When you hear the term "multi-tool," you probably think of that red gadget/tool that Macgyver carried in the late '80s TV series. If you recall, Richard Dean Anderson, who played Macgyver, could do everything with that knife from using it to escape through a supposedly inescapable jail cell to rebuilding a car engine, or something else equally amazing. Knowing how to buy such a multi-purpose tool that will meet your needs is important so you're not disappointed in your purchase.
While the components of a multi-tool may vary, there are some common elements such as knife blade or two, at least one screwdriver, maybe a bottle or can opener and other tools. The Gerber Suspension, for instance, contains 12 components. These include needlenose pliers, a wire cutter, fine and serrated edge knives, scissors, a cross point screwdriver, small and medium flat blade screwdrivers, a can opener and bottle opener, a saw, and a lanyard hole for easy carrying.
Did You Know?
The multi-tool that holds the Guinness World Record contains 87 components. But it also weighs nearly three pounds and costs over $1,000! Typically, the elements listed above are among the most common and most popular.
Of course, there are many other components in multi-tools. Some multi-tools, like the Gerber Bluntnose Multi-Plier 600, for example, contain other items like a file, a ruler, or a Tungsten carbide insert cutters but they eliminate items like the scissors and saw. Still other multi-tools eliminate even more components and contain only the very basic ones. All of these variables affect the price as well as the size and weight of the tools.
Multi-tools make a great gift for folks who carry and work with knives every day. Electricians, mechanics, construction workers, builders, upholsterers, plumbers and other tradesmen, in particular, find that a multi-tool provides just about any tool they might need. And it's right at hand, usually at the simple flick of a wrist, thanks to one-hand opening mechanisms.
Usage Makes a Difference
Knowing what you plan to use your multi-tool for is probably the most important aspect of buying one. Whether you're buying one for yourself or a gift, consider which of the available components would be most useful. If you use your multi-tool at night, one with a flashlight could be helpful. Or if you work with wood, you may find the tweezers handy for removing splinters, which are common for such workers. Consider the use before you make a decision on a multi-tool and you won't feel the need to replace it as quickly as you might otherwise.
Analyze The Option
In the same way, if you're concerned about price, in particular, don't feel you have to buy the top-of-the-line multi-tool that has every possible tool you could ever want in your life - unless you know you'll use them all. If you drink only bottles with a screw-top cap, you may not need the bottle opener. And if you use your knife mainly for cutting a fishing line, you may not need as many screwdriver blades. Again, know what you use your knife for and it will simplify the purchase of a multi-tool from the start.
Comfort is a Must
Another thing you'll want to consider when buying a multi-tool is the weight. Common sense tells you that the more components your multi-tool features, the heavier it will be. This means that it will be bulkier as well. Both are aspects that can affect how comfortable the tool is to carry around in your pocket all day.
If you're concerned about weight, look for a smaller design multi-tool with fewer elements. The Gerber Curve, for instance, is a small keychain tool weighing less than an ounce, but it still features a number of essential implements including a knife blade, screwdrivers and a file.
Set a Limit of How Much to Spend
Knowing how much you plan to spend on your multi-tool is essential as well. You can pay anywhere from $8-$10 upwards to $65 or more, depending on size, weight, overall length, features and components, etc. Setting a price range will make it easier to select the best tool you can afford and help you narrow down the selection considerably. If you wish to browse outside your spending limit, make a wish list, and set out to save up for those items.
Get the Warranty Info
Be sure that any multi-tool you buy comes with a warranty against manufacturing defects. You certainly don't want to buy a gift for someone, find out it's damaged, and then be stuck buying another one because it didn't come with a warranty. In the same way, you don't want to face the disappointment of getting your new "toy" home only to find it doesn't work properly and there's nothing you can do about it.
Never leave this aspect of your purchase to chance. You may think that all products come with an exchange policy, but that simply isn't the case. Ask about warranties before you hand over your credit card, just to be sure. Of course, all Gerber products come with a solid limited lifetime warranty. That's one of the best things about doing business with a company who cares about its customers like Gerber does.
In addition to knowing how to buy a multi-tool, it's important that you take the time to learn to care for one as well. Read the instructions that come with your new tool. Keep it sharp and care for it well and you'll be surprised at how long it will last, even with regular daily use.
Start Buying Today
Knowing what you want in a multi-tool, how much you want to spend, what kind of warranty it carries and even what type of care it requires will help you decide on the best option for your budget and needs. While not all multi-tools are the same, Gerber offers over 60 multi-tools, some being variations only in color, while others range from those with a minimum of components to those that contain just about any tool you might need. There's certainly one to fit every budget and every need.
Knife Safety is Very Important to Us and to Gerber
From Gerber Blades voluntary recall of the Gerber® Instant™ Knife on April 26, 2012 because of their concern with a locking mechanism problem, to their continuing advancements in the area of knife safety technology, Gerber Legendary Blades has proven their concern for the safety of their customers.
Respect the Knife
Knife safety is a truly critical issue and it's something that can't be treated lightly. Learning to properly use, store, carry and care for your knives is as important as the type of knife you buy and the company you buy from. Here are some knife safety tips you really need to be aware of whether using Gerber knives or any others.
