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I Forge Iron

Eye protection in the days of Covid.


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Hello.  I signed up a week or so ago after delaying my interest in Blacksmithing three times in my life due to reasons of practicality.  Well life hasn't gotten any more "practical" for myself to get into smithing now, but I just hit age sixty, so I better start factoring in "now or never"

Partly because of advice gleaned here at this forum, I decided to participate in two blacksmithing classes over the last two weeks.  My experience there is fodder for another day's post, but before I consider taking any other classes I need to find a solution.

The problem in need of solution for myself is that of facemarks and eye protection.  The masks were mandated, so we could expell our hot breaths out to the sides and up, instead of out towards the front, and the practice part of the class was useless.   I couldn't see what I was doing due to the fogging.  I tried two pairs of glasses and two different styles of mask - it didn't make a quantifiable difference.

So, my questions is about safety glasses as they are designed for use in a Blacksmith's Smithy.  Is impact resistance  a big deal when moving hot metal, as it would be when machining for exapmple?  The reason I ask is that I was thinking about using swimming goggles instead.  That would cure the fogging (I believe), but would that be some sort of really dumb, Darwin style, idea?  Has anyone else who has reacently taken group classes been faced with the same problem, and if so, did you find a solution, or just live with the diminished visibility?

Thanks.  Looking forward to being "slapped upside the head" by some of the old grumps here. ;) 

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Eye protection is an interesting subject and there are different philosophies regarding how much is not enough, how much is enough, and how much is too much.  It also depends on what you are doing.  Hammering at the anvil may send bits of scale off but I have never had them hit my face but they could.  Working with power tools, particularly rotary tools such as wire wheels can launch things at a much higher velocity.  Welding can also send hot, nasty bits around.

Personally, I wear glasses with impact resistant plastic lenses all the time and have never had an eye injury.  The next step up would be safety glasses with plastic or wire guards beside the eyes.  You can also wear clear plastic googles which go over your glasses, if you wear them.  These are similar to ski googles but with clear lenses.  About the highest level is a clear plastic face shield which I only use when I think my face will be in the direct line of something flying at high speed.

A filter type respirator, in lieu of a mask, would prevent your breath from fogging your glasses since they usually direct the exhaust out the sides or bottom. 

Also, try pinching the top of a surgical mask on both sides of your nose or use some small bits of tape to fasten the top of the mask to your cheeks so that your breath is forced out the bottom and not upwards.

As mentioned by others, anti-fogging compounds will help too. 

BTW, welcome aboard.  This has been a useful and fun outlet for me for over 40 years.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand." 

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Swimming goggles are not made to resist impact, safety glasses are. Since I wear glasses I prefer a face shield (they make safety glasses that go over normal glasses but they are just horrible to wear) . Never had mine fog up but I always wear my Moldex 7002, masks like those have a better fit to your face, and they are pretty comfortable to wear for hour on end.

A very simple trick to stop glass/plastic from fogging up is just rubbing a thin layer of shaving cream on them. Just put a dab of it on your lenses/mask. Let it sit for a minute, then gently polish with a soft cloth.

 

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Aside from other suggestions, I have seen a few people apply medical tape to the upper edge of a mask to prevent their glasses from steaming up. Can't imagine it's real comfortable but when function is important.... you Need to see as best you can for safety reasons above others. 

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When using tape (for many purposes) you do not have to use the entire adhesive surface. 

Take a length of tape and place a smaller width of tape down the center, sticky side to sticky side.  This reduced the adhesive area in the middle while leaving the edges sticky.  Wearing the reduced adhesion tape will determine how little or how much adhesion is needed for your application (pun intended).

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Thanks everyone.  I didn't even have anti-fogging agents in my brain for this, which is sort of silly because it is something that swimmers use all the time.  Duh.  I will look into goggles for forging and perhaps try a face shield as secondary protection.

Again ... thanks for the well considered replies.  

