Skip navigation

Category Archives: reviews

As in the last repost of a review, this was originally at forum.multitool.org, where I am known as SteamKit if you wish to look me up.

Hello there, it’s Steamkit again. Recently I’ve been searching for a smaller multi-tool, and since I found I could get a Juice CS4 cheap, I figured I’d give it a try. It’s a smaller Leatherman for those not familiar with them, and has a fair selection of features for something so small. I lack pictures for lack of a camera, but please don’t let that stop you from hearing my opinions.

So, the Juice CS4 retails for roughly $60. Like most of Leatherman’s offerings, it’s a pliers based multitool. It measures roughly 3.25″ long, 1″ wide, and 0.5″ inches thick. Sitting in my palm it’s curved outsides fit nicely in the hand, it may be a little bit small for some one with massive hands, but I can’t say for sure. It’s just right for me, who has medium. I honestly can’t say it utterly disappears in a pair of jeans, it fits comfortably in my pants and takes up roughly the same amount of room as my cell phone.

This handsome anodized blue tool has the usual suspects when it comes to features, with a few things that really caught my eye like the leverage based corkscrew, but more on that later. On the outside it has a knife, the aforementioned corkscrew which also incorporates a bottle opener, an awl with sewing hole, a saw, and a pair of scissors. Opening it up, there’s the pliers of course, as well as a phillips head that occupies one arm beside a small fold out lanyard loop. The opposite arm contains a useful compliment of small flat head screwdrivers.

The heart and sole of the standard Leatherman is it’s pliers, probably why this style is sometimes even referred to as “Leatherman type multitools.” So let’s have a look at the pliers. The Juice opens easily, in one smooth swing for either arm with a single stop at the end where they become the handles of the pliers. The head is a smaller version of the one standard for the brand. Needlenose, with a big grippy cutout and a wire cutter with hard wire notch. New, the pliers are stiff. Enough so that I can’t use gravity to manipulate whatever arm’s on bottom, requiring a little more work for one handed work. Not much though, and like other tools I highly suspect that with time it will loosen. I hope so, for the first time I gripped something strongly the pliers seemed to come out of the ordeal tighter! I suppose that is much better than having something like play. There is none, here, the machining seems to have been done quite well. I like how small a point the pliers come to, they’ll be really handy for working with small fiddly bits. Surge and SwissTool users beware though, these are not the jaws of death you are used to. Emphasis on small and fiddly, but not so tiny as to be like those odd pliers you’ll find on the larger Swiss Army knives. The handles are very comfortable to use as they are very rounded and smooth. Be warned however, the curve on the inside has a place it touches and may pinch if too much force is applied and the jaws slip.

As someone who’s in the field of electronics engineering, I’m interested in the wire cutters, because well…I cut wire. It’s part of what I do. Tests show that these perform just fine on both hard and stranded wire, fitting together neatly to shear that copper in twain. For the hard wire cutter I tested it on a bit of small brass rod, and it gobbled it up without issue. I get the feeling that if Leatherman released this tool with a few electrically geared tools on it, like a dedicated wire stripper, it’d become fairly popular amongst technicians and the like as a pocket tool.

While we’ve got the pliers open, let’s look at the inside tools. Screwdrivers. Almost nothing but screwdrivers. On one arm we have the #1 phillips head which is about as long as can be expected from a small size tool. In use, it works. It’s not a miracle of engineering, it’s a standard phillips, and it does it’s job without complaint or particular acclaim. Beside it is the lanyard loop, which you may wish to beware of if you use the phillips head a lot because when it’s out, the screwdriver slides flush past it, and may catch on a lanyard if you don’t push the loop as far to the outside as it will go. Provided at the base of the screwdriver is a hook like nail nick to enable retrieval because the handle’s aren’t wide enough to fit a finger inside.

