Mamerto Adan is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. He loves toys and knives. He also has a martial arts background.
Just excuse the clickbaity title guys. And if you want to get straight to the point without going through all of these, just scroll down and head straight to the conclusion below.
Some people think that keychain tools are mere toys. They are right at some point. I mean if one already owned a full sized multitool, why bother buying those little widgets. What’s more the small sizes of these little metal shards made it hard to work with. There are keychain tools though that delivered what they promised, like the Leatherman Brewzer. But when going for the lower end widgets, I found that they are more as gimmicks. The screw drivers and other implements won’t work as intended. I have one that includes a carabiner, but the size is not right to hold my keys.
Nevertheless I still owned a handful despite of the shortcomings.
They are not perfect as tools, they are small and awkward pieces of metals; but they do have their uses. Some keychain tools are good prybars despite not being designed as one. And after years of sporting these metal shards on my belt, it’s my pocket knife that benefited the most. As it turns out, an edged keychain tool complements my blades well as what you will see below.
The Keychain Tools I Owned
I actually owned three of them. Together with my trusty Olight, these widgets are always ready in my key rings. I don’t mix my keychain tools with my other keys for easy deployment.
Above is my first keychain tool. I fell in love with the DoohicKey Key Tool the first time I saw it on the store display. Firstly it’s cheap. In our store it costs no more than five dollars. Hence if you lost it, no biggies! What’s more this sleek and shiny piece of tool is a thing of beauty. It looks good on my key ring, though it’s not much of a performer. The tool includes a ruler, bottle opener, blade, screw driver, carabiner and multi sized wrench. Among the implements, only the bottle opener works well though the blade could cut.
The Swiss Tech Utili Key works far better than my DoohicKey. The tool itself is a combination of a flat screwdriver, a Philips screw driver, a micro screw driver, blades and bottle opener. I always use this keychain tool and it works given that it will never be pushed beyond light tasks. By the way, it scared some officemates when it is fully opened. They reckon that it resembles a mini dagger (quite an imagination they have).
Lastly in my mini arsenal is my personal favourite. The DoohicKey Skull Key looks like a weapon. It had this aggressive skull perched on this hooked blade-like implement. It resembles a WW2 thumb dagger, but it’s not intended as a weapon. Try as I might, this thing sucks as a stabbing tool. Yet it does its job quite well as a bottle opener, a screw driver, a scoring tool and a file. It also has blades intended for cutting but it needs some sharpening first.
Now you might be wondering why I spent 300 words of my article showing off my keychain tools. Now you might have noticed that they have something in common which will be discussed below.
My Preferences for Keychain Tools
Noticed something? All of the widgets I owned sports blades. I tend to judge a keychain tool based on how well its blade performs. Of all of my minitools, the Swiss Tech Utili-Key has the best blade. It had a combination of plain and serrated edge, plus an inside edge which serves as a wire stripper. Again it won’t match a knife when it comes to cutting prowess. The blade is not so sharp but again it does what it intends to do.
The Skull Key comes in second when it comes to best blade design. The edge is dull; even duller than the Utili-Key. The serrated edge won’t cut paracord unless it’s sharpened. But again it was never intended for heavy cutting and being a box opener is enough for this little beauty.
Sadly the blade of the Doohic Tool Key comes as the worse. The blade is simply too small, and too dull. So dull that you could scratch your arm with it and you won’t suffer a cut.
Again all of my keychain tools are bladed. They are not exactly meant for hard-core cutting that a full knife can do. They are limited to light tasks, and this is why I got them in the first place.
They Serve As The Primary Beater Blade
My knives aren’t expensive. In my blade arsenal I got a Leatherman Crater, an Ontario Rat 1, Opinel no.6, a large Old Bear and a Mora Companion. They are cheap beater blades that are meant to be soiled. They are for heavy tasks, in cases of emergencies and sometimes as a weapon. I need their edges to be as sharp as possible, and with my day job keeping me busy I don’t have unlimited leisure time. And in order to help keep the edges, I won’t use my knives just for any task. I don’t like the idea that my blades will get dull just because it spent its days as a box cutter, cardboard cutter or any other common tasks. My knives’ edges are reserved for emergencies and if an everyday office need comes, I will reach for my keychain tools instead.
Again my keychain tools lack scary sharp edges, but the everyday tasks of cutting tapes or boxes don’t really required heavy cutters. For my everyday cutting task my keychain tools are my front liners. They are the first ones I will reach, and I will only use my knives for heavy slicing. In this way I save a lot of sharpening time as my blade remains in a ready state.
Keychain Tools Stopped Me From Prying With My Knives
This is the constant habit of novice knife owners; we are told to never pry with our knives and I almost did it with paint can. I almost damage a tip and turned my knife into folding screw driver. It almost happened again when a friend borrowed by blade and I caught him trying to pry heavy staples.
In order to save my blades, two of my keychain tools have prybar tips. Well the Doohic Key was never meant to be one, but as I discovered it makes for a good paint can opener or heavy staple remover. The Skull Key does it better, as it had narrow tip that could go to tight places. They are not proper prybars and I plan to get a real one. But the fact that constant prying failed to damage them meant they are great substitute for a knife tip.
Just to sum it up, a nice keychain tool will benefit your knife in two ways:
- Since it does all the basic cutting, it will save your knife’s edge from being overused.
- Keychain tools with prybars make a good substitute for knife tips.
In the end the tiny widgets in your keychain may not be so useless at all.