller tool like this that is easy to carry. I agree about the knife blade and the other implements, they look kind of funny but they do work, as I've been finding out.

I bet if the knife blade were thinner there could be an additional implement squeezed in there that would fold into the handle extension, same with the file.

Hey spoon great job on the Mini :D  Do I smell a mod coming on?  I believe in your capable hands you could add some implements, just a thought though :pok: Since I have yet to aquire one I don't really know what all is possible with it,  but since you have one I bet you'll figure something out. If you do any modding please let us know and how it turned out :D
No Life Club Posts: 4,783 I miss Benner
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #26 on: May 04, 2008, 08:56:45 PM »
Question: Has anyone ever successfully opened a can with the Mini-Tool can opener? ???

I have and it actually opens them fairly quickly.

S
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #27 on: May 04, 2008, 10:47:54 PM »
Question: Has anyone ever successfully opened a can with the Mini-Tool can opener? ???

I have and it actually opens them fairly quickly.

Thanks. I've never tried it myself. Just looking at the rounded cutting edge of mine makes me think it wouldn't work well.

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,449 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #28 on: May 04, 2008, 11:16:27 PM »
I've got a can of Whoopass I was planning on using it on, but I was saving it for a special occasion! :D

Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
No Life Club Posts: 4,783 I miss Benner
Re: Photo Essay: The Mini-Tool
« Reply #29 on: May 04, 2008, 11:33:37 PM »
Well def it will work ya know the Mini Is the preferred weapon of Ninjas.

S

 

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