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For most of us, woodworking isn’t just a craft; it’s what we do to relax. We take joy in spending time in the shop, building a project for a loved one (or for ourselves), and probably looking for our tape measure. As someone that spends a lot of time in the shop, I’ve ruined my fair share of clothes over the years. Tears, finish stains, glue splotches, and even a few burn holes (don’t ask – it was my JNCO jean days and a shop welding class). Over the last several years, I’ve settled on a few pieces of work apparel that is tough enough to last in the shop. So, I figured with the gift giving season upon us, I would give you my list for your gift giving needs…Or to buy yourself.

And, just to be clear. We do not receive any affiliate revenue or kickbacks from you clicking on any of the apparel links in this article, or buying any apparel from these websites.

Top Workpants:

I think, even if you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Duluth Trading Co’s Firehose Work Pants. I have to tell you – these pants are tough-as-nails. Working in the shop, they offer a few things that I find standard jeans are missing: durability, flexibility, and pockets galore.

Now, there are many styles of Firehose pants from Duluth, but my favorites for the shop are the DuluthFlex Fire Hose Relax Fit Cargo Work Pants.   They’re obviously made from tough material, but liquids generally bead up and don’t soak in. Combine that with leg gussets that allow as much movement as your body will, they’re a great purchase. Oh, and flaps that cover the pockets. I don’t know how many times I’ve found pockets full of dust in my pants. I found these generally run true-to-size with other brands.

Fire Hose Cargo Pants

This is a side note, but as we’re in the fall, I’ve officially switched into “Sawmilling Mode” and am spending more and more weekends out working through my log pile.  Sawmilling is what I would consider a little…Extreme… on clothing. I have a pair of both the Firehose Briar pants and Lined Pants that are my sawmilling gear. Briar pants for the warmer days, lined pants for when it’s cold.

Lined Firehose Pants for Cold Days

Briar pants are great for leaning over logs, or chasing quail.

Shirts & Flannels

The odds are, if you’ve ever met me or seen me in photos in our magazine (or here on the website), you’ll notice I’m usually in a flannel.  I don’t know, a t-shirt and a flannel are how I roll. I can take off the flannel if I get too hot, or button it up if it gets a bit nippy. The Free Swingin’ Flannels are worth every penny. They’re soft, somehow perfect weight (not too hot like some of my vintage wool flannels), and there’s extra room so nothing pulls as you’re working. My opinion – Order a size smaller than usual. I’m usually an XL, but the large (in relaxed fit) is perfect.

If your shop is unheated, this dude’s the ticket. The Burly Thermal Sherpa-Lined Shirt Jac is fuzzy on the inside, but with a knit, sweater like exterior. It’s not what I would consider too heavy (like trying to work in a winter coat), but it’s certainly an extra layer of warmth when the flannel isn’t heavy enough.

My buddy Norman and myself. Is that a Burly Sherpa-Lined Shirt Jac I’m wearing? You betcha (also, Fire Hose Cargo Pants, but you cant see them) . Keep an eye out in an upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking for a little snippet on Norman, the coolest pattern maker I’ve met.

Work Apron

I’m an avid apron wearer. And, I’ll admit, I have a very, very nice custom leather apron. It cost more than my first truck (literally). However, if you don’t have an apron, or know a woodworker that doesn’t, I don’t think you can go wrong with the Best Damn Work Apron. Its made from Firehose (what else) material, and is a cross back. I much prefer a cross-back strap instead of a Y-strap. The apron has several pockets that are high enough to avoid most sawdust.


The Extras

Finally, I would be remiss if I don’t mention one product that I’ve owned and worn every day for the last 13 years. I remember it vividly, because my wife bought me my first pairs for Christmas in 2010, and I STILL wear them. Of course, they’ve been washed once or twice, but they’re the daily drivers. I’ll just leave this here.

Buck Naked Underwear — They’re all I’ve owned since 2010 and all I’ll buy.

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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