Recent discussion [stderr] got me thinking about safety shoes. For the last two years my official forging shoes have been a pair of old Timberland “euro hikers” (that I wore to Chernobyl) but I know that the laces are flammable because I already set them on fire once.
It takes the merest brush by 2000F steel to set something on fire. Leather toes are good enough to protect against that “merest brush” but the failure mode we don’t want to think of is something falling into the tongue slot and getting stuck there.
You can see that the laces are melted and stretched; that’s from the same incident that made the deep rifts in the leather on the toe: I touched the toe with my tongs after I had been using them for a while. It was just a momentary contact.
Welders wear boots that have a sort of armored arch protector that goes over the laces, and an armored toe under the leather. The boots are designed with velcro to that the can be ripped off and thrown across the room easily. That seems like a pretty good idea, really; I suspect that early industrial-age welders and iron-workers figured that out pretty quickly. It doesn’t take much of a spark to set something alight. I can see I need to be more careful.
So, I thought I’d survey what’s out there. Usually, I do my searching on amazon and then buy specialty goods from small stores if I can find one online.
Search: “shoes for welding”:
Oooh, the Enzo Romeo is lovely but I don’t know if I can backpedal fast enough in heels.
This is more like it. (search criteria: “welder safety boot”)
I know a machinist who works for an old-school tap and die-making company, and he’s constantly got to worry about razor-sharp chips on the floor. What they did was grind off the bottoms of their boot-soles and urethane glued pieces of conveyor belt material to the bottom. Conveyor belts are made of interwoven steel wire dip-coated in poly rubber – the wire can handle having heavy pointed stuff thrown on it without tearing. The first place I saw that material used as shoe soles was on leather moccasins some reenactors started wearing at the renaissance faires back in the late 70s.
I’m not sure I want Doc Martens’ spongy rubber soles; I’d rather have some steel-belted radial tire material. Maybe Vietcong-style sandals with tire bottoms and those little white blingy strappy uppers?
Meanwhile, if you watch enough blacksmithing videos, you’ll realize that the preferred shoe of some blacksmiths is: Crocs. Nice flammable melty Crocs. There’s another good reason for you to hate the things.