The 5 Things Ironworker Jesse Garner Can’t Live Without

Construction workers rely on several tools and gadgets to get the job done. Here, one ironworker shares the items he can’t live without on the job

Video Produced by Justin Hearn

Being an ironworker is in Jesse Garner’s blood. The trade has been in his family for four generations. And as if his family wasn’t embedded in the construction industry enough, his sister, Tara, is a distinguished construction industry photographer.   

So, when it comes to venturing out on the jobsite each day, Garner is extremely intentional about the items he brings with him.  

In the first installment of the “Jobsite Essentials” series on the Built Blog, Garner shares the five items he can’t live without on the jobsite.  

Adjustable Wrench 

Garner always works with an adjustable spud wrench while on the job. It’s an item he said is essential, even though his fellow ironworkers often make fun of him for using it (explanation in the video above).  

“This thing has come in handy even more times than I could ever imagine,” Garner said.  

Load Chart 

Being an ironworker is essentially a job of lifting and working with very heavy stuff. As a result, any ironworker must be able to calculate different load amounts to attach what’s being lifted by a crane or other lifting device on a jobsite. Garner said most ironworkers therefore include a load chart on the inside of their hard hat to account for different load levels as they work.  

“You take off your hard hat and look at the column and the row that you’re referring to, and you go on from there,” Garner said.  

Jesse Garner


Work on any construction project is heavily regulated. This includes the number of hours workers are to be working, as collectively bargained at the beginning of the project.  

Ironworkers must start at a specific time, end at a specific time and take breaks at specific times. “The company is only paying [the workers] for eight, 10, 12 hours a day,” Garner said. “No one wants to work 8 ½ hours if they’re only getting paid to work eight.” 


Ironworkers are often required to work with and cut handline while at work, so Garner always has a knife on him. Specifically, Garner uses a half- serrated Benchmade knife. “I like to have it because it cuts handline quicker,” Garner said.  


While not a physical item, Garner insisted that among the most important things he brings with him to the job each day is the training he received as an apprentice early in his career. And when you’re an ironworker working on large, structural projects, oftentimes having the right experience and training is the most important thing you bring to the jobsite.  

Not only is training important to do the job well, but it’s a critical aspect of keeping everyone on the jobsite safe.  

Jesse’s sister, Tara Garner, has captured critical jobsite photos during the COVID-19 pandemic.