While on a budget trip to Europe in 1975, Tim Leatherman and his wife Chau constantly came across leaky hotel plumbing and road-side fixes for their cranky Fiat. Tim realized the need for a pliers-based multipurpose tool. “I was carrying a scout knife and used it for everything from slicing bread to fixing the car. But I kept wishing I had a pair of pliers!”
When Tim came back to the states, he took his “multi-tool” idea and some sketches he made on the trip, and got to work.
When Tim started on the prototype for this new tool, he estimated it’d take him a month. Instead, it took the next three years to build the prototype he envisioned and filed for a patent. With the patent application and prototype in hand, he set off to sell his idea. Unfortunately, the companies he approached didn’t bite. For another three and a half years, Tim faced one rejection letter after another. Until he partnered with his college friend, Steve Berliner. In the spring of 1983, they received their first order for 500 tools from Cabela’s and launched the first Leatherman tool, the PST.
MADE OF METTLE
The story of the Original American multi-tool inventor, Tim Leatherman.
Proud Oregonians since 1983
From Tim’s first prototype to our latest multi-tool innovation, we’ve been building our tools in Portland, Oregon. And when it’s time to put our tools through their paces, we test them in the great Pacific Northwest. From hiking in the rugged Cascade Mountains, fishing off of the beautiful Oregon coast, or exploring the high desert in the east, we ensure our tools are reliable for any adventure or task, big or small. We invite you to try our tools for yourself, or read people’s stories of saving the day with quick thinking, their own two hands, and a Leatherman.
LISTEN TO TIM'S INTERVIEW ON NPR
Scott Everett for NPR