How to Maintain Your Multi-tool.




About: I work in a D.i.Y style superstore. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not, but it certainly perpetuates my interest in such areas. I enjoy high powered devices of any kind. I do not give in, ev...

Left your favourite Multi-tool outside? Rusted?
Or just not opening smoothly...
Here's how to fix and maintain it.

Your Multi-tool may not be similar... but the same guide can be followed..

What you will need:-

- 1200/800g Wet-n-Dry abrasive paper

- Lubricant preferably teflon based

- Clean dry cloth

- Small container

Let's begin!

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Step 1: Taking Your MT Apart-

When taking your MT apart, especially for the first time, it is important to remember and note which pieces go where...

Believe me, if you get them messed up your going to be there for a while sorting the mess out.

I prefer to take an A4 piece of paper, and line the parts out in order...
This allows us to simply "stack", the parts back into the chassis of the unit..

Begin by locating the fixing mechanism's, which retain the implements..
On my model I have four small bolts...
Some models have a swing arm locking mech..
Locate it and remove the locking system..

Step 2: Removing Implement Stacks

Now we will remove the implement stacks..
Before doing so have a look at how they are stacked, how the finger grips are positioned etc. This will be important when re-assembling the unit...
Take care not to loose the spacer washers if used.

Take the stack out in one piece..
Then line the implements out in the order of the stack..
Write numbers on the paper for reference if needed..

Once we have everying separated, it should be easy to see rust, wear and tear etc...

Step 3: Removing Rust, Grime and Burrs

Now to remove rust and matter not wanted in the unit...

Particular attention, needs to be paid towards the rust...

My tool is stainless steel of a reasonable grade... It still rusted due to a leaky basement..
If ANY rust or tarnish, from the rust is left, it is likely to come back very quickly..
So remove it ALL!

Get some Wet-n-Dry abrasive paper...

Lots of rust- 800g but be carefull not to scratch the stainless steel..
Just light circles until the rust has lots its "thickness".

Finish with 1200g then as follow's

No dense rust/tarnish- 1200g but get too pieces and rub them together to
remove some of the grit... It will turn slightly white... Then small very light swirls till you return it to the stainless.. The closer you get to the bright stainless the smaller the swirls.... We do not want to scratch the finished surface..

Step 4: Lubricating

Now we need to apply some lubrication. In order for our Multi-tool to function smoothly and not attract dirt into the mechanism's causing it to sieze, we need a barrier...
Something I tried a long time ago, was the teflon based lube's. These worked but it was nothing spectacluar... What seems to be fantastic are bike chain lubricant's. Not the cheap stuff, something decent like Rocknroll... Just had some handy one day since I bike alot...

What ever you use I suggest it's teflon based and NOT an oil or grease... These will attract grit and grime from your hands... Remember we often have sweaty salty hands whilst we work.. Not good for stainless steel... Remember it is just "stainLESS" not "stainproof"..

Fill a small container with it and dip the the implements into the lube...
Remove excess with a clean cloth...
Make sure there is only a thin layer remaining... If you are using a teflon based lube, it will leave a white film....Don't worry about this, it will wear off exterior surface area's later.

Give the pliers a good soaking and operate the jaws to let the lube penetrate..
Remove and dry completley..

Step 5: Inserting Cartridge

After each piece, has had a total covering of lube and been dryed it's time to assemble the cartridge to go back into the chassis..

This is where it's going to pay off, that we labelled and ordered the pieces...
Stack the pack of implements back together and insert back into chassis...
If you are un-able to stack it back in one piece, try using the locking bolt/pin and stack them back in one at a time...

Once back inside the unit. Re-tighten the locking mechinism, but not completley...
We need to dip the end of the cartridge, one more time as an assembled unit..

Once the end of the cartridge is completely saturated, work the implements back and forth till all the lube has penetrated and left a thin layer inbetween the implements....

Dry end of cartridge completley...

Step 6: Attaching the Head/pliers

The next step is connect the head, which in my case is another two of my bolts... Your head maybe different but re-attach as you took off.

Make sure everything fits inline and is not skewed in the closed case.

Re-tighten all bolt's completley. Your will notice that the pivoting joint now moves more freely, requiring slightly more tightening of the locking mechanism. This is normal because you have removed the grit and grime...
If you have a reasonable Multi-tool that's all the plier head requires to function correctly.

