Thankfully the vast majority of today’s top quality multitools (as in Leatherman, Gerber, SOG etc.) are made from excellent grades of stainless steel. To that end they need only basic care and maintenance and I hope that my Multitool Maintenance Tips help you get the best from your multitool.
Be aware that stainless steel – no matter how good quality it is – is NOT impervious to rust and degradation so it does pay to look after your investment as well as you can. Stainless steel WILL eventually start to degrade and rust if you mistreat it.
I’m one of the unfortunate people who have constantly clammy, sweaty hands. I always used to worry that the salt from my sweat would rust my multitools. I’ve never had an issue with any of the good multitools I’ve used but just incase I always give them a wipe with an oily cloth once a month or so. Cheap, Chinese junk, well that’s a different story. I use a cheap tool once and next day it’s rusty. Arrghhh!
Now regarding this let me say again that if you intend on buying low quality multitools then do yourself a favor. Buy it. Bring it home. Throw it in the garbage. It will save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Buy cheap – buy twice, that’s my motto. Save your pennies and buy something that will last you the rest of your life, like Leatherman, Gerber or SOG. You might not agree with me. You don’t have to. That’s just my opinion from years spent using a lot of these tools.
Invest in a good quality multitool right from the start
Buy a good quality tool from the start. You will still need to maintain it but not it will outlast a cheap one.
That said you can expect to experience your multitool to gather a little surface rust especially if you used it in a humid or damp environment and you do not clean and oil it regularly.
Keep your multitool clean and dry
You should clean, dry and oil your multitool at frequent intervals to prolong it’s life.
You should consult the individual brochure that accompanied your multitool when your bought it for exact maintenance requirements. If you’ve lost it you may be able to download it from the manufacturers website.
For serious issues – consult your multitool manufacturer
If you have a lot of sand or dirt or sand stuck in your multitool you should consider sending it back to the manufacturer for maintenance rather than risking damaging it by trying to clean it yourself. Disassembly of most multitools yourself is NOT EASY. Consult your tool manufacturer accordingly.
Your should respect your multitool. Care for it and it will give you a long life of service and will always be ready and capable when you need to use it. Ignore your multitool and risk reliability and defects surfacing.
Keep your multitool away from salt water
Avoid exposure of your multitool to salt water. Salt water will eat away anything eventually no matter good the grade of stainless steel your multitools is made from. If you do get your multitool exposed to salt water and/or sand immediately (or as soon as you can) rinse it thoroughly in cold-warm fresh water and gently work it until it’s operating smoothly, whilst immersed in water to minimize damage.
If your multitool gets wet at any stage dry it thoroughly but don’t place it close by to a naked heat source, for example, an open fire. Dry it slowly. Soaking your multitool with a water displacing spray lubricant such as WD-40 ™ or CRC ™ helps to eliminate traces of water. Buff it dry with a clean, lint free cloth.
Sewing machine oil cannot be beat
Oil the entire ,multitool, especially the pivot points with a good grade machine oil. Sewing machine oil is cheap and effective. It can’t be beaten and will keep your multitool in tip-top condition.
Don’t store your multitool in a leather sheath
If you have a nylon sheath keep your multitool in it’s sheath when not in use. But be aware that if your leave your tool in a leather sheath too long it may pick up staining and experience a little deterioration to some extent from residual chemicals used in the leather tanning process. My personal preference is to use manufacturer supplied nylon sheaths because they are more versatile and kinder to steel than leather.
Don’t user your multitool for ridiculous tasks it’s not designed for
Don’t use your pliers to cut through pennies. Don’t use your knife to cut wood. Don’t use your screwdriver to pry open car doors. While you can do some pretty weird and wonderful things with your multitool treat it with the respect it deserves. Mistreat it – and you risk it breaking and also voiding your warranty.
I hope my multitool maintenance tips have been beneficial for you and will help you get the most of what will become one of your most valued and useful possessions.