The other side of the handle is populated by 3 small flat headed screwdrivers, with the same sort of the nail nicks as their phillips counterpart. I have trouble getting these out, and the corners are well ground and somewhat sharp. It’s tricky to pick the right nick, and then drag it from between it’s brethren which at least do the courtesy of staying in place due to the individual backsprings for each tool. Anyway, enough complaining, the drivers themselves. The shortest is also the widest, measuring in at 0.25″ wide. Stubby for sure, but it works well as a screwdriver and would make a fair double as a small scraper for things like instant lotto tickets…although you could probably commandeer about any piece of metal on this thing for that. The driver beside it is slightly longer, and personally my favorite as it’s also very tiny at the end. Good for small screws, I tested it by tightening my eyeglasses. Works quite well. The next driver is 0.125″ wide (1/8″ for people who don’t like the decimals) and strikes me as odd. I haven’t found any screws around my house at this size, it’s a bit of an inbetweener, but it’s made to the same standard as the others so I’m sure that if I found a screw I needed it for, it’d serve me well.

Now, the tool has been closed with a fairly satisfying snap, so we can examine the outside devices. For me, knife blades on a tool are somewhat secondary as I always carry a separate folding blade, which is why it doesn’t bother me that the blade on the outside of the Juice is opened with a nail nick. 2.25″ long, it’s a narrow thing that in profile doesn’t seem to have known if it wanted to be a spear point or a clip point when it grew up. The steel is decent, it came fairly sharp but I put my own personal edge on it and so far have found random bits of packaging around the house to hack open with it. Works just fine, although I must say I wish it locked, I would feel safer. This may be a plus for our friends in the UK, however.

On the same side as the knife is the awl and the saw. I list these two together because they are built in such a way that the awl curves over the top of the saw, making it impossible to open the saw without first opening the awl. So, the awl is opened, and pokes holes in things fairly well, although I must say it’s dull from the factory, and is worthless as a reamer. The sewing hole is easy to thread as the awl is curved in a way that’d guide small bits of cordage through it in a quick and easy manner. The saw is surprisingly large for a multitool of this size, with 2.5″ of aggressive teeth. It cuts well, but the teeth don’t stay to clean so gummy wood may be an issue. Closing the saw, I’m a little disappointed as the machining on the body is slightly off, so the blade must be pushed out of the way so that the awl may be closed after it without locking up.

The scissors on the Juice are important to me, as sometimes scissors are just a better cutter than the timeless knife. Folding them open, they’re large at a little over 1″, with a cammed spring that you couldn’t lose if you tried. The actual blades are quite sharp, and the scissors feel robust in the hand. It passed my paper towel and twine test, running through various doublings of both in a satisfactory manner. When closed, the spring won’t totally retract them, and must be pushed the last bit of the way. Tisk tisk, Leatherman, give me a little precision, please. It’s a little disheartening when a nicely made tool doesn’t close quite right.

And now, ladies and gentleman, I give you the corkscrew and bottle opener. On this tool, these interested me most because Leatherman offers something you just can’t get with Victorinox. A leverage based screw. For wine aficionados, it’s very similar to a sommelier knife. For the rest of you, it’s got a tab that folds out before you open the corkscrew. As you screw into the cork, you put this tab to the lip of the bottle. Screw it down a little further, and lever the cork out! Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work, I would love to test it as unlike standard Swiss Army corkscrews, there isn’t that embarrassing red faced moment where the bottle is clenched between your thighs while you yank that damned cork and probably spill something pricey. I can’t say how well it works, but I’ve got to give them credit for having a good idea. The corkscrew can’t fold out unless you unfold it’s accompanying tab, which when folded out fully doubles as a fairly standard bottle opener. It opened the bottles it was tested on, for sure. Isn’t the best opener on the market, it’s given a sever beating by a bar blade, but it’s a full lightyear ahead of hooking your brew on something and smacking your hand.

And now, before we conclude, I must say the Juice is a stylish piece of work. Mine’s got anodized blue scales, with fairly polished tools, and would be great for carrying in an office setting where some lotsa function but no form monster would be on par with carrying around a set of channel locks and a stub hammer. The steel rivets are chunky, and polished and lend a certain charm to the tool.

