When I first started my job, I didn’t pay much attention to the tool belt, thinking it was not important. It was shocking when I realized that I wore my tool belt incorrectly for such a long period. The neglect cost me a painful back and shoulders. Even worse, I always had a tough time finding the tools I needed. They were all over the place. Needless to say, I was one of the slowest workers in the team.
After many years of experience, I’ve come up with the most effective way to wear a tool belt. Firstly, always check the belt before putting it on. Spend time organizing the tools so that they are accessible and handy. After that, distribute them evenly for a balanced belt. Finally, adjust and lock the buckles. You can attach suspenders if you need more comfort.
But how should you check the belt or organize the tools? In this article, we provide a detailed step-by-step guide on how to wear a tool belt, along with advice on choosing the best tool belt for your job. Let’s explore!
Table of Contents
What You Will Need
All you need is your tool belt and all the tools your job requires. Before proceeding, we would like to provide a quick guide on choosing the right belts and tools for your job. The wrong tool belts can never be worn properly.
1. The tool belt
Don’t just blindly pick any tool belt in the market. Instead, take your time to learn about its properties. Each job pairs best with slightly different tool belt designs, but they all should be:
- High-quality: Firstly, make sure the materials are of high quality. They should be resistant to moisture, tear, and split. Some common materials are polyester, nylon, leather, and canvas. In general, leather is heavier and more expensive but it is the most sturdy and durable. On the other hand, synthetic materials like polyester and nylon are lighter. They reduce the pressure on your back and shoulders.
- Then, choose the materials depending on the amount of weight the belts have to hold. If you have to carry heavy tools, leather is the best option. However, the combination of a leather tool belt and weighty appliances can be a lot on your back. Consider buying belts with suspenders.
- Having spacious pockets: Don’t try to stuff all of your tools into a tiny pocket. That is dangerous as they can fall out anytime. Pouches with a barrel-bottom design are usually more spacious. The wider bottom will prevent tools from falling out. Also, look for belts that feature a hammer holder and loops for longer tools. That will ensure all of your appliances are in place.
- Comfortable: Some materials can be highly unbreathable. If you work under the sun, choose a tool belt that is not too thick and has good air circulation. You don’t want to feel hot and sweaty around the waist area while working. Thick foam padding can help support your back, especially when you have to wear the belt all day.
- Again, you can buy tool belt suspenders for added comfort. The suspenders will distribute the weight evenly, making it extra comfy. Moreover, it helps tighten the tool belt to your body so it will never create inconvenience.
- Adjustable: Everybody has a different body shape. Thus, it’s best to purchase a tool belt with high adjustability. The tool belt should always fit your waist properly. The buckle system must be hard and firm. Some manufacturers make the pouches rearrangeable to maximize convenience for the tool belt user.
If the tool belt you have doesn’t feel right, don’t worry! We will provide some pro tips to make it more comfy. But after following the steps, if it still feels uncomfortable, you might need to purchase a new one. Tool belts are meant to save you time and effort, not be the cause of annoyance.
2. Your tools
Gather all the tools you have for your job. Lay them out so you can have a better view of what you are working with. To save you from unwanted heaviness, think about what tools you don’t need anymore. Consider getting rid of them or putting them aside.
As a carpenter, my list of most important tools include a hammer, a tape measure, a folding ruler, two nail sets (more would be unnecessary), a chalk line, a speed square, a nail puller, end-cutting nippers, needle-nose pliers, a torpedo level, a few scribes, two carpenter pencils, two fixed blades, a flashlight, and a screwdriver.
These are the permanent residents in my tool belt. If a task requires other tools, I would add them in and remove them when I’m done. It is to keep minimal weight on my waist.
Steps to Wear a Tool Belt Properly
Wearing a tool belt is not difficult, but it should never be taken lightly. Follow our guideline to wear it accurately and comfortably.
