TSA Compliant Multitool Mod



Carrying small pliers and screwdrivers at all times is helpful and comforting. So, when I travel without checked baggage, I feel strange leaving small multitools behind. Being without tools is weird. So, I decided to buy a used Leatherman Squirt on eBay (possibly a TSA auction of a previously confiscated tool), and modify it to meet/exceed the government restrictions on carry-on tools.



Here’s the original tool. Note sharp blade, longish file, and pointy, shabby awl.


I milled off the rivets so I could remove or swap out the offending parts.


The pieces parts.

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Draughting Pencils, Robot Screws, more

Delightful little box of useful items I found at a garage sale. Pretty good value for five US dollars.


The Eagle #314 “Chemi-Sealed” DRAUGHTING pencils are excellent, highly coveted pencils among illustrators. This style was made from 1950-1980. More info here. I gave one to my ridiculously talented friend Mark Frauenfelder, who swears by vintage Blackwing’s. We’ll see how he feels this one compares.


Next up, some nice boxes of screws, including a gross of blued, round head steel 5/8″ #6 wood screws from National Products. Just look at that NAT the Robot logo they had! Love.


I also found a warded lock key, a pencil protector, two heavy duty switches, and this lovely Brunswick pool cue chalk.


Lovely estate sale tools

Picked up some wonderful things at this sale.

This is a Stanley #77 mortise gauge for marking consistent lines measured from the edge of a piece of wood. The moustache-shaped brass wear plate is delightful.

The full haul:

  • Lufkin No.1174 folding metal ruler
  • Lead mallet(!)
  • Various clamps
  • Abus combo padlock
  • MAC Tools gap feeler gauge
  • Sliding bevel gauge
  • Leather working awls/punches
  • Sewing stitcher awl
  • Channel Lock end nippier
  • Snap-On six inch pocket ruler
  • Aforementioned Stanley marking gauge
  • Sampson caliper, tiny
  • Starrett No.209-C 0″-1″ micrometer

This mic is in good shape, other than cosmetic. It is still perfectly zeroed, and with good care should remain that way for another hundred years. Starrett tools are terrific, a great  old company located in Athol, Mass.

Huge demo handcuff

I was called upon recently to teach some handcuff escape workshops. In keeping with my tendency to build large demonstration props, I decided to construct a huge, functioning, see-through handcuff.

Here you can see the ratchet and pawl mechanism at work. This allows the cuff to tighten, but not open.

I designed them in Rhino, cut the layers of acrylic on a laser cutter, and formed the spring from a street sweeper blade using heat and pliers.

The key works by rotating around the keyhole post, lifting the pawl high enough to slip the ratchet.

Don’t have a key, but need to get the cuff off? Shimming works by inserting a thin piece of metal in above the ratchet, closing the ratchet a few clicks tighter, enough to slide the shim under the pawl. At this point, the ratcheted cuff swings free.

Handcuffs typically include a double lock feature which prevents the cuff from tightening once engaged. Shimming doesn’t work on cuffs that have been double locked. I may build a future version of the huge handcuffs that incorporate this feature.