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Leatherman Care Tips

Home Maintenance & Care Tips

If your multi-tool has a defect in material or workmanship, we will gladly repair or replace it with our 25-year warranty but we suggest the following tips to protect and maintain your Leatherman at home:

1. KNIFE/MULTI-TOOL MAINTENANCE

  • Clean utility knives of any excess grime or dirt using water and a cleaning solvent. Avoid using harsh detergents when cleaning knives.
  • Dry the knife completely. Cotton cloth or chamois are the best for removing water spots, moisture and fingerprints.
  • Spray or wipe down each joint of the knife with cleaning oil and spread it thoroughly over the knife’s surface as well as the handle. Trisol is a very good gun oil that helps with cleaning of metal and it works great on knives as well.
  • Check your knife often for trouble spots. You may not know that you’ve missed a spot until it shows up as rust Oxidation and tarnishing are usual occurrences with knives made of carbon steel. This appears as bluish gray and can actually protect the knife. You can distinguish this from rust by its colour; rust appears reddish brown.
  • Remove any sticky residue, possibly left by the adhesive from labels, with nail polish solution on a rag. Clean inside the knife with toothpicks, Q-Tips and cotton swabs.
  • Work slowly and patiently. Over cleaning your knife can do serious damage to it.

2. KNIFE/MULTI-TOOL RUST REMOVAL

  • Slice two pieces of potato (skin & all). The size of the slices depends on the size of the knife. Make sure you can cover both sides of the blade with the potato slices.
  • Pour ½ cup of baking soda into a bowl. Run the soft-bristled toothbrush under water and then dunk it into the baking soda so the bristles are well covered.
  • Scrub both sides of the knife blade with the toothbrush. The combination of the potato and baking soda should start removing the rust. Scrub thoroughly for a few minutes.
  • Wipe the knife blade with a paper towel and examine the blade. Repeat the cleaning procedure until you no longer see rust on the blade. Clean the blade’s surface with a paper towel.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of general-purpose light oil onto both side of the knife blade. Wipe both sides with a clean microfiber cloth.

3. CARE AROUND SALT WATER

A wide variety of stainless steels are available fulfilling different performance and protection requirements. Leatherman tools are made using two different 420 series stainless steels that are them tempered to five or six different specifications for the various tool groups involved. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get temperate steel which will handle salt water without some care requirements. Our suggestions for proper care of Leatherman tools in salt water environments are as follows:

  • Before salt water exposure, ensure that all the pivot points and the whole tool has been saturated with engine oil. The purpose of engine oil is to fill the micro crevices that exist in all steel surfaces so that those cracks and depressions cannot be exposed to corrosives. The end result is a more forgiving working environment for the tool so that it is less hassle for you. This protection level will remain effective until the tool surface has been stripped of the protective oil coating by aggressive washing.
  • After the properly prepared tool has been exposed to salt water, rinsing the tool in fresh water and shaking it dry is usually enough to minimize corrosion. Occasionally wipe the tool down with an oily cloth. This will keep the tool in the preferred condition and avoid the need for remedial action.
  • Once stainless steel has been allowed to rust (normally light staining only) the damage can usually be repaired with steel wool and engine oil. The rust oxide is quite soft and will come off the hardened stainless finish quite quickly and the oil residue that is left behind will help prevent a future recurrence.
  • We do not recommend the use of spray-penetrating oils or products similar to “WD40”. They are excellent penetrants and cleaners but do not leave a protective oil film which is needed in highly corrosive environments.
  • Your pouch selection will also affect your tools performance. We would recommend the use of the nylon pouched as they can be rinsed free of salt water more practically than their leather counterparts. The nylon pouches are happy in the washing machine and come out clean and salt free.

As a point of interest: magnetic steels will usually take a temper but will stain/rust and non-magnetic steels will not stain/rust or take a temper.

We hope this will help you avoid problems and help you keep your Leatherman tool in perfect condition for years to come.

4. BLADE SHARPENING

Leatherman knife blades may be straight-edged, serrated, or both. Sharpening methods vary depending on the type of knife in your Leatherman product (note: serrated edges should not be sharpened in the same manner as straight edges).

  • Straight-edged blades can be sharpened using any standard equipment, including whetstones, rods, dry stones (diamond embedded) and various kits.
  • Leatherman’s standard sharpening angle for plain edge blade sections is 32° (16° per side). Serrated blade sections are sharpened to 20° (one sided).
  • Serrated blades require a sharpening system specifically designed to accommodate serrated edges in order to maintain the curvature of the serrations. Sharpen serrated blades only on the edged side. Sharpening the flat (back) side of the blade will cause the serrations to wear away, reducing the blade’s effectiveness.

5. WEARABLE CARE

The Tread is comprised of 3 main parts, all of them being some type of stainless-steel alloy:

  • Screw: SS410
  • Connector: SS420
  • Link: SS17-4

The key to understanding “stainless steel” is to break the word apart to “stain” and “less”. They all still contain iron (Fe) and can therefore oxidize in certain environments. The human body is a highly saline environment that accelerates corrosion. The stainless-steel alloys vary based on their intended use, with some oxidizing less than others. Leatherman chose the above alloys based on a compromise between process constraints and performance.

For your wearable you should clean salt off daily, maybe using a toothbrush to get into all the spots. However, if that is not enough to slow corrosion you may need to do some preventive coating like oil. You may have to experiment with oils that you are comfortable putting in contact with your skin. You may need to consult a dermatologist.

6. EMT TOOL CARE (E.G. RAPTOR)

Leatherman recommend using Isopropyl Alcohol or Hydrogen Peroxide. They have tested “Sporox II”, which is a mix of 7.5% hydrogen peroxide and .85% phosphoric acid. It tested fairly well, but it caused some corrosion of the carbide striker (but no critical failure, just a bit of dark chalkiness). The Sporox can be used for sterilization as well, which is great.

As for auto-claving, the biggest concern you’re going to be faced with is the possible loosening of the pivot posts and rust. The male and female pins are glued together, and the compound may dissolve in extreme temperatures. As long as the temperature remains around 115°C, Leatherman engineers think it should be OK. Of course, with a squeaky-clean tool and metal-to-metal components, your Leatherman will also need follow up lubrication at the joints to maintain smooth tool operation and blade removal, as well as to discourage rust. Leatherman tools are fabricated from a 400 series (high carbon) stainless and may show signs of staining if not properly protected.

QUICK FACTS

Our tools bear the name of company president Tim Leatherman, who invented the original Pocket Survival Tool, now known as the PST.

The Leatherman Wave multi-tool is hands down our most popular model, made famous by its outside-accessible blades that can be deployed with just one hand. When we redesigned it in 2004, we gave the new Wave larger knives, stronger pliers, longer wire cutters, and all-locking blades. Perfect for any job, adventure, or everyday task, the Wave multi-tool is an international best-seller.

Every multi-tool and knife we ship out the door is crafted by one of the 700 Oregonians who call Leatherman a great place to work, and we stand behind our products with a no-questions-asked 25 year warranty.

Take a quick tour of the factory and see how your favourite multi-tool is made. Just click on the link to our You Tube channel!