Helly Hansen Manchester construction pants

Comfortable, durable, well priced work pants for shop or job site.

Trousers, joggers, jeans, and cargo pants aren’t designed for daily wear in the workshop or on a job site. Work-specific pants are. They’re typically made of thicker more durable material with double stitching (especially at the stress points), ample leg and crotch room that make it easy to kneel and bend, strong zippers made to last and reinforced pockets designed to hold heavy items witout tearing. Any carpenter worth their salt knows that work pants last a lot longer than non-work pants, which makes them a more economical investment. 

Manchester Construction pants from Helly Hansen have all the essential features you’d want in a top-quality work pants. They’re made of 8-ounce cotton, with some spandex added to prevent sagging and allow the material to retain its original length and shape. The crotch gusset is something you’ll really appreciate if you do a lot of crouching in the shop or on the job. I find these pants more comfortable to wear than the 11-1/2 ounce pants I normally wear in the shop.

A nice feature is that there is extra material at the leg cuff, which means you can lengthen the pant legs by up to 5cm/1.98″. Similarly, you can adjust the knee pad pockets. Unlike a lot of work pants the knee pad pockets are located on the inside of the pants. You can add extra knee protection if you need it, without taking away the good looks of the pants.

The articulated knees make it a lot more comfortable when you kneel or squat. They provide optimal freedom of movement compared to standard, straight design pant legs.

When you don’t need to tote a tool belt around, having a lot of pockets comes in super handy. And these pants have pockets galore – 7 large pockets and 10 smaller slot pockets. I find the hanging front pockets super useful. You get two deep pockets on each side plus three slot pockets, making it convenient to store a range of accessories – ruler, tape measure, pencils, markers, notepad, multitool, utility knife, pliers, and the like. The pockets are built to last and double stitched on the waist band so they won’t fall off.

Helly Hansen double stitching
Double stitching on all the stress points for enhanced durability.
Helly Hansen pockets
1 large pocket flap (about 6″ wide and 6-3/4″ deep) and 3 pocket slots on the right side hanging pocket.
helly hansen leg pocket
Under the right hanging pocket there is a side hip pocket plus two narrow pockets and and an ID card loop.
helly hansen work pants
Also on the left side is a hanging pocket flap – 1 large pocket (about 6″ wide and 6-3/4″ deep) and 3 pocket slots.
helly hansen
Also on the left side is a hanging pocket flap – 1 large pocket (about 6″ wide and 6-3/4″ deep) and 3 pocket slots.
helly hansen pleated knee
Pleating at the knee prevents material from stretching when you’re kneeling and increases comfort.
helly hansen pants
Knee pad pockets on the inside enable you to add extra knee comfort and protection without making you look too dorky.
helly hansen pant cuff
Remove the stitching if you need to lower the bottom leg cuff by 5cm/1.98″.
helly hansen crotch
A gusset in the crotch area allows greater freedom of movement.

After some 145 years of making work wear, Helly Hansen has learned a thing or two about work clothing, and it shows with these Manchester Construction pants. They deliver extra quality, excellent durability and all the functionality that you need in work pants, at a price that’s easy to live with. 

Manufacturer: Helly Hansen
Model: 77522
Price: $105.00
Source: Find a retailer
Key Features:

  • Material: 8-ounce, 98% cotton / 2% spandex canvas
  • Available lengths: 16 sizes 30″/30″ to 44″/32″
  • Available waist sizes: 30″ to 50″
  • Available colours: Black
  • Warranty: 90-day free return policy
  • Key features:
  • 2-way mechanical stretch fabric
  • Hanging pockets on each side with double lined bottom
  • Gusset in crotch for freedom of movement
  • 7 large pockets and 10 slot pockets
  • Articulated knees for optimal mobility
  • Knee Pad pockets accessible from the inside
  • Knee Pad position and leg length can be adjusted by 5cm/1.98″ for optimal mobility
  • Free shipping on orders over $50.
helly hansen work pants
Well-fitting, comfortable and durable work pants that you can wear in the shop or on a job site.

Jorgensen E-Z HOLD expandable bar clamp

Premium clamps that provide up to 300 pounds of clamping pressure, have large pads that align perfectly, a movable jaw that doesn’t slip when pressure is released, quickly convert to spreader mode and can be joined together to extend clamping capacity.

