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Duluth also presented many new styles of pants, aprons and bibs. All have multiple compartments and pockets. To meet the demand for durability, many of the products are made of fire hose material, a canvas-like soft fabric designed to resist snags, rips, tears and abrasions. For a lighter pant material, Duluth offers nylon work pants that are tear- and abrasion-resistant. They are great for indoor work, and jobs that require extra mobility and flexibility, adds Schlecht.

Duluth’s Fire Hose Apron offers plenty of tool storage and has suspenders that stretch when you bend, reach and kneel. There are two deep pockets on each side, and the lower right hand one has a magnetic nail/screw bar for quick access to fasteners. Duluth also offers a Hold Everything pouch, made of fire hose and leather, to carry essential hand tools, including a cell phone.

For the hands, Mechanix Wear offers a Utility Glove that has unlimited shop uses. The glove features a two-way, form-fitting stretch Spandex top, Lycra panels between the fingers for ventilation and added dexterity, and reinforced Dura-Fit synthetic leather thumb, index and middle fingertips for improved strength and protection.

And don’t forget the feet. Mark Cirino, product specialist for Gore-Tex work boots of W.L. Gore & Assoc., says investing in a comfortable and durable pair of work boots is like investing in a high-quality tool.

“Feet are among the most abused, neglected and sweaty body parts,” says Cirino. “Each foot perspires roughly 1/4-cup of moisture a day while at rest and up to one full cup during activity. Soggy, hot feet are an unnecessary distraction on the job site.”

Cirino says Gore-Tex waterproof and breathable linings go into numerous brands of work boots including Danner, Red Wing, Rocky and Wolverine. For the woodworker, he recommends the Wolverine DuraShocks or the Danner GTX Hiker, both of which are available with steel toe options, and are comfortable, yet versatile shoes that provide stability and traction.


  • Aearo Co., 5457 W. 79th St., Indianapolis, IN 46268. Tel: 317-692-6666.
  • DeWalt, 626 Hanover Pike, Hampstead, MD 21074, Tel: 800-433-9258.
  • Duluth Trading Co., P.O. Box 409, 170 Countryside Dr., Belleville, WI 53508. Tel: 800-505-8888.
  • Etymotic Research Inc., 61 Martin Lane, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007. Tel: 888-389-6684.
  • Goff Enterprises Inc., 1228 Hickory St., Peweaukee, WI 53072. Tel: 800-234-0337.
  • HemCon Medical Technologies Inc., 10575 S.W. Cascade Ave., Suite 130, Portland, OR 97223-4363. Tel: 877-247-0196.
  • Magswitch Technology Inc., 621 Southpark Dr., Unit 1900, Littleton, CO 80120. Tel: 303-468-0662.
  • Mechanix Wear Inc., 28525 Witherspoon Pkwy., Valencia, CA 91355. Tel: 800-222-4296.
  • Modern Workbench Products, 515 N.W. Saltzman Road No. 908, Portland, OR 97229. Tel: 888-243-9401.
  • SandMan Products LLC. Tel: 800-265-2008.
  • 3M Occupational Health & Environmental Safety, 3M Center Building 235-02-W-70, St. Paul, MN 55144-1000. Tel: 800-328-1667.
  • Trend Routing Technology Inc., 438 Foxhunt Dr., Walton, KY 41094. Tel: 270-872-4674.
  • Wall Control, P.O. Box 42, Tucker, GA 30085. Tel: 770-723-1251.
  • W.L. Gore (Gortex), 295 Blue Ball Road, Elkton, MD 21921. Tel: 800-467-3839.

Staying safe requires ‘sense’

Bill Jameson, formerly with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, says proper shop safety starts with protecting the body’s five senses.

“The most critical personal protective equipment are safety glasses, appropriate shirt and pants to protect the skin from solvents, and proper respiratory protection for particulates from sanding and vapors from solvents and finishing materials.

“Specific critical health hazards include inhalation exposure to wood dust from the finish sanding of wood. Chronic exposure to wood dust is a known human carcinogen and has been shown to cause lung cancer in woodworkers. This is especially important if you are also a smoker, as the risk for lung cancer increases with additional wood dust exposure.”

Ergonomic factors are also important safety concerns, adds Jameson. Floor mats, knee pads or other apparel that is comfortable will help a woodworker in the long run.

“Anything one can do to decrease continuous stress on joints, nerves and muscles, or things to reduce repeated motions that can lead to carpel tunnel syndrome or nerve damage will benefit a woodworker as far as future health and quality-of-life issues.”

— Jennifer Hicks