Saturday, June 9, 2012

Your tools. Anywhere. Anytime with the best tool bag.

Like any semi-itinerant, freelance teacher, I travel to teach a lot - across the Bay Area and across the country. I've done it for years. Keeping my tools organized has always been a hassle. I tried plastic boxes, I hacked together wooden boxes from Ikea into a rolling tool drawer unit, I even traveled with a hanging tool apron. Nothing worked: tools fell out, it was awkward, or it just didn't provide a convenient, user friendly system for finding, using and immediately putting tools back in their respective, defined, location.

Until now. For a few months I've been using the Husky 16 in. Hang Up Tool Bag. I take it to the location where I'm teaching, I hang it on the edge of the table with all my tools available and in sight, and then I zip it up, take it back to the studio and hang it up near my bench - which solves the problem for teachers of having half your tools always packed up and in the wrong place when you need them. I love it.

The bag has 27 inside pockets, 20 straps for more tool storage and 4 outside pockets. It holds 8 pliers, multiple hammers, bench block, large and needle files, scribe, dividers, rulers, loupe, degree gauge, digital calipers, punches, saw frame, blades, bench pin, ring clamp, and more, more, more. On the outside I have pockets for torches, butane, a book and receipt books. It even comes with a strap so that you can wear it like a messenger bag. 

So how does it work? When you unzip the bag, the lid lifts up and there are three grommets for hangers (included with the bag). But I find these to be slippery and week, so I bring a small c-clamp with me and I use that to clamp through one grommet to the table. It never moves. Plus I have access to the larger inside pockets, which can hold my safety glasses, extra magniclips for the students, even small plastic parts boxes for polishing bits and cordless Dremels. When I'm done, I make sure the pockets are closed (Velcro) and close the bag and take it back home. 



















I've even zipped this bad boy up and put it inside my checked luggage when flying to a teaching gig. In my experience, TSA has opened my suitcase and opened this bag, but everything is visible so there has been 0 loss and minimal disturbance by our dedicated security experts. The inside pockets are even clear so you can see what's inside without opening them. Very TSA friendly. It's heavy, but as long as the 50 pound weight limit is still valid, I can pack it and some clothes in one case for the trip. Now, hopefully I haven't tempted the vengeful demigods of travel and security into screwing with my luggage on our next trip. Oh please no! 


Need more mobile storage? 

Anat has been rocking this very cool Husky 18 in. Rolling Tool Tote and is giving me serious tool bag envy. I have to have one of my own and trick it out with perfectly sized boxes with... labels! We first saw this bag in use in Alaska while teaching at the Alaska Bead Company. Our student, Barbara Ramsey, brought this to class with all of her tools and supplies. Plus it rolls and zips up nice and tight and secure. Anat keeps her enamels for class inside along with assorted tools, and the generously sized outside pockets hold torches, butane, etc. 

And there's nothing better to do when you're neck deep in a rapidly growing to-do list than to procrastinate with some well deserved organization time. 

You can see these tool bags in action during upcoming classes with Anat or myself at Silvera Jewelry School or Baubles and Beads

Do you have a favorite tool organizing idea or solution. Please share it here! I'd love to hear about it.

### Update ###
The tool briefcase shown has gotten a little harder to find, so I wanted to post a few options as of October 2016.

Sears is selling the tool briefcase for about $30. There is also a similar bag made for Project Pink for sale at Sears.com, too.

Husky makes a new version of this bag, the Technician Bag, that is a little smaller, still hangs open and has lots of accessible tool storage for finding tools fast at class or for your home studio. 



3 comments:

Copper Horsewoman said...

I don't need quite the heavy-duty storage that Mr. Silvera does, and I have found that those vinyl pencil cases that are for putting into a three-ring notebook work well for a few pliers and cutters, a few files and a bunch of earring finding and other jewelry bits. I have one for silver earring findings, one for other silver (headpins, other components) and one for pliers and cutters and one for files and sandpaper-ish things.

Joe Silvera said...

I wish I could travel light like that I really do! Sometimes I envy the beadwork teachers... Usually from a fetal position on the floor after unpacking, setting up and packing again 499 pounds of tools, kits and stuff!

Thanks for the tip on smaller cases - these are always handy for storage inside larger bags, too. I like to label mine with something descriptive so that at end of the day I know which tools go back in which bags. It's silly, but it saves a lot of questions and time when packing up.

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