Making a TSA-Compliant Multitool

Making a TSA-Compliant Multitool


Maker Media bestie, John Edgar Park, has posted an Instructable outlining how he put together his “TSA compliant” Leatherman Squirt multitool. John explains:


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.


Using the TSA-compliant guidelines [PDF], John reduced the length of the blades and then filed everything down. To signal to TSA officials that the tool had been properly modified, his finishing touch was laser-etching “TSA compliant” on the handle.


Above is a photo showing John testing out different tool orders/positions, using the screws he would eventually cut down to size for finally reassembly. So, does it work? Sort of. John made it through six airports before the tool was finally confiscated. John writes of the confiscation on Facebook:

I got mine taken on my last trip. One agent asked about it, then brought over his supervisor. I explained that it complies with the rules on their website. She said “well, there are cameras all over here, and since those saw him check your knife, he could lose his job if we let you through with it.” I asked another supervisor about it. He said “I would have totally let you through with this, but once one supervisor makes a decision we’re not allowed to override that.”

Putting the time, effort, and money into modifying (and labeling) a multitool like this is no guarantee that it’s not going to be taken away. Honestly, I’m amazed that it lasted for six episodes of Security Theater. If you try this, it should really be as more of an interesting social experiment than anything else.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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