High 5

Written by on September 3, 2012 in Tools with 6 Comments

The 5 in 1 is one of the most common tools that painters carry from day to day. We all know that it has always done more than just 5 things for painters. It pops open the first can of paint in the morning, pounds the lid into the rim on the last one at the end of the day, then cracks the first cold beer. All of the things that it does in between make it the tool that is found in the painter’s hip pocket, hand or kit. If it does these basic tasks day in and day out, it has done it’s job. Pretty much all it has to do is not break.

How Could the 5 in 1 be Better?

In recent years, manufacturers have tried to increase the tasks of the 5 in 1, and some have even ramped it up to about a 14 in 1 with ideas that at times take the function and durability of the tool too far away from its fundamental purpose. Honestly, I don’t need it to be a screw driver or a nail puller. I am more likely to use my 5 in 1 as a chisel to break off stripped screws or bent nails than as a fastening or extracting device, which will at times require pounding on it with a hammer.

I own and use many painter tools, and always have one in close proximity when working, and in the truck when travelling. My all time favorite is a Warner that is probably at least 20 years old now, and has been lost and found more times in the past decade than my emotions can really handle, but has never broken. For the past couple of years I have been looking for the most suitable day to day replacement for the Warner workhorse, so that I can put the old classic on limited duty.

Most In The Pocket

About 3 months ago, I noticed a flashy new flavor in the manufacturer buffet of 5 in 1 tools: The UT Painter’s Multi-tool. This one was invented and marketed by an actual painter. Many painters have a pipe dream of creating some cool new twist on outdated paint tool designs, but very few follow through, and only a small percentage of them actually turn out something that many other painters would see value in.

In the months that we have been using the demo units provided to us for testing by the manufacturer, the UT Blade has been heavily used within our crew. As with any hand tool, if it wasn’t convenient and functional, it would get lost in the shuffle. The UT tool has a polished stainless steel finish, with an almost chrome-like appearance that lasts, making the UT blade easy to keep clean and easy to spot among the rest of the weathered and paint spatter camouflaged tools. The tool is an attractive blend of function and good looks. With several common hex wrench sizes built in, and also a unique paint strainer unloader function see video above), it is not just a pretty face.

No Cushy Handle or Plastic

Years of experience with 5 in 1 tools mandate the rule of thumb that if the tool has a handle that is designed to feel comfortable in the palm of your hand, then it will probably not hold up to rigorous professional use. Broken handles are a leading cause (for us) of early 5 in 1 tool retirement. The reason for this is because in the life of every 5 in 1 tool, there will come a day when it is used like cheap chisel. There will be a hammer banging on the butt end of it to pry off a board, break off a nail or solve some other ridiculous problem that is affecting immediate progress on a task. There is nothing worse than breaking the tool that you pull out to solve the ridiculous problem. Tools are for solving problems, not compounding them.

To Summarize, 5 in 1 tools do not:

  • need a cushy grip because they are not in your hand for extended periods, so fatigue is not an issue
  • want to have any plastic on them, because plastic breaks and broken tools get thrown out
  • need or want to have any flex in the blade, because no one really uses them like a putty knife

We have found the UT blade, so far, to be convenient to use and solid in performance. Simply by foregoing cheap handle ergonomics, the UT eliminates the weak point of most other painter tools we have used. We have broken the point right off other 5 in 1’s, but the point end of the UT is more of a beveled wedge shape with a beefier point that can still access corners and crevices, but without fragility. This also reduces the likeliho0d of accidental puncture wounds to truck seats (we have all done it). It won’t bend, break, chip, crack or deform, and is backed with a lifetime replacement warranty, making it a literal possibility that this could be the last 5 in 1 you ever purchase.

The polished stainless steel finish is solvent resistant and easy to keep clean. It works on clean interior surfaces without marking them like other 5 in 1’s do as they age. The slim profile of the UT make it an easy fit in any hip or back pocket. Because there is no cushy handle causing pocket bulge, the UT is most likely to be in the pocket and right there when you need it. And, it also ranks very high in the “dark alley weapon” category.

For more information on the tool and it’s manufacturer, visit www.paintersmultitool.com.

 

 

 

Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine (www.paintmag.com) since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!

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6 Reader Comments

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  1. Hey Scott, is this tool still made? Link you provided doesn’t work anymore. Thx!

  2. JNine says:

    Thanks for the link. I always enjoy your product reviews.
    It does seem funny to form an attachment to an inanimate tool, but I also have had my same 5-in-1 for a long time too- 10 years. I’ll probably keep it around even after it outlives its usefulness.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks, JNine. So, you know that feeling of utter panic when you think you have lost it. Mine fell down between the seats of my truck and was lost for about 3 months at one point. Despondent. But then the thrill of finding it. I dont thick its weird. These are the tools we use every single day for our livelihood. Thanks for posting.

  3. Kevin says:

    Very nice looking tool. If they could only add some kind of one stop nail set it would be the best painting tool out there…

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