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How I Altered My Leatherman PST II
Allen Duffield

The opinions expressed and recommendations included in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed in whole or part by Equipped To Survive. ETS presents this information as a public service, but has not verified any of the information contained herein.

Leatherman PST II
Original Leatherman PST II
Click photo for hi-rez image.

The Leatherman PST II multi-tool has a nice diamond-coated file and a single knife blade with about a third of the blade serrated. I have used knife blades both with and without serrations, and I prefer a non-serrated, plain edged blade for general use at work, at home, and while engaged in outdoor activities.

The diamond-coated file works well for a number of sharpening tasks, but it is not practical to use it to sharpen the blade in the PST II as originally installed, a logical use. If you try it, it will become self-evident what I mean. I decided to modify my PST as described below. The methods used were based on the tools available to me.


Working with knife blades and hand or power tools can be dangerous and can result in serious injury, even when appropriate precautions are taken. MODIFY YOUR POCKET TOOL AND USE THE TECHNIQUES DESCRIBED HEREIN AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Questions concerning potential modifications became:

  1. Can the knife blade be replaced?
  2. Can the PST II file be altered so it an be detached from the PST II handle to be used to sharpen the PST's own knife blade?
  3. How are the tools held in the handle?

Email requests to Leatherman in order to find out if the pins through the ends of the handles screw together or were solid rivets went unanswered. I made the decision that either the pins would unscrew, or I'd cut them off and install new rivets.

First - The File

I used vice-grip style pliers to grip the small round head on one side and a second set of pliers to turn the head on the other side. When they started to unscrew, I knew the pins were, indeed, screwed together to allow removal of the tools they hold. The pins pass through a hole to hold the file and other tools in place. It required a fair amount of counter-clockwise torque to loosen and remove the pin holding the file.

Slot cut in PST II file

Modified PST II File

By cutting a slot leading from the pivot pin hole, the file can be removed and replaced very much as some knives allow blades to be exchanged. Once the file is removed it can be used to sharpen the PST knife blade, as well as other items such as fish hooks. The slot was cut to the width of the pivot pin hole (approximately 3/16 inch) by use of a circular metal cutting disc attached to an electric drill arbor. A suitable sized hand file may have worked as well, but it would not be as fast as the electric drill.

Duct tape was placed on each side of the file's length to protect the file, which was then held fast in a vise while the slot was being cut. A small jeweler's file was used to remove burrs from the slot's edges and to smooth the slot sides. In order to ensure a good fit, the slot was cut slightly smaller than the pivot pin and then filed wider until the PST file could be inserted and removed with reasonable ease, but without it being too loose. The modified file has the word "Leatherman" stamped on the tang near the pivot hole and the slot was cut from the side with the "n" on it starting about 1/8 inch below the "n". This is the side opposite the small notch on the back of the blade that serves to "lock" it open.

I re-installed the other tools in the handle in the same order as they were removed, remembering to also replace the small washer between the file and the screwdriver blade. The slot in the file was cut slightly smaller than the pivot pin diameter and then filed wider until the PST II file could be inserted and removed with reasonable ease without being too loose.

The result is a PST file that can be used in the normal fashion attached to the PST, or that can be removed to sharpen the knife blade. The only inconvenience is the slight care required to prevent the file from being removed as you pass the half-open position, but past the removal position, the file is fully functional open or stays in the handle while closed.

Replacing The Knife Blade

Modified PST II w/ original blade
Modified PST II with original blade
Click photo for hi-rez image.

The second modification required more work than the first. First, I removed the PST II knife blade in the same manner previously described. Second, a knife blade of the same length and width, or close to the same dimensions had to be located. In this instance the choice was a Case stainless steel clip point blade from a knife that had been disassembled when the bone handle broke, and then never repaired.

The PST II blade was used as the master, placed side-to-side with the Case blade to determine where the Case blade would have to be altered to fit the PST II handle. Before working with the Case blade, I taped it on both sides with masking tape to protect me from cuts and to protect the blade when it was held in the jaws of the vise.

If the new blade you select is not the same dimensions as the original, then three key areas should be checked. First, the blade thickness should be the same or slightly less than the original. If the replacement blade were thicker, then the blade may bind when installed in the handle. If the new blade were slightly thinner, a thin washer could be used or the pivot screw tighten a little more to hold the blade in place. Fate smiled on me in this instance as both blades were so near the same thickness that it was not a concern.

Second, try to select a blade length close to the length of the original. Too long a blade could bind when the PST II is folded for storage. If the blade was just slightly too long, that can be addressed by reshaping the point, but it is easier if the length is correct. A shorter blade would work, but you'd give up some portion of the cutting edge.

Third, the area where the pivot hole will be located should be the same width from the bottom of the blade to the back as the original, or slightly larger so it can be modified to fit, in order to allow the blade to fit the handle properly when opened or closed. Then the pivot hole of the new blade must be drilled or enlarged to match in size and location that of the original PST II blade.

The Case blade was of the correct thickness and length, but I had to remove metal from the top of the blade and around the pivot hole. The masking tape on the Case blade allowed a fine pointed pencil to be used to trace the outline of the Leatherman blade laid on top of it with the edges and pivot areas aligned. I also marked the pivot hole in the same manner.

Modifying The New Blade

Modified PST II
Modified PST II
Click photo for hi-rez image.

I then locked Case blade between the jaws of a bench vise with the pivot hole area exposed, so the pivot hole could be drilled before any other changes were made. I used a carbide tipped drill bit because the Case blade metal was too hard for regular drill bits to drill properly. I wanted to drill the pivot hole before removing other blade material so that any slight misalignment caused by my semi-precise methods could be compensated for by altering the amount of other metal removed.

Drilling and grinding metal causes the blade to heat up, which could cause the blade to lose its temper if I wasn't careful. The vise helped keep the blade from becoming too hot by acting as a heat sink, but I still paused regularly to permit the drill bit and blade to cool.

Once the new pivot hole was drilled, I removed the Case blade from the vise and placed both blades side-to-side to re-check where metal would need to be removed, changing the marks on the masking tape as necessary. That done, the Case blade was once more locked in the vise with the pivot hole area and top outside the jaws of the vise.

I used a 7 1/4 inch diameter cutting disc on a 3/8 inch electric hand drill. This is the type cut-off disc designed to cut through metal studs. It removes a lot of metal very rapidly when used in a electric hand drill, so a light touch and brief grinding motions with plenty of pauses to check results was used. My Dremel grinder and cutting tool allowed more precise final shaping of the curve around the pivot hole. I used a jeweler's file to de-burr the edges.

I placed the blade back in the PST II and tightened the pivot screw just enough to secure the tools inside the handle, yet allow easy opening of any of the tools. The final step was to sharpen the Case blade for its new cutting duties. I just happened to have a removable diamond file in my PST II that seemed appropriate for that task.

Total time to make the above alterations was about two hours. Probably less time than it took to write this article. Was it worth it? You bet! As modified, the PST II is about six ounces on the postal scale at work, fits well in my back pocket, and I no longer carry a separate pocket knife. It has become my "all-purpose-tool" at work, at home, and while fishing.

For evaluations of other multi-tools, check out "Handy Tools".

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Article authored by Allen Duffield
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Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
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Revision: 04 January 20, 1999
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© 1998 Allen Duffield - All rights reserved.
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