The right clamp can often mean the difference between a successful, stress-free glue-up, and a complete, or near disaster. There are a wide range of clamp styles on the market, suitable for various clamping situations. Trigger activated bar clamps are very popular because they free up one hand to hold a workpiece while you use the other hand to operate the clamp. As well, they provide excellent clamping pressure, are great for a range of project glue-ups, and are reasonably well priced.

The Jorgensen E‑Z HOLD bar clamp comes in five clamping lengths: 6″, 12″, 18″, 24″ and 36″. I had the opportunity of shop testing the 12″ length, model 33412.

Pony Jorgensen EZ Hold clamps

The E-Z HOLD has a super rigid 1/4″ x 3/4″ steel rail that resists flexing under load. It’s black coated to resist rusting and make it easier to remove residual glue. On one end of the rail is a removable jaw, and other end is a movable jaw with a pressure release handle. Both composite jaws are slightly contoured, providing more clearance during assembly, are covered with large, removable 1-3/8″ x 2-7/8″ cushioned camping pads, and have a 3-3/8″ throat depth.

Pony Jorgensen EZ Hold
Top to bottom: linked clamps in extended mode; standard clamping mode; spreader mode.

The fixed jaw jaw has a push button release mechanism that enables you to quickly convert the E-Z HOLD into spreading mode. Push the black button, and then slip the jaw off the rail. You then slip the jaw onto the opposite end of the rail and push the black button again to lock the jaw in place. The effective spreading distance is from 7-1/2″ to about 19-3/8″. Conversion takes no more than 10 seconds.

Pony Jorgensen EZ Hold
Push button fixed head release

Another unique feature of the E-Z HOLD is that you can link together. You simply remove the fixed heads, flip them over and insert one head into the other via a sliding dovetail built into each head.  With a 12″ clamp you get 12-7/8″ clamping capacity. Join two 12″ clamps together an you get a whopping 30-5/8″ clamping capacity. That’s an extra 6″ due to the width of the fixed heads. It’s a huge advantage for these clamps that I haven’t seen on any other one-handed clamps.

Pony Jorgensen EZ Hold
Securely lock two clamps together

The movable jaw has a generous, comfortably shaped 4″ handle with rubber inserts. As you squeeze the handle the jaw moves smoothly across the rail in 1/4″ increments. To quickly reposition the jaw you depress the pressure release trigger, and then push or pull the jaw along the rail. I found that the jaws moved smoothly across the rail.

Pony Jorgensen EZ Hold
Large super comfortable handle

Another feature I really like with this clamps is the clutch mechanism that doesn’t let up on clamping pressure when you release the trigger. The 6 clutch design has three steel plates and a tension spring that advances the moveable jaw and another 3 plates and tension spring that holds the jaw firmly in place when you release the trigger.

When fully engaged these clamps deliver 300 pounds of clamping pressure.  I was impressed with how easily the E-Z HOLD clamps could draw together severely warped studs and curved stock.

Pony Jorgensen EZ Hold
Dual sets of plates and springs make for ideal jaw alignment

More importantly, when engaged, the jaws align almost perfectly, with virtually no gaps between the pads, making for an even distribution of camping pressure. Releasing clamping pressure doesn’t take a lot of effort – just a single pull on the release trigger.

These clamps are well made and provide sufficient clamping pressure for a wide range of clamping tasks in the shop. I like that they have large pads that align perfectly and a movable jaw that doesn’t slip when pressure is released. They convert to spreader mode very quickly and, more importantly to me, can be joined together to extend clamping capacity. If you’re looking for premium one-handed trigger activated bar clamps you can’t go wrong with Jorgensen E-Z HOLD.

Manufacturer: Pony Jorgensen
Price: $17.99
Made in: Overseas

FAMAG Bormax 2.0 Forstner drill bits

Razor-sharp wave-form cutting teeth require less power, produce less friction and deliver superb results.

There are a variety of drill bits to choose from when hole concentricity and size accuracy isn’t overly important. These include twist, brad-point, spade, and tapered bits. However, when you want to drill holes with super crisp rims that are accurately sized, and have clean, flat bottoms, Forstner-style bits are the better choice. As well as drilling precise, clean-edged holes in soft and hard woods, plywood, MDF, and laminates, these bits excel at drilling angled holes, overlapping holes, and holes on the edge of stock.

