The Swiss Army Knife Is Iconic, And Over The Years It’s Featured Many Different Tools. Most Are Useful, But Some Are Just Plain Odd.
The Swiss Army Knife has become a utilitarian icon. Manufactured by Victorinox, and formerly Wegner, the knife got its name due to American GIs in World War 2 being unable to pronounce the proper German name of the name, the Offiziermesser, which translates to “officer’s knife.”
Traditionally clad in red, the color of the Swiss flag, the knife is a versatile multi-tool filled with different implements ranging from knives and screwdrivers to corkscrews and nail files. Below is a selection of some of the most useful tools in the Swiss Army Knife and some tools that are a bit more unique.
The Original Tools
The first Swiss Army Knife, simply called a Modell 1890, featured four tools. Those four are still a part of many SAK models today and immediately come to mind when you think of the tool.
Spear Point Blade
While a larger Swiss Army Knife may feature multiple blades, every model will feature a spear point. An icon in its own right, the SAK spear point will appear on the largest models all the way down to tiny ones meant for keychains.
Made of stainless steel, the spear point can cut thread just as well as it can cut meat. However, I wouldn’t want to butcher much with one that’s keychain size.
The reamer is probably the least-known of the four original tools but is no less important. It is two functions. The first is to drill small holes into wood to give screws a head start. The second is to help with sewing. The hole in the middle of the tool is meant to be used to slide thread through to help give a stable anchor point while sewing materials together.
While this might not be the most necessary tool today at home, it’s incredibly important for a soldier on the march or on the battlefield.
Nowadays you can find some Swiss Army Knives with as many as four different screwdrivers inside. They all can tie their lineage to the screwdriver that made it onto the original model. Important for a soldier trying to fix a rifle in battle, important to a homeowner trying to reinstall an outlet cover in the kitchen, the screwdriver is one of the implements that sets the SAK, and other multi tools apart from other types of tools.
Yet again, a great all-rounder tool with military use in mind. A can opener is a necessary tool for a soldier to have in the field to open rations. While most homes today have either a crank or an electric can opener, the original handheld version still remains in many Swiss Army Knives.
Other Necessary Tools
Some of the larger Swiss Army Knives today have as many as 15 layers and dozens of tools inside of them. As the knives have grown larger, so has the roster of tools within them. These may not be the originals, but they sure are just as useful.
Needle Nose Pliers
Great for prying and pulling things apart, the needle-nose pliers are a standard tool in the larger SAK models. As the knives became more and more associated with outdoorsmen and tradesmen, the tools evolved to meet those demands.
Made of stainless like so many of the other tools, it’s a great pair of pliers, and the fact that they fold away into the knives makes them invaluable when you’re outdoors.
Over the years the SAK has grown to include multiple types of saws. The main two are a wood saw and a metal saw. The wood saw is a smaller version of a classic handheld saw, great for cutting small pieces of wood or through small, thin brush.
The metal saw features files on both sides, which compare to a standard, flat file. The serrated edge is analogous to a hacksaw. It will cut through metal, but it’ll take a while to do it.
What’s better than a pair of scissors? If you’re looking to cut paper or fabric, not much. That’s why scissors are included today on the largest Swiss Army Knife (38 tools) and the smallest (seven tools).
Like the majority of the other tools, it’s made of stainless steel. Of course, they are quite small so it’ll take a minute or two to finish cutting, but when you need scissors no other tool can match up.
Currently a standard tool on the smaller SAK models, the toothpick is great because no one likes having food stuck in their teeth. Unlike most of the other tools in the knives, this one is not made from metal. It’s made from hard plastic and slides out of the body of the knife. However, it is easy to clean and stow back away so while it may seem like a reusable toothpick might not be the most sanitary tool, Victorinox has engineered it in such a way that it is easy to disinfect.
The Outrageous Tools
Over the years there have been plenty of tools in the Swiss Army Knife that range from maybe being a bit overkill to being completely out of left field. Two of these are still available on some SAK models while the other tools are just relics of bygone knives.
The cigar cutter is the most eye-catching tool from the past. Cigar smoking isn’t as popular as it was, but there were once five models of Swiss Army Knives that featured a cigar cutter. It was unique because it was not spring-loaded. It featured a lever that would slice the cigar with a blade like a guillotine.
Toilet Paper Holder Key
That’s not a joke. A limited number of Swiss Army Knives in Europe were made with this incredibly specific tool to open industrial paper towel holders in public/commercial bathrooms.
You’re reading that right. Some knives feature a pharmaceutical spatula. This tool is meant to stir ointments and creams as well as safely move pills into bottles. It’s as specific as it gets when it comes to tools on a Swiss Army Knife. Well, there might be one tool more specific.
If you’re a farrier and need to clean out some horse hooves, there’s a tool for you. The small hook features no sharp edge so as to not hurt the horse as you clean out their hoof before putting on a new shoe.
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