Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TT PockeTTools Chopper Review

I am always on the lookout for good tools, whether they are woodworking tools, gear, or electronics gadgets.  Wandering the rows of deals at the Brimfield Antiques Show is really amazing.  I know it sounds awful, but really it is not.  All of the tools and furniture speak to the woodworker in me.  I love the understated beauty and design of a nice Windsor chair.  100-150 year old hand planes are everywhere, some in pristine shape, but more interestingly some are aged with a blanket of rust and wear, showing where someone's hand fit elegantly into the body of the tool.  These tools, these rusted ones, are a few steps away from reclaiming their former glory.  In the hands of someone that knows what they are doing, these rusted tools can be redeemed and restored to impeccable shape.  Many of them are peers or superiors to the tools today because even though they are fifteen decades old, great design never goes bad.

And so it is today--good designs, simple fundamentally pleasing to use designs will never get outdated.  The Parker Jotter is a cheap pen, but it works very well and so fifty plus years after it was first sold, it is still selling well.  And with the one piece multitool, I think good design will win out over tons of features and fancy materials.  Atwood's best designs, in my opinion, are his simplest.  TT PockeTTool's Chopper is just such a design.  It is small, simple, and elegant.

Here is the product page.  I can find no reviews, written or video, of the product.  It is not sold at Amazon, available only through the TT PockeTTool websiteHere is a good post comparing and contrasting all of the TT PockeTTool offers with photos of the TT tools and Atwood tools for scale.  After a few posts about his tools I contacted Todd, the designer and maker being TT PockeTTools and asked him if I could borrow a Chopper for review.  Todd obliged and sent me one.  I have used it for daily tasks for about two weeks, then returned it.  Here is a picture of the Chopper:

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Design: 2

The Chopper is compact, but with curves in the right places, it is easy to get a good grip on the tool.  It is also covered in jimping.  There is fine jimping on the bottom, medium on the top of the bottle opener, and heavy on the rear of the tool.  The thickness of the metal used is an aid in two functions (prying and bottle opening) as well as lending the Chopper a very solid, stout feel.  Even the design choice of leaving most of the body as rough bar stock texture is a good one--it gives the tool a nice look and a bit of extra grip.  The size and weight of the tool are ideal.  Finally, it looks different from many of the tools out there, varying or outright doing away with some of the also-ran design choices exhibited in many OPMTs (compare the "homage" look of the Gerber Shard and the Atwood Prybaby--there are a lot of similarities).  All of this is nice, but it is the innovative "snag edge" box cutter that really cements this tool as a home run.  Here is a shot of the "snag edge":
 
IMG_0020

It is not sharp enough to puncture skin (absent excessive force), but it is sharp enough to cut boxes and tape with ease.  It is a GREAT addition to the suite of tools found on OPMTs.  I am not sure if TT PockeTTools or Pocket Tool X's Brewzer was first with this "snag edge" but either way it is a nice, new and useful design. 

Fit and Finish: 2

The rough bar stock texture is nice, the edges are crisp without being sharp and the two grind faces (the snag edge box cutter and the pry tip) are even and well done.  The jimping, in all three forms, is very purposeful and well cut.

Theme: 2

One of things with these OPMTs is that they have become far too large to carry on your keychain.  The Pocket Tool X Piranha is positively massive, at almost 4 inches long (3.875 inches to be exact).  Many of Peter's tools are bigger than the average key.  But the Chopper is tiny.  This is a huge plus for a OPMT as it allows it to live on your keychain and always be at your side.  The addition of the snag edge is great--it takes the place of your "pokey key", you know, the one you use to open things when you forget a pocket knife.  In addition to the size and the snag edge, the Chopper also has a very large (thankfully) lanyard hole to make easy riding on a keychain.  Its thickness means that you have to use the included paracord lanyard if you use the dreaded split ring, but if you don't.  If you use a coated mechanic's cable, like I do, it works flawlessly.  Everything works very, very well with the keychain theme.

Grip: 2

This is the Chopper's forte.  It reminded me of the first time I used the Mini Grip. I was sort of shocked at all of the jimping.  It seemed a little overboard.  Then I fell in love with the grippiness and I have never looked at the Mini Grip the same way since.  This is the Mini Grip of OPMT's.  It is COVERED in jimping.  This, plus the strategically placed curves, mean you almost have to try to lose your grip.  Even the Chopper's small size can't dent how nice this tool is in the hand.  A masterstroke of design.  

Carry: 2

The two options--lanyard or massive hole in the middle--make this is flexible tool and easy to use, even on the keychain.  Great. 

Materials: 2

S30V and a massive slab of it serve as the steel of choice for the tool.  The Chopper is almost comically thick, as its thickness when compared to its length makes it look a little fat.  Here is a shot of the Chopper next to my RD-7 (3/16" thick blade):

IMG_0012

The Chopper dwarfs even my survival blade's thickness.  Great materials and lots of it.  

