Originally published: September 2, 2009
Since, well almost forever, I have carried a small Swiss Army Knife with me. I like the “Classic”. It is small and has a knife blade, nail file/screw driver, scissors, toothpick and tweezers. You can find them in about a dozen colors anywhere for about ten dollars. It is my favorite Daddytool.
If you are new to parenthood, or just happen to be in a Babies-R-Us, or even the right department at Target, you will find the baby nail clippers. These are very cute. They have tiny little cutting edges and some of them have cute little storks or baby rattles on the handle. The whole thing is about one inch long. Perfect if your offspring could work the thing with their cute little hands. The baby clippers are also about the poorest made of all nail clippers. Considering that the 'standard' nail clipper can be bought for about a dollar, it makes you wonder what is in a cheap one. Unfortunately, parents need to use these things. Trying to use a tiny, poorly made clipper while holding a wiggling, possibly screaming infant and both not injure the child and trim the nail that just took a four inch gash out of your arm is quite a task. I have, what could politely be called bear paw hands. Working one inch long clippers is not in the cards for me. There are some people that wonder how I held little babies without breaking them. Using these insanely small clippers would be worth the effort if they could make a decent cut. But, like any cheaply made knife, they do not cut very well at all.
Enter the Swiss Army Knife. The scissors (on Victorianox knives) are very sharp. They come to a nice point. The scissors blades are very thin. You can trim nails in a breeze. The only thing is you do need to not stab your child and somehow convince them that you are not going to cut their fingers off. The scissors are perfect for trimming those cute, razor sharp nails. The Classic has a nice little blade, perfect for the dozen plastic seals on toys and medicine bottles. You do know there will be a crying child at your feet when you need to open a brand new bottle of baby Tylenol. Some where some one decided that the battery compartment on children's toys needs to screw shut. Hey, I have a screw driver in my pocket that works pretty well those little doors. The only drawback is that the screw driver is too big for eyeglass screws. Oh well, nothing is perfect. No dad should be without.
About ten years ago I switched from the classic to the “Manager” in translucent green. Sadly, the green has been discontinued. The Manager ads a bottle opener ( you never know when you will be faced with an angry beer bottle and need to defend yourself.) and a Phillips screw driver to the classic and trades the toothpick for a ball point pen. You do not want to do your homework with the pen, but it does work when you need to write down the number of “a great babysitter.” The Phillips blade fits most of the computer screws I need to undo at work and works perfectly on the battery doors on toys.
There are two Swiss companies that make “Swiss Army Knives”, Victorianox and Wegener. Victorianox is the “Original” Swiss Army Knife maker, and Wegener was the “Official” Swiss Army Knife maker. Both Victorianox and Wegener supply knives to the Swiss army. In 2006 Victorianox acquired Wegener and now sells both brands. In 2007 the Swiss government began the bid process to replace the knife issued to the Swiss Army. The “Soldier's Knife” had been in service since 1961. Victorianox won the contract and the “New Soldier Knife” began being issued in 2008.
Most days, I also carry a multi-tool at work. Chances are, you know a multi-tool as a Leatherman. Tim Leatherman thought up the idea of a “boy scout knife with pliers” while traveling in Europe in 1975 with a junker of a car. He received a patent in 1981 for the first “Leatherman”. It may seem odd, but in IT there are a lot of cardboard boxes to open. There is also a need for pliers and a bigger screw driver than on the Victorianox Manager. I like the Gerber multi-tool better than the Leatherman. The main thing is that most Leatherman's have the tools opening on the outside of the pliers handles. The nice smooth sides face the inside. I find this uncomfortable. The Gerber tools have the tools on the inside. There is also a price premium for buying a Leatherman. Several years ago Gerber purchased Fiskars. Fiskars originated scissors with ergonomic handles. For years they held the patent on the design and the distinctive orange handles. The merger of Fiskar and Gerber means that most Gerber multi-tools now come with a very good set of scissors, although, given their location on the tool, they are not as useful as they could be.