Friday, June 1, 2012

TT Pocket Tools TT-7 Review

And so, the student becomes the master.

It is that way with Jedi and apparently, it is that way with one piece multitool (OPMT) designers.  There have been one piece gadgets for over a hundred and fifty years.  Here is a particularly cool design:


Yet, Peter Atwood created a market and a design sensibility that pushed these tools into new territory.  The Prybaby was such a cool little idea.  Peter's designs since then have ranged from interesting (the Captive Bit series), to uber collectible (Stellite Mini Son of Pry Thing anyone?), to played out (Ghost).  It has been a while since Peter really made something completely new and interesting.  All of his stuff is excellent--great materials and fit and finish--but there hasn't been something truly innovative from the Atwood workshop in a long while.  And really, what incentive does he have to change?  People scoop up literally anything he offers in seconds so why do something different?

For folks that don't have as rabid a fanbase innovation is the name of the game.  Todd over at TT PockeTTools has done that.  I reviewed a Chopper a while ago and it was a really exciting, game changing little multitool (innovative, well-made, and inexpensive).  It deserved the 20/20.  Todd came up with a new design, the TT-7 and sent me one for a review.  His boundary pushing focus again created at tool that changes things.

Here is the product page for the TT-7.  It is a custom item and thus there is no Amazon page or Amazon reviews.  This is the first written or video review anywhere.  Here is the TT-7 I reviewed:

IMG_0015

Design: 2

You might have noticed the thing that makes this little tool extra special.  In case you missed it here is another shot:

IMG_0021

How about a three dimensional Phillips driver?  AWESOME.  Okay, so it is a three prong Phillips driver, but this thing REALLY, REALLY works.  I was messing around one day with the TT-7 and I took apart the strikeplate on the door in my office at work.  These were massive screws, probably 10 or 12 d screws and the TT-7 really held fast and pulled them out.  The rest of the tool is equally nice.  I like the traction plan a lot and the overall size is perfect both in length and width for the keychain. Here is the TT-7 on my keychain (along with the just review Preon 0):

IMG_0024


Fit and Finish: 2

The raw bar finish is so appealing to me, sort of the same way a stonewashed finish is--it already looks pocket worn and used like the great tool it is.  All of the edges are well-cut and nothing is too sharp, but the jimping is very grippy nonetheless.  I was most impressed by two little details--a sign that things are done right--first, was the ends of the lanyard and second was the grind on the Phillips driver tip.  The lanyard was perfectly heated leaving no stray thread.  The grind on the Phillips head was very even and allowed for plenty of torque--those 2D bits can cam out quite often.  None of that here.  

Theme: 2

As a basic wrench-based OPMT, the TT-7 is really well equipped.  Furthermore, the size of the tool is great for keychain carry completing an always with you, based covered approach to a wrench tool.

Grip: 2

Todd's tools really outshine the competition when it comes to grip.  The twist assist finger grooves and ample, different kinds of jimping make even the tiniest tool virtually undroppable.

Carry: 2

I really loved the Chopper, but it was a bit wide.  Not too wide, mind you, but just wide.  The TT-7, in contrast, does very well on the keychain mixing with all of your keys with ease, even the skinny ones.  I used the lanyard as the hole might have been too small for the coated aircraft cable keychain, but either way, the extra rope gave me extra room to use the tool still attached. 

Materials: 2

The TT-7 is made of 154CM and the lanyard is nice paracord.  I like bout materials a lot, but the raw bar finish on the 154CM is outstanding.  The TT-7 is not quite as thick as the Chopper, but the loss in thickness is okay.  It makes it all the more carry-friendly.  

Deployment/Accessibility: 2

All of the tools are well laid out and the overall tool is quite nice.  Nothing blocks or hinders anything else, which is hard to do on a tool this petite.  

Retention Method: 1

I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating--the attachment point (which is occupied by the lanyard on delivery) is a little thick and can be a challenge to mate with a split ring.  Split rings are my enemy and I am out to make sure everyone converts to something nicer and easier to use.  

Tool Selection: 2

The overall complement of tools is quite impressive for such a small package.  Todd's design has both Standard and Metric box wrenches, a small pry tip/flathead driver seen here:

IMG_0017

the remarkable 3D Phillips driver, and the wrench can be used as a bottle opener.  Additionally, the edge of the pry/driver can be used to pierce packages, though it is not a purpose built snag edge like on the Chopper.  I really like the complement of tools here, all of the bases are covered in a very small and slim package.

Tool Performance: 1

As well-rounded as the tool selection is, the bottle opener and the pry tip are not perfect.  The Phillips driver is so nice I almost still gave the tool a 2 in this category, but I couldn't quite do it.  While using the pry tip a piece of wood got wedged in the lanyard hole.  It might have been a one in a million shot, but it happened, so I am telling you about it.  Second, the bottle opener, the most used item on any OPMT, is not as a easy to use as a dedicated design.  The Chopper's bottle opener was just about perfect.  

Overall Score: 18  out of 20

If you are looking for a OPMT with lots of tools in a super slim package, the TT-7 over something that very few other designs do--a true three dimensional Phillips driver.  For that alone it is deserving of consideration.  The rest of the package is very well rounded and the fit and finish are outstanding.  I'd like a dedicated bottle opener but that always adds bulk.  For a package as slim as the TT-7 is, you'd be hard pressed to find something better.  Add to that fact this one--the TT-7 is only $36 and readily available and I think this is one of better OPMT out there.  The Chopper is a little more user friendly, but the TT-7 is significantly more svelte.

Want a TT-7 for free?  Todd has authorized me to give this one away, so sign up as a user and post in the comments below.  In a week I will choose one at random and that person will win the TT-7.

39 comments:

  1. i love Todds tools...
    i got the TT-7 10 and its greattttt
    the finish and the quality of the tool are really the best
    you should review also the TT-skull 2nd gen...its neat!!

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  2. I wouldn't mind winning the TT-7. I carry the Chopper on my keychain all the time.

    Yesterday I got the TT-LBT in the mail. The fit is a little tight with some of the bits, but having the option for using the bits when you can't carry a Leatherman is nice.

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  3. I can honestly say, this is the first of these tools I have actually been interested in putting my hard earned money toward. This is nice!

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  4. I keep a chopper on my keychain as well. I would love to give one of Todd's other tools a try!

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  5. Argh. As a non drinker, the TT-7 held a lot of appeal to me, but I couldn't ever bite the bullet. I really wish I had after reading this. Hope I win it.

    Great review as always. And get that Candiru review up! I'm dying to see it.

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  6. I'll have to figure out how to use the opener, but that Phillips head looks fantastic.

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  7. Thanks for the review. Just ordered one.

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  8. amazing selection of tools for such a small OPMT, and I love the finish too.

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  9. Thanks for the review; that looks a really cool and useful tool

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  10. Nice tool... pretty handy... hope to win :)

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  11. I have one of these as well. It is a really neat little tool.

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  12. Thanks for the review! I hope I win so I can try it out.

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  13. Would like to see a video review working this out. Amazingly clever design.

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  14. The Phillips head looks amazing. I have to get one of these things.

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  15. So this guy takes an Atwood design (FunnyBone) adds a Philips head and it is a "game changer". I don't get it. This is a nice tool and I'm glad it exists for all those people who can't get an Atwood. But call it what it is, a mildly improved rip-off of an existing tool.

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    1. This is a really good comment and I am glad Joe brought this up. In the world of OPMT's people seem to assume that Peter Atwood "invented" all of these designs. He made a lot of them better. He made a lot of them popular. My point in showing the old tools in the beginning of the review was to highlight the fact that all of these tools are really evolutionary designs, even Peter's stuff. Isn't the Funny Bone, after all, just a copy of the McFeely's Pocket Wrench, with with two box wrenches instead of one?

      If you go to a tool show or a flea market you will find tons of old tools and if you sift through those you will find quite a few bizarre one piece tools like those shown at the top of the review. Some of them are just cut out pieces of metal. Others are really designed as tools. Some are even throw ins on other tools (like a wrench for a router table nowadays).

      The Funny Bone is significantly larger than the the TT-7. It also lacks a pry edge and both drivers. And the 3D Phillips driver is really different, not seen on anything else, so far as I know. If you consider all box wrenches a rip off the Funny Bone then yes, this is a rip off, but if that is the case then the Funny Bone itself is a rip off of the aforementioned McFeely, which is, itself, a rip off of an even older design, and so on and so forth back into the 19th century and some forever lost to time tool designer (who was probably a Shaker).

      So when I said that this was an innovative tool, I think I was right. It has echoes of the Funny Bone in it, but so to does the Funny Bone borrow from other tools. This is all about an evolutionary process, which is why the intro is as it is. The history of these one piece devices is significantly older than many people, especially Atwood fans think.

      Ever wonder why his designs aren't patented? Its not because he is a super nice guy or because patents are all that expensive. It is because they would not pass the "non-obvious" element of a patent application in light of all of the 19th and 20th century tools that are very similar in design to each other and to his designs.

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  16. The 3-D 3-prong Phillips is a master stroke, this outdoes even the SAK Can-opener design. Additionally, the wrenches add to any bike rider's arsenal. This would upgrade my current plain prybar/nailpuller on my keychain. This is a worthy upgrade.

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  17. Looks like an almost-perfect OPMT - an easier bottle opener (I'm pretty incompetent when it comes to that) would clinch it - for my purposes.

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  18. Good review, I like the vintage opmt's too.

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  19. Love your reviews, as well as your frequency of posting. This piece would be a great replacement for my Pico pry bar with all those extra features. Very cool.

