Pocket multi-tools have been a necessary accessory in many people’s pockets, backpacks and purses since the early 1890’s with the invention of the Swiss army knife. Professionals in several disciplines carry a multi tool for a number of different reasons. For example, look at any soldier, police officer, firefighter, plumber, electrician, network engineer, farmer, Woodsmonkey.com reviewer, etc, and you will see a well used multi tool on their person. These professionals pick what matches their requirements from a plethora of multi tool designers and producers.
Recently one of those producers, Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT), has added to their own vast array of I.D. Works multi-tool selections, with the introduction of the CRKT Tool designed by Ed Van Hoy and Tom Stokes to meet the detailed requirements of those end users. Ed Van Hoy is an award winning knife maker and designer and runs, with his wife Tanya Van Hoy, Stamascus Knife Works in Abingdon Virginia. Tom Stokes is a product designer and mechanical engineer with his roots in aerospace engineering and an expert CAD engineer. Both men have been in the knife and tool industry for many years and have designed both separately and by collaboration, many CRKT knives and tools. The CRKT Tool is the fusion of inspired design, engineering and mechanical wizardry meant to provide an EDC multi tool with simple efficient functionality.
The CRKT Tool is a unique nontraditional multi-tool equipped with two useful blades, two sturdy screw drivers with adapters for several more tools, wire cutters for four different gauges, and wrenches both standard and metric and of course a hidden bottle opener on both sides. The tool measures 6.375 inches opened overall and 4 inches closed and weighs 5.1 ounces (compare that weight to other multi tools). Handle material for the CRKT tool is black glass filled nylon on top of steel liners, which my wife wishes came in pink. A durable black nylon sheath with the CRKT logo and with a functional back pocket for tool accessories is included. The uniqueness of the tool is how all the pieces and parts are creatively incorporated into the limited space on the chassis.
The two blades on the tool are a stout two and a quarter inch hollow ground wharncliffe style blade and a fat two and a half inch saw blade. Both blades are made from 5Cr15MoV steel with a RC hardness of 55-56. Both blades are equipped with a thumb stud and fold out of either end of the tool and lock in place via a very solid liner lock. The liner locks for the blades are rather stiff and are seated low in the handle so my fat thumbs had a little trouble releasing them. This is not a design flaw though, because I used the wharncliffe blade to cut leather, bark, rope, even linoleum with a lot of force and the blade did not buckle. I prefer a wharncliffe or sheepsfoot blade because they are designed specifically for hard linear cutting work and punishment with little risk of removing your own flesh. That is exactly why the wharncliffe design was chosen by Ed and Tom. Ed has a history in sailing and rigging and knows the value of that style of blade. I really can’t comment on anything special about the saw blade. The saw blade is like any short saw on a multi tool. It can only cut smaller items and the way the teeth are ground into the blade I actually had problems with the blade clogging and it did not cut wood as well as I would like. However, the saw blade ate through PVC pipe rather well.
Located on the sides of the CRKT Tool are two silvery buttons. Each button corresponds to either a flat head or a phillips head screw driver that pops out into the middle of the tool. Each driver is locked in place with a liner lock that is just as stiff as the blade locks so there is no worry of the tool slipping and hurting you. The placement of the screwdrivers enabled my hand to hold the tool with control. The amount of torque that the drivers can take is not published, but I was able to put quite a bit on them without any twisting or scarring of the driver. In an interview with Ed he said that was exactly the outcome that they wanted. Also included with the drivers is a set of driver bits and an adapter, seated in a rubber case located on the backside of the nylon sheath. The adapter fits on the philips head driver located in the tool. The bit sets includes three hex bits (H3, H4, H5), Three flathead bits (3,5,7), and three Phillips head bits (PH1, PH2; Magnetic PH3 adapter). I always have a use for those bits but what I like the best is the hex bits. I was able to use them all over my bug out bicycle for repairs. I adjusted the brakes, adjusted cables, and even was able to repair my rear derailleur. If you need to customize the bits that you use, Ed and Tom designed it so most screw driver bits fit in the adapter so you can set up the bit selection to compliment your individual use of the tool.
What I would call the outside of the tool is where the functional creativity of this tool really comes out. Based off of the requirements set forth by Ed Van Hoy and Tom Stokes in the original conception of the tool, the use of space is really unique. The outside of the tool contains a bottle opener, two sets of wrenches, both standard (9/16, ½, 7/16, 3/8, 5/16, ¼ in.) and metric (11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 mm), wire strippers/cutters (gauges 16, 14, 12, 10), a lanyard whole and a pocket clip. When I read the specifications for this tool I noticed that there was a bottle opener. After examining the tool over and over I could not find the opener. I was expecting a traditional fold out blade shaped to open bottles, there is not one. I started to think that CRKT meant to include one but forgot. I was just about to call CRKT and let them know about their error when I noticed the small bottle shaped symbol etched into the handle next to the wrench cutouts. DUH! I immediately grabbed a capped soda (non twist off cap of course) and inserted the cap into the wrench cut outs, lifted the tool and off came the cap. When I related this story to Ed and asked what the inspiration was for this he gave full credit to Tom Stokes for this unique design. I was really excited because there is not just one bottle opener but two, one in each set of the cutouts. Along with the bottle symbol the sizes of the wrenches are etched into the outside of the tool along the cut outs. The cut outs are extremely useful but I did have some problems with depth and saw a little slipping over nuts. Once I held the tool firmly slipping proved to be more my fault that the tools’. The wire strippers are really unique to this tool. Any multi-plier can be used to cut and strip wires but they do not always do the best job and are dependent on the skill of the user. Ed wanted these wire strippers/cutters design to be extremely simple and to work every time on any length of wire. The technique is easy, open the wharncliffe blade, insert the wire into the correct gauge hole, lower the blade and twist the tool. All that is left to do is pull the cleanly stripped wire from the tool. Or if you want to cut the wire, the amount of force required to push down the blade is slight and it cuts right through.
Not only does this tool have sheath but it also has pocket clip for those of you who do not like to carry anything on your belt and need easier accessibility. The pocket clip is a thin but sturdy piece of stainless steel seated in the end of the tool. I have a one hundred percent success rate of bending or breaking the pocket clip on my knives. Not all of them are easy to replace. With the CRKT tool (and any CRKT product) all that needs to be done is go to the CRKT website, find the parts option at the top of the page and let them know what you need. It comes in the mail free of charge. Thank you CRKT.
The CRKT Tool designed by Ed Van Hoy and Tom Stokes is one of the most unique multi-tools that I have ever used. The tool was conceptualized as a simple efficient tool that can do as much as possible with as little as possible. Initially the full functionality of the tool is disguised in a highly engineered, artistic shell that has been a pleasure to explore. I was able to use this tool in the same capacity as my favorite multiplier and preferred the CRKT Tool over it in some cases. I do like the simplicity and durability of this tool to my favorite and I have started carrying the CRKT over the other. The CRKT Tool can be found at the CRKT website, in the multi tools menu for $49.99, and I found it at several retail websites for less, after some searching. When you order yours I know you will find it a valuable tool to add to your gear. Enjoy!
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