Step 1: Check the tool belt before wearing
Many people don’t check the tool belt before wearing it. But it is crucial to always examine the belt carefully. Check if there’s any tear, split, or damage problem. Make sure you check the pockets and pouches. It is easy to fix a small split, but if you neglect it, it can get bigger over time and become unfixable. The buckles, hooks, and connectors should have no rust or damage and can be closed firmly.
Some tools can be weighty. So, it’s necessary to assure a flawless tool belt to keep you and others safe.
Step 2: Organize the tools
Don’t throw the tools randomly into the tool belt pockets. Rather, consider if you are left or right-handed and arrange the tools as follows:
- Primary tools on your dominant side: Primary working tools are the ones that you use most frequently. Arrange them in the order of priorities. For instance, if you usually reach for the tape measure and you are right-handed, put it in the main pocket on the right. The dominant hand does most of the work and is always quicker than the other. Putting the essential tools near your dominant hand will save you
- Less-used tools on the other side: Place the secondary tools that you don’t need as often on the other side. There are appliances you only use for sudden needs like the screw driver, the utility knife, or the flashlight. Keep them out of the way in the left pouch. Each job requires different tools and you are the only one who knows your job best. Arrange tools in the way that is most convenient for you.
- Heavy tools on hooks and locks: Don’t be lazy and throw heavy tools into pouches. Take your time to place them properly on hooks and locks to keep them from falling out and hurting your feet.
- Small tools in the tool belt pockets: Settle the smaller items like nail sets, nuts, washers in the pockets. Close the lids tightly. Doing so will keep them in place when you bow frontwards.
Organizing the tools might be time-consuming. But when you get used to this arranging system, you will easily find the tools when you need them. You can complete difficult tasks effortlessly.
Step 3: Balance the tool belt
Now that all the appliances are in place, try putting the belt on to see if it’s balanced. Remember to distribute the tools evenly on both sides. Uneven weight can cause sores in the neck, back, and shoulders, especially when you wear the belt for a prolonged period.
Step 4: Wear the belt and lock it properly
The belt is ready to use now. Tighten up the buckle so that it fits snugly. Make sure the pouches and pockets face outwards. If you wonder whether wearing the tool belt front or back is better, the answer is it depends.
With jobs that require workers to bend over frequently or climb ladders, the pockets should be to the rear. On the other hand, the pockets should be to the front for jobs that require reaching for the tools regularly. Feel free to move the tool belt according to your need.
However, the best option is to wear belts with pockets on the sides. Only belts with certain designs can be worn this way. When the tools are stored in pockets and pouches on the sides, you are safer. It is because if you slip and fall, the tools won’t hurt your back. And if you accidentally drop the tools when picking them, they won’t land on your feet.
Also, it is recommended to move the center of heaviness constantly. No matter how hard you try to distribute the weight evenly, the belt will always have a heavy center. Remember to shift the heaviness around to avoid pressure in one area. At this point, if you still feel weighty and uncomfortable, you might need suspenders.
Step 5: Attach the suspenders to the belt
After putting on suspenders, you won’t be able to move the belt around. Hence, secure it in a position that feels most comfortable and convenient. Then, connect the suspenders to the belt using four hooks (two for the front and two for the back). Make sure the back and chest line is tightened and secured. Lastly, fasten the suspenders as needed.
Now, you can carry out tasks without feeling weighty around the waist line. For those who have to carry a lot of tools all day long, suspenders can be a life saver.
Step 6: Keep your hands free
Last but not least, always keep your hands free when climbing ladders or trees. The tool belt is here to store the appliances. There is no reason for you to carry the tool in one hand while gripping the ladder handle. It is simple and straightforward, yet I see many electricians do this. Once finishing the electrician tool belt setup, please be aware to follow this rule.
Wearing a tool belt properly will tremendously improve your experience at work. So, spend time learning how to wear a tool belt in the most accurate and effective way. Always follow the right techniques and rules to ensure safety and comfort. Don’t forget to wash and store the belt appropriately to maximize its lifespan and usage. Take care of it so it will take care of you.
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.