Introduction: Useful Mods for Leatherman Tread (Better Fit, Add Bits, Convert Nut Driver)

This Instuctable goes over 3 modifications to the Leatherman Tread

Modification #1 - Getting a Better Fit on your Wrist

Modification #2 - Using your Tread as a Bit Carrier and Driver

Modification #3 - Converting a Nut Driver to a Smaller Size

Step 1: Essentials - Parts and Tools

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Before we get started, we need a couple of things for any of the projects. A Leatherman Tread and a flat head screw driver to remove and add the Tread links.

  • Parts
    • A Leatherman Tread: https://www.leatherman.com/tread-425.html
  • Tools
    • Flathead Screw Driver #1 or #2

Step 2: #1 Better Wrist Fit - Overview

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The way the Leatherman Tread is designed you can only make large adjustments in fit. The large links are 1 1/8" (including bracket) and the small link is 7/8" (including bracket). Unfortunately due to the Tread links being so large, it is difficult to get a precise fit on your wrist. It goes from being "too loose" to "too tight" with no middle ground. I'll show you a way to use the brackets to make a size adjustment only 1/2".

Step 3: #1 Better Wrist Fit - Collect Parts and Tools

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  • Tools
    • 1/4" Nut Driver
    • 1/16 Hex Key
  • Parts (Less than a dollar total from your local hardware store)
    • 2 #4-40 1/4" (length) Button Cap Screws
    • 2 #4-40 Nylon Nuts

Step 4: #1 Better Wrist Fit - Screw Together Brackets

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Use the nuts and screws to attach two of the Leatherman Tread brackets. The essentially eliminates the need to have a connecting link. This now gives us the ability to refine the fit by 1/2" (the length of one bracket).

Step 5: #2 Adding Bits - Collect Parts

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The first step is to collect the parts. The first part is a Leatherman Bit Kit. These are specially shaped bits that work with Leatherman multitools and also slot into our Leatherman Tread. The second is a pack of rubber bands. I found mine on eBay. Search for "black rubber band hair tie" or similar. See their size in relation to the dime shown.

Step 6: #2 Adding Bits - Slot the Bits It, Secure With Rubber Bands

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Once we have the parts, the rest is pretty simple. Most of the Tread links have an empty channel that the bits can slot through easily. The only problem is that they slot through too easily and will slide right out. This is where the rubber bands come in. Use 4 rubber bands (2 on each side of the bit) to lock the bit in place. You'll need to undo the thread links to add the rubber bands. To access the bits you simply need to move the rubber bands out of the way and the bit will slide right out. You can now add as many bits as you have slots.

Question: Anyone have an idea to use something more durable than rubber bands? Perhaps some kind of silicon elastomer? If you have an idea that is the right size, let me know!

Step 7: #2 Adding Bits - Using the Bits

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These bits work best when coupled with bit driver in another multi-tool, like the Leatherman Wave or PS Style.

But use can also use the Tread it's self in a pinch. Simply slot the bit into the Tread 1/4" nut driver (see pic) and use the same rubber bands to hold the bit in place. You'll need to use your fingers to further secure the bit when in use. Not perfect, but works in most situations.

Step 8: #3 Converting Nut Drivers - Overview

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Now we move on to how to convert one of the Tread nut drivers. I need an 11/32" nut driver but the Tread doesn't come with one. So we are going to find a larger unused nut driver, in my case the 10mm, and create a plastic "sleeve" to decrease it's size down to 11/32"

While this tutorial is about going from 10mm to 11/32" this technique should work on any conversion.

