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The tool belt

November 7, 2012
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

The tool belt is an individual thing. One the staples holding the product information have been forced from the stout leather, personalization may begin.

It is easy to let the mind wander to the sort of place where the machine stitchery has been lavished on the belt. Individual pockets, slots, and integrated pouches adorn the sides in somewhat symmetrical fashion. It is easy to envision a factory worker making their ten thousandth such belt, and they themselves wondering what sort of place it might be where the belt ends up. Will the wearer understand the magnitude of the skill required to stitch such a thing?

To one not familiar with tool belts, it might not be obvious which way it goes on; either the buckle in the front, or the buckle in the rear. Perhaps it is not obvious, because it doesn't matter. If one is a cobbler, or someone else who needs their tools up front and available, to buckle in the back might be the best option. For someone intending to wear the tool belt to hold some of the tools needed for harvesting wood, buckling in the front, with the pockets and pouches hanging to the back would be the best option. Front facing pockets would soon fill with the sawdust which flies while bucking trees.

Article Photos

Oil tanned leather tends to exude a certain aroma-bold perhaps, manly. Thick pieces of tanned cowhide stitched together in an artisan fashion release their esters even to those unwilling to bring their nose close to the apparatus. The slight oiliness of the leather entices the woodsman to touch, pinch and feel the leather. It is easy to envision the tool belt being around much longer than he, as long as it is never left in the elements, and is cared for satisfactorily.

Dual hammer loops, made of cast bronze give the wearer a choice: two hammers, although I know not what for, or, perhaps the intent is the agility allowed to hang a hammer from either side, depending on one's orientation, and handedness.

The belt itself, or the portion meant to be buckled to attach the tool belt around the waist of the wearer, is made quite large. It might accommodate the waist of a portly person, say over fifty inches, or cinched to the last hole to accommodate the waist of a slighter person, say thirty-few inches. In this case, the excess must be removed, to eliminate the possibility of a flapping tail getting caught in some machinery, or causing the woodsman to somehow look socially inept.

First, a portion of the excess is cut off and laid down over the remainder, at the place the belt will fit the wearer once buckled. The graceful taper created at the factory is traced on the remaining tail, and shaped with a stout pair of scissors.

Then there are the pockets. Large pockets one imagines must be for holding nails, or deck screws, or small pieces of individually wrapped candies. Then smaller pockets into which one might place a tape measure, or a chalk line box.

What tool shall be placed in that prominent tapered holder at the right front of the belt? One imagines it to be designed to hold a pair of pliers, or as one old friend used to call them, a Bohemian socket set. Other slimmer holders will hold screwdrivers, I am sure by design, or if worn by the woodsman, a scrench.

A scrench is a tool which is a hybrid of, and contains both a screwdriver-the handle-and a pair of socket type devices on the head. One is a wrench for the nuts holding the cutting bar to a chainsaw, and the other end is a wrench for removing the sparkplug. Screnches are seldom loyal, and are fond of being dropped and kicked beneath the leaves, never to be seen again.

Holding the tool belt and fondling the leather around one such holder, it is easy for the woodsman to imagine he will never have to buy another scrench because integrated into the gadget is a place to hold it secure.

Donning the contraption, buckling it to the proper hole and stowing the tail in the leather keeper, the woodsman marvels at the sheer utilitarianism, the abject usefulness of the device, and the sense of purpose it imbibes in him as he admires the apparatus around his middle.

Grabbing the blue handle of his pickeroon, which has become like a third hand in his wood cutting endeavors, he slides the handle into the hammer loop at his right side. It is obvious a thirty inch tool, with a sharp hooked spike at the end, is not a safe thing to have dangling unsecured so close to ones vital organs.

The woodsman fashions a loop out of the leather cut from the excess length of the belt. Using a small bolt and a couple of washers, he fastens the loop in a horizontal orientation to the belt in such a way the spike is captured and held tight, rear facing, against the leather of the tool belt.

It is easy for the woodsman to imagine his work will be more efficient now; the tools and devices required for the processing of firewood will be at the ready, safe from being misplaced, or mislaid and lost.

With the tool belt attached as the last article donned, on top of the chainsaw protective chaps he wears, and below the waist of the old down coat which warms and soothes him like an old friend, the woodsman gathers strength and steps outside into the light.

Until next time-

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In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2005 - 2012 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342



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