Aside from burns and deafness (so prosaic they don't even count), the most common blacksmithing injury is getting cracked in the head by the back of your hammer when it bounces off the anvil. A good anvil, one with a forge-welded rolled steel face plate, packs a fierce kick. It can knock your block right off. This is what I told my nephew Jackson yesterday. He's a newly minted 1st grader and certainly should know these things by now.
I gave Jackson a helmet and safety goggles and told him to put them on. I gave him one West Chester 6030 Grain Deerskin Leather Top Reverse MIG Welding Glove so he wouldn't lose his grip and fling the 3lb Norwegian raising mallet I also gave him across the shop and possibly take out a wall. Then I gave him some earplugs, mainly because of Sharon.
We banged on a piece of pipe for a while. We worked on throwing our body weight into our swing. Good form packs way more juice than arm strength, I informed Jackson. And right then I should have known. I should have thoroughly analyzed his slack jaw, his head tilted slightly to one side and the extreme concentration cooking his beady little eyeballs. The kid was paying attention.
Next up, we discussed the blow torch. We merely looked at it because I had already told my nephew 400 times he was too little to fire it up. Nonetheless, we took some time to inspect various items lying around the shop and talk about whether it would be possible to cut them in half with a blowtorch, or if they would just instantly disintegrate into a pile of ash, possibly after a small and noxious explosion.
Jackson asked when he would be big enough to cut things in half with the blowtorch. I said, "in five years." Five years has been my stock child-friendly euphemistic response to indicate, "A really fucking long time, kid." It's never failed me. Five years is a lifetime when you're five. Except Jack is now 7. Old enough to count.
As we trotted across the yard with our hammers to smash a hunk of sheet metal into a flatter hunk of sheet metal, my nephew says, "Aunt Stacey, when I turn 12, I'm going to cut a lot of stuff in half with your blowtorch."
Great. Somehow I suspect I won't be winning the Aunt award this week.