Of course seeing that this is a manly pursuit, I shall take heed of that Duck tape ( the actual original name for the stuff, as it was made of cotton duck cloth) and go straight to gorilla tape. I've read about "no pain ... no gain" and am too old to go slowly towards sage wisdom. ;) 

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While there are probably more folk of the male persuasion who pound hot iron the female smiths I have known have been very good and many of them much better than I, see, e.g. Jennifer or Dorothy Stiegler.  Often, women become more skilled at the craft more quickly because, in my opinion, 1) they do not have as much upper body strength and, as a result develop better technique more quickly rather than just trying to power through like many men will attempt, 2) they have a more "artistic" eye and sense of aesthetics which allows them to make better looking items, and 3) they tend to be more patient than us guys and not try to rush through or into something.  This is, of course, stereotyping, and there are plenty of exceptions to this rule but, IMO, it has some general validity.

That said, if we were in a masculinity competition I would put up my blacksmith shop against any "man cave." I have to open the door periodically and let the testosterone run out.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Agree at the strength part, when I did wall climbing for a hobby I would fail at walls that beginning females would tackle in a week or so. We as men use what we know best, and only try something else when that fails. Why use skill when you can just use force? Especially when your women is there looking at you all googly eyed "Cuz you so manly"

Only reason I learned to control me strength and relax is because of the martial art I practice. 

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Deimos:  Back in my dim, distant, paleolithic days I was a rock climber (on real rock) and noticed that women developed better climbing technique faster than men.  Because you are supposed to keep your center of gravity over your feet when climbing and because women have a lower center of gravity than men (less mass in the arms and torso and broader hips) they naturally were better at doing that.  Also, because men have more of their muscle mass in their upper body they tend to try to muscle up the rock with their arms while women would naturally use their legs which is better technique.  This is reflected in the compliment of a good climber, that they "dance" up the rock.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand." 

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Yup, that is what I saw as well when my wife also learned to climb (We don't do mountains over here, we have one hill about 1000 ft high that we call a mountain....) I was just lugging my 200 Lbs. up the wall using the power of my hands and upper body, got me pretty far. But then my wife tries my way for about 0.5 seconds and finds out she can't even pull herself up (maybe 100 Lbs.) and starts using her legs and actual technique, guess once who gut us the wall faster....

What also made it harder for me was that 90% of all the routes are made by people about a feet shorter then me, so while they can really get a good stretch, I always have way to much leg or arm left to just hang.

And lets be honest, nothing wrong with admiring the lower center of gravity in a climbing harness. If you know what I mean, nudge nudge. 

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George,

I concur with your observations concerning women climbers.    I remember decades back, a weekend with the McGill University outing club, that was open for all students who wanted to give climbing a try. One young lady beginner, was ascending routes, on Sunday, that most of the more experienced climbers took a year of assiduous experience to master. She did it with ease, grace and speed.   She was tall, svelte, and had great naturel form and strength. We found out late that weekend that she also had extensive experience in classical ballet dancing. That combination was dynamite.

I lost track of her.

But she exemplified your points and reasoning, very well.

There is a d.v.d. that features smithing techniques used by women. ("Smith Like A Woman?") Hopefully someone will remember the exact title.

SLAG.

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8 minutes ago, Deimos said:

the lack of safety is just painful to watch

Not as painful as it will be for them one day. I don't understand why so many people refuse to use PPE. It's only a matter of time before their luck runs out. 

Pnut

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Many think they are invincible and or bulletproof.  They are usually the first to call for paramedics to try to save their hide, broken bones, or their lives when things go wrong.

The human body can recover from a lot of things, being really stupid is not one of them.

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Back when I was first married I worked in a factory for a while where PPE was supplied *if* you asked for it.  There was a strong "macho" culture against wearing it.  As many of them were already losing their hearing I didn't feel bad at all for wearing earplugs.  I did hear that the money spent on PPE came out of the supervisor's bonus...it was back in the bad old days when smoking on the line was allowed.  I moved on to a much better job, before the line was sent to Mexico and the factory shut down.  Funny I became an adult onset type 1 diabetic in my 40's and am still in better shape 20 years later than a lot of the folks I used to work with.

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Weird it worked like that, all USA companies operating over here (CAT and the such) have such strict PPE rules (one warning and then you are fired and getting a bonus if you report someone not using his/her PPE) made me think the USA as a whole was that way. In the factory where I started they just planted a steel toe boot under your xxx if you did not use PPE, and then you would be on broom duty for a week. Other companies I worked made you buy cake for the entire floor. 

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