If you’re going to make furniture well, and by hand, you need to accept that you are taking on certain risks. There are risks that are not 100% avoidable, like the risk you’ll  get tear out while planing a surface, the risk that the oil finish doesn’t come out perfectly even, or the risk that the client was talking in radii and you were thinking in diameters (it does happen, just ask the people of Corfu!).

But some risks are avoidable by the simple process of planning ahead. What you wear can have a significant effect on the risks you take in the workshop.

Do’s & Dont’s

Don’t wear flip flops if you plan to keep your toes, pretty obvious. Wear comfortable shoes that mean you can stay on your toes all day without getting distracted by sore feet. Don’t wear a hoodie with a string around the hood in case it gets dragged into the planer while you’re leaning over it. In fact, don’t wear anything that’s very loose or has extraneous tassles or stuff hanging off it. Definitely don’t wear a scarf!

If you do wear a hoodie, buy one you pull over your head, without a zip. Zips are great for scratching your perfectly polished piece of furniture just as you’re picking it up to deliver to your client… so annoying! And while we’re on the subject of scratching surfaces, jewellery, take it off or don’t wear it in the first place. We know many a maker who habitually take their wedding rings off at the start of every day just to reduce the risks that are a part of making furniture.

Practically speaking, jeans are a waste of time – not nearly enough pockets. Makers have plenty to think about, too much it seems to ever remember where they put that pencil, or that 150mm ruler. Buy trousers that will accommodate at least one ruler and four or five pencils.

Rather obscurely, I’d also advise against bifocal lenses. Far better to have a pair for long sighted use, and another pair for shortsighted. Bifocals have a wonderful ability to bend and distort everything before them. No piece of timber will ever look straight again!

These are all guidelines, however, not the law. There is only one thing you must never ever wear, and that is a utility belt.

You are not Batman!

Until next time,



David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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