The Leatherman Arc

opened Leatherman Arc box
The opened cardboard box that the Leatherman Arc came shipped in: The tool, the sheath, a bit set, a flyer.

I recently bought the new Leatherman Arc, a new multitool by Leatherman that uses the “FREE”-technology Leatherman introduced a while ago. The most notable part about this purchase is not the tool itself, but the price it is being sold for: Here in Germany, it costs 299 EUR (taxes & shipping included). That’s a lot of money for a multitool, especially since the Chinese competition sells cheaper multitools via Amazon for 10% of this price.

I am new to the Free technology, which is why I bought this tool. I buy a new multitool about every 10 years, and my 20 year old Leatherman Wave has already been exchanged two or three times on their lifetime warranty.

opened Leatherman Squirt PS4 and Olive i3E EOS
My all-time favourite tools: A Leatherman Squirt PS4 and a small, AAA-driven LED light. These are my daily drivers.

Since the introduction of some legal limitations in the EU that regulate which type of knife you are allowed to carry in public, I’ve mainly carried a small Leatherman Squirt PS4 in the 5th pocket of my trousers. The Leatherman Squirt PS4 is hands down the BEST tool ever produced. Not quality-wise, though, as I already had to replace it 4 or 5 times! Some of the materials used are too brittle, especially the file. But it works so well and is always with me (along with an Olight i3E lamp).

The LM Squirt PS4 is sadly out of production, and I also started a new job at a museum where I often need a screwdriver / knife / pliers for smaller repairs. I also own and use the Leatherman Wave and Leatherman Charge Ti which I consider the best multitools for my requirements. Continue reading “The Leatherman Arc”

just another multitool

The only reason I am posting the following is because I get terribly excited about multitools. Think of Apple fanboyz and you’ll know what I mean. I think it’s the EveryDay-Carry (EDC) syndrome – the need to have the perfect tool in your pocket.

EDC also reflects a lifestyle of preparedness, where the individual wants to be prepared for the majority of situations ….(…) People who carry EDC items have a mindset of planning ahead for emergency situations. (src)

Fortunately, I am not alone on this and there are others who not only visit EDC-forums, but also come up with detailed reviews on my latest purchase: the Leatherman Squirt PS4 (e.g. 1, 2 & 3) and even their own (and very smart) modifications (& here). Unfortunately though, my new Leatherman PS4 does not have screws but rivets, so modifications are very limited. The perfect tool does not seem to exist yet, but we’re getting closer with every iteration.

Leatherman P4
A Leatherman Squirt P4 I bought some time ago forwarded as a gift to her father. He really loves this one and prefers it to his older pocket knife.

Leatherman PS4

The Victorinox Manager 0.6365 I got instead of the LM Squirt P4. A very nice & slim pocket knife that comes with a pair of tweezers and ballpoint pen. Mentioned here because I think the perfect tool should also come with such a handy ballpoint pen and tiny screwdrivers. Also, Torx 5, 6 and 7 would be great!

I bought the LM Squirt PS4 (not P4) because it comes with pliers and isn’t that much bigger than the Victorinox. The tools I need the most are a) knife, b) screwdrivers and c) pliers. When I switched to the Victorinox in 2009, I also stopped carrying my LM Charge TTi – so I always missed the pliers. Hence this recent purchase of the PS4 which is a successor to the P4.

Leatherman PS4
LM Squirt PS4 vs. Victorinox Manager

The quality on the LM could be a bit better. This also applies to the Charge TTi below. There’s a clear difference between the tools Leatherman produced some years ago and the ones they are selling these days. Victorinox clearly wins here, even though steel quality is equally bad. Sufficient for my needs, though.

Leatherman PS4
LM Charge TTi vs. LM Squirt PS4

Leatherman PS4

I’ve paid about EUR 20 for this LM PS4 and it arrived within only 7 days from the US. The cheap EUR-USD exchange rate probably is another reason for my love affair with multitools :-)

Leatherman PS4

The real winner of my EDC concept is the Swiss+Tech Utili-Key 6-in-1 – because it looks like a key and is on my keychain. A great little helper that even passes through TSA while all other tools have to be stored in the luggage.

Are you also infected with the EDC virus? What’s your favourite EDC gadget?

P.S.: There’s a Wiki on MultiTools. God, I love the internet! 1!11

The Leatherman sheath mod, part 2

I didn’t know if I should blog the following – because stuff like this is usually shared on internet forums, but since I’d been writing about this before – and not only once – I thought about sharing it with you on my blog. Besides, I don’t do forums for various reasons.

the stupid Leatherman sheath

Some month ago, I bought a Leatherman Charge TTi multitool which came with a very bad leather sheath. The famous inventor of multitools once produced very fine leather sheaths, like the beautiful brown one that came with my first Leatherman Wave in 2003. But for some stupid and unknown (marketing?) reasons, their current sheaths (since 2004, actually) are either bulky, ugly or too stiff – and also do not really offer the space required for a Leatherman Charge TTi (or Wave 2004) and its bitholder. Everything fits inside but it takes a lot of force to pull the bitholder out. There’s a hole at the bottom of the sheath which is supposed to be good + so that you can rest the opened tool inside the sheath. I’ve never used this though, and also don’t like it that much.

