How to Make Your Own “Tin Pants”

How to Make Your Own “Tin Pants”

If you’ve never heard of tin pants, they are a type of work trouser made from a heavy-duty tightly-woven cotton cloth that is then treated with a oil/wax formulation. The result is a pant that is waterproof, abrasion and fire resistant. The pants were developed for the logging industry in the years around 1900. They were soon adopted by miners, railroad workers, and others involved in rugged, harsh-environment work. They got the name “tin pants” because of the armor-like conceits of the material.

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You can still buy tin pants, but they are not cheap, costing between $200-$300 a pair. There are many formulations out there for making your own. In this video by The Lone Woodman he details how he arrived at his treatment recipe. He even delves into the science behind the ingredients, does side-by-side testing, shows how he applies his resulting formula, and shows heat and fire testing of the fabric. Impressive stuff. I love his little motto for the project, too: “Made from scratch, based on science.” More of this, please!

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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