Thursday, February 8, 2018

One More Swiss+Tech Review: the ST33309 Credit Card Multi-tool

This is the last Swiss+Tech (ST) tool review for a while, I promise. I've gone through the ones I have had for a while as well as a couple that I bought just to evaluate, and this is the last of the new ones. Normally people save the best for last, but I decided to give this one a few extra weeks to show its potential and it failed to do so.

The ST33309 Credit Card Multi-tool is a stamped piece of stainless steel that claims to give you 11 tools in a form that you can carry in your wallet. Smaller than a credit card, it comes in a plastic carrying case with a simple set of instructions in English, French, and Spanish. Priced at under $10, it was cheap enough that I added it to my order of the tools I reviewed earlier. Instead of going through a pros/cons list for the whole thing, I'm going to list the 11 “tools” and my impression of each as I go along.
1) Can Opener
A hook and a beveled edge at the top left in the picture makes a somewhat functional can opener. While it will open cans, it is slower than a surplus P-38 can opener and doesn't grip the seam of the can top very well. The main problem with this design is that you have to grasp the tool with your fingers wrapped around the saw blade when using it. That's poor ergonomics as far as I'm concerned.

2) Knife Edge
Located along the top edge in the picture, the knife edge is present but its functionality is questionable: it's a flat blade, with no usable point, so it's limited to “shaving” forms of cutting. As with the can opener, your fingers are likely to be wrapped around the saw blade as you use the knife edge. As delivered, the edge is so dull that it wouldn't cut a plastic bag, so expect to spend some time sharpening it. Since it's still technically a cutting blade, the TSA will likely frown on any attempt to travel with it outside of checked baggage. 

3) Screwdriver
A medium-sized flat screwdriver is on the top right-hand corner in the picture. It works, but the bulk of the tool prevents you from using it on anything recessed very far. The point of the can opener can be used on #2 Phillips head screws, but deforms under any serious pressure. Stainless steel tends to be softer than carbon steel, so that's not surprising.

4) Ruler
Stamped into the steel along the right side in the picture is a functional metric ruler with markings every 1mm for a length of 40mm (about 1 5/8th inches).

5) Bottle Opener
The large rectangular hole at the top with a tongue in it. This is the most useful part of the whole tool, working quite well and is more sturdy than most bottle openers I have tried.

6) 4-size Wrench
Unmarked, but the sizes are 7, 8, 9, and 11mm.

7) Wing Nut Wrench
When was the last time you saw a wing nut that needed a wrench? They're designed to be used with fingers, and if you need a wrench to loosen one the slot along the left side is only about 1/8th inch wide so it will only fit small wing nuts. Again, your fingers will likely be wrapped around the saw blade or the knife edge as you use this tool.

8) Saw Blade
Set along the left-hand side, the saw blade is small (about 1.5 inches long) and will cut through wood. The teeth are stamped in a cross-cut pattern and sharp. Being made of stainless steel, I didn't test it on metal, but it should be able to cut through mild aluminum.

9) Water Compass
This one was a bit puzzling. The instructions say to place the tool flat on the plastic carrying case and fill the round hole (with rudimentary compass marks) with water, then you're supposed to float a magnetized piece of steel wire on the water. The magnetized wire will point towards north. The magnetized piece of steel wire is not included*, and unless you know the trick to floating steel on water (cover it with oil from your skin before trying) this one can be challenging. Since the tool is made of stainless steel, it didn't hold a magnet and won't affect the magnetized piece of wire. Not a very useful addition to the tool in my opinion.

10) 2-size Wrench
Unmarked, but they appear to be 4 and 5mm.

11) Lanyard or Key Ring Hole
Useful if you don't want to lose the tool, which is a judgment call I will leave to you.

Of the five ST tools I've covered so far, this one is the most disappointing. Other than the bottle opener, it has very limited usefulness. It's a cute design, but the designers obviously never tried to use it once it left the drawing boards.With the poorly placed saw blade, you're more likely to injure yourself than get any real use out of this one.

* If you find a piece of steel that needs to be magnetized, there are ways to do it without using electricity. Sliding it down the edge of another piece of carbon steel (not stainless steel), always going in the same direction, will impart a small, temporary, magnetic field on a piece of steel. I may cover this in detail in a future post.

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