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I have taught several of my boy scouts, working them through the forging process, hardening and tempering, and making handles on somewhat simple blades. I've just completed the first experience with an adult (fellow scoutmaster type), and am hearing about interest from people I don't know well.


To date, I don't have an LLC or personal liability insurance, and have worked at my own risk. I'm really curious what people see as the minimum requirements for self-protection in a teaching environment. This leads to the next natural question, what to charge. My "lessons" so far consist of weekday evenings, 1.5-2 hours, half a dozen to ten to complete the piece, depending on the complexity of it and the student's aptitude. Usually meet once a week, though twice isn't unheard of. We start the first night with the blade concept, talk about different types, loan them the "illustrated knives" book to stir their imagination a bit, and give them the shop tour and safety song. After that, we get to work until it's finished.


I always inform people that they will suffer a minor burn or two (usually from scale), may cut themselves, and warn of the incredible danger that power tools pose, used incorrectly or without proper respect. So far we haven't had an injury worth noting.



I find that I like the process, that teaching reminds and reinforces the basics to me that I might otherwise forget and gloss over in my own work, and helping someone else realize their vision gives me creative energy I might not otherwise obtain working alone all the time.



What says the mob?

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The only thing that will offer any protection is a sign outside the shop door (bigger and bolder the better, eye level where they can't miss seeing it, in multiple languages...well you get the idea) saying "Enter At Your Own Risk." This only establishes that you made a public warning of the dangers and that stepping across the threshold of the shop, they took on the burden of risk protection.


According to a blacksmith/attorney in this area, even a signed statement absolving you of every considered risk, is not enforceable if an injury occurs. It's even less certain if you have a child involved. That is the short and sweet of it.


Perhaps you can ask the Boy Scouts if they have some protection for these activities. They do offer a merit badge in smithing. Or perhaps the Community Education programs offered locally. But even then, you are going to attempt to shift the payment for liability onto another deeper pocket and may have to accept their version of liability reducing safety measures. I have good friends who do these things, but it is always a risk. And, you can't control everything at once.


Responsibility seems to be something unavoidable.


OTOH, teaching should be enjoyable if possible. It's an attractive challenge to leave no one behind at the same time letting go the hounds who are hungry for more.

Edited by Mike Blue
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