When we first got started with our woodworking business it was a simple operation. A few tools in the garage with little thought for organization, processes, or comfort. As our operation has grown so has our need for the tools to make our operation better organized, cleaner, and safer. One of our favorite things we have purchased in this category has been our woodworking apron.
There is something about heading out to the shop and putting on a leather woodworking apron that really puts me in a great mindset. I know its time to work, have all of my mechanical and chalk pencils at my fingertips, and will keep relatively clean as I’m often in and out of the house frequently.
Choosing the best woodworking apron for you really comes down to personal preference and your specific needs. There are literally 100s of styles to choose from so we will take a look at some of our favorites.
And yes, that means we do keep a few different aprons on hand in our own shop! Depending on whether we are working on the lathe or not we will switch between aprons.
Things to Consider with a Woodworking Apron
A few important considerations when choosing your woodshop apron include:
Woodworking Apron Styles
While most woodworking aprons do have a similar look there are small differences in styles. Full length versus short lengths. Black, blue, or tan waxed canvas versus natural leather. Split legs or seamless for the full length. The layout of the storage pockets.
All of these factors come together to create a unique look and style that meets your needs.
99% of woodworking aprons come in either canvas, waxed canvas or leather.
Canvas and waxed canvas are very popular choice as they are durable, cheap, and light. In fact, all of our woodworking aprons we keep in the shop are canvas. Although we do have our eye on some custom made leather options!
Leather aprons, on the other hand, are timeless and often feature a level of craftsmanship not found in waxed canvas aprons. They also offer more natural protection from heat and sharp objects.
You can easily expect a well made leather woodworking apron to last a lifetime.
There are a lot of little details that go into making a comfortable woodworking apron.
Do the shoulder straps have padding? None of our aprons have padded shoulders but for woodworkers spending all day, every day in the shop this can be an important detail.
How heavy is the apron? Waxed canvas tends to be lighter and a bit more breathable than leather. After a long day in the shop this can make a big difference!
Geometry of the apron? We all have different shaped bodies so the basic layout of the apron will impact each person differently. How the straps lay on your back in particular can play a big factor in the overall comfort of the apron.
If you do a lot of squatting down in the shop then maneuverability is an important consideration.
First consider the length of the apron. A full length, 36-inch apron is great for keeping the front of your pants clean but is not great when it comes to squatting down as it will end up restricting your movements.
Second is the apron style. Many aprons come with a split bottom that better allows for better leg movement without pushing the entire apron out.
Woodworking apron storage ranges from simple with a clean, single chest pocket to everything but the kitchen sink with pockets seemingly covering the entire front of the apron.
I’m more of a keep it simple kind of guy so less is better when it comes to pockets. Aprons that feature accessory specific options like tape measure clips are also a huge bonus for me.
I also do a lot of woodturning and pockets on an apron will fill up with wood chips FAST. Despite owning a woodturning smock I don’t always find the time to switch over to it if I’m turning a quick project. So keeping chip storage to a minimum is a plus in my book!
Our Favorite Woodworking Aprons
Here are a few of the best woodworking aprons we have found on the market.
The Hudson Durable Goods waxed canvas apron is one of the best does it all aprons on the market. It is designed specifically with comfort and utility in mind.
The straps feature padded shoulders for comfort and an easy to use buckle in the back for quick adjustments.
This woodworking apron’s 34-inch length is a perfect mid-range length that should work well for almost all woodworkers.
We also love the myriad of pocket and tool loop options. The lower pockets include dust flaps which are a huge bonus in our book. The top pockets are designed with technology in mind as they include both pencil and cell phone pockets. There are also side loops that can be used to hand a hammer or tape measure.
For new woodworkers this is a great canvas woodworking apron to get started with.
The Eco Zen Woodworking Shop Apron offers a lot of the same features as the Hudson apron but also kicks them up a notch.
This woodshop apron is another waxed canvas style apron with comfort and ease of use in mind.
The strap system features padded shoulder straps and, rather than an X-style crossing in the back, offers an adjustable strap that makes for a more comfortable fit across the chest.
The apron offers ample storage with large lower pockets with dust flaps. The upper pockets feature pencil storage as well as a zippered cell phone pocket. This is a huge upgrade as we’ve had phones fall on our concrete shop floor and it never ends well.
The apron also offers a number of other storage upgrades like a metal tape measure clip, safety glasses loop and metal ring for hanging any number of tools.
The Eco Zen apron comes in either a standard 34-inch length or a longer 36-inch version with a split bottom for easier maneuverability.
This classic style leather apron by Kruk Garage Workstyle is a stunning example of a quality leather woodworking apron. Made from high quality saddle leather this apron, when properly cared for, should last a lifetime.
Each of these leather woodworking aprons are custom made and are offered in two sizes. The shop also offers customization options so these would make for a great gift option as well!
The straps feature a classic design with an X style back and brass buckles at the top and a metal clip across the back.
The pocket layout leans more towards the minimalist side, which I love, with small chest pockets for pencils and a phone and one large lower pocket. There are also side loops for hanging tools or a tape measure.
The canvas and leather apron by OLPR is one of our favorite styles. A basic, minimalist layout that is lightweight and breathable.
Our shop in central Oregon gets HOT in the summer so have an apron that is not made of waxed canvas or leather is very much needed.
The strap style on this apron is a classic X style with a tie on back. This basic setup doesn’t add any extra weight with metal buckles which keeps the entire apron light and comfortable.
We also love the basic pocket layout featuring a beautiful leather accent on the chest. We personally don’t carry a lot of tools on our woodworking apron so a minimalist style like this is our favorite. The upper pocket is plenty big to hold safety glasses, pencils and a cell phone. The lower pockets are once again accented with a leather strip which makes this one of the better looking aprons on the market.
The front breast pocket can be engraved with a personalized message which makes this a great gift!
Like the previous apron by OLPR we love the leather on canvas style on a woodworking apron. This model just takes things up a notch with upgrades throughout the apron.
If we could own just two aprons it would probably be these last two with plain canvas for the summer and waxed canvas for the winter.
We love the styling once again and the upgraded features like the metal strap clips on the top and on the buckle in back.
The simple pocket layout at the chest and lower sections offers plenty of storage space along with speciality loops for holding a hammer and tape measure.
This apron offers a variety of colors of leather so the look of the pockets and straps is totally customizable to fit your style preference.
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Best Woodworking Apron
There are obviously a ton of options to choose from when selecting a woodworking apron that best meets your needs and style. Think about what best meets your day to day needs in the shop and select one, or if you’re like us, a few aprons to meet your specific needs.
Derek grew up woodworking in his father’s shop and has since gone on to start up a successful woodworking business on Etsy. In his spare time, you can find him mountain biking, skiing, or writing.