About this project
The SPARtool Concept
SPARtool began as a quest for the ultimate survival tool - the one item you would want to have with you to do any task in an urban or wilderness survival scenario. It would need to be light enough for backpacking, where every ounce counts. It also needed to be so durable that no conceivable use or misuse could damage it. An exhaustive search found a number of similar large multi-tools, but all were found lacking (we won't point any fingers). Some were too heavy - 5 or 6 lbs! Others looked and felt flimsy and cheap. Most models were poorly laid-out, or lacked tools that were deemed essential.
With the shortcomings of existing products in mind I began my own design. I decided to focus on a few core tasks that come up in nearly every outdoor excursion, and make sure that this tool could do them well. The SPARtool needed to be able to:
- Dig in both soft and hard ground.
- Chop through branches and split logs.
- Saw through wood, plastic, bone, or sheet metal.
- Hammer tent stakes, nails, or rocks.
- Open a cold one after all that work!
A common gripe with multi-tools is that many of their mechanisms are awkward and difficult to use, and inferior to a dedicated tool for the job. We strive to create a design that shifts smoothly and safely between functions, and is comfortable for all its uses.
The SPARtool features a 6"x 8" shovel head with integrated chopping edge, saw blade, and bottle opener. The 1075 carbon steel and Zytel handle is topped with a flat pry bar, hammer, and 4" pick that functions as a handle for digging and sawing. the total tool length is 22", and the weight is 2 lbs 15 oz.
To dig, one needs a shovel. Shovels are deceptively complicated tools - F.W. Taylor, the father of industrial engineering, did a study at the beginning of the 20th century and found that a man with an optimally designed shovel could work nearly four times as fast as a person with a poorly designed one. Shovels derive much of their strength through smoothly transitioning concave and convex geometry, which distributes stresses evenly and allows them to be thin and light.
The SPARtool shovel reflects these principles in its shovel head design. Sturdy tempered carbon steel provides the cutting edge, which is both hard enough to hold an edge, and tough enough to absorb impact. The face is gently curved to increase the angle of repose of loose soil, and gather more in each scoop. Our shovel provides the foundation for other tools while remaining an efficient digging machine.
One side of the hardened and tempered steel shovel head is ground scary sharp, giving a generous 9-inch cutting surface. When used against small branches the thin edge acts like a machete, passing through with minimal resistance. When employed to split logs, the curvature of the shovel head acts more like an ax, forcing the wood apart cleanly. The edge of the shovel is carefully aligned parallel along the center of the handle, creating the most direct transmission of force, and reducing the chance for dangerous glancing blows.
Sometimes a chopper is not the right tool for a job. When you need to make a clean cut, separate bones in game, or neatly trim pipe or tubing a saw is the answer. Saws are often one of the weakest links in multi-tools due to disregard for their mechanical and design principles. Our saw teeth are an aggressive 4/inch, 60° tooth layout, cut at a 15° rake. Our saw is laid out as a crosscut saw, with a 15° fleam and a wide alternating offset tooth pattern to clear a wide kerf. Once again the saw edge is parallel to the handle to allow pure single axis motion.
On every pocket and key chain multi-tool I have ever owned the second most used item is always the bottle opener. Maybe I just like beer, but this tool was a necessity to me.
SPARtool's handle is designed for strength and comfort. The backbone of the tool is a .20" thick carbon steel bar, forged half round (think of a tape measure vs. a floppy metal ribbon of the same thickness) to fit in your hand. Inside the half round's curvature is an impact grade Zytel© polymer insert; which provides stiffness in the secondary direction, and is textured to give a secure grip.
The SPARtool handle ends in a flat pry bar with a rounded, shepherds-crook curve. Useful not just for prying open doors or crates but also pulling nails, splitting wood, chiseling, and other demolition tasks.
Our 1.5" hammer head provides a large and forgiving striking surface; while its thick plate steel construction makes damaging it a near impossibility.
The 4 inch pick spike can break hard earth and rocks, forcefully open padlocks, and might save your life if the zombies ever do decide to rise. The curved pick also serves as a convenient and comfortable handle when digging or sawing. The top end of the SPARtool is inspired by the Halligan bar, a tool used by firefighters and first responders for forcible entry and rescue. We have maintained the layout so that Halligan techniques can be used with the SPARtool.
The SPARtool sheath is built from 1050 denier ballistic nylon with MOLLE-compatible strapping and belt loop. The cutting surfaces on the shovel head are protected by a nylon and Kydex sheath which is fully detachable from the backbone of the sheath. The cutting surfaces of the prybar and pick are similarly protected with a Kydex guard, and are freely detachable with secure snaps. When in use, the cover guard for the opposite end is left in place and protects the user from accidental injury.
The SPARtool team is committed to creating the most versatile, lightweight, and durable outdoor tool available for your use at home and in the field. We proudly stand behind our products as 100% American made, for creating with ethically sourced materials and working conditions, and for renewable and recycled packaging materials. Thank you for checking out SPARtool, and we hope you are convinced about our product and will pledge!
Risks and challenges
Bringing any new product to market is challenging, let alone one that has as much heavy duty manufacturing as this does. We are partnering with The TOOLROOM Stamping Co., a Utah-based plant with 23 years experience in progressive volume manufacturing. The TOOLROOM Inc. provides parts for products such as the Blendtec Blender and the Emberlit Stove; can work in steel, aluminum, and titanium; and has both the equipment (including hydraulic presses up to 300 tons) and expertise that will ensure SPARtool becomes a reality.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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