Every time I bend over in the shop, I feel like I’m being just a little disemboweled.
By that, I means that all the important stuff , 6″ rule, pencil, tape measure, small square , goes spilling onto the floor. And I get the nastiest knot in my stomach when I see all these expensive and easily damaged items crash to the concrete floor.
This is the fault of the standard shop apron, which must have been designed by someone with fused vertebrae. (Or by, conspiracy theory ahead, someone who makes replacement 6″ rules.) The chest pocket in every shop apron I’ve used is hazardous to your tools.
And further in the matter of Schwarz v. The Nefarious Shop Apron Industry, I present exhibit No. 2: Crappy side pockets. This is where you are supposed to put your tape measure so it will automatically leap to the floor. Or it will sometimes hop onto the top of your running table saw (very exciting!). In all fairness, Lee Valley’s shop apron has a marsupial-style pocket that helps solve this problem.
Exhibit No. 3: Shop aprons generally are too long. I don’t know about you, but I generally wear pants in the shop, so I don’t need a floor length hospital gown. And the length can be amusingly hazardous to your forehead. Once I tried to straddle a board on some sawhorses. The end of the board caught the apron between my legs. I tipped forward, almost whacking myself in the head with the board.
Exhibit No. 4: Some shop aprons are too heavy. We tested out some shop aprons years ago that were made from a woven ballistic nylon. Honestly, the guy who sold them to us said they would deflect knockback like a bullet (or even if you were shot by an 18-gauge nail. I have no comment on that last feature).
These shop aprons were like wearing a portable sauna. You would take them off and you would have a sweat stain that was the exact shape of your body. Leather shop aprons do this to me as well. Maybe I have a gland problem.
Exhibit No. 5: Some shop aprons are too flimsy. I’ve worn out the seams and the material in many pockets. One shop apron had five divided pockets when I bought it. After four months the five pockets had disintegrated into a big uni-pocket, where could have lost an entire wheel of fine brie.
But I would rather light a candle than curse your darkness.
A couple years ago I started sketching up ideas for my own shop apron , something with cutouts surrounded by marabou feathers, to enhance my nipples (hey, I was just making sure you were still reading). In truth, here’s what I want from a shop apron:
1. A better chest pocket. My mom was a chef at several restaurants. She had an apron that had a horizontal pencil pocket. Your pencil never ever fell out. So I’d like two or three horizontal pockets that will fit a couple pencils and a 6″ rule. This sounds crazy. I’ve seen it work (unless you do “jazz hands” and “Riverdance” while you work).
2. Side pockets with just a little elastic at the top. I’d like to line the pockets so they bunch up just a bit at the top. It’s a balance , you want the elastic to keep the tools in and the chips out, but you also want your hand to have easy access.
3. I’d like the shop apron to end right below my waist. I like the kind from Duluth where the straps wrap around your shoulders (not your neck) and tie behind you. However that apron (which I don’t think is made anymore) almost sweeps the floor in our shop.
4. A tough but lightweight and breathable material would be great.
5. Reinforced seams. Grommets for the straps.
I know I’m asking a lot. In truth, an apron with the first two features would probably make me squeal with nutty delight.
So if you can sew (or know someone who can) feel free to incorporate some of these ideas into your own apron. Your 6″ rule will thank you.
– Christopher Schwarz
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