Introduction: Tactical Multitool

Picture of Tactical Multitool

When camping, I often wish I had brought a tool along; a hammer, a hatchet, a shovel, etc. Especially on backpacking trips, however, the weight and hassle of carrying 3 or 4 tools is over the top and not worth it in the long run. The Tactical Multitool is the perfect solution. It combines the versatility of a tool shop with the simplicity of any other camping gadget. It especially stands out in its ability to mismatch a number of "heads" in many combinations. The ability to detach, reattach, and swap "heads" makes this a truly unique tool.

Whether you're camping in the wilderness or fixing something around the house, there's always the right tool for the job. So, while you read the process I took to make this Tactical Multitool, let your creativity run free and help me think of more ideas to add to this "one-tool toolbox". The possibilities are endless! 

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials


1/8" Cold Rolled Steel
1/8" ABS Sheet
5/16" Steel Rod
Steel Wire (16-14) Gauge
Epoxy or Super Glue
Black Paint


Bandsaw (or some other saw capable of cutting 1/8" steel)
Drill Press
Milling Machine
Angle Grinder

Step 2: Design

Picture of Design

The basic design of the Tactical Multitool consists of a central "frame" piece shaped like a "T". It is built of two identical pieces that sandwich a small "spacer" piece at the "T" junction. This creates a space between the two frame pieces and a slot into which the several "heads" can be inserted and affixed. These heads are affixed using what I referred to as an "attachment unit", which consists of two pins connected by a backplate. The pins go through the first "T", through the head, through the second "T". The attachment unit is held in place by a cotter pin which keeps the pins from sliding out of the frame. (See Step 7 for clarification)

**Originally, the heads had "B" pieces that were designed to be welded to the attachment to increase strength and stability. The 1/8" steel, however, was much stronger and more stable than expected and therefore the reinforcing "B" pieces were no longer needed (See pictures for clarity).

Step 3: Cutting the Frame

Picture of Cutting the Frame

The "Frame" consists of the two "T" pieces and the "spacer". These pieces were cut out of the 1/8" steel sheet with a bandsaw. With the spacer sandwiched between the two "T"s, the slot is formed where the heads will be attached. The gap in the handle area will be filled by the 1/8" ABS sheet in a later step.

Step 4: Welding!

Picture of Welding!

Once the two "T" pieces and "spacer" piece are cut, the spacer must be welded to one of the "T"s. I am very far from having mastered the art of welding, but after a bit of practice my welds were at least functional. One the spacer is welded, all three pieces must be welded together with two beads along both sides. See pictures for clarity.

Once the welds are finished, they should be ground flat with the angle grinder. Be careful when welding or using the angle grinder on metal; things become very hot very quickly. Don't burn yourself like i did! Once everything is welded together, the holes for the "attachment units" must be drilled. These holes must match the 5/16" diameter of the pins and must be perfectly straight. That is why a drill press or mill is necessary for this step.

Step 5: Cutting the "Heads"

Picture of Cutting the "Heads"

The heads were cut from the 1/8" steel with a bandsaw. Rough edges were smoothed with the angle grinder. Three potential heads are shown below: the tomahawk/hatchet, the backspike, and the hammer. A quarter-circle is cut out of the corner of each head to match the semicircular section of the "spacer" piece. Both the backspike and tomahawk/hatchet heads can be sharpened. This was done with an angle grinder, however, i decided to leave the backspike dull.

In order to make sure that the holes drilled in the heads matched the frame perfectly, the heads were clamped into the frame and the frame's holes were used as a guide to drill into the heads. All burrs left from drilling must be removed with sandpaper or a hand file or else the pieces will not fit together.

Step 6: The Handle

Picture of The Handle

In order to remove weight from the frame, channels were milled along the handle. The large holes drilled at the top and bottom of the handle allow for the Multitool to be fastened to a backpack or clipped to a belt. Once the handle was milled out, the gap caused by "spacer" piece was filled by the 1/8" ABS sheet. This panel was glued between the two metal handle pieces and clamped down to dry. Once dry, the leftover ABS was removed from the handle.

Step 7: Attachment Mechanism

Picture of Attachment Mechanism

The Attachment Mechanism consists of three parts: the pins, the backplate, and the cotter pins. The pins are 5/16" diameter steel rods cut into 3/4" pieces. Four are needed. Two rods will be welded to each backplate (made of 1/8" thick steel), creating an attachment unit that will hold a "head" in place. The welds were done with the pins in the frame in order to assure that the they were welded straight. Once welded, the backplate-pin unit was inserted into place and holes were drilled in the pins to allow for the insertion of the cotter pin. See pictures for clarity.

The cotter pins were then formed by inserting the steel wire through the two holes and then bending it back on itself. After a few additional twists and turns with a pair of pliers, the final shape was achieved. See pictures for clarity.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

The holes in the frame and "head" pieces may require some extra drilling to make sure they are matched up perfectly. Once this is done, the tool can be left as is or painted, as shown below. I used a primer layer of automotive paint and then finished with a textured black spray paint. I am very satisfied with the final product!

