What’s in Your Tool Belt

By Mike Delisle on Safety Gear and Clothing

Occidental Leather, OxyLights Framer #8089 – 10 Years Later

During our recent survey a bunch of our readers asked to see more hand tools in our reviews, and a few of you wanted to see our tool belts.  I figured I would oblige by showing you my Occidental Leather, OxyLights Framer #8089 rig.

 Mikey D’s 10-Year Old Tool Belt

My tool belt is about 10 years old and has gone through many changes over the years.  You know, add this tool, take this one out, try this here, and try that there.  I really have tried to make my belt as efficient as I can, because that’s the name of the game.  If I can limit the time searching for my most used tools, then I can get the job done faster.  This comes at a price though.  The more tools you add, the more you have to carry around.  So it’s a balance of putting the stuff you use in your belt and leaving out the stuff you don’t.

Efficient Storage of Tools

With that being said, I know that what I carry in my belt won’t necessarily be what you have in yours, and that’s OK.  Everyone has their favorite tools, everyone does different work, and everyone has a different body to wrap these tool belts around.  The most important thing, whether you work out of a framing rig, finishing vest, tool bag or a toolbox is efficiency.   Do you have the tools you need to get the job done at hand or do you need to search for a tool every time you need one?

The tool belt I use is an Occidental Leather, OxyLights Framer #8089.  I chose to go with this belt because a friend of mine in the trades owned the same belt and I thought it was “cool looking”. (I wasn’t really interested in efficiency back then)  Even though this purchase was made for the wrong reason, it really ended up being a great decision.  The OxyLight tool belt is made of industrial strength nylon and reinforced leather corners.  It definitely cooler than a full leather belt.  It weighs less (4.1lbs- 5.6lbs for equivalent leather).

Tool Belts Need Room For Modifications

The best part of this belt is that the tool bags and pockets are not attached to the belt.  This allows me to maneuver the bags out of the way if I need to.  This bag has been put through the wringer over 10 years of use, and still no holes.  There is wear in a bunch of the areas but nothing I wouldn’t expect over 10 years of use.  The downsides of using this belt are, when first bought it’s as stiff as board and takes time to “break”, and it tends to be a little bulky when you’re in really tight spaces.

I’ve added a few extras to my belt over the years.  On the back of my belt I have the Occidental #5068 construction calculator case.  This case fits my Iphone 6, keeping it out of my belt, but also within reach.  Also in my right front pouch I’ve added the Occidental #5523 4 in 1 tool/tape holder.  This gives me a few other places to store tool in a pocket that had a big empty space in it.

What’s in Your Tool Belt

The tools I carry in my belt are best suited for the work that I do.  For the most part I spend my days doing “handyman” style jobs, so my tools reflect this.  If I’m going to be vinyl siding for the next 2 weeks than obviously certain tools would come out of the belt and other tools (i.e. Snips, snap lock punch etc…) would go into the belt.

Hammer Loop

I’m right handed so naturally my right tool bag is fitted with a hammer loop.  For most of my jobs the hammer I would use is the Stiletto FH10C-F, which is a 10oz titanium head paired with a 14.5” poly/fiberglass handle.  If the job required a little more firepower I’d use my Martinez M1 15oz. framing hammer.

Tape Measure

My tape measure sits in the tape pocket located at the top of this bag.  My tape of choice is the Stanley Fat-Max 16ft.  Most of my jobs are small so a 16ft. tape is usually more than enough length to get the job done.  If framing or working on something of a larger scale I can easily grab my 25 or 35 foot Fat-Max tape and change it out.  My inside pocket is outfitted with a bunch of places for tools.  The problem is there not adjustable, so some of the tools I carry I have to, because other tools just won’t fit.

Tool Holders

I also have my 4 in 1 tape/tool holder in this pocket giving me a couple more spaces to store tools.  This pocket contains:

  • Stanley Quick change utility knife #10-499
  • Lenox 9 in 1 multi bit screwdriver #157792
  • Vaughan mini bar #222CS
  • Husky 1 ½” chisel putty knife #DSX15S
  • Carpenters pencils
  • (2) #3 Hard Dixon Ticonderoga pencils.
  • My outside pockets have assorted screws and assorted nails to tackle most tasks.

The left side of my belt has 3 pockets, a front pouch for nail sets, and a rear loop.  My top pocket has all my driver bits and tips.  I keep my longer bits in the pouch and the smaller bits go into either a used Advil container or a small urine specimen cup (unused…in case you were wondering!)

Inside Tool Bag Pocket

My inside pocket contains,

  • Swanson 9-inch magnetic torpedo level #SWTL800-M
  • Allied tools Switch-Grip Pliers #30578
  • Milwaukee ¼” offset hex driver #48-32-2100.
  • My Swanson speed square #99943, sits in a slot between the pockets.

My outside pocket is empty and is my job specific fastener pouch.  If I’m doing decking then I dump a bunch of decking screws into it, if I’m working on vinyl siding then I put a bunch of roofing nails into it.

My nail set pouch has a 1/32” and 3/32” inch Kobalt nail set #323749.  Lastly my rear loop has a Vaughan 9” Bear Claw nail puller #BC-9.

What’s Your Preference?

I know that every person in the trade has their own preference when it comes to tools, and to me nothing is more personal than a tool belt.  After awhile your tool belt becomes an extension of you and hopefully makes you more efficient at your work.  I don’t think my tool belt is right for anyone but me, but if you got any ideas about your own tool belt and efficiency by reading this then that is a win!

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About the author

Mike Delisle

Mike is a carpenter, handyman, and woodworker from Rhode Island, where he has spent the last 17 years working in the trades. Mike became interested in building construction by helping out the contractor who built his house. While being a carpenter is enjoyable and pays the bills, his real passion lies in woodworking and using his favorite tool, the scroll saw, to create 3d signs. In his spare time Mike enjoys bass fishing, skiing, and cheering for the Montreal Canadiens.

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