Forstner bits typically have two flat curved rims with inside bevels, two chippers, and a center spur. They are usually available in diameters up to around 1″. Saw-Tooth bits have a similar configuration, except the rim is toothed. These bits can be had in diameters from about 1″ to 4″.

Probably the most common problem with Forstner bits is overheating. Constant contact with the cutting surface and chip buildup are the culprits here. Friction builds up heat that can remove the temper from the bit’s cutting edges and shorten the bits cutting life. This can be caused by exceeding the maximum speed the manufacturer recommends for the size of the bit and the type of wood you’re drilling into, applying excessive force when drilling (especially in dense hardwoods), and a buildup of chips around the bit.

The German company FAMAG have successfully resolved this problem with their Bormax 2.0 Forstner bits. And fortunately for Canadian woodworkers, these bits are now available from KJP Select Hardwoods.

Famag Bormax drill bits

What makes Bormax 2.0 bits so effective is their unique design. Like conventional Forstner bits they have two cutting rims, two chippers and a center spur. Similar to saw-tooth bits the cutting rims have a series of skewed teeth in a wave form pattern with sloped cutting bevels that shear wood fibers and cut clean holes. The curved outside edge of the rims have a series of longitudinal grooves that do an excellent job of dissipating heat.

Bormax 2 drill bit

The hexagonal shank does a much better job of transferring power to the bit than does a round shank, and the four-sided center spur has a very fine point that makes it easy to precisely position the bit.

The bits are made from alloyed tool steel (likely some combination of tungsten, chromium, vanadium or molybdenum), which gives good wear resistance, impact strength and added toughness. The black oxide coating on the bits provide some additional corrosion resistance and helps to reduce friction and heat buildup.

You can purchase these bits separately, or in various boxed sets. The smaller diameter bits (up to about 1″) can be used freehand in a drill. However, for the larger bits (up to 60mm/2.4″) you’ll want to use a drill press. The set I’ve been using has 7 bit sizes from 1/4″ to 1″.

I found that the Bormax 2.0 bits did an excellent job in hardwood and softwood, whether drilling face, edge or end grain. The holes precisely matched the diameter of the bits, and the rim edges and bottom of the holes were crisp and clean. The bits did a superb job of clearing chips – better than any other bits I’ve used.

Not only do the Bormax 2.0 bits perform well drilling straight holes, they do a very good job drilling angled holes, overlapping holes, and holes on the edge of boards. As with standard Forstner bits drilling holes on the edge of stock is easier if you clamp the stock to the drill press table – particularly when drilling into short, narrow stock.

Bormax 2 drill bit

When drilling just a few holes the bits barely heat up at all. When consecutively drilling dozens of holes there is some heat build up, but noticeably less than with standard Forstner bits.

At $237 for a set of seven (an average of $34 per bit) they aren’t inexpensive, especially when you compare it to a standard set of boxed Forstner bits that can be had for around $100, or about $14 per bit.

But if consistently precise, cleanly cut flat bottomed holes are what you want, then the Bormax 2.0 bits are well worth considering. If these bits last twice as long as standard Forstner bits then they’re a economical choice. If they last three times as long, as I fully expect they will, they’re a stellar deal. Highly recommended.

Manufacturer: FAMAG
Price: $237.25
Made in: Germany
SourceKJP Select Hardwoods

Kershaw Taskmaster 2 saw

For camping, hunting or backpacking, and around the farm or homestead, a folding hand saw is one tool you’ll never regret buying. There are a lot of cheap models on the market with flimsy blades that easily bend or break, teeth that dull prematurely and handles that delaminate, disintegrate or otherwise deconstruct.

Not so the Taskmaster 2  – it offers great value in a well designed, high quality tool that is a pleasure to use.

Kershaw taskmaster

Carhartt rugged flex loose fit canvas work pant

You should expect a lot from a company who has been manufacturing work clothing for over 100 years. And these rugged flex loose fit canvas work pants from Carhartt don’t disappoint. Relaxed fit pants give a bit more wiggle room in the seat and thigh areas than do slim fit pants, and have a wider leg opening than bootcut pants, yet aren’t baggy looking.

These Carhartt work pants are a great choice to wear on a job site, in the shop, gardening, or even loafing around town. They’re comfortable, durable, and well priced.

Carhartt work pants
Right side hammer loop and two utility pockets.
Carhartt work pants
Flex stretch technology gives you ample room when you kneel, bend or crouch.