Copyright Jim Korger 2011
SCAFFOLDING: THE INVISIBLE TRADE ™
The following comments are based on over 30 years of scaffolding field experience.
Sixteen years ago, when "Below the Belt" was still a twinkling in my eye, the family got into a brain storming session about what to name the new hobby. My wife came up with Below the Belt quite innocently reasoning that I make holders that hang below the belt.
My son drew up the logo within a few minutes and a pipe dream was born. When my daughter recorded the message on the machine, “Thank you for reaching Below the Belt” it sank in that we may have gone a bit too far. While lining up my source for snaps a secretary asked “and how can I reach you?” I replied, “Below the Belt”. She hung up before I could say, "at 707-664-1152".
With persistence I still have the full product line available. Volume is way down as is all construction related enterprise. I could make the items cheaper with more attractive leather but they would certainly be far less durable. I think THAT would be reaching below the belt.
The leather tool holders I make are geared to the long term Scaffolding Worker and the career Iron Worker. Some of the tool holders can be used by many trades but you should seek out specialists for your trade. Framing carpenters are wise to consider the products of Occidental Leather. Visit them at WWW.BESTBELT.COM.
Lathers should check out Bob’s Leather at WWW.BOBSLEATHER.COM. Iron Workers and Scaffold Erectors are advised to drop in at www.ironworkergear.com. I especially like their alternative to the Klein Bag - the Rude Dog tunnel loop Bolt Bag (click "Hot Deals" then click "New Products"). They are also an excellemt source of "Milkers" If you don't know what that means you probably are not a rod buster.
All three of these companies make leather goods right here in the USA, as do I.
If you need quality leather tool holders please feel free to reach Below the Belt.
On July 1st, 2011 I felt compelled to switch the name to Scaffold Worker. People had a hard time finding anything ".BIZ". The name Below the Belt has also become cluttered with a variety of sellers of all types of goods.
Those new to scaffolding always want to know what scaffolding tools they need. Scaffold hammer, scaffold tape, scaffold pliers, scaffold wrench? – Which kind?
Which companies products? With the variety available and the lure of cheap tools I understand the confusion if you are new to Scaffolding.
The first scaffold tool you need is a hammer. Framing Carpenters will tell you that you need a wooden handle or built in vibration protection so that you don’t “blow out your elbow”. I am sure this is true for their trade.
A scaffolding carpenter requires an all steel shank hammer. There are a number of reasons for this with the most notable being SAFETY. I have been around when at least 8 wooden handles have broken and only once when a steel shank handle broke.
The steel shank is more dependable and , among other uses, is handy to clean the plaster off the header of a frame before leveling.
The number one choice of experienced scaffold erectors is the Estwing 22oz framing hammer with a 16” handle. Go with this long handle – you can always choke up depending on the circumstances. The longer handle also helps the “scaffold hammer” stay in its leather holder. You will be working above other scaffold erectors and at times the general public. If you drop a tool several times in a few days you will very likely be let go.
You can get heavier hammers. 22oz is fine. I have used heavier but switched back to 22oz after my last set of tools was stolen. Ask your new boss, or even better, bring in a borrowed hammer the first day and ask the people you will be working with what they recommend.
I prefer a smooth face head. There is less chance of damaging a finish when inserting ties into a wood frame building. Fewer flakes seem to fly off when locking and unlocking Cup lock systems scaffolding. Less damage is caused to the locking pin on Safway systems scaffolding. Less damage is made to the end of the setter for concrete masonry anchors when you do all-thread scaffold ties. There are others, long in the trade of scaffolding, who swear by the milled face hammer. If you switch back to framing now and then it may be the right choice for you.
If you are going to be long in the Scaffolding trade get the Estwing model E3-22S. Straight claw,22oz, steel shank, 16” handle, smooth face, framing style hammer. I sell tis one above in "MADE IN USA Scaffold Tools". They are readily available nation wide. Estwing hammers are made in the USA
(as are all my leather tool holders). Visit their website at WWW.ESTWING.COM
You can get a steel shank hammer at Harbor Freight for about $11.00 if you are on the cheap.
I have seen much written about the Stileto Hhammers. I would be sad indeed to find a $200.00 + hammer stolen. I had my tools stolen 3 times over my field career. I also find it hard to understand the oft made claim that it strikes with the force of of other hammers twice its weight.
Your second scaffold tool should be a tape measure. You will be sent to get a seven foot bar or rail and will need to discern the correct size from a puzzling array of parts.
This is probably the one area where most scaffolding erectors will agree. As a minimum you should get a Stanley® 25 foot Fat Max. A 30 footer is nice but get nothing less than a 25 foot. I am unaware oF any better tape than the Stanley® Fat Max. They are available everywhere. If you find them on sale, get several. If you are working full time you will need a replacement within a year.
If you get a 33, 35 or 40 foot tape your leadman/foreman will borrow it constantly until it is broken. You are best to start with the 25 foot. It certainly is nice that there is nothing close to the Stanley® quality and they are made right here in the US.
I now sell these at "MADE IN USA SCAFFOLD TOOLS" above.
SCAFFOLDERS ADJUSTABLE WRENCH
If you plan to show up with a minimum of tools get an adjustable wrench as your third choice of tool. I has become hard to find this style of wrench made in the USA. I used to recomend the Crescent brand but they seem to all be made in China. The Klein ones are now made in Spain. Took a while but I found that the Williams brand is still made in the USA. I carry their 10" above.
European scaffolding erectors will call this tool an adjustable spanner.
An argument develops when you get around to the proper size. 6,8,10, or 12? My vote is for the 6”, especially if you work with Safway Systems because the handle can slide into the upper slot of a bar’s fitting and you can straighten a twist in the bar. If you have set a 250’ stair in a V bottom boiler where the layout didn’t have a direct support to the stair verticals you know what I mean.Trouble always seems to start at about 50'
I also maintain that when you get a proper Scaffolding wrench – especially the style I sell with ¾ AND 7/8 - you’ll be packing enough leverage to take care of stubborn nuts. You’ll end up using your adjustable wrench as a back up wrench on bolts and getting into tight places so you won’t need to pack the extra weight around. There are those who think you need the 12 inch for extra leverage on tap. When in doubt look at what the other workers are using..