• Always remember that any knife can be a dangerous weapon and treat it accordingly! Handle your knife with care whether you're opening it, closing it, carrying it, cleaning it or just showing it off. Caution can help you avoid serious injury to yourself or to others.
No Tossing or Pointing
• Don't toss a knife to someone. If you're asked to hand a knife to a friend, do just that... hand it to them. Always hand off a knife handle first to avoid accidentally cutting someone.
• In the same way, don't point a knife at anyone. In a relaxed setting, you could accidentally drop the knife or lose control of it. In a threatening situation, your move could actually do more harm than good. While you may plan to defend yourself with a knife, unless you know you're stronger than your assailant, you could be overpowered and place your "defense weapon" in the hands of your attacker.
2 Way Safety
• Always fold your knife or place it in its sheath for carrying. The purpose of a sheath is to not only protect your knife from damage but to protect you from harm. The same is true of folding knives. Their purpose is to allow you to safely carry them in your pocket. Use this safety feature as a matter of course and you'll prevent a number of injuries and accidents.
Check the Locking Mechanism
• If your knife has a locking mechanism that is designed to keep the blade open or closed, be sure it's working properly before you rely on it. Test the mechanism a few times, with your fingers out of the way, and make sure it works like it should.
Fast Hands? Think Again
• Never try to catch your knife if it's falling. Just step back out of the way and let it fall, then pick it up after it hits the ground. It's better to damage a knife that can be repaired than to cut yourself, sometimes severely.
Low Light = Bad Idea
• Avoid using your knife under dim lighting. At the very least use a small flashlight to illuminate the area where you're cutting. Always try your best to have good, bright light available when using any type of knife. Even around a campfire can be a bad time to start carving or whittling; depending on the fire size, there are a ton of shadows bouncing around, and if something were to block your view for even a second, that could be your finger you cut instead of your project.
Mom's Rule Still Applies
• Remember how your mother always told you to never run with scissors? Well, that was good advice. And the same rule applies to knives. Don't run with a knife, or any sharp object in hand for that matter. Even the most coordinated or athletic folks can trip over something they didn't see. Plus it's common sense, sharp objects can be deadlier at higher speeds.
• Use your knife the way it was designed to be used. Never use a knife blade to open a bottle, use a bottle opener instead. Never use it as a screwdriver, or for prying something loose. Instead, get the right tool for the job at hand and protect yourself from getting hurt. Plus you don't want to possibly break or chip a blade, unless it's a last resort because you're stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Risk of Shock
• Never use a knife on appliances or other electrical items with live electricity. Disconnect all appliances or electronics from any electrical outlet or turn off a breaker in advance. Some knives like the LMF II have ways to possibly protect you from shock, but please don't test this willingly.
Never Toward Yourself
• When cutting, always cut away from your body, never toward it. This tremendously reduces the chance of accidentally cutting yourself if the knife should slip or you lose your grip. Or how the southern saying goes, never cut toward yourself, always toward someone else. (However we don't recommend doing that.) Feel free to use the saying though, if you haven't heard it before.
Proper Care Goes a Long Way
• Care for your knife properly. Clean your knife according to the recommendations that came with the knife. This is especially true for pocket knives or knives that contain any kind of locking mechanism. Be sure there's no grit or grime inside the knife, on the blade, or in the lock that could damage the knife and ultimately cause harm due to malfunction.
A Sharp Knife Will Always Prevail
• Sharpen your knife with care and use the proper stone for sharpening. While you may be tempted to grind the blade of your knife with a power grinder, avoid that temptation. Not only is doing so more dangerous, but it will make your knife blade more brittle and can void your knife's warranty as well.
Keep that Smooth Action
• Oil your knife regularly. Learn how to oil your knife properly by knowing where to place the oil and what type of oil is best. This will ensure your knife opens and closes as it should and will keep it functioning correctly. Not only will that make it more enjoyable to use your knife since no one wants to use a tool that doesn't work right, but it will help to prevent injury that may be caused if a knife sticks open or closed, or doesn't lock in place like it should.
Unless You're a Knife Maker...
• If your knife becomes damaged, find a reputable, authorized dealer to repair it. Never try to fix your own knife. Not only will it void your warranty, but you can too easily hurt yourself or do serious damage. Instead, follow the proper procedure to have your knife repaired and save yourself some hassles and some, potentially literal, pain.
Accidents Happen, So Be Prepared
Even when following all of these safety precautions and taking the greatest care when handling a knife, injuries may occur. If you do cut yourself or someone else, seek immediate medical help.
If the cut is serious, call 911 and have them call an ambulance right away. If the cut is minor, take the time to wash it and apply an antiseptic ointment and bandage or other first-aid immediately. This can prevent infection that may come from a dirty knife blade.
Spread the Word
Knowing how to use, store, carry and care for all of your Gerber knives is crucial to your personal safety as well as that of others around you. Memorize these safety tips and teach them to your family members and children so you can all enjoy the knives you carry and minimize your risk of harm or personal injury.
