Totin’ Tools

When I was a child I had a tool box.  It was just a cheap plastic box containing a pair of pliers, a couple of screw drivers and a light-weight hammer.  All real tools passed along by my Dad so I could help “fix things” around the house.  But it was my very own tool box and I was proud of it.  As I grew older, my tool collection expanded and I got a proper metal tool box for them.

When I grew to manhood I set my sights on sailing around the world in a 28 foot long Bristol Channel Cutter, earning my way by doing woodworking and writing about my adventures.  My tool box became an oilskin tool roll, about the size of a duffel bag,  and a knock-down work bench.  I practiced my woodworking by building furniture in the yard using just these hand tools.

But then I became infatuated with a young woman who had no intention of bobbing around the world in a boat.  She wanted a grand home filled with fine furnishings, and carpet, and air conditioning.  So I sold the boat and built a wood shop.

In this shop, tools were neatly laid out in labeled drawers or hung in cabinets.  For many decades that’s how I worked.  I rarely did any “in the field” work, so my tools did not need to be portable.  I upgraded through four different workshops, but never made my tool collection mobile.

When I’d do work around the home or property, I’d put the tools I needed in a box or bag.  And I tended to lay them down where I was and have to look for them when I need that tool again.  At the end of the day I had to take inventory and be sure I’d recovered all my tools before I headed in for the night.

When I retired and closed the wood shop, I kept all my tools.  With more time on my hands, I started doing things for friends and neighbors, and it became clear that tossing what I thought I’d need in a cardboard box when heading off to a job was not going to be sufficient in the long term.  So I bought a good tool chest.  Now my most commonly used tools were portable: hoist the chest into the truck and I’d have most anything I’d need.

When working on something outside, I could tote the chest out there and set it someplace convenient to where I was working.  Still, to juggle multiple tools I ended up poking things into pants pockets or laying them down and having trouble finding them again.

I recently began work on a major upgrade to our dog kennels.  In planning for this job I also applied a measuring eye to the logistics of tool management.  I would likely find myself up on a roof, and running around a construction site doing things.  Snagging tools from my tool chest may not be convenient if I have to go down a ladder to get the tool I need, and moving around with my pockets stuffed with pliers, wrenches, and a hammer would be unwieldy as well.  So I splurged and bought some proper “workman” accessories.

One is this tool pouch.  It hangs on a belt and offers multiple pockets for various pliers type tools or a multi-tip screwdriver as well as loops for a socket wrench, pencil/marker, and a clip for a tape measure.

I must admit it took a while for me to learn to use this … the habit of just laying a tool down when I was done with it for a moment (and needed to use that hand for something else) was ingrained.  But once I retrained myself I am now able to keep my tools at the ready.  As the tasks change I go to the tool chest to swap out the tools in the pouch.

I also bought a holster for my cordless drill that has small storage pockets for various bits and drivers I may be needing.  Using an Insty Bit chuck, bits, and drivers makes swapping one for another really quick.  I also got a couple of nail/screw pouches and a padded work belt to hang them all on.  Unfortunately, only the drill holster really fits on the padded belt, the others need to hang off a standard leather belt.

But it’s all good.  I may look like a lineman stumping around with 30 pounds of tools and supplies hung around my waist, but I’m really feeling efficient.  And even if it’s just the tool pouch I’m using, it makes these outside projects so much less frustrating because the tool I need is always right where I can find it when I need it.  No more, “Argh!  Where did I put it down THIS time?”

These new dog kennels were a MAJOR undertaking for me.  Having the proper tool accessories (and helpful friends for volunteer labor) was a big help. More Info

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