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Gerber Clutch

Offline ringzero

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Gerber Clutch
on: July 11, 2007, 10:16:10 AM
While at Lowes to get yard supplies, I once again yielded to impulse and bought another multitool, this time a Gerber Clutch.

This link http://multitool.org/content/view/32/58/ points to a previous review of the Clutch by Defender.  That review includes better pics than I could hope to provide, so go there to see pics of the Clutch and read Def's review.

After playing around with the Clutch for a few days and using it for some real world tasks, I'll offer some observations.

As stated in the earlier review, fit and finish are decent - not up to Swiss Army standards, but not bad.  Tools, including pliers, snap open and closed with authority, resulting in a tight 'lockup' when opened.  None of tools actually lock, but when fully open they have zero slop, either side-to-side or back-and-forth.

The knife blade is slightly less than two inches long and is good for typical tasks a pen-knife would perform.  Works fine for opening packages or envelopes, stripping insulation off wires, cutting twine, etc.  The blade is fairly thin, so I wouldn't use it in situations requiring lots of cutting power, except during an emergency.

The nail file is about the same size as the knife blade, and has a curved, pointed tip for cleaning under nails.  It files nails OK, but I'm more interested in its potential for other things.  Can be be used for light prying, scraping oxidation off metal parts, positioning wire around terminals, probing solder joints during desoldering, and as sort of an awl for digging into softer materials.

The slot-head screwdriver on the end of the bottle opener isn't bad - wouldn't want to put great stress on it, but it works fine for removing switch plates, screws in enclosures, etc.  The bottle opener will open a bottle, but not as quickly and easily as the larger one found on my Tinker.

The bottle-opener/screwdriver implement provides the single issue with the Clutch that bugs me the most.  Opening it requires enough force to nearly break a thumbnail.  Hopefully it'll loosen up with use.  The other implements require some force to open, but nowhere near as much as the bottle-opener.

The small screwdriver will fit screws in eyeglass frames, which is a plus.  It could also be used as a short, pointy probe to get into small openings.

The Phillips screwdriver will turn small screws fine, but usabilty for larger screws is limited due to its flatness.

The tweezers are short, but usable.  The ends of the tweezer tips are angled, which is a clever design.  The angled tips have a sharp corner that works well for grabbing onto tiny things.  Used the tweezers to remove a small wood splinter from my thumb, which they accomplished easily.

Finally we get to the pliers, which are the primary tool around which the Clutch is built, and also the primary reason for carrying the Clutch rather than a small Swiss Army knife with similar functions.

The fit of the pliers is rather precise.  The tips of the jaws are smooth and come together without a visible gap.  Small serrations line the jaws between the tips and a small elliptical cutout which is also serrated.  The cutters are small, but they cut wire cleanly.  The plier handles and jaws snap into place tightly when opened.  The plier pivot allows no vertical play at all in the jaws.  Handling the pliers gives the user a feeling of precision due to a total absence of slop.  The spring opening function is also a nice feature.

Obviously, because the of their small size, the pliers should be limited to jobs not requiring a lot of torque.  Within this constraint, the pliers are very versatile.  So far I've used the pliers for cutting and stripping wire, splicing wire, holding a nut still while turning a bolt, positioning and tightening wire around a terminal, and holding parts while soldering.

The Clutch's pliers are well suited to electronic and light electrical work.  I have a butane-powered, shirt-pocket-size soldering iron and a shirt-pocket Digital Volt Meter.  With nothing more than that iron, that DVM, and the Clutch, I have the capability to do basic electronics work in the field.

Summarizing, I am really impressed with the Clutch's pliers and find them very useful for a variety of tasks.

Good:
+Very well made and useful pliers.
+Knife is decent.
+Slot-head screwdrivers are decent.
+Compact size and light weight; carries well in pocket.

Bad:
-Phillips is of limited usefullness.

Ugly:
---Very stiff opening screwdriver/bottle-opener.

