Shop Apron From Artifact Bag Co.

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I have worn out, torn out and discarded more shop aprons than I can count. Most aprons are made poorly from crap materials. Many are too heavy and hot, or they are too flimsy and like a peek-a-boo shop teddy.

But I have high hopes for my new shop apron. Made by Chris Hughes of Artifact Bag Co, my latest shop apron is made from 14 oz. waxed cotton and is riveted and tacked in all the right places (all these Roorkhee chairs this year have given me a new appreciation for the sewing arts).

My wife, Lucy, bought this apron for me in December. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d just about worn out my shop apron from Duluth Trading, and I was already weary of its knee length. I’m a modest guy, but the Duluth apron was positively Victorian – all it needed was a hoop skirt and bustle to complete the effect.

The Artifact apron is like a second skin, and it ends right below the crotch. It slips easily over your head and the ties remain restrained by the grommets until you pull them out behind your back. The pockets are snug, which means they won’t fill with shavings and other debris while you work.

My apron is the one in rust canvas with white tape. There are other colors and models available to suit your style or your budget. My apron cost $98, which seems expensive until you try to make any high-quality cloth or leather goods yourself (thank you Roorkhee chairs for that lesson).

Visit Artifact Bag Co. here.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Chris Schwarz

Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
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49 Responses to Shop Apron From Artifact Bag Co.

  1. adam says:

    Curious how hot the waxed canvas is, I’ve got a jacket made out of this that doesn’t breathe all that well.

    • lostartpress says:

      I can work all day in this – including heavy hand stock prep – without sweating overly.

      I like waxed cotton. I have a Barbour jacket that has been a long-time favorite. This apron is a lot like that.

  2. Jeff Burks says:

    Be sure to check out the video and shop pictures on Artifact Bag Co’s About page.

  3. Eric Bushèe says:

    Thanks for this Chris, I was just getting ready to start the search for one of these. I was considering the one the Joel sells. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen that one.
    -Eric

    • lostartpress says:

      Eric,

      I’ve not used the TFWW apron. In general, I’m not a fan of leather aprons (too hot for me) or those that extend below the groin (they restrict my legs).

      The price is very nice, and Joel does not sell crap.

  4. joemcglynn says:

    Two thumbs up for american made. It’s on my wish list now.

  5. Mark says:

    The book business is obviously better than I imagined!

    • lostartpress says:

      Sigh.

      When you have no debt. No mortgage, car payment, credit cards or students loans, then $98 for something you wear every day is a small price.

      You don’t have to make much money to live well. You just have to control what you spend.

      • sweat man says:

        +1

        If you don’t have the cash now, saving a bit works well too (which is the only way I can buy LN stuff)

  6. Jeff Burks says:

    What happened to the marabou feathers?

  7. Thomas Priest says:

    My wife bought me a Filson version quite like this for Christmas, I have a Filson packer coat made of the waxed cotton and it has stood up to a ton of abuse and still feels like new. The Filson is a little longer having the leg extensions but makes it nice when doing metal work. They do get a little stiff when cold but as soon as you’re moving around everything breaks in just right. Great job on the new box, looks great…Happy New Year

  8. jasongc says:

    Sweet fancy Moses! My wife was making sport of my shabby shop apron just today. The miracles of duct tape and zip ties have extended its useful life far beyond what even a vagrant might find reasonable. Now off to choose a color…

  9. John says:

    How are the pockets for retaining their contents? I know a few years back you had this to say:
    from http://www.popularwoodworking.com/woodworking-blogs/chris-schwarz-blog/the-shop-apron-of-my-pleasant-dreams

    ” 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.”

    And: “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!).”

    • Thomas Priest says:

      That’s the one thing that really caught my eye with the Filson, the top main pocket has a single snap cover to keep things from falling out when bending over and also above that one that zips shut so you can run the zipper right up next to anything longer than the pocket is deep, it also has a d-ring above that should you be roughing stock and need a place to hang your tape. The three larger bottom pockets are just slightly under where you bend at the waist so you don’t have to try and bend around them. Only thing I think I would change is replacing the slightly wide webbing for the neck with something similar to what’s on Chris’s.

    • lostartpress says:

      So far, so good. The pockets are tight — not like pouches.

