I generally favor multi-tools for everyday carry (EDC). I use a blade more often than other tools, it is true. There are always packages to open, cordage to cut, wires to strip, and other tasks appropriate for a blade. But it seems like every time that I carry only a knife instead of a multi-tool, I end up needing pliers or a screwdriver as well.
So when I ran across the Utica Cutlery Multimaster, I just had to give it a try. I contacted Utica Cutlery, and they were kind enough to provide me with a sample for testing and evaluation.
I found the Multimaster to be a well-machined tool constructed of heavy-duty, high-quality materials. Its layout is practical, but it lacks the elegance of design that characterizes some of its competitors. As a result, the tool is a bit on the large and heavy side. This makes it a less practical solution for EDC in many settings. For example, it was just a bit too bulky for me to comfortably carry in an office setting.
The Multimaster is produced entirely in these United States. It is a 17-function “toobox in the palm of your hand.”
The pliers/wire cutter is fixed rather than folding, making the tool longer than most of its competitors.
Most of the tools open with a nail-nick, and lock in place by pressing a raised bar mounted on the handle firmly inside a groove in the base of each tool. This system seems to function effectively, but seems somehow less aesthetically pleasing than a locking mechanism that secures the tool by snapping into place.
The plain blade is sharper than the average multi-tool, easily able to shave the hair on my left forearm.
The file is the heaviest I have ever seen on a multi-tool. It is the real deal in every respect, not just a half-hearted facsimile etched into the side of a piece of stainless.
The base of the handle features a magnetized opening for standard one-quarter-inch screwdriver bits. This greatly expands the versatility of the tool in comparison with those that have just a fixed number of built-in screwdriver tips, or those that use proprietary bits. The tool comes with a #1 and #2 Phillips, a #6 and #8 slotted, and a 1/4 inch drive adapter.
The tool also features a three inch and seven centimeter ruler, a crosscut saw, a serrated blade, and a can opener. The saw seemed pretty average for a multi-tool, but the serrated blade was impressively sharp.
The tool comes with a fairly typical limited lifetime warranty.
Church Family Camp
I took the Multimaster along to church family camp to test it out.
I found out that the pouch rode comfortably on my belt under my right kidney throughout the five days of camp.
I used the tool for tasks like moving a grate over a fire without burning my fingers, straightening bent tines on a marshmallow fork, opening the packaging on a new campfire grate, and slicing open packages of hamburger patties at a Friday evening church cookout.
A Comedy of Errors
The real acid test of the tool came at the end of family camp. During the week, my friend “Tozer” had opened the hatchback on his car often enough for the convenience light in the back to drain the battery. Tozer had known that his battery was getting near the end of its effective service life, so this was not a great surprise. When he noticed that the battery was dead, he decided to wait a couple of days until the end of camp to get a jump. He was afraid that if he got a jump right away, he would just need another jump by the end of camp. So Tozer borrowed a set of jumper cables from his son-in-law, and kept them handy for the last day of camp.
On the last day of camp, I pulled my truck front-bumper-to-front-bumper with Tozer’s car. We then raised the hoods, hooked up the jumper cables, and “charged” his battery for several minutes. Then Tozer tried to start the car. Nothing happened.
The battery on my truck is located in a somewhat awkward location. We wondered if that somehow contributed to the poor connection. With that in mind, we disconnected the cables and moved the truck out of the way. We decided to try his daughter, “Humming Bird’s” car instead.
Tozer climbed into Humming Bird’s car to move it close enough to provide a jump. He turned the key. Nothing happened. Humming Bird’s car was dead as well.
Another friend from our church, “Picasso”, came to the rescue. He pulled his truck (with his camper already connected for departure) over to Humming Bird’s car to give her a jump. We connected the cables, “charged” the battery for several minutes, and tried to start the car. It still would not turn over.
At about this point, I noticed some sparks arcing inside one of the battery clips. The problem was a defective set of jumper cables.
We borrowed a second set of jumper cables from still another friend from church. As Tozer went to disconnect the defective cables from Picasso’s truck, Tozer accidentally grounded the positive clip to the frame of the truck. The truck immediately stalled.
Picasso quickly restarted the truck. We hooked the second set of jumper cables up to Humming Bird’s car, and soon had it running. We disconnected the cables, pulled my truck up to Tozer’s car, and soon had it running as well.
About this time, Picasso reported that his power steering was not working. Tozer’s short had knocked it out. A harried Picasso began checking fuses while his wife studied the owner’s manual, and his kid’s enjoyed the show.
Eventually, we found a blown fuse integrated into a component that was connected directly to the battery pole. The fuse by itself could not be replaced. Instead, the entire component would needed to be replaced.
Picasso and his wife began searching their smart phones for a car parts store in the area that was open on a Sunday afternoon and that had the part. There were none to be found.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Earlier, someone had loaned us a tarp. I had noticed a piece of copper wire being used as a cord on the tarp. I cut off a piece of the wire with the wire cutters on the Multimaster, stripped the wire with the blade, and (with Picasso’s permission) wired around the blown fuse. The power steering then worked perfectly. Picasso was able to drive his family safely home. He then replaced the damaged component the next day when his local auto parts store was open.
The Multimaster included the tools necessary to improvise our way out of a difficult situation.
The Utica Cutlery Company
The Utica Cutlery Company was founded in 1910 in Utica, New York with the goal of helping to diversify the local industrial base. At that time, the town was almost totally dependent economically upon textile production.
The new company began by manufacturing pocket knives. In 1918, they added fixed-blade kitchen cutlery to their product line. During World War II, they helped the war effort by manufacturing bayonets and carbine parts. After the war, they discontinued the production of war materials, but expanded their product line into stainless steel flatware.
They currently manufacture a wide variety of folding knives, fixed blade knives, multi-tools, machetes, survival knives, cutlery, flatware, enamelwear, and similar products.
The oldest multi-tool that I have been able to find is a Roman eating utensil from the third century AD. In addition to a knife, fork, and spoon, it incorporates a pick, spike, and spatula.
In the centuries that followed the fall of Rome, ingenious humans invented a host of tools that incorporated more than one function, such as a hammer/plier/axe, a crowbar/plier, a plier/wrench, and a knife/wrench combination. You can enjoy viewing many of these antique multi-tools on Pinterest or even purchase some of them on eBay.
In 1889, the Swiss Army introduced the 7.5mm Schmidt-Rubin straight-pull service rifle. The M1889 required a screw driver to field strip. The Swiss Army contracted with the supplier of their standard issue folding knife to add a screwdriver, can opener, and reamer to the knife. The Swiss M1889 service rifle became obsolete and was replaced, but the Swiss Army knife lived on in all of its multifaceted MacGyver-esque glory.
In 1983, an inventor named Tim Leatherman designed a multi-tool built around an ingeniously designed set of folding pliers. In the ensuing decades, a host of imitators and/or improvers have drawn inspiration from Leatherman’s groundbreaking design in order to present designs of their own.
The Utica Cutlery Multimaster, by utilizing a fixed rather than a folding set of pliers, hearkens back to a pre-Leatherman tradition of multi-tool design.
The Utica Cutlery Multimaster is a well-machined multi-tool made of high quality, heavy gauge material.
It is too big and heavy for everyday carry, but it could be useful in an office setting, for placing in a fishing tackle box, for carrying in a pack, or for most field use. It could also be handy in the glove compartment or trunk of a vehicle, or for home use in a tool box, on a workshop peg board, or in a kitchen catch-all drawer.
Utica Cutlery Company was kind enough to provide me with a sample Multimaster for testing and evaluation. I tried not to allow their kindness to interfere with my objectivity, and believe that I have succeeded. I did not receive any other financial or other inducements to mention any vendor, product, or service in this article.