It’s a Nice Day for Some White Welding

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.


  1. nastes says

    Doc Martens’ soles are also on the melty side.
    I got rid of any profile (and air cushioning) of the soles of at least one pair by falling asleep too close to a fire with them. The first steps with them after waking up are also still quite vivid…

    That was more than 20 years ago, though. Maybe they changed something so they do not turn sticky while melting, not something you want in a forge I would think.

    Stay save,

  2. kestrel says

    When the Partner gets back I’ll ask what boots firefighters wear for wildland fires. I know for structure fires they wear these great big boots that have no sign of laces anywhere, but I think the wildland gear is a little more likely to look like everyday boots and won’t stand out too much in a crowd.

    Although your first search did yield some really interesting options. However, if you do NOT want to stand out in a crowd…

  3. lorn says

    Good sturdy leather boots are a grand start. You might look into a set of instep guards. Most are aluminum and are attached using straps to the boot. There are ones that just cover the top, and ones that go almost all the way to the floor. Also ones that leave the tip of the boot exposed, and ones that go from ankle to over the toe.

    Fuller coverage:

    Just the top:

  4. dangerousbeans says

    But if it doesn’t have an open toe and make it hard to walk how am I meant to attract men while beating red hot steel?

    I’ll add new shoes to the list of forging equipment. The ones I’m using for general work are generally good, but the laces are too exposed

  5. says

    How long have you been saving that title?

    It’s like baseball catchers. Some wear toe protectors and sacrifice mobility, others go macho and don’t wear protectors, sacrificing their toenails.

  6. says

    I’ve been wearing boots similar to these as my forging boots for a very long time and think they are great.

    Yup, nothing can fall into something and catch there.
    I wound up going with a pair of steel-toed engineer’s boots, like I wore all the time in high school.

  7. says

    How long have you been saving that title?

    I make my posting titles up on the spot, usually. They’re just free-association…

    It’s like baseball catchers.

    I had no idea. Interesting job. “My job is to have people throw baseballs at me”

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