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I was all set to buy the full apron the shades, etc but folks on videos (the ones referred to on this site as doing a good job) Don't seem to really use any sort of PPE except gloves and shades.

What do you folks wear while you are forging?  I have good boots, several welding helmets (one adjustable)  and cutting glasses for the plasma cutter.  Used to have a welding jacket but found the heavy leather sleeves to be too restricting and hot, so I weld in shirt sleeves, unless I am using the TIG then I make sure I have a long sleeve shirt.  I also have the required welding gloves.  I should point out I seldom wear my boots.  Bad back and they mess with it. 

Edited by natenaaron

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I've only been forging for a short while, so I don't have the experience a lot of folks do, but I forge in a t shirt with pants and boots. If I use tennis shoes, I can scale burns in them, and I bet dropping steel would be bad.

I find gloves are only necessary for twisting (scale falls on your hands)

I find a jacket is nice if you're welding but otherwise unnecessary. 

I used hearing protection before I put about 6 hard disk magnets on it. Now I don't use hearing protection. 

Something to protect your eyes is thr only thing I can definitively say is a must.

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Only need to protect what's important to you and is in possible danger.

Eyes, Ears, feet  always; bluejeans and a cotton shirt usually enough protection for my torso; save when forge welding then leather apron!!!!

Gloves when it too cold to touch bare metal; I tend to not touch hot metal...less painful that way!

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Apron use seems mixed. Many of the smiths I know who do smithing professionally wear 1/2 aprons. I use mine when forge welding to cut down the burns on the shirt. I have worn my heavy leather welding jacket when working heavy stock, mostly for heat protection.

 

It's amazing how cumulative hearing loss is. Sadly years ago I did a lot of saw work in construction with out hearing protection and now have to deal with some hearing loss. Any time I use power tools, cutting, grinding, even lawn use, I'll wear hearing protection. Same goes with most forging operations and I have a very quiet anvil. I have 3 pairs of top rated muffs as well as plenty of the disposable plugs. In fact I keep spare plugs in the glove box of all my vehicles.

 

Boots and bad backs... Depending on what causes your back problems, a set of orthodic inserts might be worth a look. I used to have sciatica issues fairly frequently until I got orthodic inserts. That solved the vast majority of my problems. The semi custom ones from the orthodic shoe store near my house cost about $150 a pair. The new custom ones from my podiatrist are about $600. Worth every penny in my book to not have to deal with back and foot pain. I've tried the ones you just buy and stuff in the boots. Not worth it. Go some place where they mold and fit them to you and know what they are doing like a good orthodic shoe store or a podiatrist.

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My first job was in a union steel plant.  Ever since I wear steel toes even to mow the lawn.   I favor a full leather apron since scale down the cleavage in not pleasant.   I often wear a leather glove on my left hand when holding in hand rather than in tongs.   I also use a small hand grinder with one hand and hold things I'm cleaning with the wire cup brush so it avoids accidental brush burns.

My welding teacher favored heavy starched denim shirts or jackets when welding.   I learned the had way about welders tan from an open collar.  So I follow his example.

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As I have a supply of steel toed boots from a previous profession I inevitably wear them likewise gloves of various types, although I have just purchased a quality set of welding gauntlets as a treat to myself! I have a full leather apron from my apprentice days which I use sometimes but mainly for casting and arc welding. I've a couple of pairs of clear safety glasses and goggles and have used an old welding helmet without the tit, Just the glass, as a makeshift face shield when the need arose!!! For the most part I simply use old clothes and in colder weather a boilersuit oer the top.

I would say it is important to only wear natural fibres around heat.....Should you have an "incident" you definately do not want man made fibres sticking to your skin and compounding a burn into a nasty burn!

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It is deffininently a case of depends....

jeans and cotton shirt, summers its a thin purl snap, but I have 2 sets of chaps, an bib aprin... 

Just depends on how crazy I am geting that day

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One danger that people might not know about is the heavy use of dryer sheets in the laundry.  They make the surface of cotton (and other?) clothes flammable.  What you get is this crawling blue flame--not large and hard to see but it singes along the surface of the clothes.

My ex used to love throwing in several dryer sheets for each dryer load-- I noticed it suddenly got warm when welding once so yanked the hat off to see my shirt covered in blue flame.  No harm done as it's not an aggressive fire but had I not noticed, it could have been a major problem.

 

 

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I haven't noticed increased creeping blue flames with drier sheets and Deb never fails to use them. I've had people darned near beat me senseless when a new flannel shirt fuzz catches and the blue flame spreads. Yeah, I feel it and smell it but my hair doesn't burn easily so I just ignore it. It can really get folk hopping though.

If you have bad feet you might want to see about a pair of custom fitted boots. When I bought my first pair of Whites boots my back stopped aching and my knees stopped hurting from standing on the drill stand. It was always vibrating and bouncing, lots of shock damage. The Whites did it though.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Good leather boots. Gloves when I can't avoid them (except around power equipment). The apron sometimes (I try to keep a few holey tshirts to forge in.) Fire extinguisher and water handy. Got my anvil quieted down okay and my hearing's already messed up from the army and railroad, but noise headphones for anything where I work on the heel or horn much. Safety goggles for any power equipment, and I've REALLY gotta start wearing them more whilst forging. Bad habit.