All in all, I like the Juice. But then again, I didn’t pay $60 for it, which I must say has probably influenced my opinion a great deal. Still, it’s a decent buy if you’re looking for a small tool that isn’t as tiny as say…the Micra. Good job, Leatherman. If only I had some wine to open in your honor.

-Kit

To put this all in context, this was originally posted a forum.multitool.org.

Hello there! Recently I was poking around on these forums for opinions and whatnot on what full size multitool to buy. After over a month of research and a great deal of asked questions, I have settled on the SwissTool Plus (Partly because the CS plus wasn’t availible.) I don’t exactly have a camera so there will be no pictures but it’s easy to find them on this very forum. Before I start on the tool, I must point new buyers to felinevet.sosak.com for your swiss army needs. The service is prompt, the prices are good, can’t beat free US shipping and you get to help sick kitties! Tell me you don’t want to help an injured cat, you twisted bastard. I dare you.

So, here it is, I’m holding it. The SwissTool is solid. It is impressively solid. The only way it could be more solid is if they dunked it in molten metal to fill in the cracks. Seriously, this is beefy, but unless you’re small it shouldn’t be a problem for belt carry or even pocket carry unless you’re a girl in tight pants, or you’re one of those guys who look like they’ve borrowed a girls tight pants. Can’t stress just how solid. To me it feels even more dense than a LM Surge. It came well oiled, this impressed me. Didn’t stop me from oiling it to my own standards but I like things that come in nice boxes and look like they were put in them with the love and care of a skilled manufacturer. Not a common Victorinox customer (The only other Vic I own is the dinky keychain one with the scissors, knife and file), this is a point in their favor. The finish is excellent, so much so that my tool now covered in greasy fingerprints from me pawing it up. I like the size, I have medium hands and it’s chunky but it isn’t unwieldy.

Opening it up, I seem to have the newest plier jaws, these go the opposite direction of standard. Read all about how this makes them stronger when loosening stuck bolts. Again a mark in favor of Vic. I like a company that does it’s research and figures out how it’s consumers are going to be using a product. I like the wire cutters. I didn’t have any wire I -needed- to cut, but for the hell of it I whipped out solid and stranded, and sliced up some neatly done pieces. There is no binding and the SwissTool chews through what is thrown at it without question and without an uncomfortable degree of hand force. The handles are smooth and plenty long enough to get a good grip it when you’re trying to get a good grip on whatever you use that nasty business end on. The jaws aren’t that different from regular plier jaws save for being a little smaller in the tip. People have complained that they could be more needlenosey, but this isn’t an issue with me because I nearly always carry a LM Skeletool with me. There is no play in the jaws. They rotate smoothly, and they are as easy to operate as regular pliers. There’s a ruler printed on either side, both standard and metric. I like this, but I must admit I won’t be using it much as I carry around a precision pocket ruler.

Let’s close it and take a look at the tools on the whole. I like closing it to have to look at the tools. Pulling crap from the inside after trying this just seems…silly. Everything is accessible via the nail nicks all swiss army knife users are familiar with, and I have no difficulty pulling them out. Some have complained, but I see no issue with difficulty although I can imagine if you had really fat fingers this might be difficult. The springs feel solid, really solid. All the tools lock, and while there is a little play…it isn’t an issue. It’s the sort of play you can only feel if you put effort into jiggling the tools, and there seems to be no risk of the thing closing on accident. Speaking of the locks, I love them. They are easy to use one handed. Actually, the whole thing is easy to use one handed if you’re creative. Pin it with your palm against your leg to work a tool open, push the back of the tool against your leg with the lock depressed to close it. Hook the handles on your pocket to open up the pliers. If you open all the tools you can see the spring mechanism for the lock, it seems to be held rather securely. Which is good because it would suck to lose.

