Skip to Content

Guide to Leather Tool Belt Types, Fit, and Quality

The leather tool belt has been around since as early as the 1930s and is an essential tool for those individuals in the trade, such as carpenters and electricians.  Tool belts serve to make their jobs easier and more organized through their ability to keep those much-needed tools close at hand.

Leather tool belts are as necessary on almost any job site as the materials involved in the job.  They help keep items organized with their offering of multiple pockets, which aid in the more often used tools conveniently kept handy and in reach.  Each tool belt has its own merits.

There is a wide variety of leather tool belts on the market today, and they all serve a fundamental purpose—that of providing availability.  However, not all tool belts are created equal as some offer more space and durability than others.



What is a Leather Tool Belt?

History shows that the current version of the leather tool belt was not officially born until the earliest part of the last century when some of the first models were either handmade by DIYers or were fashioned and custom-made in either saddle or shoe repair shops.

Through the years, the tool belt style has changed, but the overall purpose has not.  They are still fashioned to be worn around the waist, and still serve to offer multiple pockets and pouches to accommodate those tools most used on most any type of job site.



Types of Leather Tool Belts

Carpenter Tool Belt

A carpenter tool belt is commonly comprised of four pockets for accommodating both nails and tools.  Generally, they will also feature up to six additional pockets for those items such as pencils, pliers, utility knives, and more.  It features a belt up to three inches wide, with a steel loop to accommodate a hammer, and a metal clip for the convenience of a measuring tape.  The carpenter’s tool belt will, more often than not, be prone to daily damaging treatment.  For this reason, the tool belt is constructed of durable, long lasting leather.

Suede Leather Tool Belt - Liberty Leather Goods

Suede Leather Tool Belt


Occidental Leather Tool Belt

Occidental Leather is a brand that has not only designed but produced high-quality items for over 30 years.  Those items include tool bags, tool pouches, tool belts, and suspenders.  In their ongoing effort to provide both comfort and quality in their product, all Occidental Leather items are proudly made in the USA.


Leather Tool Belt with Suspenders

Leather tool belt suspenders are generally suspenders that are capable of clipping onto your tool belt.  The suspenders’ purpose is to alleviate stress on the hip and bone, which is incurred by the carrying of heavy tools in the tool belt.  The suspenders will more adequately distribute the weight from the tool belt more evenly across the entire body frame.  They also help eliminate the problem of tool belts wanting to slip down over the hips when they are somewhat heavy.


Carpenters Leather Tool Pouch

A leather tool pouch is an accessory that can be easily added to any leather tool belt.  A leather tool pouch adds an extra convenience of keeping those small items handy and in reach when needed.  Leather tool pouches are offered in two styles—one of which has an open top and those that can fold over and then snapped shut for added security.


Handmade Leather Tool Belt

Options are available for custom, handmade tool belts. These can be made to function specifically for unique types of work. They can also be made in sizes larger or smaller than common ones, or be made to hold specialized tools. Additionally, they can offer a unique look as each craftsperson can add their own look to it.


Leather Tool Belt Systems

Leather tool belts are available in a variety of styles to accommodate most any type of tradesman.  There is a tool belt designed for carpenters, which has been the long-held favorite of the tool belts, in that it allows contractors the ease of keeping those much-needed items, such as a hammer, a chalk line, a pencil, and a utility knife, close at hand. 

Then there is the tool belt designed for electricians that, as a rule, generally runs smaller than the others but has deeper pockets so as not to worry about losing those smaller items in those situations such as climbing up and down a ladder.  

And then there is a multifunction tool belt, which, more often than not, is a belt system that offers double the space of the traditional carpenters or electricians tool belt, with the added ability to add additional pockets and holders if needed.


Suede Tool Belt

Suede is the most preferred material for tool belts on the market today.  It provides a much more durable product with a longer-lasting lifespan.  Suede tool belts stand up to the everyday wear and tear that thrust upon them.  In most cases, the pockets are smaller to accommodate those items such as pliers, nails, pencils, etc.

Black Leather Tool Belt for Hairstylist - Liberty Leather Goods

Black Leather Tool Belt for Hairstylist

3 inch Leather Work Belt

When looking for and considering a leather work belt, more often than not, the standard size you will find is that of a three-inch.  You may find the belt smaller, but as a rule, the belts are not typically offered much larger.  The benefit of a three-inch work belt is that of durability.  As the tool belt is attached by placing the work belt through the straps, the work belt incurs a lot of weight and stress.  For this reason, the three-inch size is the best to hold up to the abuse from day to day needs.


