Like many other Swiss Army Knife tools, the cap-lifter (sometimes known as the bottle-opener or the large screwdriver), is designed to do more than just one thing.
This tool started out as a simple robust flat-head screwdriver on the original Soldier Knife, and later on the Officer's Knife.
Over time the screwdriver evolved to include a cap-lifter, and later a wire-stripping notch was added to give us the current cap-lifter/screwdriver tool.
Along the way minor changes to the shape of the tool also occurred.
Both the Victorinox and Wenger full sized cap-lifters look quite similar today, and offer the same functions.
See Also: The Combo Tool which combines screwdriver, cap-lifter and can-opener capabilities.
Found on a handful of 58mm models, this tool works well as a cap-lifter despite its small size!
At the end of the tool is a screwdriver. Some models have a flat headed screwdriver tip (eg the Rover) while others sport a Phillips head screwdriver tip (eg the Rally). The tips are magnetic.
Since 1997, Victorinox added a small wire stripper immediately beyond of the cap-lifter portion of the tool.
The front of the tool is blunt and flat, making a screwdriver for medium sized flat-head screws.
The cap-lifter/bottle-opener is cut into the body of the tool, the small hook near the base is used to catch the lip of the cap, as the tool is moved upward.
Just behind the cap-lifter is a small wire-stripping notch. See instructions below.
Prior to 2011(estimated ) the 84mm tool did not have a 'stop' when the tool was opened at the 90º angle.
The 91mm version had this feature much earlier.
The 91mm tool is very similar in design to the 84mm tool (a scaled up version!).
However the 91mm (and 93mm Alox) tools stop, (friction lock/catch) when opened at both 90° and 180° (fully opened). The catch/lock is a little stronger when fully extended. The extra catch enables the screwdriver to be used in the fully extended position, but also in the 90° position, which can help torque or accessibility. It also helps keep the tool from unintentionally closing whilst being used.
The original cap-lifter for the slide-lock 111mm knives is very similar to the 91mm model, and appears quite small relative to the size of the knife.
111mm Victorinox liner-lock models, such as the popular Trekker, have a full locking cap-lifter/screwdriver.
The screwdriver end is roughly 7mm in width.
The cap-lifter tool retains the catch (friction lock) at 90°, (present on the 91/93mm models), but at fully open (180°) the liner-lock must be released to close the tool.
The 111mm liner-lock cap-lifter is also considerably stronger than all other versions, being thicker at the base, as well as wider, so can be used as a small prying tool.
The modern Wenger knives feature a locking screwdriver on their cap-lifter using what is sometimes known as the Padlock system.
This design uses a unique spring mechanism on the tool:
When pressure is applied along the length of the knife, the tool is pushed slightly into the knife body so that a catch on the tang of the tool latches into a notch in the spring, which means that the tool cannot fold in, until the pressure is released. This works as very practical safety-lock when having to use more force on the screwdriver, to loosen or tighten a screw.
Unlike the Victorinox cap-lifters there is no stop/catch at 90° for using the tool in this position.
The Wire Stripper is arguably the most misunderstood and misused tool on any Swiss Army Knife!
It works in conjunction with the main blade - which means this method works better on models with fewer layers.
- Open the cap-lifter/wire stripper (or Combo tool, depending on the SAK) halfway, forming a 90° angle between the cap-lifter and the SAK itself. (The newer Victorinox models have a friction stop at this point).
- Open the large blade.
- Place the wire you wish to strip at the corner formed between the body of the tool and the opened cap-lifter/combo tool.
- Gently close the large blade onto the wire. If the spring tension does not cut into the wire, press down on the blade just enough to cut into the wire's insulation.
- While holding the long side of the wire, carefully rotate the SAK around the wire, making one complete rotation.
- Remove the wire, close the main blade, and fully open the cap-lifter.
- Place the cut in the insulation layer in the round notch near the base of the cap lifter, and press and hold the wire down into the notch with your thumb. Holding the long end of the wire, just below the cut, with your other hand, push the cap-lifter forward, removing the insulation from the wire!