Launch Slideshow

A Carpenter's Tool Vest

A Carpenter's Tool Vest

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/740678083_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-1_tcm80-2009861.JPG?width=540

    true

    540

    David Frane_ToTT

    This is a great vest for use in the shop or by a finish carpenter. I’d frame in it but then I only do occasional light framing. A full-time framer would be better served by a traditional belt. That green lettering above the left chest pocket is my company logo – there was space so I had it embroidered there.

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/1433759662_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-2_tcm80-2009862.JPG?width=591

    true

    591

    David Frane_ToTT

    A series of deep pockets hangs from the front left side – a full width pocket in back and three tall narrow pockets in front. The vest came with a stretchy belt. I assume it was there so you could transfer some of the weight from shoulders to waist. I don’t load the vest up so I got rid of the belt because I never used it.

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/1513154404_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-3_tcm80-2009863.jpg?width=600

    true

    600

    David Frane_ToTT

    The loops on the front of the pockets are for storing pliers and snips. You have to match the width of the handles to the width of the loop. If the handles are too narrow the tool will fall through. The narrow loop towards the back is perfect for needle nose pliers. The nice thing about the loops is you can get at tools quickly and the tips won’t wear holes through a pocket.

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/276454753_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-4_tcm80-2009864.jpg?width=581

    true

    581

    David Frane_ToTT

    A cool feature for guys who do commercial work and have to carry a name tag is the clear plastic ID sleeve on the back of the right front pocket. It’s shown here in the down position but there is Velcro the back so you can fold it under and stick it to the back side of the pocket. I don’t need a name tag so I carry business cards in mine.

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/1583055056_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-5_tcm80-2009865.JPG?width=498

    true

    498

    David Frane_ToTT

    On the lower left front side are a series of pouches, each slightly deeper and narrower than the next. I’ll put fasteners or larger tools in the back one and smaller tools in the middle one. The small front pocket is used for one item only – foam ear plugs. I keep them there because it makes them easy to get at.

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/1154404929_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-6_tcm80-2009866.JPG?width=420

    true

    420

    David Frane_ToTT

    I like that there are hammer loops on each side of the vest. I’ll carry a hammer in one and clip the hook of my nail gun into the other so my hands are free to climb ladders.

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/1339273526_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-7_tcm80-2009867.JPG?width=364

    true

    364

    David Frane_ToTT

    The large hanging pockets on the back of the vest are a good place to store hardware and large items such as a carpenter’s square. If you look closely you’ll see that the large piece of fabric – between the shoulders and waist – is mesh. There are smaller sections of mesh on the front. The mesh makes the vest noticeably cooler to wear in hot weather. You can’t see it here, but the shoulders themselves are padded, which makes the vest more comfortable to wear when heavily loaded with tools.

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/1029942894_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-8_tcm80-2009868.JPG?width=441

    true

    441

    David Frane_ToTT

    The Velcro flapped pocket on the right is large enough to hold most smart phones. But a bulky case will make it harder to fit in there. My iPhone 5 will go in but it’s too tall so the flap can’t be closed. I usually keep a laser distance measurer in this pocket because it fits perfectly and is a tool I need to get at all the time.

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/158628887_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-9_tcm80-2009869.JPG?width=475

    true

    475

    David Frane_ToTT

    I keep my phone in the large chest pocket with the flap that snaps. Notice how the bottoms of the chest pockets are not sewn tight to the vest; this allows them to swing out when you bend over, so the contents are less likely to fall out (the same is true of the chest pockets on the left side of the vest). The loops on the right chest pocket can be used like the ones on the lower pocket – to keep screwdrivers and small pliers at the ready.

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/305975888_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-10_tcm80-2009870.JPG?width=400

    true

    400

    David Frane_ToTT

    Just below the left chest pocket is a wide shallow zippered compartment. It’s a great place to store things you don’t want to lose. I keep extra foam ear plugs and ear buds for my mp3 player in there. Note the mesh fabric below the shoulders; it’s the same material as is on the back and is there to make the vest cooler to wear.

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/1537532999_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-11_tcm80-2009871.JPG?width=400

    true

    400

    David Frane_ToTT

    The left chest pocket is full width in back and divided in front. I store an engineer’s rule and long pencils in the narrow one. The horizontal slot down from the top allows you to store short pencils without being concerned that they’ll disappear into the bottom of a deep pocket.

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/120652527_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-12_tcm80-2009872.JPG?width=400

    true

    400

    David Frane_ToTT

    On my vest there is a large rivet just above the left chest pocket. It resembles the rivets used to secure straps on farmer-style overalls – and serves a similar purpose…

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/43206178_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-13_tcm80-2009873.JPG?width=400

    true

    400

    David Frane_ToTT

    The rivet is designed to secure the sheath for a European-style work knife. The sheath clips on like this…

  • http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/Images/961081107_13%2E09%2E03_Bjork-14_tcm80-2009874.JPG?width=400

    true

    400

    David Frane_ToTT

    And slips through a loop directly below to prevent it from flopping around. I’ve had the vest for a while and am not sure if the current model has this feature – I don’t see it in the current catalog. No matter; I often wear European-style work pants and they still have the rivets.

For the last couple of years I've been wearing a Björnkläder Jubilee Carpenter's Tool Vest. I got it because it has better storage options than traditional tool belts.

I dislike wearing tool belts because they're bulky and the tools hang out and scratch finish surfaces, so for most of my career I worked in cargo pants with the pockets stuffed full of tools and supplies. The problem was, they didn't hold everything I needed and I was always searching for tools I had put down somewhere.

The vest has been great; it has a ton of pockets and specialized features that allow me to carry everything I need and still be comfortable. The tools are easy to get at and can be spread all over so they don't stick out from around my waist. If there's a trick to using a vest with so many pockets it's to put the same tools the same place every time; that way, you won't have to think about where they are.

The vest sells for about $100. It's not cheap, but worth it for a piece of equipment you use every day. Björnkläder gear is not widely distributed in the U.S. I order it from Faceline but you can also get it from J&R Distributors.

Click the photo on the left to see the details of the vest and what I carry where. Greg DiBernardo covered Björnkläder pants in an earlier article.