Deployment/Accessibility: 2

All of the tools are accessible.  You have to flip things around to get a really good grip for the bottle opener and you are better off using the snag edge when the tool is off the keychain (though it is definitely still useable otherwise).  That said, nothing doesn't work.  In fact, again the curves and the jimping make any grip comfy and all the tools very useful.  

Retention Method: 2

Two options mean you have no excuse not to carry this on your keychain. The lanyard is the standard paracord lanyard. 

IMG_0010

The box wrench hole doubles as a pass through for other material and it was great on my coated cable keychain.  

Tool Selection: 2

I thought long and hard about this score.  I would like a Phillips driver on every OPMT.  That said, this complement of tools is very nice.  I think I might even trade the Phillips driver for the snag edge.  It is really, really handy.  But how can something get a 2 when there is a clear omission?  It comes down to just how handy the snag edge is.  Its funny, I thought I would hate it, but by the end of my testing it was my favorite tool on the Chopper.  Great tool selection, even with one omission.  

Tool Performance: 2

I would give the Chopper a 3 if I could.  This thing just sings at doing work.  It does everything very well.  The pry is useful.  The box wrench is as useful as a box wrench can be.  The snag edge is freaking great.  The bottle opener is nice, though not as good as the bottle opener on the Shard.  

Overall Score: 20out of 20

TT PockeTTools hit a home run on their first swing.  At $26, this is a no-brainer.  If you don't own a Shard and want something nicer, but can't seem to get an Atwood, this is a great buy.  In fact, even if you own an Atwood, the Chopper is more than worth a look.  This is an amazing tool folks.  It works well and speaks highly of the power of good design.  Who knows, maybe in 150 years, someone will find one of these at the Brimfield Antiques Show. 

19 comments:

  1. Very well done review Tony. I can't wait until mine comes in the mail. I am on a waiting list for one of his 4 new knives/OPMT's he has coming out in a month or so. The main thing that grabbed me was the value in the materials used--$26 bucks for S30V steel? Wow. Keep the reviews coming...

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  2. If someone had told me a year ago that I'd find it relaxing to read detailed reviews of little shaped chunks of metal people hang on their keychains, well, I'd have been skeptical.

    Nice review. Interesting that you mentioned the Pocket Tool X Brewzer in passing. I am thinking about dipping a cautious toe in the waters of keychain OPMTs and the Brewzer looks perfect -- simple, well priced, SMALL, and focused on the cap lifter, all of what I want.

    A review would be awesome; maybe a mini-review blurb? It's so small and simple I don't know if it could even fit into the 20-pt scale.

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  3. Excellent review and now I'm a little bummed that i opted for a Schrade Pry Tool a few months back. But such is life. Keep up the good work Tony!

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  4. Man that thing is sweet. 20/20 points not bad at all. The price really blew me away too - if I can find one I would seriously consider a purchase.

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  5. Ordered it on Thursday and it came today! That's $26 bones well-spent. Even if I don't use it much, it is a nice piece of engineering/design/manufacturing to admire.

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  6. Please do more flashlight reviews. Also give Lummi a break..I own a Wee and a Raw Ti BB and prefer them above my Aeon. Great reviews though, even if you are an attorney!

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  7. I am in the process of doing THREE flashlight reviews, including the 40DD and another secret, super high powered light (coming in the mail).

    I would love to do a Lummi review. I have tried a few times to acquire one on the secondary market, with no luck.

    If Rob would send me one I would review it. I just don't trust him enough to buy one for review.

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  8. Cool..I work in Air Ops and need a very good,compact and bright light. I normally use my HDS due to it's durability, but use my Raw and Aeon in tight places. You were dead on with Dragonfly 2, perfect EDC. Check out Three Sisters Forge BEAST. It is excellent and Jim is great! That's about it...take care, my name is Tony as well...sorry about troubles with Lummi, I got both of my lights within 3 weeks and they are the real deal...

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  9. I sent an email to Rob. We'll see what happens now.

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  10. I have been in touch with Jim and he and I have agreed to look at the CCT once he has caught up on his inventory. He was like 8 or 9 months deep in backlogs when I talk to him last.

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  11. One last thing...I just received my Rainbow Killer in the mail today from Fred and it is absolutely lovely. Dealing with guys like Fred, Don and Peter Atwood make it a real treat, they are just true pros and a blast to chat with. Worth saving my hard earned money on...Buy USA made stuff anytime you can!!!

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  12. Is your secret, super high powered light that you talk about above the MBI Torpedo?

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  13. Is this the guy that tried to sell on EDCforums under the name 'Tpan', but was banned for dihonest pre-sales practices, so has now since changed his name to TT Pocket Tools? If so, hopefully he has cleaned up his act and is running an honest ship...

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  14. Thanks for review. I am awaiting for the next batch to grab one.

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  16. They are finally back in stock, but at $50 now I just can't pull the trigger. I'm so disappointed. Waited so long but can't believe the price doubled. Guess I'll just stick with my Shard...

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  17. Got on based on this review. It's a very good pocket tool. However, the lack of a Phillips is a problem. The snag edge is very useful. But without flat and Phillips drivers, this can't be my EDC tool. Opening packages and screws are the primary usage for me.

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