Woodworking hobbyists sometimes spend hours standing at their worktables creating their projects. They often end up with aching feet at the end of the day, especially when their workshop floor is made of concrete. Their greatest wish is to find a shoe that they could work in all day without their feet hurting. While searching some woodworking forums, I noticed that 5 brands of woodworking shoes were mentioned most often:
- Dr. Martens
- Wolverine, and
5 of the Best Woodworking Shoes Brands
Let’s look at examples from each of these brands of woodworking shoes:
1. Dr. Martens
- Material: leather
- steel toe
- full-grain leather uppers
- strong, oily surface (provides durability)
- industrial-strength cord laces
- heavy-duty metal eyelets
- air-cushioned PVC outsoles (provides shock-absorption and electrical insulation)
- removable contoured, cushioned insoles (for shock-absorption)
- slip-resistant soles
- breathable mesh foam-backed lining (provides reinforcement and comfort)
- padded collars for extra cushioning
These Dr. Martens woodworking shoes have an average customer rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon. Customers report that the shoes are comfortable to wear out-of-the-box. However, they also recommend wearing two pairs of socks for extra comfort during the break-in period. They “fit well and look nice”, without feeling unduly heavy.
One user said the steel toes “hurt for about a week, but once broken in they are good”. Everyone’s feet are different. Some might initially experience a degree of discomfort but the break-in period usually eliminates most fitting problems.
You can keep your Dr. Martens woodworking shoes in good condition with the Dr. Martens Shoe Care Kit.
- Honey-colored Nubuck leather and leather/nylon mesh lining pull-up (provides added comfort and breathability)
- steel toe
- steel shank (provides added stability and support)
- hexagonal, metal grommets with speed lacing at shaft
- slip-resistant rubber outsoles
- rugged, full-grain leather upper
- durable welt construction
- oil-resistant traction outsole
- removable PU sock liner (provides day-long comfort)
- Even if you wear short socks, the material around the ankles is quite comfortable.
CAT Footwear are known throughout the world for their hard-working boots and shoes. It’s not surprising, therefore, that these “Second Shift” workboots have received more than 1,200 positive reviews on Amazon. The top Amazon reviewer works in construction/woodworking and wears them to work every day. Most boots rarely last him longer than six months in his profession. However, he has been wearing his CAT Second Shift boots six days a week for sixteen months, and a sole is only now coming loose. Considering the “wear and tear” they have been subjected to, this owner has had his money’s worth.
TIP: One Amazon reviewer gave a useful tip regarding steel toe boots: her husband wears steel-toed workboots in his Massachusetts construction job during spring, summer and autumn. In winter he changes to composite or soft-toe boots because he finds the steel toe too cold for winter.
These boots have great traction and can take a lot of wear and tear. Interestingly, the brown and black versions of the Second Shift boot are reported to be more resistant to scuffing in the toe area.
Arch support is very good; a user with flat feet reports that he does not need to use additional inserts with these boots.
- Genuine leather upper
- synthetic sole
- sole thickness: platform: approx. 0.5″; heel: approx. 0.75″
- shock-absorbing, contoured cork footbed (supports all foot arches)
- footbed molds and shapes for a custom fit
- certified slip-resistant
- 2 adjustable buckles provide a personalized fit
- adjustable rear strap
Birkenstock shoes have been made in Germany since 1774. To cushion your foot, the Birkenstock footbed is shaped to distribute your body weight evenly over your whole foot. Your feet thus get optimal support. The anti-slip, rubber outsole provides great traction on slippery surfaces, too. The Tokyo Super-Grip footbed’s suede lining will ensure that your feet remain moisture-free.
The leather can be wiped clean with a damp rag. If you’ll be spending a lot of time on a grubby floor (sawdust, wood shavings etc.), you should clean the soles periodically to avoid clogging the tread. Debris build-up could reduce the non-slip performance.
One user complained that the sole “fell off after one month of wear”. No mention was made of the circumstances or environment he wore them in, which makes it difficult to decide where the fault lies. Whether or not they came into contact with chemicals or solvents on the floor, is not known.
It’s worth mentioning that no Birkenstock shoe (that I know of) has a reinforced toe that can offer protection from dropped tools or other heavy items.
However, the outstanding features of the Birkenstock Tokyo shoes are the all-day support and comfort they provide.
- Steel toe work boot
- fiberglass shank provides added steel-toe support
- full-grain leather upper (allows moisture to escape and keeps water out)
- resists staining and scuffing
- slip-resistant outsole provides excellent traction
- outsole resists oil, water and abrasion
- compression pads in heel and forepart of outsole absorb shock and stress
- durable, shock-absorbing mid-sole
- removable, light-weight polymer footbed absorbs shocks
The Wolverine Men’s W03120 Work Boot is still a top seller in the DuraShocks line. Users report them to be “…super light-weight, even with the steel toe…they really are rain-proof…really grippy, even in the rain”.
Some people who have been wearing Wolverines for years have noticed a deterioration in quality since production was transferred to China. However, the advantages of comfort and “no break-in period required” seem to outweigh such concerns.
- Extra-wide composite toe cap (non-metallic)
- waterproof, full-grain leather upper
- lined with moisture-wicking nylon mesh
- Insole: EVA-cushion, removable footbed with shock-absorbing heel pad and rebounding forefoot pad
- Outsole: direct-attached polyurethane midsole and rubber-traction bottom with shock-absorbing heel pad and rebounding forefoot pad
- slip- and oil-resisting outsole
- electrical-hazard protection
The Rockport RK6635 Work Boot would be a good choice for men with wide feet. The toe area has plenty of room if you’re concerned about pinched or jacked-up toes, corns or calluses. You can remove the inserts and replace them with your own if you prefer. The outsole’s slip-resistance construction performs well on wet tiling.
Some users find them “a little larger than actual size”. You can easily rectify this by using inserts or simply wearing two pairs of socks.
Comfort seems to be the top feature of these workboots, according to reviews. The general consensus on the weight is: “maybe a little heavy but not too heavy, considering they are work boots”.
- steel toe
- moisture-wicking, nylon mesh lining
- shock-absorbing heel pad
- Insole: EVA cushion removable footbed
- Outsole: rubber outsole, EVA cushion midsole
- slip- and oil-resisting
- static-dissipative shoes
These are said to be “very comfortable for steel-toed shoes”. The thick, durable leather and the thick rubber sole definitely result in a somewhat heavy shoe. However, they should also potentially take a long time to wear out.
The shoes “could have been a bit wider” for some users. If your feet are on the wide side, try ordering a larger size than your regular size and use an insert – it should make for a comfortable fit.