Top Grain Leather Tool Belt

Top grain leather is the second-highest quality as well as most common grain of leather on the market.  It is only outranked by full-grain leather.  Top grain leather is thinner, which in turn makes it much more pliable.  The leather is much more resistant to stains, as well as any damage and corrosion.  These qualities make it a better choice for a leather tool belt as it will stand up to a day to day and year to year usage.



Popular Leather Tool Belt Brands

Occidental Leather Tool Belt

Occidental Leather Tool Belt takes pride in their products being made in the USA from the finest materials available.  Their tool belts are designed with features that complement today’s modern tradesmen’s work habits—whether they be construction-based or electrical in trade.  Their tool belts offer the finest in hand specific tool holders and offer a multitude of pockets in a variety of sizes.


McGuire Nicholas Leather Tool Belt

McGuire Nicholas has been proudly helping America build since 1932.  Their leather tool belts are oil-tanned and constructed with ease and availability in mind.  The entire tool rig is designed and constructed from oil-tanned leather and features two large and three medium pockets, which provides a sufficiently large capacity for any tools needed.  Lastly, the belt features a metal loop holder for a hammer, two d-rings to accommodate clipping on of suspenders, and can accommodate up to a 50″ waist size.


Suede is the most preferred material for tool belts on the market today.


CLC Leather Tool Belt

CLC Leather Tool Belts feature their patented Sta-Open pockets, which are designed with a gusseted bottom.  This curved bottom makes grasping the contents of the pockets, such as nails or small fasteners, easier than ever.  The unique positioning of those items such as hammer holders and clips for tape measures allows for even more ease of access and comfort in their placement to not interrupt your overall motion.  These tool belts are offered in both top grain as well as a lightweight, rugged poly fabric.


Craft Framer

This leather tool belt is a good all-around piece of equipment to have on hand.  With the feature of offering a massive nineteen pockets, one of the largest amount of the spaces provided on our list, this tool belt is sure to more than adequately meet any needs you may have.  The tool belt also features an extra outer pocket as well as a metal loop for a hammer.



Best Leather Tool Belt

Brand Description
The Occidental Leather Tool Belt The most well known and well trusted of all the brands on the list.  They are expertly constructed, American made from material sources in America, and will more than stand up to the test of time.
The CLC Leather Tool Belt Offers ease of accessibility through their patented Sta-open gusseted bottom pockets.  This feature can come into play in such jobs as those where you need easy access, such as nails or other small items.  
The Craft Framer Leather Tool Belt The most economical and bag for the best bang for your buck on the list.  This beast of a tool belt offers a multitude of pockets, as well as easy accessibility to your hammer due to the inclusion of a metal loop.



Where to Buy Leather Tool Belts

  • Home Depot
  • Lowes
  • Walmart
  • Etsy
  • Ace Hardware
  • Harbor Freight Tools
Black Leather Tool Belt Pouch - Liberty Leather Goods

Black Leather Tool Belt Pouch



Helpful Topics

How do you wear a tool belt?

When putting on your tool belt, you should attach it to the back of your pants.  This is achieved by way of passing the belt portion through the loops of your pants.  The positioning of the pockets on the belt is a personal preference and often dictated by the job at hand.  Most often, the pockets are worn on each hip for ease of accessibility and overall balancing of the tools’ weight.


How do you soften a new stiff leather belt?

There are three ways to stiffen the fibers of a leather belt.  You can purchase a leather conditioner, which is the simplest and fastest manner to soften up a stiff leather belt.  You can fashion an alcohol-vaseline mixture, or you can opt for natural oil treatment.


How do you break in a leather tool pouch?

The easiest and most efficient manner to break in a leather tool pouch is to oil it with either mink or neatsfoot oil.  These types of oils work to soften the leather’s natural fibers, which then allows it to stretch and re-mold itself.  A light touch of oil is all that is needed to soften the fibers sufficiently, whereas if the leather is soaked in the oil it only serves that its fibers will become weakened.




Leather Tool Belts are a common sight and vital accessory on any construction site.  There are many styles constructed from various materials, but for long-lasting, dependable service, a leather tool belt is the best way to go. If you’re interested in other leather accessories, click here for my guide to leather knife rolls.


Related Questions:

What is Occidental Leather?

Occidental Leather is not a type of leather, but rather a brand of leather tool belts that have been around since 1932.


Is Occidental Leather worth the money?

Although this leather tool belt brand does tend to be a little bit pricier, its overall attention to both quality and design makes it an excellent choice.

Other Resources: