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Basic Safety

Blacksmithing can be a dangerous hobby. After all it involves fire, very hot metal, metal with sharp jagged edges, hitting things with hammers, flying sparks, and cutting things with chisels sometimes while it is very hot. So, before you begin their are some basic safety rules that you need to know and follow.

Rule #1 - KEEP YOUR SHOP CLEAN!

It may not seem important enough to be the first item on the list, but the shop is a dangerous place under normal conditions and a cluttered space is just asking for trouble.

Rule #2 - Always have a fire extinguisher handy.

Blacksmithing involves fire. Any time an activity involves using an open flame, the fire can get away from you. When this happens an extinguisher is needed to put out the fire quickly. This is especially important if your hair or clothing catches on fire.

have a fire extinguisher handy warning sign

Rule #3 - Always have a first aid kid on hand.

Keep well stocked a first aid kit in your shop. It should be in a place where it is easy to find and reach in an emergency. This means you should be able to get to it in a hurry, scared and/or panicked, and possibly with one hand. Make the location of first aid kit as obvious as possible, because in an emergency you probably will not be thinking clearly. In a worst case scenario someone else not familiar with your shop might need to find it to use on you. If the kit runs out of something replace it immediately, especially burn cream. The kit does no one any good if it is empty. Access to a first aid kit can mean the difference between and inconvenient injury and loosing a finger.

have a first aid kit handy warning sign

Rule #5 - Always dress appropriately.

  • Always wear safety glasses
  • Always wear heavy leather or flame retardant gloves
  • long hair should be tied back or tucked under a hat.
  • Always wear long sleeves and pants made of natural fibers.
  • Wear at least a leather shop apron to protect your body.
  • Always wear closed toed shoes, steel toes are better.

wear eye protection warning sign

wear hand protection warning sign

wear protective foot wear warning sign

wear protective clothing warning sign

Rule #4 - Keep Bystanders to a minimum.

Extra people it the shop are a distraction. Keeping an eye on other people takes attention away from what you are doing. That is when accidents happen.

Rule # 6 - Make sure your work area is properly ventilated.

The forge fire uses oxygen and makes carbon monoxide and smoke. With out proper ventilation you could pass out, and long term smoke inhalation can damage your lungs.

Rule # 7 - Assume everything is hot.

Burns are going to happen. To keep them to a minimum you should never touch any piece of metal or tool with your bare hands unless you know for a fact it is cool. Even then it is a good idea to use gloves just in case your wrong.

hot surface warning sign

Rule # 8- Keep anything flammible as far from the heat as reasonably possible.

Any shop contains things that can burn. Things like wood, oil, fuel for the forge fire, etc. should be stored in a seperate part of the shop. Get out only as much as you need and put the extra away again.

flammible materials warning sign

Rule # 9 - Maintain your tools and equipment.

Tools that aren't maintained can fail unexpectedly and cause accidents. All tools and equipment should be inspected before every use.

Check hammers and chisels for cracks. Cracked tools can chip and throw dangerous hot sharp chunks of metal into the air, or even shatter.

Before you turn on tool that uses gas, inspect all the hoses and fittings for cracks and leak. Check for leaks with a spray bottel of soapy water. if a hose looks cracked replace it before you use the equipment again. and make sure that all hoses have blow back valves on both ends. If you smell gass turn everything off immediatly. Open the doors and windows and do not turn any thing on again untill you find where it is coming from!

Dragon's Layer Design, Inc.Copyright© 2010 Updated: 4/2/2010