Saturday, January 3, 2015

Kobalt Multi Tool a product review



I have decided that I am going to start doing some product reviews. First, I promise to always be honest in my evaluation of anything. If a company gives me a product, I will tell you up front. Even when a company gives me a product to review, it will in no way change the end result. If a product is great I will tell you, if it stinks I will tell you that as well. I am fairly rough on stuff to begin with, but if I am testing something I will really be tough on the product.

Categories

The categories that I will rate will vary from product to product, but will always include price, function, durability, and warranty. There may be other criteria or even sub categories of those listed above. I am going to do my best to provide an in depth review of any and all products. Where and when I can, I will provide video documentation of at least part of the tests so you can see the use of the products.

Grading System

As strange as this sounds I like being a little different. When I decided that I was going to start product reviews I thought about the star system that many companies use. You know what I mean. Amazon for example will give a book 4 starts, eBay uses stars, everybody uses stars. I just couldn't bring myself to do that so here is the grading system and what a review may look like:

Price               
 Durability      
Function         
Overall Score 
The same basic system, but with a touch of who we are. Five being the best and one being the worst. Everyone will still be able to understand what I am saying, but with a rural flair. Sound good? On to the review.

If you have read much of my writing at all you know that I am a big fan of a multi tool. I also know that not everyone can afford to spend $50+ dollars on a tool that they may only use occasionally.

I use a multi tool almost daily. I use it in several ways, mostly at work. I do not necessarily use the tool for its intended design. There are a couple of things that are must haves. If a multi tool doesn't have these I will not buy it, even if everything else is there.

First must have is a can opener. I have seen several that skipped this and I just ask- Why? Because I use it fairly often. Most of the time I pack my lunch for work, but even when I don't, I have food available. It may be a can of soup or canned ham or chicken and crackers. I must have a way to open these cans.

Second must have is a saw blade. I have a folding saw in my backpack, but there are times I only want a small blade and don't want to get out the larger saw. A knife blade is pretty much standard in all multi tools, so I don't even include it on my list, though I must admit I do not think I would buy a tool that did not have a knife blade.

Warranty

For me a warranty is very important. I don't have money to waste on something that doesn't work. When I was looking at purchasing a multi tool, price and warranty were very important. There are several companies that say they have a Lifetime warranty or Limited Lifetime warranty. As I was reading several of the warranties, many of them stated that they warrantied the materials or workmanship of the tool, others had stipulations that made me nervous "improper usage is not warrantied". Improper usage? Of a multi tool? I am not going to use it as a target, but I am going to use it all the time. Kobalt has a hassle free warranty. They mean it, I have put it to the test, it really is hassle free. If you break the tool, take it to a Lowe's, go to customer service and get another. They process the transaction and that is it. Truly hassle free. Warranty score?

Price

This tool has a price point of less than $20.00 which makes it really affordable for really everyone. During certain times of the year multi packs are offered that make the price even more desirable. I talked with one of the guys in the tool department at Lowe's and he told me he can look at the tool and tell me when I bought it. Apparently the style of the tool changes in each of the specialty packs. The one that I first bought was I believe around Father's Day. 

You can tell from the photo that it has seen some use.
Price score?


Workmanship and Quality

If you buy one of the tools by itself the sheath is fairly rigid and works well, if you buy one of the sets that has a sheath that fits the tool and say a knife the quality of the sheath goes down. The belt band stretches, so within a short period of time it will no longer sit neatly on your belt loop. In fact my original sheath's belt loop tore so I had to carry the tool in my pocket. The new sheath I have taken the knife and clipped it on my pocket and have started carrying a small flashlight in it instead. 

The Phillip's head bit is pitiful. I haven't found a screw head that it fits well into. I think it is sized somewhere between and #1 and a #2 bit size. You can unscrew a few things with it as long as the screw isn't too tight, you can put a screw in as long as you are using an existing hole or you are working with very soft wood, if not, you are out of luck.

I work a lot with Phillip's head screws so what did I do? I used the smallest blade bit. I was able to get the screw out, but I bent the blade. In fact I have bent a couple of the slot screwdriver blades. 

The knife blade could be a lot sharper from the package, but is sharp enough to do basic things. You can get a decent edge on the blade using a drag type sharpener (  I keep one like this in my backpack. Smith's CCKS 2-Step Knife Sharpener), but the edge doesn't last very long. In order to get a good edge I had to use a whet stone fairly severely (Smith's TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening Stones System).

The can opener, which is one of my must haves, works fairly well but not great. The saw blade works fine. A saw blade is difficult to find in a tool of this price point.
Workmanship and Quality score



Durability

As I have already stated above, I have had issues with all of the screwdriver bits, after a period of heavy usage the pliers tend to become loose to the point that they will no longer cut even semi fine wires, they just crimp them. I have even had one of the screws holding the whole thing together come out and of course be lost.

The set pictured above had blade locks, the new set does not. The blade locks of the set above wound up bending and becoming unusable, that might be why they got rid of them. I do not like having a tool that does not have blade locks, I think I am going to add that to my must haves list. They do the job, most any job, but when you get done you may have to turn them in for a new set.
Durability score



Overall Score

I really want to be fair here. I use this tool a lot. I am sure I use it more than most and as I said above it really comes with a hassle free lifetime warranty. If you need a tool that you are going to use occasionally or you are close to a Lowe's and can exchange when they break this is a good tool. Really good for the price, but if you want something that you do not have to worry about breaking in the first place, you might want to save your money a bit longer and get one of the higher end tools. Even then you might want to keep a couple of these around. They do make a good, not too expensive addition to a backpack.
Overall Score



There you have it. That is my review on the Kobalt multi tool. If you would like to purchase one of these for yourself you can do so HERE (not an affiliate link). If you are promoting a product and would like The Rural Economist to do a review please feel free to contact us at theruraleconomist@gmail.com

I wish you Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

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