I bought the Clutch with the idea of replacing my Vic Tinker for EDC.  While the Clutch offers most of the functions of the Tinker, it doesn't do them quite as well.  The knife blade isn't as good as the big blade of the Tinker, the screwdrivers aren't as good as the Tinker's, and the bottle opener isn't as good.  The Clutch lacks a true awl and a can opener.

So, I may end up carrying the Clutch as a compliment to the Tinker rather than a replacement.  There are many situations where this combo would be handy.  Using the Clutch to hold a nut while tightening a bolt with the Tinker.  Holding a screw with the Clutch to start it while turning with the Tinker.  Holding an object with the Clutch while cutting on it with the Tinker.  If I can get used to carrying the Clutch in one pocket and the Tinker in the other, this could be my ideal EDC.

Wrapping up:  IMHO the Clutch is a solid value for its price.  A very useful multitool, given its diminutive size.

.
       
N


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #1 on: July 11, 2007, 12:09:51 PM
Great review!  I can see I am going to have to try and get a few more next time I see them on sale.  I managed to keep one for myself the last time, which was great- the first time I sold or traded them all before I noticed I was sending out my last one!

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


us Offline J-sews

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #2 on: July 19, 2007, 03:44:09 AM
Thanks for the review ringzero! (Somehow I had missed seeing this when it was first posted.) 
In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #3 on: July 20, 2007, 02:03:28 AM
Any new thoughts on this one now that you've had more time to play with it?

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


Offline ringzero

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #4 on: July 20, 2007, 05:01:06 AM
Any new thoughts on this one now that you've had more time to play with it?


I've been very happy with the Clutch so far except for one thing:  stiff opening of the screwdriver/bottle opener.

I've lubed it, cycled it open and closed dozens of times, and while it may have loosened up slightly, it's still too stiff.  You shouldn't have to worry about breaking a thumbnail when opening any implement on a multitool.

I've been EDCing the Clutch in a trouser pocket, which has worked out fine.  It's a little wider than a Tinker but also a little shorter, so it pocket carries quite nicely for me.

Really like having a pair of pliers with me at all times, even though the pliers are fit only for less demanding tasks.

Blade works well for pen-knife-type tasks, which is usually all I need.  (For tougher cutting tasks, I usually have a small thumb-stud-opening, liner-locking, partially-serrated-blade knife clipped into my right front pocket.)

If I can find the *#&@_^% receipt, I'm going to return this Clutch to Lowes and try my luck with another.  Surely the super-stiff opening of the screwdriver/bottle opener must not be typical of all Clutches?

Since 95+ percent of my use of the Clutch will be either blade, pliers, or screwdriver, I need to be able to access all three of those tools quickly and easily.  Two out of three just isn't acceptable.
 

.






 
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us Offline J-sews

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #5 on: July 21, 2007, 07:23:28 AM
About that stiff screwdriver blade...is the fingernail file blade (opposite it) difficult to open as well? Perhaps the pivot screws are too tight?
In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools


Offline ringzero

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #6 on: July 21, 2007, 01:40:15 PM
About that stiff screwdriver blade...is the fingernail file blade (opposite it) difficult to open as well? Perhaps the pivot screws are too tight?


Thanks for the suggestion, J-sews.

Hard to tell for sure.

The fingernail file had a wider, deeper nail nick which allows a nail to gain better purchase over a bigger area.

It is also further out from the pivot, which means a longer lever arm about that pivot.  Longer lever arm means less force must be applied to the nail nick to overcome spring tension and open the nail file.

If the pivot screws are too tight, I don't have a way to loosen them because they require a Torx driver smaller than the smallest one I have on hand.

.

N


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #7 on: July 21, 2007, 02:38:17 PM
I have handled a few of them and just about all of them seemed a little tight. 

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


us Offline J-sews

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #8 on: July 21, 2007, 03:28:08 PM
Okay, I think I know what the problem is. But it is difficult to explain, and almost impossible to fix without disassembling your Clutch.

