What's the difference between a welders apron and a blacksmith apron?
Why buy a blacksmith apron when you can get a welders apron for a fraction of the price? That's a reasonable question and one, being a conservative person myself, I would ask.
There is a difference and it's more than price.
As both aprons are constructed of leather, lets look at the differences. Suede leather is made from the underside of the skin. Welder's aprons are commonly made of splits from thick cow hides and due to the fiber content, have a shaggy nap. As a split, suede doesn't include the tough exterior skin layer therefor it is not as tough and is less durable than full grain leather.
Leather's weight is measured in ounces. Each ounce equals 1/64 of an inch. Most welders’ aprons utilize 2-3 ounce leather. Since a welder’s apron is designed to keep sparks from igniting your clothing and to some degree, to protect you from heat and prevent flash burn, lightweight suede is ideal.
A blacksmiths apron is generally crafted of 5 to 8 ounce full-grain leather which translates
into 8/64ths of an inch or, more commonly, 1/8 inch of protection. Blacksmiths submit steel to stress through force; the hammer's force causes the malleable metal to move, chisels and punches channel the hammer's force and the anvil absorbs the force. With all of this force going on, occasionally a stress fracture pops up and a chunk of metal goes flying at rocket speeds into the unknown. Smiths wear personal protection gear incuding aprons for this eventuality. The tougher skin exterior and extra thickness of a blacksmiths apron does a much better job of stopping or deflecting stray projectiles before they pierce you!
Let's revisit the full-grain versus suede. As a blacksmith hammers, flakes of hot slag break loose and fly. When slag lands on shaggy nap of suede leather, the nap can actually hold the flake which will then begin to burn whereas the smooth, full-grain leather of a blacksmiths apron allows the slag to succumb to the pull of gravity and slide off.
Last but not least, welders and blacksmiths both commonly use grinders and cut-off wheels which are notorious for causing injuries in the shop. Both aprons will prevent a grinder from grabbing your loose clothing and winding it up like a toy top but wouldn't you rather have the thicker leather of a blacksmith's apron to deflect a deranged cut-off wheel?
Though a good, quality blacksmiths apron may cost four to five times as much as a welder's apron, its money well spent if it can prevent you from visiting the emergency room! If this article has put you in the mood to shop for a heavy duty blacksmith apron, visit Forge-Aprons.com to see what we offer!
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