SCHRADE TOOL, nylon alternative sheath (good, used this all the time)

Leatherman Charge TTI within the Leatherman Wave (I) sheath from 2003.
Tool fits, but + bitholder doesn’t :-(

I may not be the only one with this problem, and have in the past used a variety of other sheaths to tackle this problem (tool & bitholder in one place, see SCHRADE TOOL nylon sheath pictured above). There seems to be a market for customized solutions, and while I am sure I could easily get a modified sheath in the US or even Kenya, I just couldn’t find a good sheath in Germany (locally or imported), so I had to make my own. This time I wanted to make a sheath out of leather.

Bought this one (Victorinox L sheath) from eBay which unfortunately is too short.

Now, I don’t know much about leather and do not even own many leather products. Shoes, belts and a pouch/sheath (made from artificial leather) that came shipped with my phone. But still, there’s some sort of magic to this material that will make you want to create something out of it. I was told that my great great great grandparents once owned a tannery, so maybe it’s somewhere in the genes. Sijui.

First step was to surf around and check various online resources for inspirations. I actually already knew what I wanted to build – my first Leatherman Wave sheath from 2003 had set the standard for me. I wanted something like this…. but only bigger.

Next step: leather. Found a very nice & cheap offer for leather stripes (2-3 mm thickness) on eBay, which was exactly what I was looking for.


Ok, now how do I get this material into shape? Does it really require to be formed into shape? And when does this need to be done? Prior to or after sewing the parts together?

Sometimes you just have to do things your way. If it feels right, do it. So i dampened the leather, sealed the knife and bitholer in a plastic bag and placed it inside the leather which I then pressed into shape. Placed all of it on the heating in the bathroom and waited for it to dry up. Oh, and I used a stapler to hold it all together.

IMG 0249

Next morning: leather is dried up and in shape. Great!


Next step: holes. Lots of them. I think there’s a wheel to mark the correct pitch between the holes, but since I do not own such an advanced tool, I just marked everything by rule of thumb and punched holes with an awl.



After the first stitches with special leather yarn, I realized that the one I used is too thin (2x, left), so I went for the only thicker one I had (3x, right).


I may not be a professional and my seams may show that I am a bloody beginner, but at least I am using two needles.

stitching on the left: too thin

both sides

next up: the main seam

big & small, wondering about the design

slowly getting there

Almost done. The white package contains the Leatherman Charge TTi + the bitholder.


I then dampened the leather again and used the wodden knob to flatten the edges of the leather. Again, I am no expert and maybe there’s a proper way for doing this, but I just looked at the old sheath and realized it had to work out somehow. Well, it did. Edges are smoothened now and quite shiny. Nice!

new sheath

new and old sheath

The complete collection: opened and closed.


You may note the nylon sheaths. These are also fine but (except for the SCHRADE TOOL sheath) only accommodate the tool itself, not the bitholder. Again, I don’t know why Leatherman does not produce proper sheaths. Something like the dark brown sheath (which imo is the best) from 2003, but bigger. You will also notice my beginner’s style and how dumb my own sheaths (noticed the blue one? :-) actually look when compared to the professional solutions.

One possible solution would probably have been to further apply some wax on the new sheath and darken it. Well, I polished it with some special leather wax, but also applied this dark brown (imo a bit too dark, damn..) leather colour onto it. Looks ok, but I also know what to improve on next time. Ah well… as long as it works it is ok. I really wish someone would seriously teach me a few tricks though, like how to get straight seams. For this, however, I would probably also require a table for my tools and a bench vice.



Working with leather is a fascinating experience!

(Wenn ich nochmal 20 wäre, würde ich mich nach einer Lehre als Sattler/Feintäschner/etc. umschauen. Bin ich aber nicht mehr und habe auch schon eine Lehre hinter mir, das reicht. Als Abendkurs in der VHS wäre eine Fortbildung in Lederarbeiten aber sehr interessant – auch wenn ich im Moment keinen weiteren Einsatzzweck für Lederprodukte habe. Nach dieser Arbeit kann ich aber sehr gut verstehen, wieso es anscheinend ziemlich viele Leute da draußen gibt, die in ihrer Freizeit Leder punzieren (= mitm Hammer Muster ins Leder treiben) und/oder ihren Indianer/Rocker/SM/whatever-Trieb damit ausleben. Is aber alles nich so mein Ding, will ja nur ein passendes Lederetui für meinen Leatherman haben. Ich vermute übrigens, dass man durch versenkte Nähte (Rille ins Leder treiben) und den Einsatz von Stecheisen schon geradere Nähte hinbekommen würde, aber das hebe ich mir fürs nächste Mal auf. Das nächste Produkt aus den verbliebenen Lederresten werde ich aber nicht mehr anmalen, oder zumindest nicht mit so einer dunklen Farbe, auch wenn das jetzt nur auf den Bildern im Blitzlicht so schlimm ausschaut..).

on knife sharpening

I assume that about 99% of all knives and pangas sold in Kenya are Made in China. The remaining 1% are probably imported kitchen knives and/or multitools from the US and Europe.

