Because of the uniqueness of the Combar and its size, it simply doesn’t fit into any pre-existing tool category. We debated about how best to define the Combar and got to ‘heavy duty multi-tool’. While that is a good start do you think that it is the right name for a new tool category?
We would like your opinion. Do you think this is a new tool category? And if so, what would you call this new category of tool?
Portability is a key feature of the Combar. The balance between utility and weight naturally drove our material choices. Aircraft Grade Aluminum works for the head mechanism but not for any hard impact areas.
Titanium 6AL-4V was an obvious choice for the spade because it is such a big piece. We also worked in Titanium to the axe cheek to provide strength with weight reduction.
All this adds to the overall production cost but we didn’t want to compromise on the vision of bringing the best tool possible to the market.
There hasn’t been a serious folding axe released because there are many engineering issues that have to be overcome. Think about it. You need a robust locking mechanism that can handle the impact forces. The mechanism needs to stay clean during use and be easy to clean after use. The mechanism needs to have tight tolerances given the quality of the overall tool; and most importantly, it needs to give you the same performance as a fixed head axe.
Whenever we received production models, we put the Combar through rigorous field tests to make sure that it performed as we expected. We chopped soft and hard woods; we trimmed saplings, split them and made stakes. We hammered stakes and broke rocks. We used the spade in both pick and shovel configurations in different soil types.
Udi and Yaniv seemed to have the most fun with these tests as they involved real bushcraft usage scenarios out in the field – their natural habitat.
When you are using the Combar with the axe locked out in place, you don’t need to be thinking about it suddenly folding in. Similarly, with the spade locked into place in either position, you need the confidence it is going to stay where it is when attacking a field task.
The Safety mechanism is a work of genius. There is one, easy to use, mechanism for both tools and provides rock solid lock down. We spent a lot of time ensuring that simplicity and safety where inherent in the mechanism so you can focus on the task in hand.
Given our high standards, every part of the Combar created interesting production challenges. A great example is the use of titanium 6AL-4V for the spade and axe cheek. Titanium has to be cast in a vacuum – a difficult process that radically reduces the number of suppliers worldwide. When you add in the tight tolerances we required, the number of suppliers got even smaller.
An exhaustive search led us to a California based company who worked with their Taiwanese sister company to deliver us exactly what we needed.
Our choice for the head of the Combar is 6061-T6 aluminum. This is a commercial grade aluminum with great structural strength; toughness and non-corrosive characteristics. It is easy to work and responds well to anodizing.
For those tech heads who understand the different types of aluminum, we looked hard at 7075 which is used in military grade M4 rifles, but the hard anodizing changed the properties of 7075 and made it more brittle and less suitable for striking – so we stayed with the 6061.