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What is a 5-in-1?

Three decades ago, when I was breaking into the home improvement world on the painting side of the business, I was bombarded with what seemed like an endless amount of new terminology from all angles on a daily basis.




You name it, it was like an entirely new language for me.

I certainly did not mind it; it was simply a lot to absorb.

One term that particularly caught my ear, was the name of a tool whose importance was viewed by most painters in the same way which they would view a paintbrush.

This tool is the 5-in-1.

Now as I was just getting used to being able to use ‘5-in-1’ in the proper place of a sentence, I started to run into the ‘5-in-1’s’ apparent older siblings – the ‘6-in-1’, the ’10-in-1’, etc.

For myself, and I venture to guess most painters however, a tool that looks like a 5-in-1, will always be a 5-in-1, even if it happens to be a ‘100-in-1’!

The term ‘5-in-1’ references the tool’s ability to be used for ‘5’ different uses while being ‘1’ tool.

These uses are as a gouger, a paint roller cleaner, a paint can opener, a putty knife, and a scraper.

The blade of a 5-in-1 is generally made out of stainless steel and the handle is typically made out of wood or plastic.

I can honestly say that I could probably count on one hand the number of times that I have used a 5-in-1 to clean a paint roller or aid in puttying.

Definitely have gouged with them in the past, but out of the 5 most traditional common uses, the ones I have most often used a 5-in-1 for have been as a paint can opener and for scraping.

Although a true ‘5-in-1’ may technically be intended for these 5 aforementioned uses, the list of the number of possible things an actual ‘5-in-1’ can be used for is quite lengthy indeed.

Here is a short list of things that I have used a 5-in-1 for in the past:

To help guide a piece of wood into place against another piece of wood
To open an unlocked window from the outside
As a shim temporarily leveling a ladder (not recommended!)
To hammer in a nail (with its butt end)
To open boxes
As a flat head screwdriver
As a pry bar (to take old shutters that have been nailed on) off a home
As something to aid in holding a door open and not locking behind me
To aid in cutting a piece of string (or something along those lines)
To help in removing wallpaper

I am sure I could go on and on.

All of these are perfect examples as to why painters find this tool to be so valuable!

As you can see, a 5-in-1 can provide plenty of mileage in terms of the number of things it can help out with.

One key to its long-term effectiveness is to remember to sharpen the blade whenever it seems as though it needs it.

Another key is to not lose it! As with many tools, 5-in-1s are easily misplaced.

When breaking into the painting trade, or even taking on a painting project around your home, the list of terminology related to what you are doing absolutely can be a bit over inundating, this being said, due to its unending diversity, the 5-in-1 is one of those tools that above almost any other can be about as valuable as one can learn about and utilize!

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