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Why the Use of Leather Shoes in SMAW or Stick Welding is a Must

welding leather shoes smaw

Shielded Metal Arc Welding or SMAW welding procedures produce toxic fumes which is why welders should ensure that they have proper protective equipment. Using PPE reduces the risk of injury and significantly minimizes the effects of toxins. Aside from regular PPE clothing, using the proper protective footwear, leather shoes at that, will go a long way in protecting your foot during hazardous SMAW welding projects. 

What to Know about SMAW


SMAW stands for Shielded Metal Arc Welding and is one of the oldest and most common types of welding. Otherwise known as stick welding because a flux-coated electrode (a metal stick or rod held in an electrode holder that is connected to a power source) is used to form the weld. This welding technique is used on full ferrous materials and in all welding positions. SMAW is used in different applications involving maintenance, repair, construction, industrial fabrication, pipelines, shipbuilding, underwater welding, farm machinery manufacturing, and more. 


The SMAW Process uses the arc’s heat to melt the top of a consumable covered electrode and base metal. The basic tools used when stick welding include a welding machine (arc welding power source), electrode lead cable, electrode holder, leads, cables, cable connectors, ground clamp, and a chipping hammer. Because SMAW is a tedious process, it is critical that welders use safety equipment like a helmet, gloves, protective clothing, and leather shoes. 


leather shoes stick welding
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SMAW PPE: Leather Shoes 


For SMAW welding jobs, using the proper shoes will protect your feet from falling objects or hot sparks. The best type of protective footwear is surely a reliable pair of leather boots. It is most essential that close-toed shoes are used during SMAW processes, as well as leather high-top work boots or metal-toe safety shoes. 


The boots you ought to buy should comply with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F2413-05 that categorizes safety footwear like Impact and Compression. Leather boots that comply with Impact and Compression Resistance standards are constructed with a toe-cap that protects your foot from falling objects that could break or crush your toes. The same standard also does not approve “strap-on” toe-caps. This means that toe-caps should be designed and constructed into the show during manufacturing and then tested. 


It is also important to know that your safety toe boots or shoes should meet one of two units of measurement for impact rating (75 or 50 foot-pounds). This foot-pound is determined through a test performed by dropping a steel weight from a predetermined height at a certain designated speed. So, for example, 1/75 rated leather boots will protect a welder from an impact of 75 pounds. 


According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the American Welding Society, the best way welders can stay safe on the job is to wear head-to-toe protection. When welding safety becomes ingrained into the professional culture, lost-time incidents and improved productivity are expected.

Leather Welding Spats

Another way you can protect your feet is to get yourself a pair of reliable leather welding spats. The best ones are made with cowhide leather. These give extra protection to your leather shoes and are highly effective against sparks and splatter.