  10. mike homer says:

    you know I’ve never been a fan of shop aprons nor have I ever seen a need for them I have enough pockets on my pants to hold what I need, and I’m fine with brushing some dust off my shirt here and there but I might just make a thought to buy one, after all it does suit my fancy

  11. Graham Burbank says:

    Thank you for the perspective on another american made cottage industry product. Like american made jeans, there are so very few products left made here by the garment industry. The few out there are so often obscure that without a little exposure I might never have known about them. A virtual one man booster for small manufacturers in america! Keep up the good work.

  12. Megan says:

    Good canvas makes a difference. The difference between Sunforger, the cotton duck I’ve used for corsets, and the canvas-flavored substance used in painter’s dropcloths is rather amazing. I’m going to have to see if I can find an untreated “Sunforger” for my turner’s apron. (Sunforger is the mildew/sun/flame resistant treatment on the canvas, used for tents, sails, etc.) But the density of the weave on the Sunforger-treated canvas is by far the nicest.

    The thing to remember with sewing canvas is, either don’t roll the hems (bind them instead), or use an old or heavy duty metal-geared sewing machine. The more the machine weighs, the better. A triple thickness of canvas will make most modern lower-end machines (plastic gears) balk or break or worse.

    • Ed Clarke says:

      Damn it, Meghan! Now I’m going to be thinking “Victoria’s Secret” rather than “Andre Roubo” when I get my copy of PWW in the mail…

      • Megan says:

        Heh, there used to be a wonderful webpage called “The Costumer’s Guide to Home Depot.” It had tips such as: use tarp grommets rather than the flimsy fabric store ones, the giant zip ties make cheap and washable boning for straight front corsets (16th-18th century), a paint stir stick can make a busk, and so forth…

        It really gets you to look at things differently. Other people tend to look at you funny, as well.

        I have an idea for a cold weather turner’s jacket based on one from the 1890s. With some leather added across the breast and sleeves, I think I can make a functional and snazzy steampunk jacket.

      • Megan says:

        For the record…THIS Megan would never wear a corset. A bodice, stomacher and kirtle, sure, but not a corset.

      • Megan says:

        Ayup, there are two of us. (Oh, and I’m a redhead as well…)

        And technically, what I made was not a corset, rather a “payre of bodies”- but you say that to anyone who isn’t familiar with Elizabethan costuming and they look at you like you have 2 torsos. Kirtles are nice, too- you don’t have to worry about pointing on the petticoats. I’m making a boned kirtle as part of the 1540s Tudor ensemble.

  13. billlattpa says:

    The new apron looks like a winner. I used to use the shorter Duluth apron for electrical work. It has held up very well and I still have it. The only time I wear it now is if I’m going to be at the table saw for a while. Nonetheless, I think a good shop apron can be an important tool if only to make everything else you do a little easier.

  14. Rich says:

    So I go to the Artisan website and look at the #325 and there’s a model in a striped mini-dress (which I’m in favor of) with the apron on.

    If there are any more blog posting pics coming, please stick with jeans.

  15. Josh Nava says:

    Oh wow! I just got the artisan apron from him last week. The leather straps are nice and the whole apron is sturdy and comfortable to work in. I feel in good company.

  16. Rory Moulton says:

    Thanks for the tip. This apron will be hanging in my shop very soon.

    I’m a canvas guy — Carhartt and Fjallraven are my favorites. Highly recommend Fjallraven’s Greenland Wax if you need to freshen up the finish.

    @adam, my canvas gear breathes just fine. I’ve done several multi-day backpacking trips in the Rockies wearing Carhartts and never once complained about breathability (lordy, I hate synthetics). As your body/environment heat up, a good wax will migrate to the tips of the canvas threads, thus allowing for heat transfer through the fabric. As it cools, the wax will settle back into the base of threads, offering a “tighter” seal for max warmth retention.

    We should all understand the difference between price, cost and value. I’m so tired of people griping about price and Chris feeling the need to apologize/justify/acknowledge something’s price (“My apron cost $98, which seems expensive…”). Good stuff made by good people earning a good wage will be priced accordingly. There are plenty of Chinese-made goods out there with low prices but high costs and little enduring value. Investing money into my passions — skiing, climbing and woodworking — gives me great enduring value. My grandkids will inherit my handmade skis and Lie-Nelson planes long after my factory skis have delaminated and lost their rocker and my home depot block plane goes to recycling.

    Can we all agree not to complain about price and accept that in all future LAP blog posts?
    No? Well, I tried. ;)

    • billlattpa says:

      I agree that things should cost what they are worth, no more no less. The apron certainly looks well made and worth the cost. For the most part, we should be more worried about an items value and not it’s cost. At the same time, your discretionary income probably has a lot to do with something being “expensive” or not.

      • Rory Moulton says:

        True. Very true.

        Though my point is really that focusing on a good’s enduring value and overall cost is more important than the price. Case in point: I started down this woodworking rabbit hole (or should it be rebate hole?) with my grandpa’s cheap sears circular and jig saws, a black & decker drill and that aforementioned home depot block plane. The price on all was cheap to free, so it fit my meager budget. After a couple projects, I quickly realized that the price I paid paled in comparison to the cost of operating those tools — constant tuning, blade replacement, wasted precious shop time, etc. — and the fleeting value I received in return for my cost investment — namely, poor results. I’m not made of money and refuse to service revolving debt, so price is always a consideration, but it’s weighed against what I perceive as true cost and enduring value.

        Jointer plane for fine woodworking? I saved up and went “all in” with a Lie-Nielson.
        Recip saw for demo-remodel work? I held my nose and bought a harbor freight.
        Both tools deliver the value I had hoped for at a cost I felt justified the price.

        I do the same when evaluating clothing and gear buys associated with my hobbies. My perception of this apron is that it will outlast cheaper aprons and deliver value far exceeding its initial retail price. That said, anyone got an Artifact promo code? ;)

        Ok, someone else can use this soapbox now.

  17. hikerob says:

    Here is another AMERICAN Made choice, extremely well made, heavy duty for less than half .

    Ck out the Morgan Company. https://www.aprons.net/bao.htm Builders Apron Original #12553 canvas

    I have one and they are indestructible and fit a chubby guy like me.

  18. hikerob says:

    The Morgan Co. apron also has the cross back strap design which puts the weight on your shoulders not on you neck. Much better design.

  19. John Cashman says:

    I’m not a fan of aprons, but Artfact has some nice looking totes. I could sure use one of those.

  20. Dave says:

    “they are too flimsy and like a peek-a-boo shop teddy” Good one – Snork!

  21. sawdustmaker says:

    I just checked out Diluth Trading Co, Graingers, and Filson Noe of them have a product that has the same standards at the apron Chris has introduced

    • Thomas Priest says:

      Not just because of have one but because of other products I have of the same nature, that and being made in the USA and being one of the original makers of waxed cotton goods, I would have to beg to differ with the Filson. I like the one Chris has shown, but I think if you felt the material on the Filson and seen some of the abuse their tin cloth has been put thru, it might change your mind. As always to each their own but I do feel it is a superbly constructed apron at a very resonable price.

  22. Sam I Am says:

    In 1995 a Oregon constitutional amendment was passed, requiring incarcerated inmates to actively engage in full time work, or OJT.
    The goal was to prepare the inmates to be fully functional when released upon society. Today there’s close to 2000 inmates actively participating in the program, they make garments, furniture and machinery. But of interest to the topic at hand, they make a really nice denim shop apron, at a very good price. 26.99.
    90% of the inmates participating are released back into the world.

    Made in the U.S.A

  23. Antti Nannimus says:

    Hi,

    What? You don’t have any old crap clothes like the rest of us? Aprons are for sissies.

    Have a nice day!
    Antti.

  24. Sam I Am says:

    all I own is old crap clothes.

  25. lashomb says:

    Looks nice… bookmarked for a gift idea. With all the woodwork business… Artifact Bags should try a chisel roll or plane blade wallet/roll. Might do well and the quality looks good.

  26. Sam I Am says:

    Tool Rolls! I’m really anticipating Dave Jeske’s daughter Hannah cranking up and making some more. I was hoping for Christmas, but not yet.

  27. D.J. says:

    Man, you’ve gotta be getting some sort of kickback for recommending various things. You certainly have a way with “Schwarzing” things right off the shelves. If you aren’t, you are missing the boat.

    Lastly, I can’t help but comment about the two Megans being red heads. It reminded me that in my youth, I played a great deal of baseball. The two things I couldn’t resist were inside fast balls and red heads. The problem was that I never got a hold of either.

  28. Sam I Am says:

    mmmm… redheaded women…

  29. Got my wife on from cincinnsti

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