Today I’ll tell you a little about my experience with the Leatherman Wave multitool, the most successful product of the Leatherman line and one of the most emblematic multitools of the last decade.

With more or less the same features as the Leatherman Charge, the Wave has a much more affordable price. With its 10cm of closed length, 241 grams of weight and 7.37cm straight blade, the Leatherman Wave is a very robust, comfortable multitool with an excellent set of implements at your fingertips.

 

Single hand blade access

The pliers and the blades can be opened with one hand and completely blindfolded. The tool has marks on the blades to help locate the opening point just by touch. The serrated blade can be differentiated from the straight blade because its textured back.

It can also be closed with one hand, which I have found very useful when I have a busy hand or my visibility is limited. This might usually not be taken into account when buying a multitool but this simple feature makes the Leatherman Wave very special and, to say the truth, the blade opens and closes better than in many expensive single blade knives I’ve used before.

The Wave is very comfortable to use in different angles and positions. It adapts to different working conditions, and the highly accurate pliers allow to work in small areas with a good comfortable grip.

Another quality, exclusive of this brand, is the ingenious lock system that prevents the opening of any implement when the pliers are in use, minimizing the risk of injury. In fact, this multitool locks all its parts, which allows you to apply maximum force and still be safe of any accidental closures or from pinching your fingers.

 

Functions

  • Pliers with
  • cable cutter
  • wire cutter
  • 420HC steel blade
  • Steel serrated blade 420H
  • Saw for metal with
  • thick file for metal or wood and
  • Diamond-coated file for polishing or sharpening
  • Wood saw
  • Scissors
  • Interchangeable tip screwdriver
  • Fixed screwdriver
  • Small screwdriver for glasses
  • Bottle opener with
  • can opener and
  • wire strippers
  • Ruler (inches and centimeters)
  • Key ring
  • Leather or nylon sheat

 

Carrying the Leatherman Wave

The optional clip and keyring are both detachable to adapt to your carrying needs. The sheat is almost an accessory in itself. Available in nylon or leather, it is designed to keep the tool closed or open, according to your preferences which is something very practical when in use.

It has pockets in which you can add more utensils, such as the extensions offered by the manufacturer, the Bit Kit or the Bit Extender, a small flashlight that’s always needed when working with poor lighting or inside appliances.

The Leatherman’s screwdrivers have interchangeable heads that can be removed simply by pulling them, and they are stored in a plastic case that is carried in the same sheat.

I recommend expanding the variety of tips with the Bit Kit, a very cheap accessory that provides heads for almost everything you can find. The only drawback, common to many multitools,  it’s the screwdrivers are just too short, preventing them from being used in narrow places. This can be solved with the practical Bit Extender accessory.

Something that you have to keep in mind is that you have to perform some maintenance to the Wave. Even though it’s made of stainless steel, some pieces can rust superficially (normally it can be removed with a simple cloth) if it is not cleaned a bit after use. This is normal in many tools. If you have been sweating a lot when using it, or you have opened a can, you better clean it before storing it, or you will find rust spots when you pick it up next time. A quick wipe and a few drops of oil are always a good idea.

The Leatherman Wave Pliers

As for the wire cutter in the pliers, it’s worth noticing the different points for cutting: close to the axis, there is the hard wire cutter, and further away, the plain wire cutter. Trying to cut hard wire with the design for softer cables can damage the tool. Anyway, very hard steels such as hooks or piano wire should be avoided as much as possible. In any case, it’s always possible to buy replacements for the wire cutter edges in case they get damaged.

Sharpening the blades it’s not hard, but seeing the steel types are 154CM, 420HC or S30V, you might wonder “how can I sharpen that?”, but I must admit they are fairly easy to sharpen.  The serrated blade might present a bit more difficulty, which is common with serrated blades, but it does not usually matter since this type of blade takes much longer to lose its edge.

What could be improved?

If we are nit-picky, we can notice that the hard wire cutter doesn’t fully close, leaving a small gap when the pliers are in complete contact; seems to work fine. Rigid cables clip easily in two with enough pressure and, in case they don’t, you can finish the job by bending them once. Actually, this might be the case with any pair of long nose pliers as well.

More of a wish than a complaint: The Leatherman Wave has some reduntant tools.  It shares this with other designs of its own brands and of other manufacturers as well. In my opinion, some parts of the tool only take space. I would have really liked to have an awl or a chisel instead of the fixed screwdriver for instance. I find it a little absurd, considering that it already has the interchangeable screwdriver tips. There is also the small screwdriver for glasses or electronics: with a simple adapter it could have also been part of the Bit Kit.

In short, and to end this with a sweet note, I must say that we surely stand before one of the most recommended general-purpose multitools in the market; a well-deserved classic that has many years of battle-proven competitive life. Since the last update to the Wave design, it is undoubtedly the option that I recommend to the buyer who is looking for the best quality-price ratio. Years ago, when I wanted to buy a multitool for everyday use, I went for the Leatherman Charge because it was the only model with the interchangeable tips; but if I had to buy a multitool again, I would definitely choose the Leatherman Wave without hesitation.

Pros

  • Good design, complete and versatile
  • Well equipped and expandable without big expenses
  • 25 year warranty

Cons

  • Redundant tools
  • File hardness could be improved

Maintenance of the Leatherman Wave

As mentioned earlier, all you need is an occasional blade sharpening when necessary and an oiling the points indicated in the user manual. I recommend oil with Teflon, the type that is used for bicycles, because it provides better protection. It is important not to keep it wet, after having used it in humid environments or with very sweaty hands: it could rust. In case it is very dirty, which can accelerate wear, it can be washed with a brush with not very hot water and soap (dishwasher is a good choice for dissolving grease), then apply some oil again.