One of Peter’s great advances to his tool designs is the addition of the captive bit system. The system incorporates a series of o-rings that like the name entails captures and holds a ¼ inch driver bit into the frame of the pocket tool. This simple design is quite ingenious and does the job rather well; it’s definitely a nice way to carry an extra bit without having it loose in your pocket. One design in particular I want to focus on is the Atwood Nibble. The Nibble is a close cousin to other Atwood pry tools in respect that its main duty is for prying and the other features are just extra Atwood goodness.
The first hurdle a person faces when trying to get their hands on an Atwood tool is the fact they are not mass produced. Because they are not manufactured in a big shop they are much harder to find. Peter’s tools are made by hand in his shop and they are only available through his website or through some third party vendors and folks reselling them. You have to keep you eyes peeled and time it just right to have your chance at purchasing an Atwood. When and if you do find some Atwood’s to buy you have your next hurdle; price. Because Atwood tools are custom hand crafted pieces, the cost of them is reflected in the hard work that is put into them. When purchasing your first Atwood piece you probably want to start out small and then work your way up. Course there are those folks who have one particular tool in mind and won’t accept any substitutes.
The absolute lightest tool I have that packs the most punch for its size is the Bottlebug. It’s very thin compared to most Atwood tools but is strong for its weight thanks to the use of high end stainless steels by Crucible. It’s called the Bottlebug because it’s designed to be a very lightweight bottle opener that sports some other functions to boot.
When looking for an Atwood tool, there are three features that are a must when I am looking for a multipurpose pry tool. My first is strength; the tool must be strong enough to replace the need for using my normal multitool. For instance, you could use the large screwdriver on a Leatherman to do some prying but it would not be strong enough, that is where the pry tool comes in. Second is versatility; the tool must be able to sport more than one function and handle different tasks well. If all I do is pry with it, then I feel the price I pay for it is not justified. My third criterion is size, it must be small enough to fit in my pocket or on my key ring and not be noticed. When I was looking for a tool that fits those things I stumbled upon the Atwrench.
Out of all the tools that Peter has designed, the ones I enjoy using the most are the ones that incorporate some kind of wrench. The wrench design on these tools just adds so much more functionality to the tool and helps reduce overall weight. Simplistic in shape the wrench is in the shape of a "U" and features notches on one side to enable the corner of a hex nut to rest in. When a nut is seated in one of these notches the nut can be turned as easily as using a crescent wrench but without the added moving parts.
Peter Atwood has a knack for designing tools that are quite functional but with a bit of unusual thrown in for good measure. I like his designs in respect that he is not afraid to think outside of the box. The Crawdaddy as it's called is one of those designs. It takes it's cue from some of the wrench designs mixed in with a sense of artistic flair.
When it comes to pocket tools Peter Atwood is the king of the hill. Not only has he helped define the genre but his quality and attention to detail is impeccable. When you look at all of the tools Peter has produced; he has come a long way and has created some great tools that are the essence of form meets function. Of all of the tools he produces, one in particular has been more popular and has seen more revisions than the rest. The original prybaby was the landmark tool that Peter created out of necessity and has become a staple in his lineup to this day. The prybaby is so popular due to its simplicity and no bones approach to a tool that can handle numerous duties.
This being my first Atwood review, I would like to talk about Atwoods in general and why they are not only popular but a good tool to buddy up your other multitools. Peter Atwood as a custom knife/tool maker has made many different items, but his true passion is for small pocket tools. With his artistic eye he creates tools that are both functional and in the eyes of his collectors they are works of art. Getting into Atwood tools can be somewhat difficult, the first problem is acquiring one after you get over the initial sticker shock. Atwood tools can start at $40 and work their way up to the hundreds, they can be bought directly from Peter in a process called “lotteries” where you put your name into a hat so to speak and names are drawn randomly or you can go to one of the various knife forums on the internet and see if any are for sale.
With pry tools and pocket gadgets being all the rage these days, most folks look to the big guy Peter Atwood. There is however someone else who is very close in quality and can make the tool you want with a quick turn around time. Peter use to make tools on a as needed basis but he got so overwhelmed that he ended up doing runs of particular tools instead. Folks now had to wait till he would make another run of something, if in fact he ever did decide to make that model again. This is not the case with a fellow named Joshua Rice at JDR Knife and Tool. Joshua produces various kinds of both knives and tools and makes them to order out of his shop in Fischer, Texas.
When you think of pocket and key chain tools the first name that comes to your mind is Peter Atwood. There is such a following for these miniature works of art that they become incredibly hard to find and sometimes you pay more than you would if you get them directly from Peter. I knew there had to be some folks out there besides Peter and I went on my quest to find other pocket tool manufacturers. What hit me were there a quite a few folks who either make tools full time or dabble in them a little as a side project. Most of them are folks who no longer make them and getting your hands on one is next to impossible. But alas there is hope; I came upon a gentleman named Ray Kirk who runs rakerknives.com. Ray is a custom knife maker who makes fixed blades as well as some folders; his new found love though is for a tool he called the Raker Ring Tool.
What kind of people would write collect and review multitools? Quite simple really- we are designers and do-ers, outdoors types and indoor types, mechanics, doctors, problem solvers and problem makers. As such, we have, as a world spanning community, put every type, size and version of multitool, multifunction knife, pocket knife and all related products to every test we could manage in as many places and environments as there are.