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Wednesday, 30 January 2008 22:28

Leatherman Skeletool Review

Written by Tom Munch

There was a buzz about the new Leatherman Skeletool and Skeletool CX all of 2007 on the web since the first prototypes surfaced at the 2007 SHOT Show. Leatherman touts it as the tool you take when you only need the basics. But it is chock full of new design ideas and promises to be the new favorite of the industry. Let’’s take a thorough look at the Leatherman Skeletool.

Leatherman Skeletool

Specs

Length: 4 in. / 10 cm closed
Weight: 5 ounces / 142 grams
Materials: Stainless Steel, 420HC
Included Bits: Phillips #1 and #2, Screwdriver 3/16" and 1/4"

In the (Very Sturdy) Clamshell

Skeletool
Two Bits - Phillips #1 and #2, Screwdriver 3/16" and 1/4"
Card with instructions and warranty information

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Initial Thoughts

Right off the bat let me say that this is the finest tool from Leatherman I have ever used. The fit and finish is reminiscent of the best tools from other manufacturers. Moving parts are smooth and lock with a satisfying click that should only get smoother with time. Little details abound. Tim Leatherman and his crew have really put some work into this tool, and it shows. There are still some rough edges that we’’ll get to, but I’’d have to say they’’ve hit a home run with the Skeletool.


The tool is the familiar butterfly-opening style we’’ve grown accustomed to, but it is full of curves and design cues that are a delight to look at. There are a myriad of holes cut into the tool to save weight that also look cool. There are even holes where you can’’t see them which shows that they are there for more than looks.

The design is modular. The pliers are the middle module with the bit driver on one handle-end and the bottle opener/carabiner on the other handle-end, and then the knife module and spare bit holder module are attached to the same side of each handle. The knife module and the spare bit module form the smooth grip for the plier handles. Very ingenious.

Top and Bottom Views

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool


Side and End Views

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Size Comparison to Other Leatherman Multitools

The Skeletool has some length to it with the carabiner, but is very thin and fairly light.

With the Charge

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

With the Juice

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

 

Opening It Up


It opens fairly smoothly & then clicks into place in a very secure way. It also closes and clicks solidly into place, taking a page from the SwissTool book.

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Pliers

Since it’’s open, let’’s look at the pliers. They are thinner like the Leatherman Juice pliers, but they are a little blunt-nosed & have the standard hard-wire cutter notch.

Leatherman Skeletool

With Juice pliers

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

With Charge pliers

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

They have good strong grip and are able to cut coat hanger wire just fine.

Leatherman Skeletool

The pliers also don’’t pinch your palm like other Leatherman tools have done because the blade has a slight bevel on the butt edge that pushes the skin out of the way.

Leatherman Skeletool

They are fairly comfortable to bear down on due to the smooth blade housing and the smooth edge of the piece that holds the extra bit. You can see that the bit pushes slightly on the palm. I found that I couldn’’t have a sharp bit like a slotted bit or it would dig into my palm.

Leatherman Skeletool

They can only be held one way though since the bottle opener end cuts into the palm.

Leatherman Skeletool

Let’’s fold them back up and look at the other features.

Blade

The blade on the Skeletool is a Plain Edge or PE. The CX comes with a CE - Combination Edge - plain on the tip end and serrated at the butt end. I prefer the PE myself. It is 420HC steel which is easy to sharpen and holds a good edge. The CE has 154CM steel which is harder and preferred by many. I hope that Leatherman will release a 154CM PE blade on a future Skeletool.

Leatherman Skeletool

The blade has a thumb cutout for one-hand opening that is just the right size for me. It did come from the factory with a bit of a burr on the edge that I smoothed off so that it wouldn’’t abrade the skin on my thumb. It would have smoothed out in time and would probably be preferred by many since it gives a very secure feel to the cutout.

The blade is easily one-hand opened.

Leatherman Skeletool

There's a nice finger cutout for the index finger.

Leatherman Skeletool

It has the same type of stop nib that other one-hand Leatherman blades use. It cleverly locks into one of the weight-saving holes when closed.

Leatherman Skeletool

Notice the little lock icon on the liner lock. There is also an icon on the bottle opener that you’ll see later.

You can also see that the liner lock comes to rest on the washer on the pivot as it does on other Leatherman tools.

Leatherman Skeletool

The blade is 2 3/4”” long and is very comfortable to use compared to other multitool blades due to the lower bulk of the tool in the hand. Here it is with the Juice and Leatherman C304 blades. I like the shape as well.

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Driver and Spare Bit

Let’’s close up the blade & take a look at the driver and spare bit.

The driver is fixed at one end and has a nice locking feature - a first for Leatherman bits.

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

The driver is meant to have the handles fully opened to use. This is similar to the SpyderRench and ByrdRench if you’’re familiar with them.

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

You can have the pliers nested in either handle. You can see that there would be leverage advantages.

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

I prefer the 90 degree configuration as it yields even more leverage.

Leatherman Skeletool

The spare bit is held in the handle by friction. It seems very secure to me.

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

 

You can use any of the Leatherman bits that are available, & the Leatherman Bit Extender also fits the bit holder so that you can use regular hex bits although the Extender doesn’’t lock in.

Bottle Opener/Carabiner

So let’s turn to the bottle opener/carabiner.

The bottle opener works better than any other bottle opener I’’ve used on other multitools. My only complaint is that the butt of the blade digs in a little when applying pressure to open the bottle.

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

Here's the little icon n the clip side.

Leatherman Skeletool

The carabiner also works quite well. It’’s a little big for some D rings.

Leatherman Skeletool Leatherman Skeletool

Pocket Clip

The pocket clip is small but sturdy and removable.

Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman Skeletool

It does a good job of holding the tool high in the pocket where it can be very easily extracted with the protruding washers. The butt end of the blade does catch your hand a bit as you go by it, but you can work around it.

Leatherman Skeletool

You can even clip it in with the carabiner if you’d like.

Leatherman Skeletool

Conclusion

So there you have it. The Skeletool is a fine multitool from Leatherman and shows many innovations and refinements from Leatherman. The hype throughout all of 2007 has been pretty intense at times for this tool, but I have to say the Skeletool lives up to it pretty darned well. I plan to use it for a daily driver for some time.

I would rate it a solid 9 out of 10.

Pros:

  • Great fit and finish
  • Has just the basic tools you need
  • Locking bits

Cons:

  • Blade back sharp when in pocket
  • Blade back digs in when using bottle opener
  • Some think bits may fall out of handle

Multitool Minute

https://youtu.be/eVpCTVIH6Lc

 

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