Step 9: #3 Converting Nut Drivers - Collect Parts and Tools

Picture of #3 Converting Nut Drivers - Collect Parts and Tools
  • Tools
    • Calipers
    • Nut Driver of the size you wish to convert to (In my case a #8 11/32")
    • Access to basic 3d modeling design software - (Like Fusion 360. It's free to hobbyists!) https://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360
    • Access to a 3d printer - If you don't have one, try www.3dhubs.com to find a local printer
    • Super Glue (~$4)
    • Sand Paper (I used 120 grit) (~$1)

Step 10: #3 Converting Nut Driver - Select Link, Measure & Sketch

Picture of #3 Converting Nut Driver - Select Link, Measure & Sketch

Select the Link
The first thing we need to do is select the Tread link that we are going to convert. The link you select to convert needs to be larger that the size you are converting it to. A simple way to do this is simply to get a nut of the desired size and test it on the different size Tread links, when you find one with plenty of room for the nut you are done. In my case I needed a 11/32" nut driver so I selected the 10mm nut driver to convert.

Measure the Link and the Tool to be Copied
Once you have selected the Tread link, get an internal measurement across. Then do the same with the tool you are trying to replicate. The measurements for my conversion were - Internal Width: 8.9mm (from driver), External Width: 10.2mm (from Tread). (Ignore the actual caliper measurements in the picture)

Sketch the Sleeve
With these measurements, we can now sketch out the "sleeve" we are going to fabricate.

Step 11: #3 Converting Nut Driver - Model the Part & Print

Picture of #3 Converting Nut Driver - Model the Part & Print

Model the Sleeve
Now with the measurements taken and the sketch complete it's time to model the part in your favorite modeling software. It will take 5 mins (or less) if you are an experienced modeler, otherwise this is a great first modeling project to learn on! You can download Autodesk Fusion 360 for free!

I have also included the specific modeling file (http://a360.co/2wQh93q) and the specific STL file that I used. So if you happen to want to do a 10mm to 11/32" conversion then you are all set. Or if you can use these files to piggyback your own conversion, be my guest.

Print the Sleeve
Once the model is complete. Print the file. If you don't have a printer yourself, track down a cheap local printer with 3D Hubs (www.3dhubs.com). I used PLA+ material, but I'm sure just about anything would work.

Step 12: #4 Converting Nut Driver - Manually Adjust Size

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Unfortunately with 3d printing at such tight tolerances it can be a bit of an art getting an object to be printed in the exact size that we want. Now that we have the part printed we will now find out how closely we got to our intended specifications. Attempt to insert the 3d printed sleeve into the Tread link. Most likely it will not fit in perfectly. It will either be too loose or too tight to insert. This is where the glue and sand paper come in.

Too loose? If the part is too loose, add a bead of glue to the outside this way when you insert it will adhere to the Tread tool.

Too tight? On the other hand if the part is too large to fit at all then a little sanding is in order.

Way too loose or too tight? You may need to go back a step to alter the size then reprint to get closer to our target. The good news is this part will cost only a couple of cents to print.

Step 13: Bonus - Get Creative, Add Spare Parts

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I even found a way to add some critical spare parts to the Tread. On my brace I use several BOA cabling systems. Sometimes the cable breaks, leaving me in a jam. I used a zip tie to secure a length of cable to a Tread link.

Maybe you can think of a way to add spare parts for your own gear?...

Step 14: All Done!

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All done!

Comments

kazak4x4 (author)2017-10-10

Glad I stumbled onto this page! I've replied to your video already and love messing with Tread as well. Thank you for sharing your findings.

Pumuggel (author)2017-09-25

An idea to hold the spare bits: place a small neodymium magnet on each side of the bit within the nut driver. it should prevent the bit from sliding out plus you have a (or two) magnets whenever you need them. You can get these from your local hardware store or at any diameter and thickness from aliexpress.com

GoodLegProject (author)Pumuggel2017-09-29

Hmmm, how slim do the magnets come?

Pumuggel (author)GoodLegProject2017-10-02

These magnets range from 1mm thickness and 2 mm diameter to anything bigger, whether round or square shaped.

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-09-25

That looks really useful

Thank you :) It's a game changer for me. Now no matter where I go, I always have the tools to fix my brace.