Make the Most of Your Tool Belt

A fully stocked tool belt with the the words "Hot to Stock a Tool Belt."

Are those fancy tool storage caddies and tool boxes really as convenient as they look? While they may be beautiful to look at and seem great for the storage of tools that are only used once in a while, a tool belt allows you to keep high-use tools easily accessible and all in the same place. A tool belt is totally necessary for those jobs around the house that need a few different tools to fix, such as a hammer, screwdriver, and nails.

Why You Need a Tool Belt

A tool belt keeps all of your tools together in the same place and organizes them depending on what you use most and with which hand. Rather than having a bunch of nails mixed up with screws, nuts, and bolts in a box, a tool belt has a separate compartment for everything. Tool belts make repair jobs much easier because all parts and tools are within easy reach, right there on your hip.

Choosing a Tool Belt

Tool belt styles vary widely—they come in different sizes, with lots of different styles of pockets. Some tool belts have two main pockets in the front for carrying larger tools and dividers inside that create smaller storage pockets. If you just need a belt for basic tools, one with lots of little compartments can be pretty handy for small tools such as nails, adhesive, and tape. For larger tools and bigger jobs, a tool belt with larger pockets and straps for hanging tools is best.

What to Put Inside

A tool belt should contain the most common tools you might need to fix or repair something around the house. These belts are designed with plenty of storage and can carry the weight of many tools of all sorts. The more pockets, the better. Tool belts also have plenty of space for less-commonly used tools such as leveling tools and wrenches.

Dominant Hand Tools

When arranging the previously mentioned tools in your tool belt, it's important to make sure that the tools you use with your dominant hand are stored on that side. When arranging your tool belt, for example, if you are right-handed, you will want to put the tools you use mostly with your right hand on the right side of the tool belt. The same goes if you are left-handed. In that case, your dominant hand tools would go on the left side of your tool belt. Dominant hand tools are tools such as a hammer, screwdriver, or drill, which you use with your dominant hand most of the time.

Helper Hand Tools

Your helper hand tools should be stored on the opposite side of your tool belt, as these are the tools used by your non-dominant hand. While some of these tools can be used by the dominant hand at times, they are predominantly used by the helper hand while the dominant hand is using another tool to do most of the work. Some examples of helper hand tools are a flashlight, tape measure, small hammer, chisel, and speed square.

Which Hand Tools to Use

Start with the essentials. Begin with the tools you could use for nearly any repair, design, or fix-it project. Your handy tool belt should include a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, and pliers. Include both a Phillips and flat head screwdriver, as well as some measuring and marking tools like a tape measure and pencils. These tools can be used for instances where you might need to hang something, mark the wall, or measure for a project. If you need more precise tools, such as specific sized wrenches, add these depending on the space you have left in the pockets of your tool belt.

How to Organize It All

While many tools can be switched between the categories of dominant hand and helper hand, decide in which hand you use the specified tool the most, and store it on that side. If the tool is stored on the wrong side, it can be inconvenient to have to reach across your body, the tools, and the tool belt to get to the tool you need while you’re repairing something.

Be sure your tool belt has deep pockets so that nothing falls out when you when you bend or lean over. Each small pocket should hold one item, and bigger pockets can hold a few tools each, without too much trouble.