Before painting you may want to use an angle grinder to grind the edges of the handle. This will provide a smooth edge when gripping the multitool. You can also fashion your own grip from paracord or some other material.

After a good amount of use, the adhesive holding the handle together broke. Another solution was necessary to keep the handle together permanently. In order to do this I welded a small piece of 1/4" steel rod to the bottom of the handle, thereby connecting the two frame pieces.

Step 9: In Action

Picture of In Action

Now its time to use your Tactical Multitool! I did a couple of pre-paint tests on the finished product. The backspike held up well against the railroad tie (see picture) and the Tomahawk attachment works like a charm! (see video)

As always, be safe while using this tool because it can cause harm or serious injury. But most importantly, have fun!

I would love to hear any ideas for new attachments so that I can expand the scope and capabilities of the Tactical Multitool!


kntrytnt (author)2015-05-19

It is kind of hard to tell what "heads" you have at the moment, so I'm just going to post a comprehensive list from what I've seen, and what others have suggested, and my own ideas of course.






spear head


forked head (perfect for stoking a fire or cooking wienies over a fire)





ladle or bowl to carry liquids?


you could also add something so you could add a slingshot head or something

add a curved hook (like a grappling hook head) for climbing and grabbing trees

ice pick (for climbing and procuring ice)

a head that works like an adle-adle so you can throw spears crazy far

add instead of a head a metal square that has a chain bolted to it, then a spike ball on the end to make a flail

that's about all I can think of. Great work on your project!

Drake2312 (author)2015-03-05

i agree with those that have said for a pickaxe attachment, also how about a machete type blade attachment to cut things such as tall grass or vines in your way, could attach like the shovel, hoe attachment for the farmer type, sickle attachment also for the farmer type, crowbar maybe for opening or moving things, these would be great as attachments in my own opinion

Think_Design_Build (author)2015-01-28

I have to say that this is a very very impressive build. The design is ingenious and would save tons of weight if you used it. The interchangeable heads are really cool. I'd love to make one, but ... I don't have means to weld. Anyways a spearhead attachment would be pretty neat if you made one.

The Russian Revolutionist made it! (author)2014-09-27

Sorry for the blurry photos. These were done a couple of months ago.

crypticweasle (author)2014-09-21

also I'm suggesting a pickaxe add on

crypticweasle (author)2014-09-21

what is its exact weight

mmeteng (author)2014-09-12

what are the dimensions - especially for the handle

99016669 (author)2014-04-12

Pretty cool I would like to do this When I get older

Garra23 (author)2014-02-13

great work bro. ill have to build one one day.

KommieCid (author)2013-09-02

Have you thought about welding rings onto the backs of your attachment mechanisms? attaching those to the frame to keep them from being dropped could save you a lot of work replacing them later

black hole (author)2013-04-03

Excellent work, 5* and favorited, but I'd ditch the back spike. I've never, and will never, understand the reasoning behind a back spike on a tomahawk. Why in the name of all that is holy would you want a sharpened piece of metal pointing right at your face? If you're chopping would and it rebounds, BAM! Left eye gone. If you're using it in a combat situation, and you lose control for a nanosecond, BAM! Nice new hole in your chest.

Sigh. Humans. Sometimes I doubt we are truly the smartest things on the planet.

pj63 (author)2013-03-02

I would have turned the bottom edge (From the Middle to the Head) into a SAW EDGE so you can control the cut and it should be lighter work because of the weight of the 'Multi-tool'

thegoom (author)2013-02-01

You could attach an anchor point at the base of the handle and a new attachment for the head and run a chainsaw chain in between them.

Conqured (author)2012-05-30

Very well done, indeed. Keep it up.

mech.asn (author)2012-05-28

Great Job! I would recommend making the angles in the Tee section curved, because of stress concentration. This should help reduce the risk of cracking.

and just FYI tools (such as hammers) are made from tough material, so they wont chip (i.e., dangerous flying pieces of metal) and are surface hardened to reduce wear. Also, I don't know how the material will behave after welding too.

flamesami (author)2012-05-15

very well executed, but I just can't understand what you need a backspike for? at least, not for practical usage (unless you hunt bears with it) ;) Overall, it sems to be a very sturdy multitool-thingy

burnerjack01 (author)2012-05-14

For your average innovative type, this is REALLY good! For a highschool student? (*&&^)(*P Brilliant!!! Outstanding job! with a little refinement this could be a marketable product. Really outstanding. Hope to see more from you.

Grimmy Grim (author)2012-05-11

Outstanding, thank you very much! A lot of us think about this and even attempt it, you did well!

{Havoc}.Goliath (author)2012-05-06

I love it, I think I will try making one too. Just for something to go by, what are the approximate measurements for the handle and head attachment area?

