Photo—Courtesy of Jesse De Geest/YouTube
Photo—Courtesy of Jesse De Geest/YouTube

I once worked with a carpenter who restored cars and taught himself to work leather so he didn’t have to pay someone else to do the upholstery work. Jesse De Geest, of Risen Woodworks, did something similar, though he did it to get the tool vest he wanted. While his vest may not be up to the level of upholstery work in a skillfully restored car, it is arguably more useful. As De Geest puts it, he expects it to last for the rest of his work life—and it probably will.

The vest is made from 1/8-inch thick leather, elastic, a buckle, and various metal snaps and rivets. De Geest used a utility knife to cut the leather and stitched it by hand with a leather needle and waxed nylon thread.

I like the minimalist design because it enforces its makers desire to travel light. It has a couple of small screw pouches, specialized holders for a chisel and plane, and multiple pockets/sleeves for pencils and a 6-inch machinist’s rule (in my book, a tool no finish carpenter should be without). I particularly like the sideways pocket for the utility knife.

The vest is held on by a single chest strap. The belt is there to hold pouches but stops short of encircling De Geest’s waist—a detail that allows for greater freedom of movement when crouching and bending.

There’s more to the vest than there is space to describe here. Check it out; it’s very cool.