Which compact multi-tool is best for my new IT job?
January 13, 2007 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Which compact multi-tool is best for my new IT job?

I just got a job as a computer repair technician/network admin. I'm currently considering this Leatherman multi-tool. Does anyone have personal experience with this or any other tools that might work well in this environment?
posted by raddevon to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not an expert, but I wouldn't expect a professional repairman to be using a Leatherman to fix computers. I would expect him to have a toolset with quality tools designed for each specific job.
posted by Osmanthus at 9:39 PM on January 13, 2007

Response by poster: Osmanthus: I won't be using the multi-tool exclusively. It will be supplemental. Nonetheless, I want a quality tool.
posted by raddevon at 9:48 PM on January 13, 2007

"... or any other tools that might work well in this environment?"
posted by raddevon to computers & internet

I somewhat agree with Osmanthus, but the utility of a keyring toolset you always have with you is undeniable. Personally, I like Leatherman tools, but I've also had good service from the Gerber Multi-plier 700 Urban Legend. It's definitely a lump in the biggest pocket, and is intended more as a belt tool, but if your definition of "key ring tool" is broad, the Gerber tools are good quality, effective devices.

I'd urge you to think of quality light sources for your key ring and tool box, too. Seeing a problem in situ is often the first, essential step in fixing it, particularly in the case of intermittent problems with connections. You'll get strong opinions about portable lights if you ask, but personally, I far prefer krypton enhanced incandascents, for their broad spectrum, to the more energy efficient LED lamps.
posted by paulsc at 9:55 PM on January 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

CrayDrygu beat me to it: something with Torx bits, or the capacity to use the little buggers. Non-metal tweezers for changing jumpers would also be a bonus.
posted by holgate at 10:17 PM on January 13, 2007

I like (and have) this one better because I consider the wire strippers a useless luxury (a good purpose build one includes the crimp dies for several sizes) and it has thousands more uses than the other one. Seriously, not one day in the past four years have gone without using it (with the exception of a few sick/hungover days). The few times I've forgotten it at home, I've regretted it.
posted by IronLizard at 11:26 PM on January 13, 2007

The main thing I needed for IT work was a variety of screwdrivers with relatively thin/long shafts. That, and enough light. Crimp and punchdown tools can be useful, but you aren't going to find those on a leatherman.
posted by Good Brain at 11:37 PM on January 13, 2007

It's not a Leatherman, but Paladin has a new line of multitools with punchdown blades. I haven't seen them in person - I use an old Leatherman Wave.
posted by zamboni at 12:19 AM on January 14, 2007

Yes, mine was also the old wave. Didn't notice it was a newversion till I'd posted my link (I like, must get).
posted by IronLizard at 12:24 AM on January 14, 2007

The Squirt is too small for your needs. It is a nice extra tool for on your keychain, but if you want something that you can really use and feel comfortable using on a daily basis, I would recommend something larger. I personally love my Victorinox Swisstool Spirit (it can be found much cheaper, for example on eBay). I feel the quality is better than that of the newer Leathermans and it has more tools, without being too bulky or heavy. I think it would work fine in a sysadmin environment, but if I were still working in that field I would seriously consider the previously mentioned Cybertool as well.
posted by davar at 1:28 AM on January 14, 2007

Consider also having a nice pair of wooden or bamboo chopsticks. Chopsticks come in real handy to get things fallen in narrow spaces; touching things that you want nothing abrasive or conductive to touch. A nice supplemental tool for certain unforseen circumstances.
posted by jadepearl at 1:50 AM on January 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

The No4. one of these, stuffed with relevant tools. Not quite compact enough to fit in the pocket, but small enough to be easily carried anywhere, and very much multi-toolular. (And you can fit way more than 9 tools in, with compactification.)
posted by Luddite at 5:29 AM on January 14, 2007

I might catch hell for this, but I HAVE to have a phillips #2 that is magnatized.
My 55 year old fingers cannot get into places as good as they used to.
posted by raildr at 7:37 AM on January 14, 2007

I've carried and used the now retired Leatherman PST for well over a decade. It's not too compact to be a pain to open and find tools, and it's not too big as to through your back out of alignment sitting on it in your back pocket. Don't get anything big or fancy. Gerber, Victorinox and Leatherman are good brands you can trust, buy one of them, but just remember that the three primary things you will be using over and over are the Phillips, the knife, and the needlenose pliers.

Spend the money you saved on not getting the super-bulky multi-tool on investing in a good 110 punchdown tool, and an expensive RJ45 crimper. If you skimp on these two tools, you're going to ruin a lot of your weekends, trust me.

Osmanthus, 99% of all the stuff we deal with can be fixed with knife blade and a Phillips. I can count on 3 fingers the times I've needed to bust out a multi-meter.
posted by voxpop at 7:38 AM on January 14, 2007

Out of curiosity, are there any multitools which include torx natively? As CrayDrygu mentioned, the Victorinox Swisstool Spirit includes Torx bits, but I'd rather avoid bits if I can (so that there's one fewer piece which I could lose).
posted by Handcoding at 10:42 AM on January 14, 2007

Your original link was to the Squirt, which I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you haven't actually held. It is extremely small and unsuited for PC work. On the other hand, Leatherman does make something which is probably more what you are looking for.

Everyone seems to have their own personal favorite multitool, so here's mine. I've had the CS4 (blue, and now available in grey as well), for about 5 years now, and have worked on countless dozens of computers, as well as just about everything else (swimming pool pumps, my truck, IKEA furniture) and this tool just doesn't quit. I've never needed the 25-year warranty, but it's nice to know it's there.
posted by mysterious1der at 10:48 AM on January 14, 2007

I'd say don't bother with anything whose blades (or whatever other bits) don't lock. That's why this Gerber has displaced this old Leatherman for me.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:18 AM on January 14, 2007

My leatherman's blades all (4) lock (and the new wave also has an adapter for torx/other bits. I badly need the new one now).
posted by IronLizard at 2:49 PM on January 14, 2007

I have always thought the Leatherman products were vastly overrated.

Here's another vote for the Gerber line of multitools. Being able to open everything with 1 hand is quite handy, and they feel a lot more solid than the Leathermans do. I never really understood the love for the Leatherman.

My Gerber multitool is about 15 years old now and has never given me a lick of trouble. I use it on my EMT shifts. In fact, I'm wearing it right now.

Gerber = teh rawk
posted by drstein at 5:37 PM on January 14, 2007

Yeah, the squirt is much smaller than it looks on that page. I also second the Juice. One problem with the Juice, at least my version, is that the flathead blades are very difficult to pull out. They're jammed in there good. A multi-tool may not replace a good toolbox, but I'd rather carry it around.
posted by formless at 7:33 PM on January 14, 2007

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