Druin (author)2012-05-04

As long as you have such a flat handle, why not make it a flat bar for pulling nails and prying? Also suggest a saw attachment head.

yoyology (author)2012-04-28

Tool addition: spade head that attaches to both attachment points at once.

Also, make sure the hole at the bottom is sized right for pulling tent stakes. That's the only thing that crappy plastic stake mallets are good for.

just added a shovel attachment!

Very nice!

shveet (author)2012-05-03

great ible, inspired to make me make one before the summer occours haha i have an idea, using the same method you made the shovel, well instead of a shovel, a hand saw could work.
thanks again for the post, ill try and make one the first chance i get :D

ineverfinishanyth (author)shveet2012-05-03

Thank you! I'd love to see pictures once you're done!

Basement_Craftsman (author)2012-04-28

Wow. I can't wait to see the other attachments.

just added pictures of the hammer!

....and the shovel!

acoleman3 (author)2012-05-03

you need to turn the amperage up mate. not enough penetration is your problem. if you're running 1/8 in 7018, use around 95 to 100 amps and keep the arc length short. nice ible btw.

Edwin Da Freak (author)2012-04-29

Hi there....Nice concept and 'Ible.
Welding comes with practice. Get some scrap and start burning some rod.
I would like to make a suggestion: Maybe thread the posts of the "Attachment Mechanism" instead of welding. This way you could have a roll up tool bag of all the diffrent "Heads" for whatever situation may come up. Slotted pry bar, wrenches, spanners, ice pic, or whatever gets thrown at you. Maybe inspiration from a Leather Man with all it's diffrent things.
A lanyard of braided paracord, with a caribiner, and the allen wrench attached to change heads.
This would also give you a shot at the following contests: Paracord, tools, multi use, make it real, even possibly extreme. WIN all around.
Keep up the great work.

As another thought, why not have the "Heads" be one piece instead of two? That way there can be one attachment mechanism inserted perpendicular to the handle. (lining it up with the top of the T and not in line with the handle.)

I considered this initially, but I decided to use two attachment mechanisms so that I could make different combinations of the "heads". (hammer w/ hatchet, hatchet with backspike, hammer with backspike, etc.)

srilyk (author)ineverfinishanyth2012-05-03

Hammer with hammer ;)

Seeing as how my dad knows a few things about sporting goods, tools, and weapons, I PM'd you something.

Tray (author)2012-05-03

Maybe some hex-shaped holes near the bottom (heel?) of the handle that correspond to bolt head sizes 5/16" and larger. A standard plier based multitool becomes less-effective at loosening bolts/nuts once the size nears the limit of the plier's spread. Some holes in the handle would fill the gap awhile offering additioanl leverage to the user. Maybe a "gas-valve" slot and a "water-valve" slot also. Would make a great SHTF "all-in-wonder" response tool. Nice Job!

EmcySquare (author)2012-05-02

As for the handle with the ABS insert you might consider using PINS like those used to attach handles scales to full tang knifes: I'd use a 1/4 inch steel rod, make the hole and solder it. Stronger I'd guess. I would not trust glue as it might fail for different heat, humidity, weadher in general

Excellent job and idea. I'll try to make my own once I get a welder and learn to use it. ;-)

More ideas here:

desertsniper (author)2012-04-30

now i have to ask, did you harden that axe head? if not you might want to get a peice of hi carbon steal and make a propper axe head. it will last longer and stay sharper. great project! really well thought out and exellent finish!

rachel (author)2012-04-30

Excellent idea and implementation! Do you think it would be a strong enough handle if you used only one length of plate? i.e. extend the spacer out into a handle, and just have the head section be triple layered. If I ever went camping I'd make one of these... I might anyway because it looks really fun.

salomon1996 (author)2012-04-29

Thats soo cool! Great job! :D

chuck mandana (author)2012-04-29

You mentioned this for backpacking. What is the weight of the handle and two heads?

It all comes in at under 2 pounds, which may seem a little heavy for backpacking. Keep in mind, however, that this tool takes the place of a hammer, shovel, hatchet, etc. These can easily push 5 pounds if carried as separate tools.

EngineerJakit (author)2012-04-29

What kind of materials do you think the handle could be made of other than steel? I bet a hardy, yet workable oak or some other age-resilient wood would be good for a handle.

rimar2000 (author)2012-04-28

Clever design, neatly done!

On the welds, don't worry about aesthetics, the important is to be strong. You can always arrange it with a little grinder.

Digital Wizard (author)2012-04-28

Nice idea, well excecuted. Practice your welding and it'll be perfect. ;)

About This Instructable




Bio: I enjoy building and inventing; I love creating new things and improving on old ideas. I am a student at BYU and am studying under ... More »
More by ineverfinishanyth:DIY Metal StampingBed in a BoxTactical Multitool
Add instructable to: