<Most Excellent Rant and Epiphanic Diatribe Reluctantly Snipped>
Ya know, I need to start reading the Wreck more carefully.
This gem slipped right on by me and would have done so forever if I
had not had a phone conversation with the sage O'Deen wherein I asked
if he had been frequenting the Wreck at all.
Dude was kind to me and didn't even call me twelve different kinds of
DMF's or nuthin'.
My onliest excuse is that I had blown out my Agent hookup to
Uselessnet and then didn't download the 250,000 plus messages that
were available when I started up again.
That being said, let's talk about toolbelts.
When I was naught but a pube in the carpenter bidness we had no
We had canvas work aprons that were given to us by those same kind
folks that gave us the free carpenter's pencils and free yellow keels.
We were encouraged (required) to carry a scriber, tape, pencil,
chalkline, utility knife, fat and thin nailsets, etc. on our person at
The Help Wanted ads and The Daily Racing Form were optional, although
you could not tell this from simple observation of the alleged
carpenters on my worksites.
As the world moved on and the kind people who had given us all that
nice free shit were driven out by the Borg ( "You are now Borg - you
are not Lumber Yards - you will be approximated") we found that our
canvas aprons were becoming threadbare.
My first move, and I believe myself to be representative of my
contemporaries, was to go to Sears.
Yeah, you can say all you want about that proto-wannabe-borg Sears but
they made at least three good tools during the seventies: Catspaws,
Wonderbars, and Toolbelts.
You may note that none of these tools had moving parts.
Let's move on.
IIRC my first leather belt from Sears was a basic Two Pocket with a
Hammer Loops on both sides and a Leather and Metal Holster for the
Combo Square located on the wrong side for a left-handed carpenter.
It also had these cute little cubbies for a couple of nailsets and a
special section for the utility knife.
ARE WE NOT MEN. NO, WE ARE DEVO.
I wore out a couple of those suckers (wiping the snot off the end of a
caulk tube onto the belt eventually makes the thing look so bad that
even a cheap bastuhd of the third degree needs to buy new. You wind
up looking like a walking Jackson Pollock trunk painting.)
Well, the Eighties came and California Carpenters were being featured
in all the high-toned East Coast rags (FHB).
Had to have one.
Yeah, you know what I mean - Occidental Leather - the Sine Qua Non of
the modern carpenter bubba.
It had four pockets, a holster for the combo square, a loop for the
catspaw, four little pockets for nailsets and such, a place for a
pencil, a place for a keel, a hammer holster that would go on either
side of the belt.
And that sonofabitch weighed about forty pounds when you loaded it all
The leather was thicker than that on my workboots and the belt was
wide enough to make me go out and buy new jeans.
But, if I could make it to the top of the ladder under all that
weight, I could do anything from setting a nail to fixing a damned
You need to be a strong young man to wear one of these belts.
As I got older, and shorter, from wearing the belt, I implemented
Of course, this meant a trip to the Occidental Leather Accessories
area of the catalogue.
First, I got the Lambs Wool padded undergarment for the belt,
"Guaranteed to distribute the weight of your Occidental Leather belt
in the most effective way."
This seemed to work for a bit but then my knees started to give out,
so I went back to the Occidental Leather
Accessories area of the catalogue and bought the suspenders.
"Shoulder Pads with real Lamb's Wool padding to redistribute the load
of your Occidental Leather Toolbelt from your ruined knees to your
Hell yes - I bought 'em!
They and the other appurtenances of the Occidental Leather Toolbelt
damned near killed me over the next few years.
Having started out at six foot one and now being at about five foot
ten, I thought long and hard about further adaptive strategies.
I was bone tired from carrying around fifteen pounds of toolbelt
leather to hold five pounds of tools
I was still pissed that they had not solved the problem of how to
carry the Wonderbar (I would stick it in the space between the loop of
the bag and the belt, and then holler, "Look out below" when I climbed
I went out and bought a pair of Oshkosh Bib Carpenter's Overalls.
Best damned thing I ever did.
The OBCO is basically the same damned thing as what I started out with
- a cloth apron that only held as much as a normal man would need to
do his work - and it had loops on both sides for hammers and such.
It had slots for pencils on the bib, which is where they should be,
and a pocket for your glasses, because, by the time you decide that
you are ready to wear OBCO's, you need to wear glasses, and carry less
weight around in your life.
It made dressing for work in the morning so much easier.
I wore OCBO's until my last day in the shop.
Then I went to buy another pair for me to wear around puttering - and
found out that they had gone out of business.
I guess I got out of the game just in time.
The Occidental Leather toolbelt and All Of Its Appurtenances hangs on
a nail in my shop.
It makes me tired even to look at it.
I keep all the heavy stuff in toolboxes - where it belongs.
ARE WE NOT MEN. NO, WE ARE DEVO.
Tom Watson - WoodDorker
=====>And more than you probably wanted to know! The Oxford English Dictionary has the following:
[Of uncertain origin. Gaelic and Irish and possibly Scottish.
A variety of red ochreous iron-ore used for marking sheep, stone, timer,
etc. Als the red mark made by this on sheep,etc."
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