Water and fire extinguishers handy, and never ever ever take the guards off the power equipment. I use dryer sheets, and I've caught fire occaisionally, but didn't see blue flames spreading. Safety first....or in there somewheres...

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Long pants, shirt sleeve length depends on the weather; natural fibers, no fabric softener (not a safety issue -- I just can't stand the smell). Leather boots. Leather glove on the left hand when working longer stock without tongs. Planning on making an apron when I've scraped together a few ducats for some decent leather.

Hearing protection: ALWAYS. I have tinnitus from my years as a woodworker, and I do NOT want to make it worse. 

Eye protection: IR goggles (shade #3) over my prescription glasses. Face shield when grinding. I've only got one set of eyes.

Same gear for my son when he's helping out. He's only 12, and I don't want to cause any damage he'll be living with for the next eighty years.

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For me it's glasses, cotton clothes, and my boots. They aren't steel toe but they keep my feet from getting burned at least. It took me a while to find a pair of boots that were light enough for me to wear regularly. Hip problems don't agree with extra weight on your feet!

Gloves are rare but I do wear them, especially when dealing with old lumber. That's not really related to blacksmithing, but I've been snagged by a few nail heads over the years and learned my lesson on that count. Never, never, never trust someone else to clean up a piece of lumber. Never!

 

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Note on Dryer fabric Softeners.  They are very flammable and have been used for years by Arsonists to move a set fire around inside a building.  They can't help but leave flammable products on our cloths esp. if used heavily.  Be Careful, I'm lucky because my wife makes me wash my own work cloths so I never use them. 

Always Cotton cloths, long sleeve shirts even T Shirts( I do have a couple Nomex shirts from fighting wildland fires), full size boots, gloves sometimes, safety glasses, sometimes hearing protection as I lost most of my hearing years ago shooting on rifle teams.  I use a set of Farrier Chaps mostly because I have them and they fit me, will consider an apron if the $ should suddenly appear.  Keep 2 large ABC fire extinguishers, one by each door and planning on another to be mounted by Forge.       

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36 minutes ago, notownkid said:

  Keep 2 large ABC fire extinguishers, one by each door and planning on another to be mounted by Forge.       

If you happen to own or be tight with a business in some areas of the USA, fire extinguishers might be basically "free".  Many big cities require commercial businesses to either replace extinguishers after 5 years or pay a LOT for a commercial service to re-certify them.  It's actually cheaper to just go to Costco and buy new ones if your business isn't very large.  They're still good for many years but it's part of the hoops a business has to jump through.  The old ones have to go away and they'll generally be just fine for a home situation, especially if you can get enough to be redundant.  

I checked and most of the extinguishers one would want for a forge situation can tolerate freezing weather just fine also.  

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11 hours ago, JHCC said:

Here's my son, all geared up and ready to strike:

 

Strange, he doesn't look unionized?

Humor aside jeans and a cotton shirt with steel toecap boots should be a minimum! Leather apron and gloves for occasional use and eye and ear protection for regular use.

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On the dryer sheet issue, I actually keep some around as Fire Starters for a fire pit, they are VERY flammable themselves and stuffed into an empty toilet tissue tube make and excellent fire starter. 

I also wear jeans and boots for forging, learned the hard way what scale, welding and dropping hot metal on sneakers does to the toesies!  In winter I wear long sleeves but tend to roll them up within the first few minutes, I'll tolerate scale burns over getting overheated.  Glove on the left hand, holding tongs, but not on the right unless it's just REALLY cold.  Hearing protection always, always, always, I never swing the hammer at ALL without ear plugs in, want to still be able to hear when I get older.  Eye protection ALWAYS, I wear IR protective/green safety glasses and make anyoone working with me wear them, too.  I tried a leather apron and later a "work apron" when I first started, didn't find either particularly useful in any way so I abandoned them. Still don the work apron sometimes while doing a lot of grinding, just to keep the sparks at bay. 

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As far as the OP about what "pros" wear in youtube videos: they have years, if not decades of experiance to draw from. I can demo arc welding in any position except overhead to my students in a cotton shirt and drivers gloves, but I do not let them try it. They do not know how and where to position their body to avoid being burned.

Same with smithing: better overdressed than under.

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Getting back to the OP (thank you, John McPherson), there are plenty of videos of experts wearing more than gloves and shades. For example, Brent Bailey wears a full apron in some of his videos, Jim Kramer wears one in everything I've seen him in, and Technicus Joe - Joey van der Steeg even has one video entirely dedicated to why he wears an apron.

Also, it's kind of hard to tell what shoes most smiths are wearing in their videos -- it's not a fashion vlog!

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I always wear eye and hearing protection, gloves and apron as needed. One thing I didn't notice anyone mention was any sort of respiratory protection. Coal and grinder dust are not known to be good for the lungs. I have a respirator but don't honestly use it very often.

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If I ever get to take another class at John C. Campbell folk school, I will bring my own respirator. A dozen coal forges going in a low pressure system make for bad air. I wear one when I grind for more than 30 seconds.

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