Tool Box

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The Independent Online
NEVER leave home without a Swiss Army knife. I don't - mine has been to the Canadian Arctic in January and the jungles of Borneo in July. But, like me, it spends most of the year in our garden on the Welsh Marches.

It is not actually designed as a gardening knife, but the top-of-the-range Swiss Champ model (pounds 47.95) is far too useful to be passed over for such a pettifogging reason. It is a very versatile tool kit that weighs only 160g and nestles in a waistcoat pocket.

There are 16 blades, but only two are for cutting: 'blade' embraces scissors, wire stripper, wire cutter, wood and metal saws, reamer, two screwdrivers, chisel, pliers, metal file and magnifying glass, to name but a few. Items concealed in the ends include tweezers - useful for removing thorns - and even a tiny pen.

Less elaborate versions of this design classic, produced by the same Swiss family business - Victorinox - since 1897, cost as little as pounds 4.25. And lest you should think that I am the only adult who loves his Swiss Army knife, I must point out that Chris Bonington, the climber, Per Lindstrand, the balloonist, Alan Coren, the writer, and Sir John Harvey-Jones, the industrialist, are also fans.

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