Multi-tools are a common sight these days. Whether they are for EDC, survival kits or just using around the house and home these are invaluable tools with tons of uses. There a hundreds of styles and brands as well. For this Instructable I will be using a Leatherman Sidekick, but most any mulitool should work. This Instructable doesn't require permanently altering the tool so the warranty will remain intact. All you need is a trusted multitool and a little bit of time. Lets get started.
Step 1: Bigger, Better Screwdriver
Almost all multi-tools have a variety of screwdrivers on them. The one limitation is that the multi-tools are to often short and wide to fit into small places. This quick fix makes the handle much longer and thinner. First you must make sure that the screwdriver opens from the inside of the multi-tool (most of them do this anyways). Now open the tool as if you were going to use the pliers and open the screwdriver that you wish to use. Next take the handle that doesn't have the screwdriver on it and flip it back up so that one jaw of the pliers is in the handle. Now squeeze the pliers shut and you have a new extended screwdriver. Hold it by the handle with the pliers in it so that the reach is maximized. The grip is actually comfortable and the length is doubled. If this explanation was confusing refer to the pictures. This also works with any other tool that opens from the inside of the multi-tool. I added a picture of an extended version of the serrated knife on my tool as well.
Step 2: Better Handles
Have you ever been working with something small or something in a tight gap? Sometimes I wish the handles on my Leatherman were just a little bit longer so I could reach just a little farther into that gap. This quick fix eliminates the problem. Once again open the tool as if you were going to use the pliers. Now open all the tools in the bottom of the handle (the ones that open from inside the tool). On my Leatherman these tools are a flathead screwdriver, a Phillips head screwdriver, a serrated knife, a can opener and a file/ruler/screwdriver thing. Once all these tools are open put any tool with a blade on it back into the handle. For me this would be the knife and the can opener. Next fully extend the other tools. Now the only tools open are blunt and extending from the handles so I can use them for extra length. Make sure not to exert to much force on these extended handles, they are mainly for light, delicate work in confined spaces. Slipping a pipe or tube over each handle would also serve to lengthen them.
In addition to these extended handles you can also reconfigure your multi-tool into a pistol grip. As usual you must open the multi-tool as if you wanted to use the pliers. Then open the screwdriver (or other tool) that you want to use. Close the handle that doesn't have the screwdriver open on the pliers and squeeze it shut. The two handles should be at right angles to each other with the screwdriver perpendicular to the pliers. See the pictures for a visual explanation. Sometimes a grip like this can make twisting easier, but it's all personal preference.
Step 3: Firestriker Hack
If you like to camp or start fires with your multi-tool this is a very simple tip that can help you out. If you have a piece of flint without a striker or you don't use a striker this will help too. The rounded back or spine of a knife is not suitable for striking a flint. Some companies grind a flat part into the back of their knives exclusively so that it can be used as a striker, but most multi-tools don't do this. You could file or grind a small flat section on the back of your blade to be used with a striker, but this will void the warranty on the knife. If you choose to grind it be careful not to overheat the blade and ruin the temper. A much simpler way is to use the back of the saw blade on your multi-tool to spark the flint (if yours doesn't have a saw you might have to use the grinding method). Most all saw blades on multi-tools have a sharp 90 degree back that will spark a flint easily. Just hold the back of the saw at about 45 degrees to the flint and quickly run it along the flint to make a spark.
There are other things on a multi-tool that will make a spark as well. A file could work if you use either the file's surface or it's edge. If you have a wire stripper that is sharp that would work remarkably well too. My Leatherman has a combo wire stripper and can opener and both tools work to make a spark. Virtually anything with a relatively sharp edge will make a spark so improvise based on your multi-tool. I have even used the ridges on the tip of the pliers to make a spark.
Step 4: The Power of Pliers
Pliers are the main part of many multi-tools, but the uses for them are so underrated. People often just use them to pick things up or twist things, but there are a few special uses for them. I like to camp and make fires, but matches aren't always the most reliable thing to use. Only about half the match can be burnt before you burn your fingers and matches can snap. Instead of tossing the match or only letting it burn for a few seconds use your pliers! Grab a broken match just below the head with your pliers and strike it on the box. This allows you maintain a firm grip and use otherwise useless matches. To get the match to burn longer after striking it transfer the bottom part into the tip of you pliers and hold it tightly. This will more than double the amount of time that the match can burn for. It is helpful with damp or hard to reach tinder. Another fire related tip. To get small sticks to catch flame easier many people rough up the edges with their knife. These are called "fuzz sticks", but they take a while to make and if I'm in a hurry this method is helpful. Just use the pliers to crush either both ends of the stick or the whole thing. This will expose more of the inner fibers that will easily catch a flame. It also breaks up the sticks which should make them catch faster.
Most pliers have wire cutters on them, but wire isn't the only thing that they will cut. Trimming small branches can be made easier if you just snip them with the wire cutters. You can also partially crush bigger branches so that a knife will cut through them easier. This tip is kind of dumb, but if you don't have scissors you can use the wire cutters to cut string. Keep in mind the ends will be kind of crushed, but it works in a pinch. Also after melting the ends of paracord or other synthetic cords use your pliers to squish and mold the ends so that they have a more uniform shape
Step 5: Final Words
That's it for now. As I come up with more hacks for my Leatherman I will update this Instructable and add on to it. If you have your own hacks feel free to share them in the comments section. Now I wish you good luck and good bye!