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Leatherman Skeletool

August 11th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

5 Stars- techdad

The Leatherman Tool Group owes its great name to its founder, Tim Leatherman. In 1983, Tim Leatherman invented the multi-tool and began selling it himself when knife and tool companies lacked the vision to buy his invention. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Leatherman Skeletool is one of several full-size tools that Leatherman currently manufactures, with more than 60% of the manufacturing work done right from their Portland, Oregon facility. Leatherman’s website recommends the Skeletool for biking, boating, and fishing, but they may want to add that it’s also great for techies.

PROS

  • Great build quality
  • Just the right amount of tools
  • Awesome bit driver
  • Easy to operate knife, one-handed
  • Looks great
  • Just 5 ounces
  • Incredible 25 year warranty

CONS

  • None

I bought my first Leatherman, the Super Tool, way back in 1995, when Eddie Bauer used to sell them in their stores. For years, it was the only tool I owned or wanted and is still my favorite tool by far. I’m fortunate enough to have added a second Leatherman to my collection and now have two favorite tools––my trusty old Super Tool and the new Skeletool.

Skeletool-box

BUILD QUALITY

The Skeletool’s build quality is indisputably Leatherman-grade. The Skeletool exudes quality and durability. Every piece of the Skeletool lines up perfectly and operates smoothly. If it’s anything like my Super Tool, it’s going to take a lot to break the Skeletool and it should last a very long time.

Skeletool-open

TOOLS

All told, there are seven tools on the Skeletool:

  1. Needlenose pliers
  2. Regular pliers
  3. Combo straight/serrated knife
  4. Wire cutters
  5. Hard-wire cutters
  6. Bit driver
  7. Carabiner/bottle opener

Whew! I’m going to be honest with you here and tell you that I am not an outdoorsman. I had no fantasies of cutting fishing line or repairing a boat engine with the Skeletool. As a techie, I tend to tinker with computer components, wires, and cables. Also, as a product reviewer and an avid Internet shopper, I open a lot of packages. The Skeletool is very handy for most of my day-to-day needs. I just clip it onto a belt loop on my pants and go about my day. On just the second day of having the Skeletool, I was at a friend’s house and needed a bottle opener for a beer bottle. On any other day, I would have been asking someone if they had a bottle opener, but on this day, I had my Skeletool. Oh, but the Skeletool is so much more than just a fancy bottle opener.

Leatherman Skeletool carabiner/bottle opener

The interchangeable bit driver was of particular interest to me since I work with devices that use different types of screws and in different sizes. The Leatherman bits have little notches on the sides that lock into place, keeping them securely attached to the Skeletool. To remove the bits, you simply press on the release mechanism. Incredibly, Leatherman also found a way to include storage on the Skeletool for a spare bit. Keep in mind that these are flat bits, not your typical hex bits. For light to medium-duty tasks, I expect the flat bits to hold up just fine.

Leatherman Skeleteool driver

Leatherman Skeletool bit storage

The knife is made out of 420HC (high carbon) stainless steel. 420HC is strong, resists corrosion, and stays sharp. The knife is serrated on the inner half of the blade while the outer half is straight. It’s pretty easy to open and close the blade one-handed. You can use the knife, as well as the bottle opener, without having to unfold the Skeletool––very convenient!

Leatherman Skeletool knife

Leatherman Skeletool blade lock
The pliers and wire cutters are very easy to use and the curve of the lower handle makes it more ergonomic than if it were just straight. The Skeletool cut through a CAT5e patch cable well, but wasn’t sharp enough to cut the pull down string. For that, I just used the knife.

Leatherman Skeletool pliers

ACCESSORIES

The Skeletool by itself, is a very versatile tool. However, combining it with a few accessories, takes the Skeletool even further.

Leatherman Skeletool plus accessories

Though a Leatherman sheath isn’t included with the Skeletool, it is available for purchase separately. I originally considered the omission of a sheath as a con, but the more I use the Skeletool, the more I realize that I probably wouldn’t use a sheath very often anyways. Using the carabiner clip is quick and easy and for carrying in a pocket or bag, the pocket clip works well.

