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I Forge Iron

My blacksmithing apron and cuffs I had made

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Here is my blacksmithing apron i had made, along with some cuffs. I started smithing a year ago and as with my traditional archery i have embraced the culture of the trade. I also am a taller thicker built guy so finding a thick leather apron was difficult. I am happy with the way it turned out it. The upper is a stiff chunk of bull hide and the bottom Bison hid which is very thick but pretty flexible. Cuffs are the same leather as the upper portion of the apron.


My wife is not happy about all the burn holes in my sleves and front of my shirt. I have suffered some pretty good burns on my forearms and am glad to have some protection. I know it may sound wimpy to some but I would like to preserve my body so as to enjoy smithing for a longer duration of time.






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i like it when if flakes off and land on my hammering hand right between my thumb and inde finger. You cant just let go of the hammer and by the time you stop hammering to let go it has already burned it way in to your skin!!!


I always wear long sleve shirt so i have not notice burns from slag or cinders but I have been burned badly by large metal that i am working on and that is what has left me so good scars.

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Really beautiful leatherwork.


My leather apron is very lightweight and allows for plenty of movement. I only wear it when I know sparks will be flying though. I have certain clothes (100% cotton) that are designated "work" so burn marks are the norm for them.

Cuffs? Too restrictive for me and hot in the summer. Plus when something hot falls between the cuff and the arm, you will have a tougher time getting at it. 


But there are so many different likes and dislikes out there among us that what works best for one may not work well for another.


Like I said at the top of my reply, you have some really beautiful leatherwork and I imagine that your blacksmithing reflects the time, thought and detail that you have shown.


Mark <><

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My complements to the leatherworker, that's some nice tooling. Let us know how those cuffs turn out for you in practice. If they consistently help cut down on burns without snagging on random stuff in the environment or trapping hot slag then I might consider making a pair myself.


Worst burn I've received to date was *because* I was wearing gloves. I was helping another smith teach a class when a chunk of slag popped off of one of the students' work piece and landed down the cuff of my glove, lodging at the base of my thumb. By time I got the glove off I'd racked up a nice 3rd degree burn. 

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Wonderful leather work, very very nice.


When in my shop I usually wear a long sleeve cotton shirt, and find myself wearing a treated cotton welding shirt more often to help my clothing last longer.  


In contrast, when participating in historic demonstrations I usually wear a cotton shirt with the sleeves rolled up.  I don't tend to wear an apron unless forge-welding in order to stay cooler.  I sewed myself a linen early 1800s work shirt as shown in the American Civil War sketches and photographs and plan on wearing that shirt when I roll out my wheeled Traveling Forge.  Those sketches and photographs all show the smiths with their sleeves rolled up.


When I started blacksmithing, I confess giving myself some pretty severe burns.  Once I burned myself sufficient times I developed an automatic pause when reaching for black iron, and the habit of quenching before touching.  I also made a pocket size pair of tongs that I can keep in my back pocket so that I can pick iron of unknown heat up, and to be able to point with when assisting beginners.  I found burns and the resulting pain to be a good teacher towards improving my work habits. 


Again, very nice leather work.  Please keep us informed on how well they work out for you.

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I've been smithing for over 30 years and so far have received no really bad burns; I don't recall any scars from burns; though I have donated the standard amounts of blood blademaking....

Also I am a bit bemused about "i have embraced the culture of the trade" as smithing is such a world wide thing the "culture" varies wildly---do you work barefoot and sitting on the ground with your *wives* striking for you with sledges---like some smiths in India. Do you ritually prepare yourself like some African smiths do?

The traditional heavy apron I believe is more an aspect of working with real wrought iron which tends to be a bit "juicy" when worked at it's preferred temperatures and gives of tiny spheres of molten slag when struck---one of the ways to identify a site as an iron working site in the archeological record (as opposed to a copper or bronze working site...)

My favorite blacksmithing apron was a wrap around leather miniskirt---light, easy to use and protected what I needed protected. (Besides which it gave all my friends a laugh...) I do have a number of blacksmithing shirts with the horizontal spray of holes from billet welding and my wife *REFUSES* to let me wear my good clothes out to the forge anymore!

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