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2023-08-12 📌 More knock off pocket tools (this time Victorinox) and a bit of customising

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The SwissChamp is referred to as Victorinox's flagship product, a fairly heavy eight-layer 91mm swiss army knife introduced in 1985 and cramming in a wide range of small tools. The SwissEagle knock off, currently averaging £25 on Amazon, is a third to a quarter of the price and if you're looking for something to leave in the car or give to a kid to lose on a camping expedition the quality isn't terrible, to be honest.

The KO doesn't have all of the back tools (despite some of the photos no parcel hook, possibly to differentiate it legally) and whilst i'm sure the steel isn't great with a little more attention to detail could have avoided some minor niggles. The 'opener' layer with the can opener and bottle opener / flathead is fractionally thinner than its back spring and has slight flex. The machining on some parts (such as the tip of the can opener) is a little imprecise, making them less suitable for their secondary functions as e.g. screwdrivers (and the awl is a different design that has a thread hole but isn't sharpened). The corkscrew would probably work to unpick knots but I wouldn't trust it on a cork. The toothpick, tweezers and mini glasses screwdriver are strangely undersized. And listings for the knife seem to make sketchy use of doctored official SAK photos, I can't find an official SwissEagle shot that actually shows the product. For example, in the stock one below the magnifier surround should be metal, but at least it doesn't show a non-existent parcel hook. Like I say, sketchy.

For basic scouting needs, if you sharpen things properly, wipe off the obnoxious huge logo on the scales, etc? It seems fairly priced. I'd rather have a Waiter and a pouch of saw bits, better heat-treated small screwdrivers, pen, etc. but the mini pliers, scissors, saw, file, etc on this are good enough to not immediately discount. I've also been slightly spoiled by the sturdier tools on alox SAK models such as the Farmer (which pairs well with Knipex mini pliers) and decent Leatherman KOs like the Swiss+Tech Wave+ near copy (if you want a work beater and locking blade multi-tool this is worth considering at the price -- currently also £25 on Amazon. I did a quick comparison with earlier official Leatherman wave models here and would definitely recommend.)

The SwissCard is essentially some Swiss army knife tools as separate items squeezed into a plastic case about the size of a credit card. They've been around a surprisingly long time (since 1997 apparently) and look like the sort of thing you'd have found at a big retail park office supplies store before they all went bust. They're generally RRP thirty quid and up, and are notably regarded for the quality of the scissors and the flat 'quattro' screwdriver with small drivers at each corner (the latter can be purchased separately and put onto a keyring).

This KO version is based on the SwissCard Lite, so-called not because it's a lightweight or more basic model but due to having an LED light with a button battery. It was £3.50 on eBay including delivery. It's not an exact KO and squeezes in a toothpick by reducing the size of the (fairly ineffective) magnifier, the LED is red, and none of the parts are particularly well-machined. But the scissors are quite a good replica, the pen works, etc. Any screwdriver this size is never going to do much. As something to keep in a bag... well, I'd recommend an actual Swiss Army Knife such as a Classic SD or Rambler, but this kind of inoffensive miniature toolbox suits some people and situations.

When you consider that the card shape is moulded, relatively fragile and doesn't require the engineering and assembly that a SAK does, the price of SwissCards is excessive. There's probably a market for something between the genuine and KO items in terms of price and quality. If you are looking at SwissCards the one that seems to offer something unique versus a SAK is the Nailcare model which has a glass file.

So for the record, I'd suggest going with genuine Victorinox knives with fewer layers and/or alox scales, skipping "cards" and identifying good quality Leatherman copies now that the Wave patents have expired. As always, your mileage may vary and personal preference counts for a lot with tools and EDC in particular.

By the way, if anyone's wondering, whilst you can electro etch aluminium and other metals with just some white vinegar plus salt, a couple of wires, some cotton buds and a 9V battery over a template (such as vinyl or stickers painted over with nail polish and peeled off, and important tips are: 1. the negative wire goes on the wet cotton bud, positive on the metal, and 2. don't breathe the fumes) this doesn't work with anodic oxidised aluminium like on Victorinox alox knives. It protects against corrosion too well, unless maybe you sand it down.

So I've used polish to paint in the gaps on the scales on my main one (as mentioned a Farmer for the saw), wiped the excess off with acetone and scratched in some personalisation on the plate that's provided for engraving before filling that in with black... which, appropriately, feels a lot like graffiti-ing a pencil case in the era I grew up. The electro etching process is fun to play with on other things though.

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