Step 7: Polish and Your DONE!

To get it nice and shiney, we should probably give it a bit of a polish with some stainless steel polishing compund preferably but standard kitchen polish should do...

Ensure not to get any on the cartridge swivel point....

And your done!!

I would also now put the edges, back onto the blades to finish it of so it's nice and sharp too...
But I won't cover that here there's plenty of ibles on that!

Hope this is helpful..! :)

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132 Discussions


This is an excellent guide. Must of the times I clean all my tools with WD-40 and never had problems with it. I have never done a guide on how to clean tools, so this article gave me some ideas.
I have reviewed this tool at Best Multi tool so you can take a look at it. Thanks


7 years ago on Introduction

I use WD-40 as a solvent in cleaning, then 3-in-1 or some unlabeled can of silcone spray I found in the basement. Unfortunately, my leatherman was not built to be disassembled. But, I find a stiff toothbrush suitable to clean every nook.


7 years ago on Step 7

OR, you could send it back to the manufacturer, they will clean, sharpen, replace broken parts and send it back for free. I've done this a couple times.


11 years ago on Introduction

thats what i did man i sprayed some w-d inbetween my lock knife and it worked forever . i dont know why everybody is hating w-d man i use it fore every thing and it never let me down

8 replies

Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

Oh the humanity! WD-40 has many a good use, unfortunatley none of which include long term lubrication of moving joints. It is an attractant in nature and as a penetrative lubricant lends its self towards having tiny grit and dirt particles adhereing to it. Sure it works great at getting things moving. That's its job. But long term no, it's not what it is designed for and can down right damage delicate or precision pieces of equipment. Statements like "thats what i did man i sprayd some w-d inbetween my lock knife and it worked forver ." don't really help the cause for "good information" as your "forever" may not be accurate. So how long is "forever"? Here's a little test if you need proof. Spray some Wd-40 in you front door lock mechanism and see how long it takes to jamb.... remember great at first but just wait.... (I advise you do not do that , please.)


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

WD_40 is Water Displacing formula number 40, it was developed to keep water away from electrical components in salt water environment. it is a Fish Oil based product and is a very poor lubricant over any length of time as it turns into a very pretty light golden colored semi solid, a reapplication renews the original BUT leads to a thicker covering again when it solidifies. About the only way to remove the golden sludge is another application of WD-40 to loosen the older caked on sludge and then clean it all of with a solvent. Use 3 in 1 oil instead of WD-40 it is actually compounded to LUBRICATE unlike WD-40.

I like rotor oil like the kind used in brass instruments, its primary use is for the long term lubrication of moving joints, a little in my knife and a little in my french horn makes life a lot easier


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

Wasn"t sure where to suggest this but this seems as good as anywhere. For a wunder lube and rust remover you might try Break Free. It's a family staple in our tool room. Good enough for gunsmithing work and really gets into the small places. I brought a rusted chunk of a Victorinox back to life with it.


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

for your info that same lock knife is the one i take out boating and iv dropedin the salt water and it still works fine and forever is about 6 years


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

i agree with Lftndbt, wd-40 just rust remover not for lubricate things

pyro manLftndbt

Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

well lets see...WD-40 stands for water displacement & it took them 40 tries to get it right but yes i agree it is not meant for long term use(its really meant for rust anyway)


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

Yeppers! WD40 is good for a quick fix, but is very bad to depend on for long term lube. It turns to gum, IMO.


7 years ago on Introduction

i think the one thing you might have missed
i do to all my knives and stuff like that is to make sure all the plastic washers are in good shape i broke a couple and replaced them with copper washers that i soaked a bit in oil works great..better than the plastic/Teflon ones cause they don't break theu just wear after a long time


10 years ago on Introduction

Contact letherman, they will replace or repair it for free. They never have asked me for proof of purchase

1 reply

Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

Funny thing about being the sole manufacturer of a product, isn't it? That big "Leatherman" logo on the side, and the fact you own it is proof of ownership. I'm not digging at you or anything - just stating the obvious about things with lifetime warranties. Zippo and many brands of tools (Craftsman, et al.) also spring to mind...