Launch Slideshow

Framer's Everyday Carry

Framer's Everyday Carry

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    OxyLight Framer Bags
    My first tool bags as a teenager were the Occidental leather bags and those lasted a long time. I had a cobbler re-rivet them. My next bags were Diamondbacks but they were huge and I got tired of them. For the last seven years I’ve been wearing these Occidental OxyLight Framer bags. I went with them because Occidental is a great brand and the bags looked lighter than leather and had the configuration I would use. I wouldn’t change a thing about them (except maybe make them new again).

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    Left Side

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    Right Side

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    Stiletto Tibone II
    The first time I saw a Tibone I scoffed at the idea of spending $200 for a hammer. But I changed my mind and bought one after trying the hammer out at JLC LIVE in 2002. At the time I was using a 24-oz Dalluge axe handle model, and the Tibone was so much lighter. In 2005 I replaced it with a Tibone II (and gave the old one to a guy on the crew) for the side nail puller, a feature I use all the time. I haven’t even replaced the face on this hammer. If my Tibone hammer disappeared today, I’d order another one tonight.

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    Tajima Chalk Line
    I started using Tajima chalk lines 6 or 7 years ago. The Chalk-Rite model is my favorite; it weighs very little and will survive months of daily use provided the line doesn’t get really wet. If the line gets wet, don’t roll it up because wet chalk will gum up the gears. We recently bought some cheaper boxes to snap lines in wet weather and went through three of them on the first day. The Chalk-Rite has very thin synthetic line which produces very good snapped lines when saturated with black chalk. You don’t have to re-chalk as often as with cotton line. In my opinion, no other chalk line is worth having.

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    Construction Master Pro Trig & Armadillo Case
    I have been using Construction Master Calculators for 13 years and through no fault of the calculator, I seem to replace them yearly. It rains a lot in this part of the country and we work outside, so sooner or later the calculator gets soaked and it’s time to buy a new one. I store the calculator in an Armadillo case and have only broken one while it was in the case, and that was because it fell out of my bag and I ran over it with a forklift.

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    Shark Nail Puller
    I only use Japanese style nail pullers. They come in many sizes. I don’t carry the long ones with me but keep but I keep one that’s around 12 inches long in my bags. It is big enough to do the job but not so long that it hits my leg when I walk.

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    Keel
    I carry a Keel (a holder for a lumber crayon) so I can write on wet wood. When I detail plates I like to mark windows, doors, and their sizes on the plates so it is easy to see when stocking the wall.

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    I use a 30’ Fat Max 30’. It has a long stand out and unlike the 35’ model is not too large to fit in my bags. Framing is hard on tapes and this one is pretty durable. During the dry part of the year I’ll get 6 or 7 months out of a FatMax tape. This time of year it rains all the time and tapes don’t last more than a month or two. Once enough mud and grit are pulled into the case that’s it for the tape.

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    Air Blower
    I keep a compressed air blow gun in my bags. I don’t use it that often but when I do, I prefer not to have to hunt for it.

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    Sharpie Marker
    I bought these extra-large Sharpies the last time I was at Lowes. It is supposed to work on wet wood, but it doesn’t do that well. But it works fine on dry surfaces and I use it to detail plates and write on wood or house wrap. I frequently write measurements on the wall where they can be seen from the cut station.

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    Utility Knife
    I like the Stanley InstaChange retractable knife for one simple reason: you can change blades very quickly.

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    Square
    I use a 7-inch Swanson Speed Square. The markings are easy to read and you can use the notches for scribing. I have tried other brands but always come back to this one.

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    Beater Chisel
    I rarely need a sharp chisel so I carry a cheapie (3/4” blade) and let it wear down. It is a framer’s screwdriver.

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    This is all of it.

It’s not easy to earn a place in my tool bags. Here are 11 tools that make the cut.

There’s nothing exotic about them; they’re the kind of tools most framers own. But all of them are special because they help me earn a living at a trade I love. Click on the photo (at left) to see what they are.