You invested in the multi-tool you’ve been drooling over. You get it dirty, use the tools, complete some projects, and feel good about it.
Now it’s time to clean and maintain that tool so that it serves you for years to come.
General Cleaning of Your Multi-tool
If your Leatherman has been exposed to salt water or marine environments, it should be thoroughly rinsed in fresh water, dried, and lubricated with a water-displacing product.
If stains or rust spots appear, refer to the Rust and Corrosion section below for removal tips.
If debris or sticky substances have accumulated between the blades, your Leatherman may also be cleaned in a mild solution of detergent and water. Always dry it completely and apply a little bit of oil or WD-40.
To remove tar and similar substances, clean your Leatherman with turpentine or other mineral spirits. Do not use chlorine products.
After cleaning, dry your Leatherman and apply a light machine oil or a water-displacing product (WD-40 is commonly recommended) to force out moisture trapped in the joints. This also helps protect the tool from further corrosion and sticking.
Sharpening Your Blades
Leatherman products feature knife blades that may be straight-edged, serrated or both.
Sharpening methods vary depending on the type of knife in your Leatherman product. Note that serrated edges should not be sharpened in the same manner as straight edges.
Straight-edged blades can be sharpened using any standard equipment, including whetstones, rods, and various kits.
To sharpen a serrated blade, be sure to use a sharpening system specifically designed to accommodate serrated edges. A proper sharpening method will maintain the curvature of the serrations. Sharpen serrated blades only on the edged side; sharpening the flat (back) side of the knife will cause the serrations to wear away, reducing the knife’s effectiveness.
Corrosion and Rust
All Leatherman products are manufactured from 100 percent, high-grade stainless steel. (Exception: Screw bits for the tool adapter are made of tool steel.)
But stainless steel isn’t rust proof; it’s corrosion resistant. Depending on the mix of metal alloys, stainless steel may be highly corrosion resistant and relatively soft (like kitchen flatware), or it may be somewhat corrosion resistant and quite hard. Leatherman products are fabricated from the latter type, so your tool components are strong, and the knives retain a sharp cutting edge.
Consequently, corrosion can occur in the absence of proper maintenance. Your Leatherman product should be cleaned, dried and re-oiled periodically to inhibit rust and corrosion. This is especially true if you use it in a damp or marine environment.
After cleaning, re-oil pivoting areas with a light machine oil or penetrating type substance such as WD-40. Buff stained surfaces with a polishing cloth or non-metallic abrasive (e.g., Scotchbrite pad or soft bristle brush).
Now you’re a true Leatherman owner.