Blades. Knives have them, without blades they wouldn’t be a knife, they’d be….I don’t know what they’d be, but it’d probably be some strange sort of european fad that everybody wants and nobody uses. The SwissTool has two spear point blades, one serrated the whole way, one not. The one without the serrations is pretty standard, save for it’s thin. In a good way. Why are companies making all these knives with stupidly thick blades? I want a knife, not a hatchet. This delivers. More on the steel later when I get around to putting my special sharp on the thing, because I want a razor. The serrated blade looks like a steak knife. It does. But other companies shouldn’t laugh. These serrations mean business in the quiet unassuming manner you’d expect from your standard handgun carrying granny. I decided to cut rope to test the serrations straight out of the box, and it couldn’t be easier if this thing was a lightsaber. I wish I had some seatbelt to shred just to test it, but I’d imagine it would cut through it like a hot knife through nylon.

The SwissTool has two saws, one for wood and one for metal. The wood one is dedicated while the metal saw is a set of teeth on the bottom of the file. Aggressive would describe the wood one, and it doesn’t seem to gunk with use. The metal saw…I didn’t do much cutting with, but it seems to work okay in a pinch. A hacksaw would beat the pants off it, but you can’t fit a hacksaw in your pants so if you haven’t got one and only have a little metal to cut, this thing oughta do you well. I wish it was a little more aggressive.

Screwdrivers are a big issue for multitools. Dedicated screwdriver tools add usability, screwdrivers combined with things like can openers add extra functionality, and bit drivers will drive about any screw you carry the bit for, at the expense of not being able to reach into tiny holes. Let’s start with dedicated drivers. The philips head. Oh does Vic take flack about it’s rounded philips head screwdrivers. All fears be gone, this isn’t anything like those supposedly round monstrosities. It is a #2 size, and is very, very square. It fits with all the screws I’ve used it on very tightly. It may be difficult for sausage fingered people to remove as it lacks a nail nick, you reach in and grab it by the head. No problem for me, personally, but your mileage may vary. The other dedicated driver makes me happy. It is a very very small flathead. It’s about 2mm wide, or 0.08″ if you like standard. I like a screwdriver this small and this long because I will be able to poke and prod with it, as well as work those annoyingly small setscrews I encounter on pot. knobs. It works well. The large flat head is large. It truly is. This thing is massive. So massive that the booklet that comes with the SwissTool labels it as a “Strong Crate Opener” and I believe it. You could probably pry a door off it’s frame with it. It will probably see far more use as a prybar because it is so huge. Now, combination drivers! The bottle opener holds a more reasonable sized flat heads and as flat heads go, it’s fairly standard. Probably won’t fit into truly small spaces to a super depth, but it’s got a guestimated inch of reach. The flat head on the end of the can opener strikes me as useless as it is oh…half a hair wider than the dedicated flathead, with significantly less reach but hey, it’s not exactly lost space. And perhaps it would be stronger, when dealing with exposed screws.

The SwissTool has a nice compliment of miscellaneous little features. I intend to try the can opener very soon. Same goes with the bottle opener, I won’t be using it much because I carry my Skeletool right on a beltloop where it is accessible in an instant but I will certainly test this one. Of interest is a little knick in the bottle opener for bending wire leads. It works well for what it is, but I’ll probably stick to using the pliers. And now one of my favorites, the chisel. The chisel does not come all that sharp out of the box, but I will be putting a better edge on it shortly. I like the thought of having a chisel in my pocket because chisels are useful. They scrape and chew and cut in ways that can be done with a knife, but a chisel does them better. Down low on the chisel is a wire scraper and a wire stripper. I tried both, and they work well although I must admit I was confused as to how the wire stripper works as I am used to the sort that are rather like funny pliers. Use the sharp part to cut the wire, and the dull part at the very bottom is nice for pulling the insulation off. It works well and this is important to me as I work with electrical bits a lot. The awl is nice, it really is. It’s fairly sharp (I’m going to make it sharper) and has a good edge that drills holes in wood and whatever well. I like having a file, but wish this one was more aggressive. That said, it’s just nice to have a file in my pocket and if I need to do some truly aggressive filing, I’ll probably just get a tougher file. Light duty only, and great for sharpening of things like hatchets. I don’t believe I’ve missed anything, I don’t count lanyard loops as a feature. There are 2 of them, and I haven’t gotten around to making a lanyard for them. Thank you for listening, I hope I have been informative.

-Kit