Around the Ole Campfire

For over three decades, the hardest working man I know took the time to write a pretty excellent and much beloved monthly column called "Around the Ole Campfire" for a newspaper he edited and published himself (in addition to a couple other full time jobs). While I'm thinking this may become the title of our own forthcoming newsletter, we'll use it for now as a placeholder for early customer reviews and industry shout-outs. Oh, and thanks for letting me borrow it, Old Man. 

We're working on something a little more dynamic so customers can post and upload all on their lonesome, but this should do the trick for now.


Calavera 5# Gear Bags

I have organizational envy. When it comes to a well thought out shop, trailer, jobsite or truck, I’m easily impressed. Even though (or perhaps because) I’m usually somewhat disorganized by nature, over the years I’ve tried to spend extra time and attention attempting to overcome this shortcoming as it relates to my business. I’ve tested many organizational systems for tools, hardware, and fasteners. I’ve built out shelving, racking, and storage areas in my shops and on some of my jobs. I’ve gone so far as to build out entire trucks and trailers in an effort to become better organized and more efficient. I’ve even written about my quest for organization, hoping to share some of what I’ve learned with other organizationally-challenged folks. (You’ll find some of those articles on Tools of the Trade and JLC Online; here’s one I wrote on Modular Tool Organizers, which might be an interesting compliment to this article.)

So it was only natural that I was curious when I stumbled upon a new organizational offering from a new company–5# Gear Bags from Calavera Tool Works.

Inspired by the chalk bags climbers carry, these.... read the full article at



By Chris Marshall

New tools and accessories fill the pages of our 
“What’s In Store” department in every print issue of Woodworker’s Journal and our weekly eZine. But when’s the last time you can recall seeing a single new idea to help get you and your shop better organized? Try to think of something other than the latest version of multi-drawer steel tool chest on wheels… Tough to land on a product, isn’t it? While there’s always a new pneumatic nailer, a more powerful battery or another band saw coming to market, innovation in the sphere of shop organization and personal woodworking apparel very rarely happens. 

So imagine my surprise when, shortly before Christmas, a box arrived containing four small black nylon gear bags with bright-orange carabiners attached. Plus a pair of extruded aluminum brackets on which to mount these bags. But this gear, looking more suited to geo trekkers or mountain climbers at base camp, is actually intended for jobsite folks and us woodworkers. Their source: a new Indiana-based startup company called Calavera Tool Works, founded by Michael O’Shaughnessy Williams.

He sums up these “5# Gear Bags” this way: “At their core, they’re super durable, easy-to-attach little bags that can be filled, stuffed, thrown, dropped, dragged or whatever else have you, and still be extremely useful pieces of gear at the end of the day.”

Williams has spent most of his life around construction sites, hardware stores and power tools. He earned a degree in industrial design and an MBA from Notre Dame, then developed power tools for Stanley Bostitch and Bosch, where he led the benchtop power tools group.

Head this way to read the entire article.


Early Reviews from Our Customers 

Calavera Leather Work Aprons 

"I have to find an eloquent way of saying... just freaking amazing! I have 2 work aprons and not a day goes by I don't suit up... every stitch of these things screams quality... well done!"                                                   

- Restoration Woodworks


Calavera 5# Gear Bags

"I have a set of these and have been using one as a mini-tool-belt. I keep a stone pitching chisel, hammer, stone marker, torpedo level and tape measure in it to take with me to and from our shop (if I’m prototyping something). I take out the hammer and maybe chisel when I get there and hang the rest off a belt loop. Stone work is dusty and rugged, chisels are pointy and that amount of weight in any tote is generally destructive. I was fortunate to be asked to test an early prototype in my own wood shop – instead I took it to work. I’ve since picked up production models and used in all of my stone projects/prototyping and have nothing but good things to say.

We all enjoy fine craft and carpentry here – but This also gives you the ability of this to help you cross-categories. If you occasionally do some plumbing or odd tasks that require a small set of tools or materials, it’s a great way to consolidate it, keep it handy but off your body or out of the way when you don’t need it."

- Ben Wojcikiewicz via


"Received mine yesterday. The aluminum brackets are impressive, extremely well built and laser etched with logo (nice touch). I used one bag for some electrical nuts while hanging some interior lights. I was able to put my screw driver and linemans in there as well, saving me some trips up the ladder. Great product!"    

- Jake via Festool Owners Group


"I have racked my brain for organization ideas to store all the parts, screws etc that never seem to have a home. Even when I have a solution, the racks that mount on wall, jars with lids drilled into the wall and a ton of different cabinets and storage solutions from the big box stores. Even the good solutions fail when you actually have to use them. UNTIL THIS! 

Storing the items in the bag that you can take anywhere, clip to anything and always return to its home is answer. they integrate so well into the festool system - which is the gold standard for functional and practical shop organization. Thank you! cant wait to see more innovation from this group. The bags and racks are incredibly high quality . The bags are affordable and I am about to order some more. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!" 

- Paul B via  ToolNut


"This is a really useful concept and was implemented well. Thumbs up on the color-coding and belt clips."  

- Aaron T via ToolNut


"I've been impressed.  Quality is outstanding.  Durability seems to be great.  I can imagine them lasting for a long time.  The hardware and attachment rails are a great idea and mate perfectly with the MFT for ready access but being out of the way.

I've been using my bags for a few projects and I like them.  They are convenient, a great size, light weight and the attachment points between the belt clip and the carabiner offer lots of flexibility.   Each bag has an area for a label with contents but I have not yet labeled mine.  Perhaps when you have a few dozen that will be necessary.

One of my favorite features is the 'grab and go' aspect.    The rail and clips make storage and access easy but out of the way of the bench or work area.  I invariably am always knocking my screws, nails, or hardware off the top of the bench or pushing it out of the way with the wood.  I work in a shop most of the time, and your bags work great at the bench or when working on sawhorses.

The other day, I had to replace a few receptacles and dropped them in one of the bags along with a pair of cutters, needle nose and a screwdriver and clipped it to my belt.  it was easy to move around the room without having to keep up with my tools or deal with trash from the receptacle boxes, wire trimmings, etc.   Just drop it in the bag and move on.  Fast and easy and 'right at hand' made the bags a pleasure to use.

The drawstrings make it easy to cinch the bags closed to both keep wood dust and chips out of them when not in use but also reduce the chance of the contents spilling out.  I would like to see smaller options, perhaps a 1# and maybe a 2# size to hold smaller quantities of screws. Sounds like you have those in the works.

I can also see a selection of these in a Sys2 or Sys3 that become a great organizer of screws, fasteners or hardware that you could take to a job site in an organized fashion but offer a lot of modularity to grab and go.  

Great product - you're on to something with these!  I'll be adding additional sizes as they become available.

Thanks and congratulations on starting a new business!"

- Neil via Festool Owners Group


"The fit and finish of the bags is as good as it gets. Quality stitching, very sturdy webbing and clips. I bolted the base bracket to the steel frame of the table. For now the multi purpose bar stays put on the base, but the bags travel around. For now, grab and go is where I find them so helpful."   

- John Schweikert, Tennessee


"I just wanted to let you know how pleased I am with the new 5# Gear Bag System. The gear bags are extremely well made and I am very happy to know that they are made here in the USA!

I am a woodworking hobbyist but I enjoy working with high quality tools and these gear bags are a great addition and they have so many uses. These bags really help with my organization as well, especially because of the way they attach to my MFT/3 table.  I will be ordering more of the gear bag systems for my maintenance team at work, who I know will also love them. 

Thanks​ for a great product and I look forward to any new offerings!"

- Daniel, Facilities Mgr at University of Notre Dame