Check out the picture below. See that little bump on the back portion of the screwdriver blade? Every blade and driver on the Clutch and the Shortcut has a bump just like that. Now close the blade slowly, and follow the little bump along and watch what it does. See how at the very end of the stroke, as the blade becomes fully closed, how the little bump emerges from underneath the folded handle metal? The function of the little bump is to keep the blade tight in the closed position when not needed. Opening that blade means overcoming some resistance, wedging the little bump back underneath the handle metal.

If there was a way you could grind the bump down a little bit, I think it would solve the problem. (By the way, mine is tight, but not overly tight.)

* p1.jpg (Filesize: 43.49 KB)
In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #9 on: July 21, 2007, 03:55:19 PM
It would be tight, but you may be able to grind that down a little with a Dremel tool without taking it apart....


Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


Offline ringzero

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #10 on: July 21, 2007, 05:56:25 PM
Okay, I think I know what the problem is. But it is difficult to explain, and almost impossible to fix without disassembling your Clutch....If there was a way you could grind the bump down a little bit, I think it would solve the problem. (By the way, mine is tight, but not overly tight.)


Thanks, J-sews.  You may well have diagnosed the problem correctly.

Right now, I plan on swapping this Clutch for another Clutch at Lowes.

I think this must be an unusual problem.  This screwdriver isn't just a little tight, it's extremely hard to open without cracking little divots out of my thumbnail.  Lubing it and exercising it hasn't made much of a difference.

I don't feel like I should have to spend more money to get the right Torx bit to open this Clutch up, then grind away on the screwdriver blade, then reassemble it and hope for the best.

.
 
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us Offline J-sews

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #11 on: July 21, 2007, 11:09:58 PM
I agree completely. Hopefully the replacement you get will not have the same afliction.  :-\
In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools


Offline ringzero

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #12 on: July 30, 2007, 08:36:44 AM
I agree completely. Hopefully the replacement you get will not have the same afliction.  :-\


Update on my Gerber Clutch issue:

Rather than go through the hassle of returning the Clutch to Lowes, I resolved the screwdriver stiffness issue myself.

How?  Simply by wearing it down.

While watching a movie on TV, I cycled the screwdriver from fully open to not quite closed then back to fully open.  I did that over and over and over, one cycle every several seconds.  Soon I was doing it without conscious thought, and I kept doing it throughout the movie.

By the end of the 2-hour movie, the screwdriver would open from its fully closed position much more easily.  Slightly stiff, but no longer thumbnail-cracking stiff.  After the movie was over, I re-lubed the pivot.

Screwdriver opening stiffness is now acceptable, and will probably continue to get better as it breaks in even more from regular use.

.

   
N


us Offline prime77

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #13 on: July 30, 2007, 11:28:30 AM
 ringzero...That's how I broke in my Charge AL. My wife made me watch Ice Age 2 with her and the kids one night. I enjoyed the first one didn't like the second one so much. Had more fun playing with the Leatherman ;D
"


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #14 on: July 30, 2007, 01:26:58 PM
Good to see that worked out for you!

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


Offline ringzero

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #15 on: July 31, 2007, 12:56:25 PM
My wife made me watch Ice Age 2 with her and the kids one night. I enjoyed the first one didn't like the second one so much. Had more fun playing with the Leatherman ;D


Multi-tasking is the wave of the future.  ;>

Why waste valuable time by just watching a movie or by just breaking in a new tool?  You can easily accomplish both at once.

.
 
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gb Offline Raukodur

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #16 on: August 06, 2007, 02:46:41 PM
humour in Ice Age 1 I felt was effortless, very nice movie, the second was a disaster, forced jokes like in so many sequels (do not get me started on terminator 3).


us Offline J-sews

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #17 on: August 06, 2007, 06:08:01 PM

Agreed.  :(
In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Gerber Clutch
Reply #18 on: August 07, 2007, 04:17:16 PM
I thought Terminator 3 was the joke? 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKJonM0fM54

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


 

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