The Tramp Stamp for Woodworkers


I wear a shop apron almost every day, and so I’ve always wondered about “apron hooks,” which are shown in R.A. Salaman’s “Dictionary of Woodworking Tools.”

Here’s his entry on aprons that mentions these devices:

Carpenters and other woodworkers traditionally wear a white twill or canvas apron with a large pocket in front. It is fastened around the waist with long tapes tied in front, or with hooks that have decorative ends.

Yup. You read that right: Fancy stuff that is hooked above your buttocks. And yes, one of the hooks shown is a four-leaf clover, indicating you have a lucky butt.

I don’t think I want to know what the heart-shaped hook means.

But I am intrigued by the hooks because some days I can’t tie a bow behind my back.

— Christopher Schwarz

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28 Responses to The Tramp Stamp for Woodworkers

  1. Paul says:

    What do they hook to? The picture of the man have a decorative end on each side of the apron, but the picture of the individual hooks show them terminating in a simple open hook on one end. It seems if they are both shaped like that and hook to each other that they wouldn’t stay hooked very well, and would constantly come apart as you are bending or sawing.

    • switzforge says:

      I figured one hooked up and one down so they interlock. The hook length would have to be calculated on apron size and waist size to fit right.

    • Wendy D. says:

      I suspect that the right-side heart/clover thing is more like a button and the left side is a button and a hook. Between the tension of a properly fitting apron, how tight the button is sewn against the canvas and the curve of the hook, it should hold just fine.

  2. ejcampbell says:

    I cheat. I leave the necksrap off, then wrap the tie around front and tie it where I can see it. Then I loop the neck strap over my head. The tie is under the apron where it won’t get caught in machiinery. No need for heart shaped doodads on my butt.

  3. sawdustmaker says:

    One of these days I will have to investigate the pro’s and con’s of wearing a shop apron compared to Levi’s and hickory shirts

    • cmhawkins says:

      I’m a recent convert to shop aprons. I wear bib overalls about 75% of the time I’m not at work and had always used the various pockets instead of an apron. About 2 years ago I received a apron as a gift. The thought was good, but the apron had a loop than went around your neck. It was very uncomfortable.

      About 4 months ago I started wearing the apron I bought at Marc Adams School of Woodworking. It has straps that go over the shoulders and criss-cross in the back. It also has a strap that goes around your waist and fastens together using a plastic male/female clip. The apron is very comfortable with 3 small pockets in the top and 3 larger pockets in the bottom. Using this apron makes me much more productive. The key for me is having the discipline to put tools in the same pocket each time I’m done using them. This prevents me from wasting time looking for 6″ combination square, ruler, mechanical pencils, eraser, tape measure, calculator, etc.

      • lostartpress says:

        Hey Chris,

        Good to see you back here.

        I’ll echo your comments about aprons. They prevent me from walking all over the shop to fetch my tape, 6″ rule and pencils. So it is a time-saver.

        Even more significant for my situation is it’s a laundry-saver. My wife does the laundry and wearing the apron makes life much easier on her. No glue or finish drops on my clothes etc.

  4. Paul says:

    The heart means, “I love this apron.” The four leaf clover, “This is my lucky apron.” The heart/lips pin, “I love this apron so much, I could kiss it.” The three leaf clover, well, I’ll leave that for someone else.

    • Dan Miller says:

      The three leaf is St Patricks Universal sign of the Trinity….well that sounds good anyway. I can’t believe I’m commenting on this. Musta been a slow blog day for Chris. I whould be doing somthing worthwhile….like listening to the Irish Joiner song 🙂

  5. I did my apprenticeship as a cook in the late ’80’s in Switzerland. Cooks, as everyone knows, wear aprons. Ours were from the waist to about the knees, but did not come with strings or tapes, but were only equipped with small loops. At the beginning of the day you would tie a tape* into each loop and thusly fasten the apron around your middle. This was pretty much the norm for the Swiss, the French, and the Italians, but not the Germans. No, the Germans had the same apron with small loops, but instead of cloth tapes, they used chains, with a hook at one end that would catch into one of the links. No comment……

    *Cooks had to supply the tapes. When we forgot them, we would use a length of cling-film, roll it up into a “rope” and use like a tape. It would stretch and shrink back–unlike cloth.

  6. Art says:

    I think you might get a strange looks Chris when you ask some of your blacksmith buds to make these.. “You want a what shaped what???”

    Home Depot has strings on the aprons the associates wear. The seasoned vets get tool suspenders and uses those, cutting off the strings. Makes taking the apron on and off easier as well as a place to hang pins, radios and whatnot. When I left after 5 years there, my suspenders came home and went on my shop apron. They’re nice and broken in, and I only have to do one snap on a corner.

  7. KenOfCary says:

    I expect it might be a bad thing if you forgot about the apron and sat down in your easy chair with it still hooked. Might be hard to get up without tearing the chair fabric.

  8. Donald Smith says:

    Two rare earth magnets in an adjustable slide saves me the trouble of tying that bow. Not my idea as I someone else suggested it in a magazine article.

  9. Patrick says:

    A carpenter’s tool belt has hooks. Not as pretty though.

  10. James says:

    I just picked up a set of the plastic buckles that clip together from Walmart camping section
    It is always set to my size and is easy to snap together but does not come apart accidentally

  11. Tom Bennett says:

    Next time you stop by IN AND OUT BURGER you might see if you can get one of their apron safety pins

  12. Chuck N says:

    This is something I could tackle in a beginning blacksmith class.
    Great, the list gets longer.

  13. Mike says:

    ‘Always after me Lucky Charms!’
    The star and the moon are missing.
    On a serious note, when I was a machinists apprentice we sought out aprons with a pencil/scale (rule) pocket sewn on at the top of the pocket only. This keeps you from dumping the contents on the shop floor when you stoop to pick something up.

  14. Amos Bullington says:

    Reminds me of what my grand dad used to use on his welding apron.

  15. lew60 says:

    The simple technology of securing an apron (or other clothing) can illicit such a range of solutions and responses. Surprised no one mentioned velcro with it’s many hooks.;-)

  16. Jack in TN says:

    This is a more eloquent solution that I use with my shop apron. I tie a couple of large fender washers, one to the end of each apron string, then I just loop them around each other. It is quick, fairly secure, but can come undone with a tug easily. I thought about replacing one with a ‘donut magnet’, but it hasn’t been needed. Still, no hooks to poke into me, but it sounds like a reasonable solution if that is the way you want to go.

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