Knife safety is huge, plus with so many places outlawing knives, it's not only safety when carrying one, it's safety to know where you can and can't carry a knife as well.
Unless you've been carrying a knife all your life, or maybe even if you have, you may not know whether you need a straight or serrated knife edge to best meet your needs and suit your purposes for carrying a knife. While serrated edged knives have become much more popular in recent years, there's still a time when a straight edge (or more properly plain edge) knife is best.
Depends On The Usage
Typically, the type of knife blade you choose will depend on what you plan to do with your knife and how you plan to cut with it. Whether it's hunting, or an everyday pocket knife, there are a number of ways to cut with a knife. For instance, you can use a knife to slice, stab, saw or chop. Each type of cut has a different motion and each relies on a different part of the blade. Knowing what the purpose for your knife is, which help you know what kind of blade to choose.
How Do You Use Your Knife
When you use a knife to slice, or to saw, you drag it across what you're cutting, whether toward you, if you're holding the item in your hand, or down if it's on a cutting board. Think of slicing a tomato. Slicing other things works much the same way.
Stabbing, or chopping, however is done basically by pushing the knife through what you're cutting. If you're chopping an onion, for instance, you push the blade down through the onion repeatedly. Other types of stabbing (done with the point of the blade) or chopping work much the same way.
There may be variations, but these are the two most common ways to use a knife. And the one you plan to use will help you determine whether you need a serrated or plain edge knife to do the job.
The Use of Serrations
Serrated edged knives are most often suited to slicing tasks. The serrations in the blade will help the knife grab the object to be cut more easily and slice through it more efficiently. Consider slicing bread. If you've ever tried it with a straight edge blade you know how hard it is to get the knife to cut without ripping the bread to pieces. Switch to a serrated edge and the job becomes much simpler and you come out with smooth even slices of bread, or anything else.
Accuracy Suffers with Serrations
On the other hand, a straight or plain edge blade is usually better for push cuts or those that require a higher level of accuracy or control. If you're skinning a animal, or a piece of fruit, a plain edge blade is preferable since it gives you the ability to control where the blade goes more easily than you can with a serrated knife.
While serrations give you more cutting power, in a manner of speaking, they don't provide the level of accuracy you need to for such cutting tasks. That's why skinning knives or paring knives are generally smooth edge blades.
Experience often shows that a serrated knife blade is often preferred for slicing tasks. This is due, in part, to the fact that portions of the serrated blade are thinner which gives them a cutting advantage. And the ridges, or raised portions, on a serrated blade pierce a surface more quickly making the cut more efficient.
Using Straight Edges
Straight edge blades can be used effectively for slicing, though, if they're sharp enough. And that depends entirely on the type of knife, the blade material, the method used for sharpening, and other factors.
Ever try to cut that tomato with a plain edge knife? If so, you know how important it is to have a sharp blade or risk tearing the skin of your fruit. Often, even a dull serrated knife is preferable for slicing because of the blade's design.
Sharpening Makes A Big Difference
A more recent philosophy on whether a straight edge or serrated knife is better for a certain task actually recommends plain edge knives for some slicing tasks.
This pattern of thought takes into account the fact that specific sharpening styles, mainly using a knife file to sharpen a blade, actually produces a coarse surface that simulates small serrations. In that case, depending on what's to be cut, a plain edge may actually work better for slicing.
This coarse surface is different from the standard polished edge most often seen on plain edge knives. Polished surfaces are less effective in slicing tasks. But the surface created by using a coarser sharpening stone is more similar to a serrated edge and works well, if not better, than serrations for a variety of cutting tasks.
Best of Both Worlds
Still unsure which knife blade is preferable? You always have the choice of a partially serrated blade. This style blade offers the best of both cutting worlds. You can use the polished or fine edge portion of the blade for push cuts, and the serrated edge portion of the blade for slicing. While this type of knife isn't ideal for all situations, for general use, it can be ideal and quite convenient.
A partially serrated or combination edge blade is becoming more popular and more widely used all the time. Such a blade eliminates the need to carry more than one knife and still gives the variety of cutting options needed for certain tasks. Partially serrated blades are especially good for daily use, camping or general purposes.
In most cases, a partially serrated blade features a smooth, plain edge near the tip with serrations at the back of the blade near the handle. Some knife users would prefer this format be reversed but this is a generally accepted design that most users are satisfied with.
Of course, die-hard knife aficionados will most often choose a separate knife - straight edge or serrated - for every task. And that's okay, too. It sometimes comes down to a matter of preference or personal style where the choice of knife and blade type are concerned.
Stop the Confusion
All of this discussion about whether serrated or straight edge knives or best may be more confusing than it needs to be. But the idea is simple. Just keep in mind what you plan to cut with your knife and whether a smooth surface (a plain or straight edge blade) or a coarser surface (a serrated or partially serrated blade) will do the job best. Then choose the Gerber knife that will provide the type surface you need to get the job done. It's as simple as that.
When choosing your next knife, or knives, remember it doesn't have to be that complicated. If it is, you might as well get both styles. Feel free to comment below.