The multi-tool as we know it didn’t exist before Tim Leatherman invented foldable pliers—and that was just the beginning.
Like microbreweries and chocolate shops, the Leatherman factory in Portland, Oregon, offers public tours. Visitors come to watch silver ribbons of steel cut into intricate shapes by a massive press that booms like a giant’s footsteps, applying 300 tons of pressure with each stomp. They peer into tumblers filled with synthetic stones that smooth and buff the tools like shells in the surf. But even among these tool fanatics, many are surprised to discover there’s a Mr. Leatherman, and that, like an exceptionally handy Willy Wonka, he’s leading their tour.