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While I would like to think of myself as some badass maker who needs a gunslinger’s leather holster bristling with impressive tools for forging (or destroying) worlds, in reality, I’m a desk jockey. I spend the majority of my days (and nights) in my aging Aeron chair, eyeballs glued to a glowing monitor. I’m a writer and an editor. I make words. I make words about other people making things. So, my tools are principally a notebook, a computer, and a decent pen. For years, I did carry my beloved Leatherman Wave on my belt, but I didn’t use it all that often and it spent more time getting hooked on the arm of my chair than anything else.

But one thing I wrestle with in my day-to-day, sometimes literally, are shipping boxes — lots of shipping boxes: boxes of MAKE books and magazines, review books and hardware, and boxes of other cool stuff that show up on my doorstep. And because I don’t drive and live alone, most of my shopping is on the internet. More boxes. So, my most frequent around-the-office tools are scissors and a box cutter. So, I was very interested when Fiskars offered to send me one of their new ShopBoss snips-based multi-tools.

The heart of the ShopBoss is a pair of titanium nitride-coated snippers/shears. The bottom blade is serrated and the snips are made to cut through light metals, carpet, cardboard, plastic stock, etc. They made easy work of most everything I chewed into with them, even some fairly thick acrylic. They cut CD media very easily and cleanly and would be a good tool to grab when CoasterBot building. It was a joy to process a giant pile of boxes, plastic banding, and cardboard destined for the recycling center.

Surrounding the snips are a number of other useful widgets: a wire-cutting jaw, a twine/binding strap cutter, bottle opener, and a pegboard hanging loop. The ShopBoss also comes with a plastic holster that clips onto your belt. It includes a pencil holder, a tape-cutting hook, and a metal deburring file (a piece of ceramic rod).

After using this tool for awhile, I have to say, like it. But there are things that bother me, too. I like having one tool that can handle all of my shipping work, cardboard recycling, and some benchtop tasks. It serves all of these functions well. I like the holster idea, but the holster you get feels a little… off. Too cheap. The angle of the tool on your belt makes it a little awkward to draw, especially if you’re holding something else and are looking for a smooth grab, draw, unlock, and cut. And speaking of the lock button, it’s really hard to engage with your thumb, but I assume that will get earlier with use. The ShopBoss costs $30 retail. For that kind of money, I wish they’d invested a little more in a better holster. The ShopBoss is not available on Amazon yet, but if you can get the price down closer to $20, I’d say it’s a good buy.

If the functions that I’ve described above sound more like what you encounter in your day-to-day office/shop duties (than knife-pliers-driver), you might want to strap this baby on instead of a knife-based multi-tool. Or better yet, add both of them to your belt, sling that leather low, and get down with your geeky John Wayne bad-self.

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See all of our “Toolsday” tool reviews here.

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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Comments

  1. Facebook User says:

    Thanks for the detailed review. The holster even looks cheap, so I imagine you’re not exaggerating. This would be really handy for the garden shed and the various projects I do out there. 

    1. Anonymous says:

      Yes, I would think this would make an excellent garden shed tool. I think tomorrow I’ll go outside and test it out on some chicken wire, both the blade and the wire-cutting jaw, and some other yard-type tasks. The ShopBoss might be right at home in the BucketBoss.

  2. Alan Dove says:

    A pocketknife is the tool for breaking down boxes – the key is to cut the tape only, not the cardboard. For just about everything else, it’s hard to beat a pair of trauma shears, which are about $2 apiece and can chew through almost anything.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Most of my boxes that I break down are glued FedEx and USPS boxes. I usually use a box cutter on these, but the ShopBoss works just a well (and is probably safer). There’s also a tape cutter on the tool, which handles non-reinforced tape.. OK. If I had a lot of taped boxes to blaze through, I’d probably still reach for my box cutter.

  3. I do datacenter installs all the time and I use the hell out of a different Fiskars product – the Quick-Release Multi-Snip: http://www2.fiskars.com/Products/Hardware/Hardware-Scissors/Quick-Release-Multi-Snip. It’s great to have a good pair of snips when you’re trying to cut through a bunch of zip-ties or cutting velcro tape. I still use a box cutter for opening boxes though.

  4. fuzzmello says:

    Gareth – you might have mentioned they are not available until this coming Friday, and only available at WalMart.

    http://toolguyd.com/2011/10/fiskars-shopboss-hardware-snips/

  5. peter says:

    Got mine for $15 at WalMart. I agree that the thumb lock seems poorly designed, but I don’t think it will get better with use. It’s actually a little easier when I’m wearing gloves. I’m not able to get the thumb lock to work smoothly and consistently with my bare hands.

    A holster has a simple function — hold the tool on my belt and allow me to pull it out when needed. One-handed access is key with a tool like this. This holster comes with lots of extras, but fails to serve the primary function. Every time I pull on the handles, the holster slips off my belt. Then I’ve got to use my left hand to pull the holster off the tool.

    Without the holster, it’s not a decent replacement for a good multi-tool. And with the thumb lock problems, I can’t view it as a decent shop tool.

    Overall, I’m disappointed. I’m going to return it.

  6. Hd Lp says:

    I got mine at Walmart for $15 as well. My only complain is for the handle which is rugged plastic. The holster is cheaply made, but IMO, is more of a sheath to protect the tool. I think only the serrated blade had the TiN coating, that gold color indicates it. It’s not a sale gimmick, the TiN coat offers wear resistance due to the shearing action. The black blade has black oxide coating, not TiN. Use this tool for a while, and you’ll see the black color get worn out along the blade. The deburring file is not plastic, it’s ceramic. I actually use it to sharpen my pocket knives. It works pretty well. With regard to the thumb lock, either you have a hand of a baby or you are lacking common sense when saying you can’t unlock with one hand. Try squeezing the handle and pull the lock back at the same time. This thumb lock is a good design to keep the lock locked, not slipped out. Overall, this tool does not live up to the appearance of a typical USA-, Poland-made Fiskars products I have. But for $15 and what it can do, I think it’s a well-made snips.

    1. Gareth Branwyn says:

      >either you have a hand of a baby or you are lacking common sense

      There really is no reason to insult people. I for one am not a baby, but I DO have arthritis. I have no trouble with other locks of this type. But that said, now that I’ve been using the tool for a few weeks, the lock is getting easier to work.

      I’ll change the reference to the deburring file.

      1. Hd Lp says:

        I had no intention to insult anybody, and of course I had no idea about your arthritis. The tool I have is practically brand new, and yet very little effort is needed to move the thumb lock with one hand. The feature works the way it’s intended to. I thought it’s unfair for a well-designed tool when some people complained at such simple thing