Executive Summary: How to customize your tool belt in minutes with pop-rivets and an old belt. Save time building by enhancing the organization of your tool belt. Prevent tools from falling out and know exactly where to find them through this technique.
I was recently inspired by a wranglestar video where Wranglestar (a popular youtube off-the-grid type) went through 10 hand tools homesteaders should have for basic construction. One of his most essential tools is a "proper tool belt".
I admired how nicely his tools were organized and secure on an Occidental Leather company tool belt. There's even a slot for a speed square... brilliant I thought to myself as I could imagine the sound of dropping my speed square yet again. What a thoughtful design! Wranglestar's Occidental belt is a handsome and functional belt; it would probably last me a lifetime but at this point I don't do enough of my own work to justify the cost.
So, my wheels started turning as I looked over my single pouch Sears tool belt that I picked up with a mixed lot of tools from kijjiji. Maybe I could use more pop rivets (see my other pop rivet instructable here) and make better use of what I've already got? Turned I out I could, it took only a few minutes and using scraps from old projects cost me nothing. Here's how I did it!
Step 1: Plan How to Organize Your Tool Belt
Take a moment to dream of your ideal tool belt arrangement. My dream bag, and pretty much my motivation for doing this was to secure speed square and a few other small hand tools. So it had to hold a speed square at the minimum.
Think about what tools you use the most and want to carry. What hand do you grab which tools with? For instance I'm right handed and want my hammer on my right and a draw bag for fasteners on my left. Now take stock of the organization system already on your tool belt and think about you can get from point A to point functional tool belt.
Initially I was going to create a strap across the back of the tool bag to tuck in my speed square but each time I tried to slide it in I poked myself in the gut. Funny how things evolve... I figured that was a crappy design so I went ahead with the other tool loops while I tried to find a solution for the speed square. By chance I found that the square fit in snuggly between the other tool loops that I installed.
Step 2: You Will Need...
There's just a few things that you'll need:
- A tool belt in need of upgrade
- An old belt (I used leather but could be webbing)
- Pop rivets (aluminum to avoid rusting)
- Pop rivet "Back up plates" or other washers
- Sharp knife
- An awl or other sharp pokey thing
- Pop rivet gun (cheap to buy... cheaper used)
- Measuring tape
Step 3: Cut Belt to Length, Rivet and Repeat
Once you've laid out which tools you will secure, measure out the pieces to secure your tools. I started adding a little extra length to mine as I found the tools difficult to remove without a little extra space.
I found it helpful to mark with a pencil or a marker where my holes would go. Then I used an awl to pierce holes for the rivets. Pushing against a scrap piece of wood was helpful. Next I set up to rivet with a backer plate and rivet gun.
I repeated this until my tool belt was organized as I had planned.
I've used the belt a few times now and it's a great improvement to know where I'll find each tool. I plan to come up with a better hammer holder on my right side but that'll be another project.