Feb 012019
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There are web sites and YouTube channels that run down Festool.

There are channels that run down your favorite YouTuber.

I get that.

Not everybody likes the same thing, and not everyone can keep their opinion to themselves, or follow Mama’s advice: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I’ve even found a couple of internet posts critical of Norm Abram.

I don’t get that.

Talented. Accomplished. Easygoing. What more could you want in a wood shop hero?

When I first started more serious woodworking in an actual shop, as opposed to working out in the yard on sawhorses, I tried wearing the carpenter’s apron I bought to begin my carpentry career. After all, it was more than just a fixture on the homebuilding site, it was a necessity. There was simply no way to carry everything in pockets, especially the volume and variety of nails used back in the days before air nailers.

Once indoors, however, I was never very far from the things I needed. I wear overalls, and the huge pockets easily accommodate the 25′ Stanley tape I like to carry. My phone is in another pocket and I keep four pencils on me all the time. I don’t nail much in my work, and it’s easy enough to keep a box of screws and a cordless drill-driver on the bench.

I find the sticking-out nature of a nail apron to be a hindrance. It makes me stand a bit away from the bench or table I’m working on. And, nothing makes a back tired and strained like leaning over.

I bought this nail apron in 1973, the year I left the Air Force and began working with Jack  English, building houses. A few years ago I took it to a shoe repair shop to see if he could sew the parts that needed repair, explaining that the antique item was an old friend. He said, “It’s beyond help. You should have taken better care of it along the way.” Not only did I take it home and fix it myself, I never went back to that grouch.

I did, however, purchase a new carpenter’s apron. It lacks the character (read “miles”) that the old one has.

This month we have an easy-answer poll: “Yes,” or “No.” I’m interested in what percentage of woodworkers and furniture makers wears a carpenter’s apron (not to be confused with a shop apron, that covers one’s entire front) inside the shop, like Norm. As always, we welcome your comments below.

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

  10 Responses to “February Poll: Do You Wear a Nail/Carpenter’s Apron Inside the Shop?”

  1. NO.

  2. You must build LARGE projects if you need a 25 foot tape…………..

  3. I wear the full front, tradition, leather shop apron. It keeps the dust and shavings off. Yes, I feel like Mr. Rogers everyday, removing my jacket at the door and putting on my apron. But its gotten so I feel unprepared if I don’t put it on.

  4. My pin nailer wouldn’t fit in one of the pockets.

  5. A carpenters nail bag is best worn on one’s bum, not in front, when doing house building. I wear an apron with pockets in summer and in the winter overalls (coveralls) plus a single side hung nail, rule, pencil etc. bag. Depends, as in a small shop, mine, everything is easily in reach. … Bryan Carver, New Zealand.

  6. Yes. I wear a full tool apron. I’m always losing pencils and leaving my tape measure and rules, wherever. The apron helps me keep little things with me, rather than wasting time looking for them. I don’t wear overalls. Ever.

    My apron:

  7. depends on what I turning. if it is green wood I double up with apron and smock

  8. The onhly time I wear an apron in the shop is A. if i am painting or B if i am working on the lathe. For lathe work I wear a leather apron with a high collar. For painting I have a denim apron that I have probably owned for more than 40 years.

  9. I wear a bid type apron in the shop. It holds pencils, a small square, a 6 inch rule, a 6 foot tape and often ablock plane. It keeps me from looking all over the shop when I am build a piece of furniture.

  10. If one is doing a lot of repetitive hand nailing on the floor instead of the bench, maybe. Before I had compressed air in the shop, that would happen occasionally. Now it’s hard to imagine a scenario where a nail apron inside the shop would be anything other than in the way. Now, when I start building that tree house for the grand kids it will be a different story. Also, I really don’t like the big multi-pocketed aprons at all. A simple leather pouch for framing tasks or a simple cloth two pocket apron for composite roofing without air support are the way to go. But my oh my, air is so nice …

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