Everyone who owns a knife probably knows that a dull/blunt knife is almost useless, so there’s a knife sharpening service available in most places like this one we’ve featured over at AfriGadget some time ago.

I also bought one of these rotating grinding stones from Uchumi (ex-supermarket chain in Kenya) many years ago (for Kshs. 265/=, actually) and have also been tempted to get one of these huge sharpening stones / hones for kitchen knives which also sold for something like 70 bob back in the days (they are much more expensive in Europe, btw – even though they are all Made in China). Sharpening a panga (machete) with a rotating grinding stone is “ok” – for kitchen knives the flat grinding stone (~ hone) is the better (and often only) alternative as you want to keep the angle of the edge.

This edge angle actually is the most important part on a knife, I think, at least when it comes to its sharpness.

Cheap and lazy as I am, I have in the past only used sharpening stones and other – cheap – sharpening tools that MAY work for the ordinary kitchen knife, but should NEVER be used on a hunting knife, or – in my case – a multitool.

Arkansas oil-stone

Just in case you didn’t know: the sharpening process itself is a peculiar task on which you’ll find various – dedicated – websites and forums that solely talk about how to best sharpen a knife. As far as I know, using a sharpening stone (with water or oil, sometimes also some polishing paste) is the best way to sharpen a knife. This, however, requires some basic knowledge on steel, how knives are usually made, what kind of steel was used on your knife and how this steel will behave under higher temperatures. Those Japanese kitchen knives (we have one at home from back in the days) for example are very sensitive to higher temperatures above ~ 160°C (of course, again, depending on the steel mixture it is made of), so you absolutely have to make sure the hone is cooled down and soaked in water anyways. The majority of all other knives in our kitchen are Made in Germany, which means they are not as sensitive as the Japanese kitchen knives and also keep their sharpness to some extent. They aren’t as cheaply made as the ones from China as I am yet to see a decent knife from China. My sister actually gave me a set of 5 really good kitchen knives from Zwilling, Germany, as a present during last christmas, and I have to admit that cooking really is a joy with these new knives. Good tools are a blessing!


As mentioned, I am a Multitool guy. I have four Leatherman multitools (the Wave I, Wave II, Charge TTi and a small Squirt P4). You won’t buy these tools for their knives because, well, the steel used on their blades isn’t that great (except for the Charge TTi which comes with an S30V blade).

The blade on my Wave II lasted about four years until it became too dull. Stupid and unknowing as I am, I of course only tried the usual tools (Victorinox Sharpening Pen = horrible, knife sharpener from the kitchen, Arkansas sharpening stone) – thereby killing the edge angle on the knife.

Left with an unability to really sharpen my multitool to a decent level, I brought it to a “professional” shop – a very popular gun & knives shop in Frankfurt downtown. For some unknown reasons, these jerks completely fucked it up, killing the edge angle even more and returning a somehow sharp knife that looked like being sharpened on a high speed sharpening wheel. That’s exactly what I had tried to avoid on my Multitool, so I backed off and told myself: Argh….maybe next time. This was half a year ago.

Ok, so I may be too German on this, but there’s this moment when things just have to be perfect. You either do it right or never. So I ended up buying this GATCO Edgemate Professional Knife Sharpening System for a hefty EUR 47.95 today any idiot like me can use to regain the much needed edge angle on a blade. The guiding rods attached to the hones are inserted into the holes on the clamp and will then glide over the edge at a constant angle. Sounds too complicated? Here’s a video on it…


And you know what? These four different hones on a guidance rod just work and allow you to set an edge angle of 11°, 15°, 19°, 22°, 25° and 30°. There also is a fifth rod for serrated knives – my multitool also has a serrated blade. I’ve been able to restore the angle on my multitool and also sharpened a really dull kitchen knife with great success. I understand that this set isn’t meant to deliver razor blade sharpness (which would probably require another hone with even finer grit and/or paste and some leather) but for everything else – and especially for hunting knives – this set is the best idiot-proof choice. Something like EUR 50 are a lot of money just for sharpening a knife, but I believe that it is well invested money that will enable me to enjoy sharp knives and send all other useless sharpening devices into early retirement.


The blade on my Wave II during the sharpening process. The – still rough – 25° edge angle is already visible (all pics taken with a Nokia N95, btw).

UPDATE: I just received a call by the main Leatherman dealer/importer in Germany who asked about the knife on my Wave II and offered a free sharpening. Amazing! Told them I’d be glad to accept this offer and will send in mine asap the become blunt again.