I have this tool on a few Swiss Army knives (though I think I've seen it on other multi-tools as well). What is it and what is it for?

enter image description here

On one edge, it has a sharp edge. It also only opens halfway (as seen in the photo).

  • 11
    Of course that is the indispensable "Fingernail cleaner outer". They say that it's a reamer, but I've never used it for that.
    – JPhi
    Jul 6, 2015 at 18:26
  • 2
    Hehe, my granddad told me it cleaning a smoking pipe, I guess that's what he used it for all his life. Jul 8, 2015 at 13:24
  • Had one of those on my Swiss Army Knife as a kid. Some old bloke told me it was for getting stones out of horses' hooves. And for a time I believed him... Oct 29, 2016 at 9:30
  • 2
    it's an awl for sewing and puncturing leather (and skin)
    – dalearn
    Mar 8, 2017 at 3:39

6 Answers 6


It is a "reamer with sewing eye", according to Victorinox (PDF).

enter image description here

It is used for punching holes in leather or canvas and can also used to get a thread through the hole, according to SAKWiki

  • 1
    Your PDF llink is dead. Maybe use this: assets.victorinox.com/medias/…
    – Martin F
    Oct 30, 2016 at 18:00
  • Oddly, your figure has no eye -- only (what i'm calling) a finger nail grip depression.
    – Martin F
    Oct 30, 2016 at 18:10
  • @MartinF Yeah you're right. Liam's answer has a much better figure.
    – toni
    Oct 31, 2016 at 16:24

That is a "punch/reamer". It allows your to repair leather (for example). You thread a thread of something though the hole and then use the sharp end to punch/push the thread though leather. In this way you can repair boots, etc.

enter image description here

  • 13
    Just a note on the process you suggested: The hole should be punched first, and thread pulled back through the hole because punching with the thread might damage the thread on the cutting edge when you punch through. See the second picture for clarity. Jul 7, 2015 at 7:12

The tool has two purposes.

As a punch, it acts as a large needle. You can use it to sew leather or canvas, as mentioned in the other answers. Punch the tool through your fabric, put thread through the hole, retract the tool, repeat.

As a reamer, the non-uniform blade shape allows you to make quite good circular holes in plastic or wood. Punch the tool through, then rotate it to carve off a small circular sliver. Rotate again and again and again, adjusting position, to carve a fairly even circle.

  • 3
    3. (or 2b) it's a decent awl (for starting holes for screws into wood).
    – Chris H
    Jul 6, 2015 at 16:00
  • 1
    Yes, I have used such a tool on a handful of occasions to create or enlarge a hole in plastic, wood, or sheet aluminum.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 7, 2015 at 14:00

As a reamer, it is for drilling small holes in wood. As an awl, it is for sewing thick material, such as leather, together.

Here are YouTube videos on how to sew with the awl-with-thread-hole tool:

In brief, these are my written instructions:

First, insert the thread through the awl, push the awl through the start of the hem, pull enough thread for the entire back side of the hem's stitching through to the back side of the hem, and then pull the awl back to the front side.

Now repeat the following for each successive lock stitch: Move the awl ahead, push it through to the back side as far as it will go and pull it back slightly -- just enough to create a loop with the front-side's thread -- and pause. Poke the back-side thread through the temporary loop then finish pulling the awl back to the front side. Tug both sides of the thread to keep them tidy. Tip: tie the back-end thread to the toothpick tool and use that to help thread it through the little loop.

To finish, tie both threads together (maybe singe them if they're nylon): Either make the knot over the edge of the hem, or use the awl to bring them to the same side of the hem and then tie together.

Better still -- watch the videos!


I use the punch while hunting to dispatch wounded birds. Simply hold the bird by the neck/head and push the punch into the back of the bird's head. It's quick and humane. I have never used it to sew since I have a better tool for that.


As a reamer, I used it to make wooden woggles for scout scarves. Also, if a can is too hard to open with the opener, I punch a few holes with this tool just to start the cutting with the can opener knife later.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.