We’ve carried tools onboard our boats for potential repairs while underway and in the tow vehicle for any work needed on our trailers. Over the years, the tools have migrated from a Tupperware container to a small tackle box, and we were looking for a better solution when we happened across the Waxed Canvas Tool Roll from Readywares Supply Company. We have consolidated our boat and trailer tools in the tool roll and are quite happy with the light weight and space-saving results.

The tool roll is made of 20-oz waxed canvas, a time-proven material that holds up well in the marine environment (and that also served me well in the U.S. Marine Corps environment for 20 years). Waxed canvas has been in use by sailors since the early 19th century as a substitute for oilcloth and is highly water resistant and exceptionally durable. Audrey, with five decades of experience working with fabric, notes that the stitching on the roll is robust and the construction methods are excellent. The 18 tool pockets are well sized and spaced for tools of medium to small size. At one end of the roll is a pocket for small items; its YKK brass zipper  will hold up longer than those made of most other metals and is much less likely to jam because of corrosion. There are cotton webbing straps on the outside to secure the rolled-up bundle; the straps have elastic keepers to keep their tail ends snug against the roll. We really like the plastic side-release buckles because they provide a secure closure that is easier to manage with wet hands than Velcro strips or cloth ties.

Photographs by the authors

The 18 pockets vary in size and are staggered to keep long tools on one side from overlapping with tools on the other side. The black strap down the middle helps keep the longest tools in line. The zippered pocket holds the small items.

The tool roll measures 26″ × 14-1/2″ when laid out flat; filled with our selection of tools, it rolls up to a compact diameter of 3 1/2″ and weighs 3.4 lbs. The size and shape of the roll allows storage in many spaces where our small plastic toolbox would not fit. The waxed canvas can be laid in the boat without the risk of scratching the boat’s finish, and the cloth handle is comfortable to hold. Waxed canvas can be cleaned with a damp cloth and set out to air-dry, while the tools benefit from a light coating of mineral oil to retard rust.

Straps and buckles hold the roll closed. The long tail ends are kept from hanging loose by bands, here on the back side of the roll.

We filled our roll’s pockets with items that we have found useful over several decades of boating and trailering: nylon zip ties, a tire-pressure gauge, cotter keys, keeper rings, clevis pins, a small bit of stranded wire, band-aids, multi-bit screwdriver, flashlight, 12-volt tester, brass wire brush, electrical tape, needle-nose pliers, and wire cutter. The roll also carries a small crescent wrench, small Vise-Grips, a razor-blade utility knife, and three metric box wrenches that fit nuts and machine bolts on our three onboard motors. To round out the kit we carry a few car and boat electrical fuses in common sizes, a hacksaw blade, propeller shear pins, and nylon gloves. And who could go anywhere without a red cotton rag? It all fits in a durable tool roll that’s handy to use and compact to stow in car and boat.

Audrey and Kent Lewis mess about in the Tidewater Region of Virginia with their small armada of canoe, kayaks, sail and power boats. Their adventures are logged at their blog, Small Boat Restorations.

The Waxed Canvas Tool Roll is offered by Readywares for $29.99. Currently out of stock, they will be available mid-June.

Is there a product that might be useful for boatbuilding, cruising, or shore-side camping that you’d like us to review? Please email your suggestions.