Cloth Nail Aprons #1: Old Woodworkers Companion

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by artsyfartsy posted 10-27-2015 02:41 PM 1804 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Cloth Nail Aprons series Part 2: Another Article »

I’m going to start this blog with some doubt. I’m not sure if this qualifies as the type of subject matter that is appropriate for Lumberjocks. I certainly don’t want to offend anyone by talking about something that is not wood or tool related. However, this could be something that could be considered as a “tool”. I’m talking about the lowly nail apron. You know, like the one Norm made famous in his TV show, “The New Yankee Wood Shop”. He always wore one on his show. But, the type I’m talking about is the “old” cloth or canvas nail apron your grandfather wore. In fact, my grandfathers apron was the start of my collection many years ago.

I like nail aprons. In fact, I like them so much, I collect them and hang them in my wood shop. It all started when my grandfather died when I was 3 months old. He was a carpenter by trade. When I turned 18 years old, I inherited his wood tool chest. In it I found the usual things such as; a block plane, hand saws, pencils wore down to only a couple of inches, hammers, etc. and tucked way down in the corner was a cloth nail apron. My grandfather died in 1953, so these items were tucked away for several years. When I opened the tool chest it was like opening a treasure chest. I never met the man, but when I hold his tools or look at his well worn apron, I get the sense of knowing him and how he worked.

Everywhere I go, wherever I live, I had some type of wood shop. I would hang his apron on the wall for me to look at. A few years ago, I ended up with a couple of extra old cloth nail aprons so I hung them up to keep Granddad company. Then it happened! Someone saw what I had and gave me a couple. When I go to estate sales, I pick up a couple. And it just snowballed.

Recently, a local newspaper caught wind of my collection and wrote an article about it. It’s not just having an apron, but it’s listening to them speak to me about the hard work they went through. You can’t hardly find them anymore. They are becoming scarce. I guess it’s my way of preserving the past. My way of keeping grandpa alive.

This blog will be about my adventures with the cloth nail apron. I’m going to start out with the article and go from there. Thanks for reading.

-- DWelch. Michigan, The only dumb question is the one not asked!

5 comments so far

View firefighterontheside's profile


21617 posts in 3353 days

#1 posted 10-27-2015 03:03 PM

Hey Don, I think it’s a great idea…..your blog. Just the other day as I was hanging pictures above the dresser I built I came across a cloth apron. It was one I bought at an Anheuser Busch sale, so it has the name of some unheard of beer on the front. My wife and probably some other helpers used it during the building of our house. I think maybe I’ll hang it up in my shop.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7232 posts in 4691 days

#2 posted 10-27-2015 03:09 PM


That’s a good blog…I see no reason why it would not be wood related…I think it’s a story we, as woodworkers, can all relate to…I have/ had a few of the old aprons myself, and like you said, they are scarse as hen’s teeth…Because that’s all carpenters had to carry their nails, pencils, punches, folding rulers, etc. in, they were popular at the time.. Everyone collects things related to woodworking, and this falls into that catagory….

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View johnstoneb's profile


3224 posts in 3669 days

#3 posted 10-27-2015 03:35 PM

I never gave a thought to collecting nail aprons. When I was growing up in the 50’s & 60’s hardware stores used to give them away if you bought nails no such thing as a leather apron then. Another way of advertising and great history now.I will keep an eye out for them now.
Keep up the blog.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7232 posts in 4691 days

#4 posted 10-27-2015 04:15 PM

They also gave them away in the 70’s and 80’s….I had about 3-4 aprons that were given to me at hardware stores when I bought supplies from them…Don is the new owner of them now…..

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View NormG's profile


6576 posts in 4500 days

#5 posted 10-28-2015 04:00 AM

I have one or two in the shop, they are very handy and what a great collection to start

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics