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What is a Multi-Tool?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A multi-tool is a tool which includes several tools in one, so that it can serve a variety of functions. The Leatherman® is often credited as being one of the earliest and most famous multi-tools, setting the bar for companies which wanted to follow suit. Many hardware stores carry these handy tools, and they can also be ordered from specific manufacturers.

Some multi-tools are designed to fit in the pocket, in which case they are small, with a limited number of included tools. Others attach to a tool belt, with a correspondingly larger size, and some are designed to be kept in a toolkit, but not necessarily to be worn or carried on a regular basis, in which case they may be much larger, with a myriad of options. Most multi-tools fold when not in use so that they compact neatly for storage.

Some examples of tools which can be included in a multi-tool are: pliers, scissors, knives, screwdrivers, awls, corkscrews, nippers, and bottle openers. Some are designed with removable bits, so that people can take off one bit and add another as needed. The extra bits can be carried in a case along with the multi-tool, providing access to a range of bit heads including Phillips and regular screwdrivers, hex heads, and so forth.

The materials used to make a multi-tool tend to be very rugged and basic, so that the tool can endure hard use. Stainless steel is a common choice, with upscale models being made from titanium and other highly durable metals. To reduce the size, things like rubberized grips are usually avoided, and some companies make multi-tools with a lacy design to reduce the weight, removing excess metal wherever possible so that the tool can be functional without weighing too much to be useful.

Some companies refer to their multi-tools as “x in one tools,” referencing the number of tools which have been fitted to the multi-tool. “Multi-purpose tool” is a another term used to refer to this useful addition to the toolbox or tool belt.

If a multi-tool is being purchased for someone else, it may pay to do some research to make sure that he or she does not already own one, and to determine potential brand and option preferences. It is also possible to purchase accessories like carry cases for multi-tools which can be added to the gift, in which case it is a very good idea to confirm that the case will fit on the recipient's tool belt or pants.

AboutMechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AboutMechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By tigers88 — On Jan 21, 2012

Therer are usually two kinds of multi tools, ones that have a pair of pliers like a leatherman tool and ones that don't. For my money it's better to have a set of pliers. These usually include all the same tools as their counterparts, but having the pliers is really handy when you need them.

I have a little holster on my belt that allows me to carry my multi tool with me everywhere. I can't tell you how many times it's come in handy. They are cheap to buy and so nice to have. I don't know why everyone doesn't carry one.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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