Blacksmith work is dangerous by nature, but with proper safety equipment and knowledge of ventilation, heat, and metal, you can work safely and with peace of mind.
Clothing: Make it a point to use only cotton clothing when working - no synthetic clothing which will catch fire very easily as opposed to cotton which will only smoulder (burn slowly with smoke but no flame.)
Shoes: footwear such as leather boots / industrial boots are ideal: steel toe boots are highly reccommended in case you drop metal.
Glasses/Goggles/Mask: vital for eye protection in case any spatter richochets upwards. You may also consider getting a full helmet/mask for full face & neck protection.
- MSA Safety Works Glasses ($2.76) - economical, clear, simple safety glasses (fits over most prescription lenses).
- DEWALT Safety Goggles ($10.99) - affordable, dual mold goggle that provides protection from dust and debris.
- MOT Bionic Face Shield ($21.62) - full-face protection from airborne debris with excellent optics and increased visibility.
Gloves: necessary to protect hands, grip, and all handling with hot metal. There are many glove options for blacksmithers; the qualities you want to look for are heat resistantance, heavy duty padding, and a fit that allows you to grip with accuracy. Below are a few solid options:
- 14" US Forge 400 Welding Gloves Lined Leather ($12.99) - designed to provide complete protection from molten metal, as well as ultraviolet rays which cause severe skin burns. The soft, supple, top-grain leather offers comfort and pliability. Deluxe lined welding glove offers even more pliability for long-term dexterity. Reinforced frictional areas and an internal liner add to the comfort and durability. All-around a very affordable and effecient option.
- 13" Heat Resistant Melting Furnace Gloves Refining Casting Gold Silver Copper ($17.49) - One size fits all, flannel lining, good heat resistance.
- 21" Caiman One Size Fits All Genuine American Deerskin Welding Glove with Boarhide Leather Heat Shield and Cuff ($40.97) - Higher quality, designed for overhead welding, stick and plasma, 21 in, heay duty padding, sewin with kevlar thread.
Apron: helps protect clothing from spatter and radiant heat, as well as accidents.
- Hobart Leather Welding Apron ($24.65) - Built with genuine split cowhide leather and delivers ample protection from the sparks and heat of welding. One size fits most. Lining: Unlined. Product Style: Leather. Size: One size fits most. Color: Brown. Material Type: Split cowhide.
- Steiner Bib Apron, Weld-Rite Premium Brown Split Cowhide ($30.76) - (24 x 42 option available). Lightweight, durable heavy-duty protection against sparks and splatter. Lining: Unlined. Color: Brown. Product Style: Leather. Size: 24W x 36L (inch)
- Lincoln Electric Brown One Size Flame-Resistant Leather Welding Apron ($31.89) - protects clothing and skin from welding spatter. Can be worn over a welding jacket when additional protection is required or used for light welding over clothing. Made of weather-resistant, heavy split cowhide for durability, and it is flame-resistant for protection from flame and spatter. Has an adjustable harness system that allows for proper fit and weight displacement, and one size fits all.
Jacket: Apron alternative (for style points)
Head Protection: It's important to protect the top of the head from spatter and heat. A simple doo rag will do the job.
- Lincoln Electric Black One Size Flame-Resistant Welding Doo Rag ($6.93) - It is made of cotton for breathability and is machine washable. It is flame-resistant for protection and lightweight at 9 ounces per square yard. In addition to protection and absorption, it provides a comfortable cushion for a welding helmet, and it has a mesh lining for quick evaporation of perspiration. This doo rag ties in the back, so one size fits all.
Sleeves: If you are not using long-sleeved cotton, you can either wear or stack a pair of welding sleeves. An affordable and effecient options is listed below.
- Lincoln Electric Black One Size Flame-Resistant Welding Sleeves ($8.76) - Protects the arms from welding spatter and heat. They are made from 100% flame resistant material for protection and lightweight at 9 ounces per square yard. Elastic cuffs at each end offer protection from spatter and hold the sleeves in place, and there are split leather panels in high wear areas for durability. Sleeve length is 21 inches.
Fire Extinguisher: Always handy to have available when working with high heat situations. I would put this as #1 on the list of things to have in your shop.
- Kidde Fire Extinguisher ($19.98) - a solid and affordable fire extinguisher that fights Class A, Class B, and Class C fires. UL rated 1-A:10-B:C for basic home use.
- Amerex Chemical Class Extinguisher ($46.95) - a more powerful and higher rated extinguisher, rated 3A:40BC for commercial / industrial usage.
Carbon Monoxide Detector: Essentially mandatory for indoor blacksmith work: lets you know when the carbon monoxide levels in the room are unsafe.
Metals: Always research / investigate the type of metal you work with. Scrap metal (one of the most commonly used types for blacksmiths) can be very dangerous due to toxic chemical coatings. Check for reflectiveness/shininess which are often signs of a chemical coating. There are many methods for removing these coatings but you must be careful with each method such as electrolytic baths.
Common Practice: A widely practiced rule is to assume everything you are working with is hot and treat it as such: do not place anything hot on/near anything that will catch fire.
Ventilation: When working indoors it's vital to have proper ventilations via ducts, fans, windows, etc. to protect your lungs.