The Leatherman Bit Kit is a must if you plan to use the drivers extensively, like I do. It comes with 21 double-sided steel bits and can also be used on many of Leatherman’s other tools.

Leatherman bit kit

The Leatherman Bit Driver Extender is also a must for me. It allows you to extend the driver by 3.25 inches. You can even use regular hex bits with it, in addition to the Leatherman flat bits.

Leatherman bit driver extender

Leatherman Skeletool CX

Skeletool CX

If you’ve already decided to get the Skeletool, you might be wondering what the differences are between the standard Skeletool, and the Skeletool CX. There are two main differences––the knife blade and black DLC coating.

The knife blade on the CX is made out of 154CM, which is a premium stainless steel. It is stronger than 420HC stainless steel, resists corrosion better, and holds an edge longer. The CX knife blade is also straight, while the standard Skeletool’s blade is a combo serrated/straight blade. The black DLC coating on the CX helps resist scratches and corrosion. So, for about a $20 difference in retail price, you get a better knife blade, added durability, and a cool black color.

WARRANTY

Leatherman warranties the Skeletool, and all of their other tools, for 25 years. How many products do you own that have a 25 year warranty? I’m willingly to bet, not many. As I mentioned previously, I’ve had my Leatherman Super Tool for 16 years and the only thing that ever went wrong with it is that the wire cutters became damaged. I’m not sure how or when it happened, but I recently sent it to Leatherman for repair. I’ll try to update the warranty process and my experience as soon as the repair has been completed.

Skeletool vs Super Tool closed

Skeletool vs Super Tool open

SUMMARY

The Leatherman Skeletool’s value, performance, and versatility is unmatched by any other tool on the market. The easy one-handed knife operation, kick-ass driver bits and the clever carabiner/bottle opener, all work together to provide yet another example of Leatherman’s intelligent designs and precision workmanship. I can’t recommend the Skeletool highly enough.

Available from Amazon.com.

Leatherman Bit Kit from Amazon.com.

Leatherman Bit Extender from Amazon.com.

Leatherman-recommended sharpening kit from Amazon.com.

Review unit and accessories provided by Leatherman Tool Group, Inc.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , ,
  1. Ed Rhee
    May 31st, 2013 at 11:56 | #1

    @leatherman tool fan
    Thanks for reading and for the nice comment! I’m glad I could help.

  2. May 31st, 2013 at 08:44 | #2

    @Ed and @James – thanks for that advise – I had been wondering about that too. Wanted to get professional opinion though before trying to unscrew something and breaking a bit or extender.

  3. James Grant
    October 7th, 2011 at 15:58 | #3

    Hia

    I was wondering, if you have the bit extender on the Skeletool can you use the screwdriver in its closed position?? by the looks of the skeletool the gap that the bit sits in is wide enough to accomidate the extender, this would, i think, give a better handle to the screwdriver.

    Thanks

    James

    • Ed
      October 7th, 2011 at 17:19 | #4

      I wouldn’t recommend using the bit extender with the Skeletool closed. The reason is, the bit extender is actually wider than the gap on the bottle opener/carabiner side so that when you go to close it, it won’t fully close. You could theoretically still do it, but if you grip the Skeletool hard enough, you might damage the bit extender or the bit holder.

      I hope that helps.

      Ed

  4. Ed
    August 26th, 2011 at 08:27 | #5

    @Ralph Hesse The Skeletool is great, but it has fewer tools than the Super Tool. I use it a lot instead of the Super Tool, but it can’t truly replace it, unless you don’t use any of the other tools on the Super Tool. It kind of depends on your own needs.

  5. Ralph Hesse
    August 26th, 2011 at 07:14 | #6

    I am impressed about this new Leatherman. I own the old the Super Tool and I thought that is almost perfect. But this Skeletool… looks like I can drop my toolbox. Whats your experience? Can this replace it?

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