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  20. Thanks for the review on this TT Pocket Tool. Todd is a great guy who actually appreciates the input/feedback of his customers. He is also one the the few maker's who make the time for customer's to make 1 off bladed tools w/ kydex sheaths, custom beads, etc... I am sure that he looks at other maker's tools for ideas(as I assume all do), but he always makes them into his own unique design. Plus, his pieces are readily available, he is always changing up his ideas, he ships immediately and FREE of charge CONUS, really, what more could you ask for! I own a lot of gadgets and more often than not have the Chopper in my pocket. Don't be afraid to email these guys with questions, they are happy to answer them and appreciate the input. Keep the reviews coming, I agree with the above appreciating their frequency! ;-)

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  21. Ooo, another pocket tool. I think that a dedicated bottle opener would certainly be nice, since 8/10 times that's what I'm going to a keychain tool for, but I'm sure this one is decently competent...

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  22. Tony,

    Your comments up to IP protection are fine but I think its worth pointing out a couple of issues with that. In a perfect world with functioning Patent & Trademark legislation a small (with all due respect) business might believe a modicum of protection is in place. In the real world there are more net forces in the opposite direction for a patent to be any form of significant IP insurance.

    To start with many aspects of the P&TM system in the USofA smells of a train wreck. For example look at the dysfunctional software and genetic patent world.

    OK, so assuming the laws work in the idealist's world and compilation and submission costs are trivial, which they aren't, then policing and if necessary seeking a legal remedy are heavy financial burdens to bear if the economies of scale are not big enough.

    No disrespect to your profession ie dealing in courtrooms and the law not patents … just saying even if the invention was patentable there are many other factors that play into whether it is commercially sane to seek that form of IP protection.

    End of rat hole.

    Great to see so many comments. I've quite a few of Todd's tools and they are indeed excellent.

    P.S. Hey Todd - bring back the "TT-Simple Pocket Tool"!

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    1. GC, you are the winner of the TT-7 chosen at random. Send me an email with your address:

      anthonysculimbrene at comcast dot net

      Thanks.

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  23. I'm kind of new to this whole EDC world, but this little hunk of metal is intriguing. I could definitely see the value of having this on my keychain.

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  24. Nice little tool just missing the bottle opener!

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  25. Good review.
    Liked your notes on OPMT's and the vintage OPMTs.
    This seems to be a relly nice tool.
    Maybe you should consider a video review or a comparison with other OPMT doing multiple tasks.

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  26. Good review, I'll have to look into OPMTs!

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  27. I have a lot of Todd's tools, and I think he has a future doing what he is attempting, but to compare his work with Atwood at this point is ludicrous. The finish work, the same rawbar on everything, the same steel used for every piece, the blatant ripoff of a previous Atwood design, all bespeak of a chaser, not an innovator. Now his skull tools are truly unique. Why you chose this tool to review escapes me. The only thing appealing at this point is the fact that anyone who wants a TT tool can probably obtain one.

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  28. I want to address Anonymous's comments one at a time. He brings up some good points and I want to address them one at a time.

    First, Atwood did not invent the raw bar finish. Knife makers and tool makers have been selectively unfinishing mental surfaces for design and style reasons for a very long time. The japanned part of many Stanley Sweetheart planes, even those all the way back to the turn of last century, were left raw and then blackened with japanning. This is but one example.

    Second, the steel is a funny issue. The TT-7 uses 154CM, a steel that I do not believe Atwood as used yet (or at least in great quantities). He typically uses S30V or a non ferrous metal. Even if Todd had chosen S30V, I am not sure that would make him less of an innovator. Does this mean that Striders were a rip off of CRK's stuff because at one time they both used S30V?

    Third, again in terms of design, I would point out quite a few features that make the TT-7 different, the inclusion of two drivers and a pry edge for example. As I posted before these OPMTs are all homages of one another dating back many decades. This is an evolutionary not revolutionary process and so the addition of a three dimensional Phillips driver, to me and a lot of people, is a big deal. See my post above for more on this point.

    Finally, I did not choose to review this tool. Todd contacted me and I indicated I was interested. It was Todd's choice in this case as I did not solicit the review sample. I have a pretty liberal review policy (which is basically: send me whatever you want) and I think I have only ever turned down one thing for review.

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    1. I would also like to additionally comment that even Atwood, himself, has used designs of much older one piece tools dating back to the 60s or even before for inspiration. I believe his CrocoNut Wrench, LockNut, WingNut, Crawdaddy, and a few others are "updated" designs, if you will, of much older tools with additional Atwood flair.

      While many of Atwood's stuff is somewhat innovative, in the end, everything is still a remix.

      It should also be noted that some of Atwood's bottle opener designs have a lot to be left for. They often don't work first try.

      (Don't get me wrong, I have a few of Atwood's stuff and I really like them. More collector items than real users, but they do have very good "in a pinch" applications. His f/f is by far the best, IMHO, of any tool out there.)

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  29. I agree, this is a neat little tool. I bought one, but I am not sure how you are supposed to use it as a bottle opener. the sight said to use your finger as a pivot, but I'm not sure what that means.

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    1. I'm confused by that as well! A visual demonstration would really help...

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    2. its not the type of bottle opener your thinking about, its the twist off type, the batches of jimping on the sides grip the cap so it doesnt tear up your hands when twisting off a cap.

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  30. I was hoping for a breakdown of tools per mass again (for the nerdy nerd factor.) Sounds like a solid tool, nonetheless.

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