Of the wide variety of multi-tools available today, one of the most universally useful is the Leatherman Skeletool. It’s a simple folding plier with wire cutters, a knife blade, bottle opener, bit driver, and storage for an extra bit. It’s not as flashy or feature-rich as some other multi-tools, but that’s what makes it ideal for everyday carry—it’s simple and sleek. The footprint of the Skeletool is about the same as a large folding knife and it features a pocket clip for comfortable carrying. Like any other tool, it’s only useful if you have it when you need it, and the Skeletool is a multi-tool that you’ll have all the time.
- Materials: 420HC Stainless Steel
- Closed Length: 4 inches
- Open Length: 6 inches
- Width: 1.24 inches
- Overall Thickness: 0.52 inches
- Blade Length: 2.6 inches
- Included Bits: Phillips #1 & #2, Flat driver 1/4-inch & 3/16-inch
- Weight: 5 oz
I never really carried multi-tools on a regular basis (I always just carried a pocketknife). My buddy Frank did, though, and I found myself constantly asking to borrow his when we were out in the field. After getting the Skeletool, I haven’t looked back. It’s a tool that I use several times a day. But as useful as the stock Leatherman Skeletool is itself, there are some aftermarket parts that can make it even more useful.
My gateway into aftermarket add-ons for the Skeletool was in the form of a link someone sent me to the Skelpel, made by Metro Grade Goods and sold on Shapeways. It’s a stainless-steel 3d-printed scalpel blade adapter that replaces the knife blade on the Skeletool. It hosts the same blades that popular replaceable-blade knives like the Havalon uses and folds up just like the original knife blade. Swapping out the blade for the Skelpel is fast and easy with a T8 Torx bit.
Being 3d printed—and just $23—the Skelpel requires a little bit of finish work by the user. The printing doesn’t produce fine work the way precise machining does, so a little bit of file fitting will likely be necessary to smooth out some of the burs and get the blades snapping into place properly. The only downside to having your scalpel knife and pliers as one is that pliers are one of the best tools for swapping blades easily and safely. If you want to change blades on the fly, you’ll have to find something to pry them up and push them off with.
For everyday use, scalpel blades aren’t the most ideal option for a multi-tool—or that’s what they’d come with. But if you are already a fan of the scalpel knives, it might be the ticket for hunting applications where you’ll already be carrying your multi-tool. Although I carry the normal blade in my Skeletool for everyday life, I’ll quickly swap it out and use it on hunting trips.
An even more useful add-on for the Skeletool is the Hammer/Jammer. Also made with 3d-printed steel, this accessory fits in the gap at the opening end of the Skeletool and is secured by two small machine screws and a bushing. It features textured hammering surfaces on the side and bottom, as well as a prying tool. It also has 3 different-sized hex receivers and a receiver for Leatherman’s flat bits in the bottom.
The Hammer/Jammer installs easily, but like the Skelpel it requires a little bit of finesse finishing for a perfect fit. A tiny file or Dremil bit can be used to smooth out the various bit receivers that have a rough finish from the printing process.
A universal application of virtually any multi-tool is going to be banging on stuff, and the Hammer/jammer significantly strengthens the frame of the Skeletool. It takes advantage of otherwise un-used space in the tool and fills the gap between the frame at the top of the bottle opener, all the way down to the spacers on either side of the plier jaws. You won’t be hammering railroad spikes with it, but over eight months of having one, I’ve found it to be incredibly handy.
Don’t underestimate the “jammer” part of this tool, which features a small wedge/prying tool that is useful for several tasks you’d otherwise be subjecting your pocketknife blade to. Opening paint cans, adjusting scope turrets, you name it. My buddy Frank does tile work for a living, and he finds it extremely useful for leveling and gently tweaking tiles. The prying edge isn’t super fine, but you can easily file it down to whatever shape or profile you need.
If the Hammer/Jammer doesn’t suit your needs for a Skeletool accessory, the Wedgey Bar just might. If you do a lot more prying than hammering, this is what you want. It installs and fits just like the Hammer/Jammer, but instead of a hammering surface, the Wedgey Bar is a long, wide wedge. It also features a claw for pulling small nails and a couple of hex-bit-fitting holes. As a prying tool, it’s stronger than the Hammer/jammer, and the direction of prying is more rigid considering the Skeletool’s frame design.
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All these add-ons add a unique and valuable utility to an already incredibly useful tool. With the ones that suit your needs, you’ll find yourself using them often.
The biggest drawback of these 3d-printed tools is the fit and finish. They all need to be somewhat fine-tuned by the end user before they’re fully ready to roll.
After buying and using these three add-ons for the Skeletool, I can confidently say that they’ve added to the utility and strengthened the usefulness of the multi-tool. Aftermarket add-ons sometimes carry a stigma of being gimmicky junk. That’s not the case here.
These are just the tools I have used myself, and the company makes various other aftermarket tools for the Skeletool and other Leatherman multi-tools as well. If they’re as useful as these ones, they’re worth getting.