Archive for December, 2009

Leatherman Wave Multi Tool History

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

This is a history of the Leatherman Wave Multi Tool.  It covers everything from Timothy Leatherman’s first patent in 1980 to the Wave’s release in 1998.

Timothy S. Leatherman majored in mechanical engineering at Oregon State University. After having difficulties making repairs to his car using a regular pocket knife, he created what was referred to as a “Boy scout knife with pliers”. Leatherman got his first patent in 1980. His prototype was far from the Leatherman Wave Multi Tool we know today. He initially tried to sell his creation to large companies such as AT&T who would have lots of people needing tools in the field. After failing to get any large clients he decided to try his luck with regular consumers.  After simplifying the design he began to sell his product mostly through mail order catalogs. This new business model proved to be highly successful, and in 1983 he founded the Leatherman Tool Group.

The company grew exponentially. The Leatherman Tool Group began to experiment with new designs and products. For example, they added scissors to the tool. They also created tools that were smaller and easier to carry around. By 1992 the company doubled and then tripled their factory size. They were on a roll. The world had caught on to the usefulness of a multi tool. The Leatherman began appearing in movies and television such as the hit show “MacGyver” and the blockbuster movie “Speed”.  The Leatherman became more than a useful tool, it became a cultural phenomenon.

In 1995 the Leatherman Super Tool, which featured the first locking blades, sold over one million units.  The Super Tool became the Leatherman to have. The company began an ad campaign in 1996 showing real life stories Leatherman users’ using their Leatherman’s to survive. The Leatherman Super Tool was the tool that the Leatherman Wave Multi Tool would eventually be based on. One might argue that the popularity of the Super Tool was vital in driving the company to take the necessary steps in designing the Wave.

In January of 1998, the Leatherman Wave Multi Tool was introduced at the Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show. The Wave is the first multi tool allowing access to the blade without opening the pliers. It also allows for access to the blade with only one hand. This one handed action came in handy for Jackie Chan in “Rush Hour” who used the Leatherman Wave Multi Tool to fend off mobsters. This would be the Wave’s first big screen appearance.

The Wave has become the most popular Leatherman in history. It is used by everyone from handy men to law enforcement to survivalists. It features pliers, wire cutters, clip-point knife, serrated knife, saw, scissors, wood/metal file, diamond-coated file, large screwdriver, large bit driver, small bit driver, ruler, bottle/can opener, and a wire stripper. In 2004 the Wave was redesigned with larger knives, stronger pliers, longer wire cutters, and all-locking blades. The Leatherman Wave Multi Tool is the most versatile and well designed Leatherman yet.  The company has continued its tradition of innovation and has come out with several new tools since the Wave, but the Wave continues to be the Leatherman Tool Group’s best selling product.

Leatherman Wave Multi tool Vs. The Leatherman Surge

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

In this post I will be comparing the Leatherman Wave Multi Tool and the Leatherman Surge. I will first give a short introduction on what the features are of each. I will then give a brief overview of the pros  and cons of each. Finally I will compare the two side by side and give reasons for why would want one over the other.

The Leatherman Surge is one of Leatherman’s premier products. It offers 18 tools and 2 exchangeable bits.  The Surge boasts that it was built with the company’s largest pliers and longest multi tool blades.  It also has the ability to exchange blades. It’s built tough and has the feel of a serious multi tool.

The Leatherman Wave Multi Tool is smaller than the Surge (4in vs.  4.5in). It has 17 tools and 2 exchangeable bits. The Leatherman Wave is the most popular Leatherman ever sold by the company.  Its claim to fame is its blades which are accessible without opening the pliers and using only one hand. The Wave was redesigned in 2004 with larger knives, stronger pliers, longer wire cutters, and all-locking blades.

One pro for the Leatherman Wave Multi Tool would be its size, which makes it perfect for carrying on your belt in its leather sheath. Another pro would be the Wave’s weight (8.5oz vs. 12.5oz). The Wave is the perfect weight for carrying on you all the time. One more pro, although this may not be a pro for everyone, is that the Wave is hands down the most popular Leatherman available and because of that it has been road tested quite a bit and you probably already know someone who owns one and can ask them for any tips or tricks they’ve learned along the way.

One con for the Leatherman Wave would be that if you are doing serious work and need large tools such as large pliers or large knifes, you are out of luck. Another con would be the lack of interchangeable blades. One last con would be that there is no Awl on the Wave.

One pro for the Leatherman Surge is its large tools such as large pliers and large knives. Another pro would be its solid feel and construction. Another pro would be the interchangeable blades. One last pro would be the Awl with thread loop that the Leatherman Wave Multi Tool lacks.

One con for the Leatherman Surge would be that the Surge is larger and heavier than the Wave and is really meant to be carried in your pack and not on your belt. Another con I have heard is that the Surge can pinch your skin when opening and closing access to some tools.

Overall, whether you use the Leatherman Wave Multi Tool or the Leatherman Surge is based on how you plan to use your tools. If you need something that you can keep on you pretty much all the time and bring out for small jobs, then go with the Wave. If, on the other hand, you want a tool you can take with you, in your pack, out to jobs that require larger and heavier tools, go with the Surge.

I hope this helps in deciding between two of the best Leatherman products ever made.


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